Posted on 5 May 2015
An annual high point for practitioners, students and researchers in radio, television and the new media in Cornwall, Brittany, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the Celtic Media Festival was held in late April where many came together for three days of seminars, screenings of new productions and awards ceremonies at Inverness in the Highlands of Scotland.
The Festival's aim is to promote the languages and cultures of the Celtic countries on screen and in broadcasting. Amongst the attendee was University of Wales Research Fellow Dr Marion Löffler, whose programme Bravo Aberystwyth was selected by a panel of five judges out of 60 entries from all the Celtic countries to compete for the prize of Best Radio Documentary.
Produced by independent company ‘Unigryw’ for BBC Radio Cymru and co-researched and presented by Dr Löffler, Bravo Aberystwyth tells the story of Hermann Ethé, a German Professor of Eastern Languages at Aberystwyth, who was hounded out of the town by a jingoistic mob in October 1914.
Hermann Ethé was 70 and had worked and lived Aberystwyth since 1876, one of the first members of staff at the ‘College by the Sea’. He was forced to leave overnight, never to return to his chosen home town, and died two years later. He was not the only German to receive such treatment, but the names of the cooks and waiters in sea-side hotels who were driven away, were not recorded. After the event, Aberystwyth Town Council received a telegram entitled 'Bravo Aberystwyth', which asked whether the town could not have found a lamp post from which to hang Professor Ethé!
Speaking about the programme, Dr Löffler explained:
“We made the programme to commemorate a darker and therefore neglected side of the First World War in Britain. Foreign nationals, especially Germans, of all classes and religions were persecuted in the towns and cities of England and Wales during the ‘Great War’. Even the royal family was affected by this, changing their name to Windsor. For those less elevated than them, losing work and home to be branded an enemy alien often had catastrophic consequences. The programme expresses our wish that nobody will ever have to leave Aberystwyth or any other town in Wales at 2 o’clock in the morning, fearing for their lives.”
Speaking about being selected for the prize’s shortlist, she said:
“Being short-listed for the prize is an honour and a great achievement for a Welsh-language radio programme. We did not win, but being show-cased in Inverness meant gaining publicity so that, for instance, a Gaelic radio station is interested in producing our programme in Scottish Gaelic. Following our programme, Aberystwyth Town Council commissioned a tri-lingual commemoration plaque in English, German and Welsh which will be unveiled later this year. Aberystwyth may thus be the first town in Britain to remember the darker side of British patriotism during the ‘Great War’.”
Bravo Aberystwyth, was originally broadcast in October 2014, 100 years after the expulsion of Herrmann Ethé. It is available to listen again thought the BBC iPlayer until the 26th of May. Listen again here - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04lwzhg