Duisburg, Germany

In a supposedly rich industrial country of Germany, one in five children lives in poverty. In areas like Duisburg-Hochfeld it is more than very second minor. During the pandemic especially young people from socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods suffered from the lockdown measures. This is a long-term documentary about teenage life, social injustice and questions about own identity and belonging. While kids often neither know their parents‘ home country nor feel accepted in Germany, they use the digits 053 of the postcode of Duisburg-Hochfeld for identification. It‘s the only place they really feel belonging to. These are the 053kids.

You see as many Germany flags in Hochfeld as Antifa-graffiti. It is often unclear whether the flags are hung by migrants as a deliberate sign of the will to integrate, or by the last remaining „real“ Germans as a sign of demarcation. Many of the teenagers have a German passport, speak local dialect but do not see themselves as German. For them these are the old people who hang out at the kiosks all day long and bemoan the decline of the district just as much as the young people struggle with the lack of prospects. In Hochfeld 93% of those under 18 are from immigrant families. In a violent environment controlled by Arab clans, Eastern European families and biker gangs, there is a daily struggle for legal and illegal resources. Prostitution, drug and arms trafficking show the supposedly fast money to the teenagers daily and make growing up here very difficult. Also because Germany still has a hard time seeing itself as an immigration country and social advancement is very difficult for immigrants and their families. While working on the project, many of the people I dealt with were facing additional financial problems due to inflation and rising energy costs.

The feeling of being left behind existed in Hochfeld long before the pandemic. But the situation within the last three years has exacerbated the disadvantage, especially for young people. Many consequences will only become visible in the coming months and years.

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