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 ... 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
I actually wanted to give this film a "7" or "8"; yet there are some terrible problems with the entire premise of it. The story comes from the memoirs of a former Soviet soldier whom the protagonist is based upon. Filmed in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) it portrays a person with his background (born German though raised in Russia) as being somewhat unusual (which it was and still is) but nonetheless a "good" or "noble" person.
In the 1930s the communist party was at it's zenith in popularity in the United States. In that day and age it was not uncommon to meet a communist, in the United States, who did not have an accent (Jack Reed of "Reds" fame was not the only such person in the United States). This is understandable due to the horrific Great Depression. However, Communists or Socialist Workers were still a minority party in our country. A few of them "progressed" from being members of a minority party to being total lunatics and actually migrated to the Soviet Union to live and work. During the Stalin purges of the late 1930s many of them were seen running to the U.S. embassy, being chased by KGB agents, and waving their (by then) useless passports trying to find asylum with their embassy of their former country. Usually they were gunned down before they reached the embassy. A movie dealing with similar emigrants to Russia after WWII is "East/West".
Anyway, the protagonist of this film is the son of similar wackos who lived in Germany prior to emigrating to the USSR. Most Germans at that time who fled the Third Reich (such as Albert Einstein) went to the west; NOT to Russia. One really has to question the motivation of the author's parents and the burden they saddled him with (having to live in a totalitarian regime for a long time afterwards). Anyway, this kid essentially became a "freak" by being a Soviet citizen born in Germany. His parents were obvious wackos and/or weirdos.
Still, I will have to admit that as bad as the Soviets were they palled in comparison with the Third Reich. That, unfortunately, is the truth. And, it shows just how terrible that regime was. Interesting film; showing the conflict of a pretty bad system (USSR) with an utterly terrible one (war time Germany). The film shows, as other reviewers have noted, the hope for a reconciliation between post war Germany and Russia. Fair enough, except the reconciliation was to include a socialist German (ALL of Germany; not just East Germany). Fortunately, like the battle of Spandau Fortress in the film, that never happened.
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