Je ne rentrerai pas

By Elske Rosenfeld

It is 1968.

Workers are gathered outside the gates of the battery factory „Wonder“ in the South of France. After the end of a strike lasting several weeks, officials have negotiated a deal.

With those improvements in place, the workers have been asked to return to their places and resume work.

One woman refuses to go back inside.

It is 2007. I am in a cinema in Oslo watching the documentary “La Reprise du Travail aux usines Wonder,” a French militant documentary from 1968, documenting the strike at the Wonder factory.

It is March 1990. The center-right alliance has just won the first free general elections of East Germany. And the last. Six months later the country will have ceased to exist.

In our living room my parents are toasting the arrival of democracy.
Upstairs in my room I feel the openness of the months since the fall of the old regime closing up.

She screams:

I am not going back inside.
I am not going back into that filthy prison of yours.

They say:

We had a lot of sympathy for that girl.
We would have also preferred to achieve more.

We understood her. She said out loud what we all thought.

We could relate to her perfectly well.

They say:

Calm down, calm down now.
It’s a victory, don’t you see?
This is just one step.
We can’t do everything in one day.
You have to know when to end a strike.
Your comrades decided to go back inside.
There was no other solution.

While I am working on this video, people gather in the squares and streets of Spain. Earlier, revolutions started up in North Africa.

I am returned to 1989.
I am returned to 1968.

A space opens, not of the past,
but of a way of being across time.

It is 2011.


Original Material:

La Reprise du Travail aux usines Wonder, Dir: Jacques Willemont/ Etats généraux du cinéma, France, 1968

Additional quotes from:
Reprise (Resumption), Dir: Hervé Le Roux, France, 1996