Anonyma - Eine Frau in Berlin (A Woman in Berlin) (2008)
Director: Max Färberböck.
Starring: Nina Hoss (Anonyma), Evgeniy Sidikhin (Major Andreij Rybkin), Irm Hermann (Witwe), Rüdiger Vogler (Eckhart), Ulrike Krumbiegel (Ilse Hoch), Rolf Kanies (Friedrich Hoch), Jördis Triebel (Bärbel Malthaus), Roman Gribkov (Anatol), Juliane Köhler (Elke), Samvel Muzhikyan (Andropov), Viktor Zhalsanov (asiatischer Rotarmist), Aleksandra Kulikova (Masha), Oleg Chernov (Erster Vergewaltiger), Anne Kanis (Flüchtlingsmädchen), August Diehl (Gerd).
Russians take revenge for German atrocities in Russia by wholesale raping of the women of Berlin
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
The one-time journalist Anonyma writes: "The unthinkable had occurred. It was on April 26, 1945. The Russian army had encircled Berlin and was advancing on the Reichstag, street by street. . . . My name doesn't matter. I was just one of many who believed in my country's destiny. Doubts were for weaklings. Warsaw, Brussels, Paris. A never-ending triumph."
Flashback. Anonyma's boyfriend Gerd is a German soldier who will fight the Russians. "We were convinced we were right. We all breathed the same air and it was intoxicating." At a party a woman declares: "The Russians have no idea what's going to hit them." Anonyma proposes a moment of silence: "I'd like us to take a moment to think of our men who are scattered across Europe and, in doing so, include them in this evening."
And now Anonyma finds herself in a bombed-out Berlin with debris everywhere. There is street to street fighting. German artillery men on the street fire their artillery at the Russians down the block. The German women run into shelters along with older men and children. An air raid warden tells them: "No uniforms and no weapons, or they'll shoot us." A woman looks for her son. In the shelter Anonyma sees different people that she knows from the neighborhood. She has to step on the bodies of dead women to get a jar of jelly. Anonyma says she will write it all down and Gerd can read it. A woman from Silesia has broken down and cries in a corner.
The block is quiet now except for the sounds of a Russian tank coming down the street and Russian soldiers barking out orders. A high-ranking officer named Andropov walks down the street with his men checking for snipers. Over a loud speaker a voice says that all weapons must be handed over immediately. All of a sudden Germans from apartment buildings start shooting Russians in the street. The Russians all fire back. They go into a building with a flame thrower to get the German soldiers out. One soldier is set on fire. Andropov kills a number of German soldiers. He opens a door to an apartment and shoots two men, one holding a white shirt.
Andropov calls in to tell the colonel that his men have almost reached the station. His order was to then proceed to the Reichstag. That order has now been canceled even if the men are so close. Instead, the men are to secure the flanks. The soldiers are extremely disappointed not to be able to shoot up the Reichstag.
A Russian soldier with an automatic weapon and a flashlight comes into the shelter. The soldier can't speak anything but Russian, so Anonyma speaks up and asks in Russian what does he want? The fellow finally communicates in primitive German that the shelter people are to come out and eat something. The war is kaput.
The women start coming up onto the street slowly. Two come up first. The older woman takes a couple of potatoes offered to her. But a soldier comes over to her with his weapon pointed at her chest. She slowly pushes the rifle barrel to the side. She takes more potatoes.
"So here are our Soviet liberators!" writes Anonyma. A Soviet nurse tends to the leg of Andropov. A soldier tries to force Anonyma to come with him, but she just runs away from him. The crazed Silesian woman makes an easy target. Anonyma asks the soldier who catches the Silesian woman why does he want a woman who has no sexual desire? The fellow is willing to let the older woman go in exchanged for Anonyma. She tells the soldier that she doesn't want to do it here. He follows her to another section, where she is able to lock him in a sort of cage. She then runs to find the commander of the outfit. She finally settles on Andropov, but all he tells her is: "All our men are healthy." She is a bit shocked at his response.
The soldiers just laugh at her. And the Soviet nurse Masha is no help either. In the dark a soldier grabs Anonyma and rapes her. She tries to fight him off but it's no use.
Anonyma goes to see the "widow" and she gives Anonyma a place to stay. Another woman is also going to live there. Anonyma says later that she should have looked around the place more and things may have turned out differently. "But we never see everything." With the young woman is a young man, a German soldier and it is prohibited to harbor German soldiers. "And the story took its course." The young soldier asks the girl if she was forced to have sex very often? She doesn't answer. He figures the answer is: "Often."
There are a lot of people, more than a dozen, staying in the widow's place. In the street the soldiers are celebrating and drinking. Someone bangs on the door to gain entrance. Where to hide? Anonyma says: "Our house was stormed for the next few days, day and night. One woman hung herself. Another was shot and killed. Nobody was spared. Every feeling is dead." The women try to run, but they are caught. The women are raped. A huge Russian soldier rapes Anonyma.
Still searching the place, the Russians find a large group of women and older men hiding. Some of the women are taken out and raped. Anonyma throws up in a bucket. She sees the raped mother of one of the little girls and she tells her: "We'll survive. At all costs." Anonyma continues to be raped. She has a sort of epiphany. She decides that she will be the one to choose who she is forced to have sex with. She will get a high ranking officer, maybe even a general. The raped mother's husband Frederick returns. She has a German soldier sleeping in her room. She asks the soldier now to sleep on the couch and not on her bed
Anonyma asks to see the Major. He is in a conference, but she is taken to him anyway. Andropov sends the men away. She tells Andropov that many women in her building were raped by Russian soldiers. Andropov answers that he knows nothing about it. She tells him: "It is your duty to help." He asks who should he help? She answers: "Me." Andropov coldly and cruelly says: "Those few minutes. . . So what?" Anonyma tells her friend that it is pointless. But she goes up to a lieutenant and tries with him. He doesn't say anything, so Anonyma turns and starts walking away. He call out to her and asks: "You and me? Tonight?" He says his name is Anatol. Anatol drives Anonyma and her friend back to their place on his motorcycle with a side car.
At dinner Anonyma sits with Anatol along with lots of other Russian soldiers. Anatol says that in civilian life he is a dairy farmer. After dinner Anatol strips out of his duds getting ready for sex. Anonyma comes inside and closes the door.
A woman walks down holding hands with presumably her husband. All of a sudden a shot rings out and the German man falls to the ground in a heap.
One day Andropov shows up at the place where Anonyma is staying. With him is a large Mongolian soldier. Anonyma goes to her room and closes the door. The nurse with a crush on Andropov, Masha, comes up to the apartment and finds Andropov talking with the widow and a German man. She gives a bar of soap to Andropov. Masha is extremely jealous because she knows that this is where the good-looking German blonde lives. Anonyma goes into the bathroom to have a bath. Masha grabs the soap back from the major, enters the bathroom, tells Anonyma that "Berlin is ours" and throws the soap at her. She leaves.
Andropov waits for Anonyma. She comes out dressed and he tells her that he sent everyone away. He asks her to come over to him. She says as you wish and then goes into her bedroom and starts taking off her clothes. He looks into the bedroom as she gets fully naked. He walks away from her and leaves.
Anonyma says: "The rapings continue. They are everywhere, in every home. We are Russians now. At their service. And we women will have to keep quiet. . . . Wretched Germany!"
One of the Russian soldiers shouts out that: "Berlin is one big whorehouse." Anatol comes to see Anonyma. About Anatol she says he is a gypsy and comes and goes when he wants. But he's useless as regards her protection. Anonyma has sex with him.
The sheltered young German soldier asks his girlfriend if she thinks Hitler will abandon them? She says never. She then gives him some food but he rejects it. He grabs his Lugar and leaves saying that he is going to get them something decent to eat.
One morning the major comes to the widow's place. He and the Mongolian soldier have brought enough food for everyone to have breakfast, including his staff. Suddenly the building is searched. They have a report that someone is harboring a German soldier. He was seen stealing some food and they think he lives in the widow's building. In the search for the German, one of the officers starts beating up a German tenant of the building. Andropov orders him to stop, but the officer won't stop. Eventually, Andropov comes down and grabs the officer and starts beating him. The Mongolian soldier finally comes down and pulls Andropov off the man.
Anonyma goes to her room. The Major comes in after her. Anonyma tells him that his Russians will never forgive him for that. He kisses her and Anonyma kisses him back. After the major goes, Anonyma rushes up to the room holding the girl and her German soldier. She tells the soldier that he has to leave. He says he is not going to go to Siberia.
The Mongolian sings a chant for the people at the widow's place. Anonyma writes that the major came and went providing protection for all in the house. He also brought a lot of presents for the house.
Anonyma writes that the war continued while German men were still being sent to Siberia. Now many German seek out protectors and thereby became taboo for the other soldiers.
The major brings news that Mussolini and his mistress are dead, hung upside down in the square. The officers laugh and celebrate. When Andropov would leave, Anatol would come to see Anonyma. She just hopes the two alpha males won't come together at the same time. She writes asking the question if she is a prostitute? Perhaps. She once knew a prostitute and the people told her not to talk to her because she was bad. But, really, what is this term "bad"?
Anonyma sees her friend Elke. The women in the building come together and eat an apple pie at the widow's place. They have a good time eating, talking and laughing. The huge Russian soldier who raped Anonyma wants to get at her again, but the big Mongolian stops him. He says he will be back.
A woman comes to Anonyma asking for her help. She goes with the woman. A group of Russian soldiers are sitting around a kitchen table in one of the apartments. One soldier wants Anonyma to translate for him. He says that in his home village, German soldiers killed all the children. They grabbed the kids and stabbed them all. Then they threw the children against the walls, smashing their skulls. She asks if this is hearsay? The soldier tells her he saw it with his own eyes. Upset Anonyma runs out of the room.
Anonyma tries to avoid seeing the major, but he comes up to her and wants to know where she is going? He was waiting for her. Andropov tells Anonyma that the old Germany is finished. Masha comes up to Anonyma and tells her to leave Andropov alone. Anonyma says the man comes to her, she doesn't go to him. Masha tells Anonyma: "You people hung his wife!"
A German officer speaks to the German people over a loud speaker. On April 30, 1945 Hitler killed himself. He now calls for a cessation of defending Berlin. Any German dying now in the Battle of Berlin is sacrificing himself for nothing. All combat is to stop in Berlin. A Russian officer gets up and shouts to the 8th Red Army that the Berlin garrison has surrendered. Berlin is defeated! There are big hurrahs for this.
Fredrick tells Ilse that he is going back to his people. She grabs hold of Frederick and takes him to the side. She tells him to talk to her. She says she hoped and prayed and hoped and prayer for her husband to return. And now she tells him: "I want you to at least try to stand by me." Frederick starts crying and the couple hugs each other.
The Soviet soldiers start shooting their weapons into the air. Masha kisses Andropov.
There is a big celebration at the widow's place. Andropov plays the piano. The war is over. Andropov asks Anonyma if she is a fascist? She doesn't answer him.
The huge Russian who raped Anonyma before tries to get past the Mongolian. The Mongolian won't let him pass. So the man sits down again. He says that he has been at war for 1,678 days. He goes up past the Mongolian and go to the place where the young German soldier is hiding. The guy comes into the room and the soldier shoots at him, but misses. The huge fellow grabs the kid and throws him to his death down the stair well to the bottom floor. When Andropov demands to know whose apartment was he hiding in, Anonyma says it was hers. The girl who was hiding the soldier says Long live Hitler! Andropov tells his men to take her out and liquidate her.
And now Andropov is in trouble because his sexual affair with Anonyma took his mind off his job and a German soldier successfully hid in the building where Anonyma lives. A fellow officer tells Andropov that he will be questioned.
Andropov comes over to see Anonyma and finds Anatol on her bed. He tells him he had better go before he shoots Anatol's balls off. Andropov yells down the stair well that everyone is to come up to the widow's place and that's an order. The soldiers dance with the German women. Anatol transfers his affections to a friend of Anonyma.
Frederick tells his wife Ilse to go upstairs to the party. He will come up later. At the widow's place Andropov and Anonyma dance to the music. Frederick comes up to look in on the party. He sees his wife dancing with a soldier. He goes back downstairs to his apartment.
The party is over. Andropov and Anonyma talk for awhile. He starts to leave, but she stops him. She has sex with him and he stays overnight.
Anonyma writes: "We women have been branded for life. But for the time being, at this very moment, I feel just fine."
Anonyma comes to check on Ilse and her husband. She soon discovers that Frederick has killed himself and Ilse lays crying on top of his dead body. Anonyma tries to get her off the body, but Ilse won't budge. So she takes the children to a babysitter in the building.
Anonyma goes for a bike ride. She says that the major has lost everything. When she returns she sees a Russian officer and Gerd at the widow's place. The Russian officer tells Anonyma that Andropov has been transferred to who know where. The others leave Gerd and Anonyma alone. There is silence between the two people. Anonyma tells him to sit down. A little later Anonyma prepares food for Gerd. In the middle of the preparation she goes into her things and takes out her diaries and gives them to Gerd. She wants him to read them.
Gerd reads through the diaries and comments: "You're all shameless. It's disgusting just to look at you." Anonyma goes out down to see Andropov. She passes by the Mongolian soldier and Masha. She sees Andropov coming out of a building with a couple of men behind him. She goes over to Andropov and says: "I want to thank you." Andropov asks what for? She responds: "For being allowed to know you. Take care of yourself." The two hold hands tightly. She now asks: "How do we go on living?"
Andropov now pulls away from her and gets in the jeep. Off he goes accompanied by other men in the jeep and still more in a second jeep behind them. Anonyma wonders if he is being transferred to Siberia.
At her apartment Gerd is deliberately making a mess of everything. Two days later he leaves. Anonyma wonders if she will see him again. She adds that maybe she will see him sometime.
"When the memoir Anonyma was first published in Germany in 1959, it was met with outrage and condemnation. It was an affront to the honor of German women. Shocked by her contemporaries' disdain, the author banned any new edition for as long as she lived and even after her death, her name was not to be revealed."
Good movie and what a theme. I had not known about this mass raping of German women by the Russian soldiers in Germany as the Russians took over in Germany. I can understand that the men would want revenge on the German people for the atrocities committed against the Russians by the Germans, but it still doesn't condone the raping of women. Apparently, the Russian soldiers raped most of the women and there certainly was no way of their knowing whether a woman was a Nazi or an opponent of German militarism. The German women were in a helpless position and had to endure what happened to them. The German women probably didn't want others to know what happened to them and that's why there was so much protest against the book Anonyma. My belief is that it is better to know the truth than accept a lie. The lovely Nina Hoss was very good as Anonyma and Samvel Muzhikyan was very good as the sympathetic Andropov.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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