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Georg Wilhelm Pabst
In a peaceful Ukrainian village, the school year is just ending in June 1941. Five young friends set out for a walking trip to Kiev, but their travels are brutally interrupted when they are suddenly attacked by German planes, in the first wave of the Nazi assault on the Soviet Union. When the village itself is attacked and occupied, most of the men flee to the hills to form a guerrilla unit. The others resist the Nazis as well as possible, but soon the village is placed under the command of a Nazi doctor who begins using the town's children as a source of constant blood transfusions for wounded German soldiers. Meanwhile, the small group of young persons tries desperately to take a supply of firearms to the guerrillas. Written by
This film was encouraged by the U.S. Government in the early days of WW II following the German invasion of Russia. It is a propaganda masterpiece centered around the former "freedoms" of prewar Soviet Russia life and the changes brought about abruptly by the invasion. Communism was not very popular in the United States even then, so this film was engineered to achieve widespread visibility in the early war years and to engender public approval for our "allies." At that it may be said to have achieved its purpose. Americans did not wish to be identified with any kind of comrade-bashing. Maybe subconsciously Americans desired Soviet victory so as to avoid a three-front War should the Russians have been subdued.
Historically, the Russians have been able to avoid loss of Moscow to invaders but doubtless this would not have been the case without all of the materials we sent them. Most do not know that over 6,000 fighter aircraft were sent to the Russians, nor do many Americans remember that the four or more B-29s that were badly damaged in combat over Japan and who later sought refuge in Russia, remember that these were seized by Stalin. They were never returned and in fact, they were copied rivet-for-rivet; screw-for-screw as the TU-4 and later turned into long range atomic bomb delivery aircraft whose purpose was to carry atomic weapons to the former ally, the United States. And this (the Cold War) was the only pay-back ever received for our shipments of billions of dollars of armaments. Still, our economic policies and GNP were the very things that brought about the demise of the Communist system.
With these facts in mind, it is entertaining to view this film and to identify the propaganda pronouncements and the truisms it contains.
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