Racism and Courage

Spectacle Archive Project: Youth explore Racism and Courage

In the early 1990s Spectacle’s founder was in East Germany working to document the changing Germany after the Berlin Wall came down and post collapse of the Soviet Union. The purpose of this filming shifted in August 1992 when racially motivated protests and attacks in Rostock-Lichtenhagen became a flashpoint for political action. 

During the attack, 100 Vietnamese asylum seekers were left to their own devices in a large housing complex called the Sunflower House. The Neo-Nazi attackers threw stones and Molotov cocktails. They smashed windows and set fire to the house in which the people were locked. 

The Truth Lies in Rostock poster

The footage collected about this event became a film called The Truth Lies in Rostock. Read more blogs about the film.  

In Germany, every school child learns about the legacy of the Berlin Wall. There is an ongoing effort to keep asking hard questions about what the divisions with German society meant at that time, and what they mean today. One such project is Aus Mut gemacht – 30 Jahre Mauerfall, “Made out of courage – thirty years after the fall of the Berlin wall”, an open call for films made by young people that gave their perspective on this history.

The project asked people to look at the questions: What does courage mean? Are we brave today differently than 30 years ago? Where are the walls still standing today? What courage does it take to brace yourself against walls and change something?

School classes and groups from Berlin dealt with these questions, discussed, researched and expressed their thoughts in short films.

Collage art: WAS GEHT?! Magazin youth media workshops (Berlin)

One of the films was created for this project by WAS GEHT?! Magazine,
a multimedia program for young refugee and immigrant media makers.
Filmmakers Hani Schehel, Noura Ben Belgacem and Hadi Ahmadi chose to
focus on the legacy of the Rostock-Lichtenhagen Pogrom, supported by
workshop facilitators Duc Vu Manh, Ganesha Küppers and Özgür Akgül, as
well as educational team Mohsen Hassani, Katja Heinemann and Jenifa

They chose to focus on the legacy of the Rostock-Lichtenhagen Pogrom. 

Collage art: WAS GEHT?! Magazin youth media workshops (Berlin)

Their film deals artistically with the events in 1991 and refers to the current situation of refugees who are again exposed to racist attacks in accommodation by using images and voices from The Truth Lies in Rostock.  They wondered what happened to the migrants who, like the Germans, experienced the fall of the Wall. In the 80s, thousands of Vietnamese guest workers came to Germany. Instead of just looking for an answer, the young filmmakers dealt artistically with the topic. Their research led them to the attacks carried out on the Vietnamese asylum seekers dormitories in the early 1990s. A dark chapter of the Federal Republic, which has almost been forgotten.

As part of their preparation to delve into this history of violence, the group worked with images from the documentary as part of their film workshops, cutting, pasting and highlighting images they felt were speaking to them.

As they discussed this history, it became clear to them that this chapter has unfortunately not yet come to an end. In recent years there have been more attacks on dormitories of refugees. Their films point to the continuity of violence against immigrants and those seeking protection. 

Collage art: WAS GEHT?! Magazin youth media workshops (Berlin)

The films they created as a result of their workshop process were presented during the festival week for the Aus Mut gemacht project at Alexanderplatz. The films can be viewed here, or here with English subtitles. All the films made as part of the Aus Mut gemacht project can be watched here.

The wall is no longer made of stone, but it is in the soul. 

–Walid Alastah
The WWII Nazis aren't just gone - racism is passed on from generation
to generation.
–Kinda Muhsen

Collage art: WAS GEHT?! Magazin youth media workshops (Berlin)

The Truth Lies in Rostock, and the large archive of footage filmed at the same time has become increasingly important. Ongoing archive based activities are in the works for the 30th anniversary of the Rostock-Lichtenhagen pogrom in August 2021. 

Collage art: WAS GEHT?! Magazin youth media workshops (Berlin)

Collage art by WAS GEHT?! Magazin, using still images from “The Truth lies in Rostock” 

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Exodus Library Launch

Exodus: The Definitive Collection

Spectacle is excited to launch a new video library on Vimeo on Demand containing material produced on and with the Exodus collective. This includes both Spectacle produced TV documentaries: Exodus: Movement of Jah People and Exodus From Babylon along with extras and bonus material including an anti crack song and music video made by members of the collective with Spectacle and an appearance on Swiss youth culture TV show ZEBRA.

Trailer for the Exodus Library

We will continue to add matierial from the archive and organise online screening events.

Access the library

Sign up for Exodus Archive updates

What was Exodus?

The Luton based Exodus Collective came into existence in 1992 as part of the growing DIY culture which arose in response to unemployment, poverty and frustration amongst young people. They organised free ‘rave’ parties, renovated derelict homes, set up a community farm and a community centre. Their philosophy had a strong spiritual strand, appealing to notions of community and natural justice in its struggle for survival and renewal. Their utopian project, whilst always peaceful, presented a challenge to the status quo and was met with powerful opposition.

Exodus offered working, viable solutions to many of society’s stated ills, poverty, crime, drugs, unemployment and the break down of community.

Exodus was a unique urban phenomenon which did not simply confront but intelligently challenged societal assumptions and values. Exodus blended a volatile mixture of rastafarianism, new-age punk and street smart politics. “We are not drop outs but force outs.”


Exodus, Movement of Jah People investigates the group’s quest to regenerate their disaffected community by squatting and renovating decayed buildings. Their regular raves brought ex-army, ex-estate agents, ex-shop assistants, and ex-criminals together as Exodus, a dance collective with a new direction, an attempt to offer viable solutions to many of society’s stated ills such as poverty, crime, drugs, unemployment and the break down of community.

Broadcast on Channel 4 as part of the Renegade TV series.


“This remarkable film is an antidote to the dereliction and paranoia on Britain’s streets. Squatting and renovating decayed buildings, Exodus pursue a mutually agreed quest to regenerate their disaffected community… For anyone interested in a street relevant discussion on drugs, criminality, spirituality and community, this film is a must see.” – Squall Magazine 1995


Exodus from Babylon investigates the intricate web of opposition to the Exodus group, from aggressive policing to local government obstruction. It reveals the shift in policing from reactive peace keeping to proactive intervention, involving a series of special operations by Bedfordshire Police.

The programme looks in detail at a number of police actions against Exodus, including the prosecution and acquittal of collective member, Paul Taylor, for possession of Ecstasy and for murder. It asks why the strategy of getting tough with Exodus emerged and identifies a number of interlocking interests at play.

Exodus from Babylon contains original music by the Exodus Collective and some great reggae tunes.

Broadcast on Channel 4 as part of the Renegade TV series.

Please contact Spectacle directly if you are interested in screening any of the films in this collection publicly: distribution@spectacle.co.uk

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Demo against the Killing of Ruhullah Aramesh in Thornton Heath in 1992

Ruhullah Aramesh was a 24 year old refugee from Afghanistan. He was attacked in Thornton Heath on 31st July, 1992, by a gang of twenty yelling racist epithets. They beat him with iron bars and wood planks until his skull was crushed.

Sampler from Spectacle’s Archive

He died on August 2, 1992. Barry Hannon (17), his brother, Paul Hannon(18), and Joseph Curtin (17), were sentenced to life for murder. Richard Turner, (19), and Jamie Ware (19), were acquitted of manslaughter and murder. Another boy, seventeen years old, whose name was not released, was acquitted for attacking Mr. Aramesh but convicted for assault for having previously attacked a friend of Mr. Aramesh. Barry Hannon and Joseph Curtin had also attacked an Asian family only an hour before killing Mr. Aramesh, hitting a man, sixty-five years old, on the head with a bottle. 

It was recorded as racially motivated. Barry Hannon, Paul Hannon, Joseph Curtin were given life for murder. One other was convicted of manslaughter through diminished responsibility, and three were acquitted. Curtin was freed on appeal after 3 years, due to the judges’ failure to summarise the police interview.

His death was just one of multiple killings that happened near to the BNP headquarters, as well as Stephen Lawrence and Rohit Duggal.

We have footage of the march and speakers representing:

Croydon Race and Equality Council ,

Refugees Ad-hoc Committee f0r Asylum Rights RACAR ,

Rohit Duggal Family Campaign

Weyman Bennett Anti-Nazi League

Labour Councillor from Croydon North West.

Can you help?

The speakers are announced but it is difficult to work out exactly their names or how to spell them, so if you have any idea of who they are please let us know at archive@spectacle.co.uk or comment below.

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Accuser les victimes: La version française de La Vérité Meurt à Rostock ressort en DVD

Rostock, ville portuaire d’ancienne Allemagne de l’Est, un week-end de l’été 1992; face à des conditions économiques rudes et un taux de chômage grimpant, de jeunes néo-fascistes s’amassent en bas de barres d’HLM dans le quartier isolé de Lichtenhagen et tournent leurs frustrations vers un groupes de travailleurs immigrés. La nuit tombée, la tension monte et les perturbateurs empoignent des pavés pour briser les vitres de l’immeuble, visant en particulier le refuge des demandeurs d’asiles (en grande partie originaire du Vietnam).

Les émeutes dureront trois jours, jusqu’à l’incendie du refuge au cocktail Molotov par les émeutiers, provoquant l’évacuation de ses habitants. La réaction de la police est inadaptée, presque conciliante envers les néonazis; sans intervenir franchement, les policiers encadrent les violences pour éviter les débordements, mais aucune arrestation n’a lieu. De la même manière, près de 3000 spectateurs assistent aux événements, certains en tant qu’observateurs passifs, d’autres apportant leur soutien aux casseurs en applaudissant leurs actes. Durant ce long week-end, une manifestation antifasciste est organisée par des habitants de Rostock; les forces de l’ordre préféreront arrêter ces pacifistes plutôt que les insurgés néonazis. Résultat : 60 des 80 individus détenus au cours du dimanche soir sont des manifestants antiracistes.

Juste après les émeutes, le parti Démocrate Chrétien modifie la Constitution et une des lois piliers de l’après seconde guerre mondiale, rendant désormais possible l’exclusion des démendeurs d’asile politiques  hors du sol Allemand. Plutot que de s’en prendre aux causes des événements de Liechtenhagen, les hommes politiques se sont attaqués aux victimes; après avoir eu leurs habitations temporaires pillées et incendiées, les travailleurs immigrés vietnamiens se trouve désormais menacés de déportation.

La Vérité Meurt à Rostock montre les évènements de ce pogrom de manière chronologique, tels qu’ils se sont déroulés. Des images amateurs filmées par les immigrés, barricadés dans leurs appartements, témoignent de l’agressivité ambiante; elles sont accompagnées de séquences au plus proche des violences, tournées de nuit par les réalisateurs du documentaire Marc Saunders et Siobhan Leary. Enfin, des interviews exclusives avec des participants aux émeutes, des réfugiés et des membres de la police présentent un tableau complet de la situation, des mentalités, et permettent au téléspectateur de mesurer la portée du racisme dans une Allemagne à peine réunifiée. Le documentaire, commandé par la chaîne Anglaise Channel 4, est un parfait exemple de journalisme d’investigation basé sur l’expertise d’une communauté.

Problèmes liés à l’immigration, contexte de frustration générale aboutissant à la montée des extrêmes, inefficacité ou indifférences des forces publiques, les questions abordées dans ce film sont autant de thèmes qui resurgissent actuellement dans les débats publics en Europe. Compte tenu des résultats records du Front National au premier tour des élections présidentielles, rééditer  La Vérité Meurt à Rostock en 2012 en France prend tout son sens. Loin d’être comparable d’un point de vue politique, des parallèles peuvent êtres tracés entre les angoisses et les tensions de 1992, et les préoccupations populaires d’aujourd’hui.

À l’occasion du vingtième anniversaire des émeutes de Rostock, Spectacle Productions ressort la version française de La Vérité Meurt à Rostock. Le DVD d’une heure vingt est disponible en vente ici.

Cliquez La Vérité Meurt à Rostock pour plus d’articles sur le blog

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