Numerous sections of the United States that once saw a bustling German-American population have without a doubt shrunk in size, and while it is disappointing to those of us that want to embrace our heritage, the decline is nothing compared to that seen in Seaford Town, Jamaica. The upcoming documentary, German Town: The Lost Story of Seaford Town Jamaica, is hoping to capture the story of this declining group of German-Jamaicans before they are forgotten forever.
German Town is an independent documentary film by David Ritter that explores the barely known history of German heritage within Seaford Town, aka German Town, in the mountainous area of Westmoreland, Jamaica. While there are not a lot of historical records that point to how this small group of Germans made their way to Jamaica, the current remaining inhabitants are believed to be descendents of German indentured servants brought in to work on Jamaican plantations as a substitute, after the emancipation period, to the slave labor that drove the island’s economy.
There is also the belief that the original Germans that made their way to this area of Jamaica were possibly “runaway prisoners, former military battered after the Napoleonic wars,” or even just “seeking a better life to escape poverty and hardships in their home lands.”
David Ritter had heard of this unique story growing up, but decided to check it out for himself by visiting Seaford Town in 2010. In an interview with the Merrimack Valley Magazine, he spoke about his fascination surrounding the town and commented that “I read stories written about the area throughout the years, and it built my interest in the village that I always had a hidden but deep fascination with. Being of German heritage myself it simply struck a chord with me and awakened some kind of cultural affection I have to history and things relating to German culture.”
Ritter went on to say that “Most people in German Town are proud Jamaicans who love their country and culture but some people at the same time have a sense of separate identity… I suppose this lack of understanding and this lack of German culture being passed down has left many with a sense of sadness and a want… Within 50–100 years what is left of the culture will most likely be a very small paragraph within a few history books.”
That is why David Ritter decided to take a camera to this small town to document what is left of the set to be lost story of Seaford Town. It has been a work in progress for some time now, but German Town: The Lost Story of Seaford Town Jamaica is ready for an audience. Throughout the next several months the film will be screened in towns across the US and Canada, with its first stop this Friday (September 13) at the DANK Haus German American Cultural Center in Chicago.
A full schedule of screenings can be found below, as well as the official trailer for German Town: The Lost Story of Seaford Town Jamaica.
September 13, 2013 – 7:30pm
DANK Haus German Cultural Center of Chicago
4740 North Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60625
October 13, 2013 – 7:00pm
LA Turners Center
8946 Sepulveda Eastway
Los Angeles, CA 90045
November 8, 2013
German American Institute
301 Summit Ave
St Paul, MN 55102
November 16, 2013 – 7:00pm
Peoria German-American Central Society
7601 N Harker Dr.
Peoria, IL 61615
January 25, 2014
Big Picture Cinemas