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My Private War (1990)
"Mein Krieg" (original title)

 -  Documentary | War  -  21 May 1993 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 150 users  
Reviews: 5 user | 7 critic

Late in the 1980s, two documentary film makers found six German men, all in their 60s and 70s, who had been soldiers in the German invasion of the USSR in 1942. Each carried an 8mm camera ... See full summary »

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Erich von Manstein ...
Himself (in Kiev) (archive footage)
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Late in the 1980s, two documentary film makers found six German men, all in their 60s and 70s, who had been soldiers in the German invasion of the USSR in 1942. Each carried an 8mm camera into battle and they still had their film. "Mein Kreig" alternates between interviews with these older men, now apologetic, philosophical, or defiant about their participation, and the footage they shot. It's chronological: basic training, the train trip East, roof-top vistas of war-torn Warsaw, peasants in Belarus, the downing with carbine volleys of a Russian plane, winter, a holiday at the Black Sea, mud, impassable roads, death, destruction and retreat. "Home, that was the front," one says. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Documentary | War

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21 May 1993 (USA)  »

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My Private War  »

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The photographs being developed in one scene show the famous Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan. See more »

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FASCINATING DOCUMENTARY, BUT THE JOB NOT FINISHED
4 September 1999 | by (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

Fascinating but a bit repetitive documentary in which the events at the German/Russian front are told by 6 German ex-soldiers. These soldiers had their 8mm cameras on them at the front and a lot of the unique material (some in colour!) is shown. Out of the interviews and in combination with the shown films comes quite another image of the Wehrmacht (soldier) than as the Wehrmacht is portrayed in the "08/15" films by Paul May and more recently (same year of release, as a matter of fact!) in Joseph Vilsmaier's well-meant but failing "Stalingrad" (q.v.).

One of the more recent, public questions about the Wehrmacht's conduct in Russia is (as résumé): Did the Wehrmacht behave as soldiers or as a combination of Nazi/soldier? I would not claim to have the answer myself based on this documentary, but there are some remarkable things to be heard and seen here. Not only the shooting of Russian civilians is shown (and thus filmed by the soldier concerned!), on the question to one of the men whether he participated in such shootings himself, he says (not verbatim): "Please spare me to have to answer this question". At least two of the friendly gentlemen are still proud to have been at the Russian front. One of them is imagining how Russia could have been conquered after all, if HQ had done only this and that; it is very revealing that the thought that the invasion of Russia should not have taken place at all and that this offensive war was based on National-Socialist politics, in almost 45 years never entered his mind (how many older Germans still think likewise).

The weak point of the documentary is that the makers never put the questions (neither to the ex-soldiers nor themselves): What did the soldiers do with the material after coming home and in the 45 years after?; Was it ever shown as a treat for the family?. What was the reaction at home to e.g. the shooting of the Russian civilians?; do not forget that the showing of this kind of images in the official German newsreel "Die Deutsche Wochenschau" was not allowed by Goebbels. It is too bad that the makers skipped these questions, as it is now the subject is not finished.


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