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
Shot in Eastern Germany in 1968, 'Ich war neunzehn' (= German for 'I was nineteen years old') is among the better films from the former Communist part of Europe.
Set in the last days of Adolf Hitler, 'Ich war neunzehn' deals with Stalin's Red Army invading Germany from the East. To avoid the countless atrocities committed by both sides in the most savage war in history of mankind, the East German filmmakers choose to show events through the eyes of a nineteen year old boy. A logical choice: this introduces innocence, as well as hope for the future.
The rest of this enjoyable film is propaganda, sold in a friendly and human way. The Red Army is presented as liberating the German common people from Hitler's rule. Its victorious soldiers show themselves eager to make friends with them.
In reality, after three terrible years of German occupation in the Soviet Union, Stalin's soldiers applied a fearful revenge when invading Germany. A revenge encouraged by steady Communist propaganda. It resulted in many crimes, such as the free rape of German women. You will understand that 'Ich war neunzehn' ignores this.
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