April 1945: Gregor Hecker, 19 years of age, reaches the outskirts of Berlin as part of the Red Army's scouting team. Having fled Germany with his family when he was eight, he is confronted ...
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As rumors reach them that the Allied armies are advancing on their concentration camp at Buchenwald, Polish prisoners renew their feeble hope for survival and freedom. When a group of ... See full summary »
Professor Hans Mamlock is the distinguished chief of surgery in a university hospital. The year is 1933, and although the Professor is Jewish, he remains unconcerned with politics and the ... See full summary »
As a painter in the court of King Carlos IV, Goya - played by the great Lithuanian actor Donatas Banionis (The Red Tent, Solaris) - has attained wealth and reputation. He believes in King ... See full summary »
A Jewish ghetto in the east of Europe, 1944. By coincidence, Jakob Heym eavesdrops on a German radio broadcast announcing the Soviet Army is making slow by steady progress towards central ... See full summary »
Two 17-year-olds, Werner Holt and Gilbert Wolzow, are pulled out of school and into Hitler's army. Gilbert becomes a fanatical soldier, but at the front Werner begins to understand the ... See full summary »
Sunny is the singer of band trying to establish itself in the music-scene of East-Berlin. They play regular gigs in small towns, but Sunny feels out of touch with the audience and her life ... See full summary »
Summer, 1943: wealthy youth in the Riccione district of Rimini play while the war gets closer. Carlo Caremoli, a young man who follows the crowd, has found ways to avoid military service. ... See full summary »
April 1945: Gregor Hecker, 19 years of age, reaches the outskirts of Berlin as part of the Red Army's scouting team. Having fled Germany with his family when he was eight, he is confronted with the dilemma of having to fight men from the very country he was born in. Through dealing with challenging situations (e.g. he is appointed commander of Bernau, talks to many disillusioned Germans, and is once and again attacked by scattered groups of German soldiers), he grows more confident that not all hope is lost for post-war Germany. Based on the diary entries of director Konrad Wolf, the episodic movie authentically portrays the protagonist's struggle to come to terms with his own past and identity. Written by
Soviet/East German propaganda, sugar coating history
I rented this film because of an interest in German culture and history. I lived there for a while, and have a (former East-) German wife and relatives. My wife, who was 11 in 1945 when this film takes place, says that it was much worse then than the movie shows, particularly with regard to the utter devastation, starvation, and behavior of the Russian soldiers. Few women between ages of 13 and 50 escaped being raped, and most boys of her age and a bit older were taken away and never seen again. After reunification, the mass graves of many of them, killed by Russians, have been found. Her father, who was never a soldier or Nazi, was shipped off to slave labor in Kazakhstan for about ten years. In the movie, it is implied that the surrendering German soldiers were rewarded with extra food, and then sent home. Get real.
The intent of the movie, made in the GDR at a time when they were barraged with propaganda trying to make them believe that Russians were their friends, is obvious.
Nevertheless, I did enjoy watching it, because even propaganda can be interesting for what it is. (Example: Triumph of the Will, which is infinitely better than this movie). The events involving the surrender of Spandau prison to the 19 year old Russian "commandant", which may have been based on fact and the director's own experience, were of particular interest, and well dramatized.
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