Screening “We Did What Had to Be Done” | A documentary by Friederike Bérat and Ulrike Ertl

Screening “We Did What Had To Be Done”

A documentary by Friederike Bérat and Ulrike Ertl

June 20, 2019 – 7 pm
New Media Projects

90 Minutes – English with English subtitles

“We did what had to be done” is a documentary about the role that women played in the Northern Irish Troubles.

“We did what had to be done” is a phrase nearly all interview partners used to describe their involvement. Depending on their political affiliation, however, they meant very different things with those words: to work in a British Army store, to break out of the women’s prison in Armagh, to transport bombs or to educate their children to become Republican fighters or British soldiers…

The women describe their roles in the war as a result of their individual political conviction, but above all, they saw themselves as those who had to come to pragmatic decisions. With few exceptions, the women stayed in the background. Unlike their male combatants, they are rarely mentioned in the history books or in the narration of the wartime. This documentary wants to tell their story.

A Documentary in five parts:

  1. Culture and peace
  2. War and emancipation
  3. Prison and relationships
  4. Loss and trauma
  5. Education and future


The subjective reality of our protagonists is the central focus of our film. Our interview technique derives from the method of Oral History which is used particularly within the field of the history of everyday life. The contemporary witnesses speak as freely as possible. They decide what they consider to be of peculiar importance. This method also comes close to the Irish tradition of Storytelling that is today still cultivated in Northern Ireland. The stories preserve the cultural inheritance and strengthen the social cohesion of the respective community.

In front of the camera, the women describe their life in Belfast during the Troubles and today in their respective Protestant or Catholic communities in Shankill Road, the Falls or Ardoyne. We already made the experience that the women welcome our interviews as a chance to contribute actively to the historical narrative of the conflict. We also noticed how eager the women are to hear from others in similar circumstances – and how much their stories have in common beyond all social borders.