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Reading and Panel Discussion with Emilia Smechowski

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact rh485.

Emilka was five years old when her parents put her and her little sister in the backseat and just took off: in 1988, her family fled from Poland to West-Berlin, leaving their home, friends, and relatives behind. Only one year later, she had a new name, a new home country, a new language: she was now Emilia, a German. When her parents’ new colleagues came over for dinner, they were not served pierrogi, but tomatoes and mozzarella, and speaking Polish in public was no longer allowed. In »Wir Strebermigranten« (Hanser, 2017), Emilia Smechowski tells her personal tale of the collective experience of Polish immigrants in Germany: a fascinating story of shame and fierce ambition, of liberation and self-assertion.

Emilia Smechowski (*1983 in Poland) is an author and free-lance journalist living in Berlin. In 2017, she won the German Journalist Award (Deutscher Reporterpreis) in the category freelance reporting for her profile of the German politician Paul Ziemiak.

This is a joint event hosted by the Cambridge University German Society and the Department of German and Dutch. Emilia Smechowski will read from her book »Wir Strebermigranten«. The reading will be in German, followed by a panel discussion with Katarzyna Lanucha and Dr Yvonne Zivkovic, and Q&A in English. The event is part of the Cambridge Online Network, an online platform for all who are involved in promoting the study of German language and culture in the UK. There will be a special introduction for pupils led by Senior Language Teaching Officer Silke Mentchen before the reading, starting at 5:15 pm. If you wish to attend the intro session and receive an info pack, please contact the event organiser Dr Marie Kolkenbrock ( by 31 January.

The event is free, but booking is essential. If you have questions, please contact the event organiser Dr Marie Kolkenbrock (

This talk is part of the German Society Speaker Events series.

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