The Phantom of Memory

A film by Friedemann Derschmidt


What is memory for? What do we want from it? We say we want to learn from it. But that doesn’t happen now. It hasn’t happened for hundreds of years…

These words sound particularly irritating when one knows they come from the mouth of Ilana Shmueli, poet and Holocaust survivor, the last lover of Paul Celan.

Just at the time when the last eye-witnesses to the Shoah and the Second World War are leaving us forever, she declares:

An old lady gets one whole day in which to tell how difficult it was for her in the Concentration Camp or the Ghetto. It all sounds worn out and I cannot stand it anymore.

Together with Friedemann Derschmidt, Ilana sets out to find new ways of formulating the question of memory.


kurt mayer fim – phantom of memory



Awarded “Best Short Documentary Film” DIAGONALE 2013


from the Jury statement: “Friedemann Derschmidt’s “The Phantom of Memory” is the empathic and fascinating portrait of Holocaust witness Ilana Shmueli. It stands out with a unique and surprising new approach.


directed by

Friedemann Derschmidt


together with

Ilana Shmueli


Written by

Friedemann Derschmidt, Ilana Shmueli,

Karin Schneider



Oliver Schneider



Amir Bovermann


Production Manager identikit picture

Marcus J. Carney



Kurt Mayer


45 Min

A 2012



Produced with the support of: Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture; city of Vienna; Salzburg

In cooperation with the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna

Research within MemScreen