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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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
"Ich war neunzehn" is for the most part based on the diary director Konrad Wolf kept throughout his time with the Red Army in 1945 and is thus a very personal, authentic, autobiographical account of the last days of World War 2. However, some scenes, e.g. the one in which a blind German soldier mistakes Gregor for an fellow German, had no basis in Wolf's journal and were included for their cinematographic value. See more »
The main problem with Ich war 19 is that glosses over several essential realities. It seems like a Soviet propaganda movie trying to white wash the past. The invasion of Germany by Soviet troops in 1944/5 was nothing short of barbaric. 18 million people were driven from their ancestral lands - over 2 million civilians were brutally murdered. More than a million POW's were liquidated and another 2 million Ukrainians, Poles and White Russians of German descent were also exterminated by the Soviets.
The landscape was almost completely destroyed by allied bombing and soviet artillery. 80% of the buildings were destroyed. Women (and boys) were frequently raped on the spot. The boys were lucky - they were invariably bayoneted after-wards - but the women were passed to next comrade. Of course we can argue that this was justified because of the Holocaust and the German barbarism in Russia and Poland. But women and children?
The film does not even suggest this was happening. It represents the war as a sort of part time activity in which a few unlucky people got killed. The buildings are all intact. The people all look well fed. The faces look completely undramatized. It doesn't bring home the reality of truth.
1945 was truly horrific for everyone between Berlin and Konigsberg (Kaliningrad)It is an indelible scar on the memory of everyone old enough to remember it. This film does not convey that horror.
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