Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter (Generation War) (2013)

 

 

 

Director:     Philipp Kadelbach.

Starring:     Volker Bruch ( Wilhelm Winter), Tom Schilling (Friedhelm Winter), Katharina Schüttler (Greta), Miriam Stein (Charlotte), Ludwig Trepte (Viktor Goldstein), Mark Waschke (Dorn), Henriette Richter-Röhl (Hildegard), Götz Schubert (Dr. Jahn), Hildegard Schroedter (Oberschwester), Christiane Paul (Lilja), Sylvester Groth (Hiemer), Alina Levshin (Alina), Lucas Gregorowicz (Jerzy), Maxim Mehmet (Hauptmann Feigl), Adam Markiewicz (Stanislawski), Johanna Gastdorf (Friedhelms Mutter), Peter Kremer (Vater Winter), Trystan Pütter (Bertok), David Zimmerschied (Schneider), Joel Basman (Bartel), Anne Diemer (Dorns Frau), Karina Plachetka (Erika), Judith Engel (Frau Schulze), Samuel Finzi (Viktors Vater), Janusz Cichocki (Polnischer Bauer), Dorka Gryllus (Viktor's Mother), Bernd Michael Lade (Feldwebel Krebs), Inga Jarkova (Schwester Sonja), Marek Harloff (Karow), Tino Mewes (Zwei), Antonio Wannek (Koch), Merle Dissen (Dorns Tochter), Paul Maaß (Dorgerloh), Benjamin Trinks (Eins), Ludwig Blochberger (Freitag), Laurens Walter (Dorns Adjutant), Martin Bruchmann (Schmidt), Kai Michael Müller (Polnischer Bauersohn), Lioba Ravén Engel (Mädchen), Eckehard Hoffmann (Dorns Chauffeur Willy), Valentin Novopolskij (Commander), Thomas Arnold (Wirt), Franziska Böhm (Krystyna), Michael Ihnow (Francizek), Jan Niklas Berg (Soldat), Bernhard Conrad (Feldwebel), Kristoffer Fuss (Russischer Soldat), Matthias Halbrock (Russischer Arzt), Martin Hentschel (Leutnant Harmann), Bruno Montani (Soldat), Jean Denis Römer (Russe im Lazarett).

TV mini-series advertised as a German Band of Brothers

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

 

Part I.   A Different Time. 

A German officer named Wilhelm Winter tells his men not to fire until he gives the command.  He sees the enemy chasing after his brother Friedhelm.  The officer thinks to himself:  "He's not going to be much help anymore."

Flashback.  June 1941.  Six months earlier.  Wilhelm and Friedhelm Winter say goodbye to their parents.  To Wilhelm it seems like a lifetime ago. 

Greta is set to close the bar up.  She escorts a drunken soldier out the door.  A woman known as Charly (Charlotte) comes into the bar with good news.  She has passed her test to become a nurse.  Greta congratulates her, but she's more interested in finding out if Charly told Wilhelm that she loves him.  She scolds Charly for putting it off for so long.  Charly says she will tell him tonight.

The Winter brothers arrive.  Then Viktor Goldstein arrives on his bike.  Wilhelm says that all five of them grew up in the same neighborhood.  Viktor was to take over his father's tailor shop, but the shop was destroyed during Kristallnacht.  Greta is his girlfriend.  "She doesn't care that her love for Viktor is seen as a racial shame."  Then there's Friedhelm who is the bookworm of the family.  And then there's Wilhelm, lieutenant of Windhund Company.   He served in Poland and France, but tomorrow he and his brother are off to Russia. 

The group plays American swing on the phonograph.  Charly is just about to tell Wilhelm that she loves him, when there is a knock at the door. It's the Gestapo.  They have been informed there is swing music playing and there's a Jew at the party.  Charly says that they would never have a Jew at their party.  Greta says she didn't know that swing music was forbidden.  The agent tells her to report to number eight, Prinz Albrechtstrasse.  The agent leaves.  Wilhelm says they have to go now, but the war will be over by Christmas and they all promise to be back here for the holiday.  They take a group portrait of the gang.  Wilhelm comments:  "We were young and we knew that the future would be ours.  The world lay before us, we just had to take it. We were immortal."   As narrator, Wilhelm adds:  "We would soon know better."

July 10, 1941.  Borisov, Russia.  Moscow 680 km away.  Wilhelm is proud of his men.  They are always at the front, that is, all but Friedhelm.  Everyone in the unit considers Friedhelm a coward.  Big brother says Friedhelm provokes him daily and for whom he is ashamed.  The men tease Friedhelm over his lack of enthusiasm for the adventure they are on. 

Charly heads off to the front.  Greta has to go see the Gestapo agent.  The agent tells Greta that Goebbels says that swing music is "degenerate nigger music".   He then says he has heard that Greta  is a singer.  Perhaps he could hook her up with the Reich's Broadcasting Company.  Greta likes that idea.  Now the agent asks Greta to sing for him. 

Martyukhova, Russia.  Moscow is 580 km away.  The captain tells Wilhelm that they have met some resistance from a local factory up ahead.  He wants Wilhelm to wipe out the resistance.  Wilhelm agrees.

Frontline Hospital in Smolensk.  Moscow 500 km away.  Charly and her friend Nurse Hildegard meet head nurse Brigitte, who warns them that there will be no fraternizing with the soldiers or the doctors. 

The Russians have a machine gun nest up on the second story of the factory.  Wilhelm wants help knocking out the gun.  Schmidt comes to help him, but Schmidt gets himself killed by not staying close to a side wall.  Another German soldier gets shot.  A couple of Russians are killed and three are taken prisoner.  The men want to shoot the captured Russians, but Wilhelm says they are to be taken for interrogation.

Charly writes to Greta that the German army is getting stronger and they should all be celebrating Christmas together.    Greta says she's going to become famous and then she will be able to protect Viktor and they can continue living together. 

Charly starts breaking down as she constantly has to assist the doctors in the operating rooms.  She starts making mistakes and the doctor tells her to leave the operating room.

Pokrovka, Russia.  Company quarters.  Wilhelm balls out his brother for never volunteering. He goes to see the captain, who wants him to execute the Russian political commissar.  Wilhelm is to take the commissar out to a distant place and execute him there so the troops don't see the execution and get too callous. 

Wilhelm collects his commissar and marches the prisoner away from the company quarters.  Near a river he has the prisoner fall to his knees.  He then shoots the Russian in the back of the head. 

Viktor says there are rumors that the Jews are being moved eastward.  And now no Jews are being allowed to leave Germany.

Charly is banned from the operating room and now has to change bedpans and bandages.  And Charly has to select a Ukrainian woman to help her with the cleaning. 

Now the German Jews have to wear a yellow star on their clothing to tell everyone that they are Jewish.  Viktor rebels at the thought of having to wear clothing stitched with yellow stars.  He lies to his mother about being able to make it out of Germany before it's too late. 

September 19, 1941.   The Germans takes hundreds of thousands of Russian prisoners.  

Smolensk, Russia.  Moscow is 500 km away.  Wilhelm and Friedhelm finally are introduced to the policy of killing Jewish civilians in Russia.  The brothers try to save a little Jewish girl, but theGestapo major shoots the girl in the head when Wilhelm turns to leave. 

Greta has sex again with her Gestapo admirer.  She asks him for documents to get a friend out of Germany.  Twice the Gestapo officer warns her just to worry about what she's good at.  He says he's going to make her a star. 

Leningrad is surrounded since September 7.  Kiev is about to fall and Moscow is still 500 km away.  Wilhelm's superior officers asks him if he has gone mad?  Trying to save a Jewish child from a Gestapo major?  Wilhelm is opposed to killing Jewish citizens.  He says:  "If we lost it [the war], then God won't be able to save us, let alone the Fuhrer."  His superior warns him not to ruin his own brilliant career in the army. 

The Major tells Wilhelm it was unfortunate about their rough encounter, but the Jews have to be treated differently from other civilians.  Friedhelm walks away from the major and discovers a bloody mass grave of the Jewish civilians executed by the Germans. 

On guard duty at night Friedhelm deliberately keeps on smoking a cigarette when his fellow guard tells him to put it out.  The Russians zero in on the light and start shelling the German quarters. 

An artillery lieutenant is brought into Ward A of the hospital.

Friedhelm gets beaten up by his fellow soldiers who heard about his cigarette caper. 

At a movie, Greta and Viktor run right into Greta's Gestapo man with his wife and child.  What's going to happen to Viktor now?

Charly tends to Friedhelm's wounds.  She tells him that he's lucky because soon they can return him back to his unit.  The head nurse comes by and tells Nurse Charlotte that five Russian armies have surrendered, and the hospital unit will be moving up to the front.  They will leave when the 60th Infantry Regiment arrives. That's Wilhelm's unit. 

Wilhelm arrives.  His unit will be the escort for the hospital convoy.  Charly sees her nurse friend flirting with Wilhelm.  She goes over to see Wilhelm.  He is glad to see her, and he asks her if she has found that right man she has been looking for.  Charly lies and says yes.  She then says she will see him in Berlin at Christmas time. 

Gestapo man pays another sex visit to Greta.  He warns her that racial shame is a crime.  Furthermore:  "A Jewish boyfriend is dangerous if you want to achieve anything."  Viktor finds out about Greta's relationship with the Gestapo officer.  He is very upset about it and leaves Greta's place.  After he's gone, Greta cries a bit. 

October 7, 1941.  The rainy season has begun and the floods bring everything to a halt.  It's the end of the blitzkrieg.

Moscow, 100 km away.  The soldiers ask a local which way to go.  The man tells them the way, and they walk straight into a mine field.  Friedhelm's buddy steps on a mine and is killed.  The soldiers now take another route. 

At the hospital the head nurse tell Charly and Hildegard notice that two more boxes of morphine are missing.  Charly suspects the Ukrainian nurse is the one stealing the morphine.  She checks out the woman's belongings and discovers that she's Jewish. 

The Germans use the local farmers to push through the mined swamp.  They follow after them.  A local is killed when he steps on a mine. 

Charly confronts her Ukrainian helper.  She tells the woman that she lied to her. She knows that the woman is a doctor.  And Jewish. 

Greta's Gestapo client gets the right documents for Viktor, who will have to make his way to Marseille, France. 

December 1941.  Three meters of snow on the ground and the temperatures is 40 degrees below zero.  The push for Moscow was a failure.  The Germans were unprepared for the winter weather. 

Golizyno, Russia.  Moscow is 40 km away.   The German soldiers are suffering in the cold.  At the hospital, Charly speaks with the Ukrainian doctor. 

Hitler has declared war on the United States.  Viktor says this move will finish Hitler for sure.  His mother tells him that his girlfriend was here earlier and she left documents for him.  Viktor sees the German passport for him.

Charly rushes over to the Jewish nurse Lilija to tell her she has to leave this second.  Lilija hears a man say that a nurse Charlotte reported a Jew hiding in the hospital.  Lilija is shocked that Charly reported her.  Charly says she's sorry.  They take Lilija away.

Viktor hugs his mother goodbye.  He goes to see Greta, but she is currently having sex with her Gestapo client.  Viktor leaves her the red dress in a package. 

Viktor is picked up by the Gestapo and taken away.  Greta sings for some music producers.  Viktor awaits interrogation.  Friedhelm is out filling the canteen with water.  He hears Russian voices and must get out of area and back to his unit.  Greta's Gestapo man comes into the room, looks at Viktor's papers and tells Viktor to have a good trip.  Friedhelm runs for his life. 

Back to the present.  Friedhelm is running back to the German trenches as fast as he can.  Friedhelm falls down and his brother orders his men to open up on the Russians. As he does this, the photograph of the five friends together floats down from his jacket pocket.  "We were five, five friends.  The whole world lay before us. All we had to do was take it.  That was six months ago.  A lifetime."  The Russians retreat and Wilhelm gets out of his trench to check on his brother.

 

 

Part II.  A Different War.

Wilhelm finds that his brother is still alive.  Wilhelm is relieved.

May 1943.  Wilhelm speaks:  "We parted two years ago in Berlin.  Two years and still no end.  At first, it was just a feeling, but now I know:  the German army is not invincible."

Wilhelm and his men move into position at Orel.  They are walking through a corn field.  The guys start to get spooked because they hear rustlings in the field.  They start shooting at what they think are the enemy.  Someone shouts let's get out of here and they all run into a wheat field.  They turn around ready to fire at the enemy, but it turns out to be only two horses that were making the noise in the corn field.  The soldiers have a good laugh at themselves. 

Field Hospital, Orel Russia, Moscow, 360 km away.  Charly wants to take care of a wounded Russian soldier, but the doctor says they don't even have enough morphine for their own German wounded.  Charly is not happy about this, so the doctor orders her to turn on the radio.  So, that's what Charly does.  The song that is playing is sung by Greta, with the showbiz name of Greta Del Torres. 

Greta was singing live through the radio.  She finishes and leaves.  She has a chauffeured car to ride in.  She is disappointed that her Gestapo Lt. Colonel isn't with her.  The driver says he's at the opera with his family. 

292nd Infantry Division.  Orel, Russia.  Moscow is 350 km away.  Three days until the Battle of Kursk.  Young soldiers are brought into the unit.  The newcomers try to introduce themselves, but the vets tell them that if they are still alive in four weeks, come back and then they can introduce themselves.

In the hospital, Charly meets a wounded man from the Ghost Legion.  Charly asks how they got that name.  He says:  "We make Jews disappear."   Charly asks if they kill the women too?  The fellow doesn't answer that question.

On a smoke break Charly asks Hildegard what does she think happened to Lilija. Hildegard says that Lilija was a Jew and the Jews want our demise, remember?  She then warns Charly not to let anyone else hear her talking about the fate of Lilija. 

Greta is mad at her Gestapo man and she is very curt with him, until he brings up the subject of Greta going on a musical tour.  She rushes over to give her man a kiss.  The tour, however, is going east, not west to Paris.  To Russia.  She will be entertaining the German troops. 

The news is that the German Africa Corps has surrendered.  And the Allies will attack Sicily and Italy next.  The young troops asks Lt. Wilhelm when will they fight?  They ask because Hitler said the war would be over at Christmas.  One of the vets asks if their leader said Christmas of what year?  One of the young guys says that's defeatism.  The lieutenant tells them to go get some sleep.

Greta goes to visit Viktor's Jewish family and is shocked when a German woman comes and tells her that all the Jews from Berlin are out of Berlin.  The city is Jew-free.  Then she asks Greta what does she have to do with the Jews?  Greta quickly leaves.

Kopice, Poland.  Auschwitz Concentration Camp,170 km away.  Viktor is in one of the cattle cars taking the Jewish people to Auschwitz.  Some of the Jewish people start cutting the floor boards out so they can escape. Viktor helps with the task. 

Tomorrow the army will begin its summer offensive on the Russian front.  They are heading for Kursk.  The code name is Citadel.  They will attack from two directions: Orel and Bjelgorod.  East of Kursk they will meet up with the 4th Division and close the trap.  This will give the Germans the initiative on the Russian front.  By the way, a famous singer will perform for the troops tonight.  Wilhelm is not happy and his superior officer asks him what's wrong?  Wilhelm answers:  "We were at the gates of Moscow and now it's more that 500 km again."  The superior officer says that Stalingrad was a disaster for them, but he still wants Wilhelm not to take a defeatist attitude.

Outside, alone, Wilhelm wonders:  "How do you lead your men into a battle you know so few will survive? 

Friedhelm is on a firing squad, but he does not shoot his person, a young woman.  So someone else shoots her. 

Greta sings before German troops.  Friedhelm hides in her dressing room and surprises her when she comes in.  The two hug each other.  Wilhelm now comes into the room to get his hug.  Then Charly comes in.  She hugs all three of the group.  They are going to have a toast with champagne, but that is interrupted when a messenger calls Greta to the commander's dinner party.  Greta tells her friends to stay and take whatever they want.  She won't be back until late, but she will be here for a couple more days.  Wilhelm now says he has to go too.  This makes Charly mad as hell.  She gathers up the liquor bottles in a basket and with a huff says her patients are waiting for her.  She leaves.  Friedhelm scolds Wilhelm for ruining their get-together.  Wilhelm says he just didn't want to get Charly's hopes up.  He now leaves. 

The people in the cattle car bust through the floor boards.  A brave woman goes first.  She falls onto the tracks while the train is still moving.  Viktor follows her. 

Wilhelm and Friedhelm are talking in their barracks when they both hear the sound of oncoming rockets.  Wilhelm screams out that the Russians are attacking.  The hospital staff watches the skies light up with the explosions of the rockets.  The doctor says to get ready for the casualties.

The brave Jewish woman helps Viktor up and off the tracks before a train runs over him.  She, herself, has a terrible gash in the back of her right calf. 

German planes whiz by just over the hospital area.  The Germans launch their counter attack.  Greta misses her ride and has to help Charly with her patients. 

Viktor and the young woman steal the clothes off a close line.  They have to run for their lives when the farmer starts shooting at them.  They change out of their prison clothes and into the pants and shirts from the farmer.  The woman says her name is Alina.  They say goodbye to each other and start walking away in different directions.  Viktor almost immediately runs into a German patrol.  He has to turn around and start running past Alina.  She falls down and he helps pick her up.  They get away.

July 7, 1943.  The greatest tank battle of the war at Kursk has been raging for three days.  More than 7,000 tanks are facing each other.  The Russian were ready for the Germans and the German casualties were high. 

Kurchatow, Russia.  Moscow is 300 km away.  Kursk is 46 km away.  Wilhelm learns that the Germans have lost half of their tanks and 40% percent of their men.  His assignment is to take and hold the local telegraph station, whatever it takes. 

The assault on the telegraph station begins.  The Germans run into a hailstorm of bullets and their soldiers start dying off.  The Germans, however, have lots of grenades and they use them well to silence the machine gun nests.  They now approach the station itself, but then to their left in an alley there is enormous firepower waiting for them.  The Germans start taking heavy casualties again.  And then a Russian tank shows up and blasts a shot at the Germans.  The call for retreat is now shouted out!

Greta is sick from seeing all the flesh and blood of the wounded.  She goes outside to throw up.  Charly just continues smoking her cigarette.  Greta asks her how can she stand all this?  Charly just says that she killed a woman.  A Jewish woman named Lilija.  And now she feels so guilty about it.  She tells Greta:  "Nothing is how we thought it would be, Greta."

Viktor is going to try to sew up the gash is Alina's right leg.  He gives her something to bite on and starts sewing her wound together. 

Wilhelm is still expected to take and hold the telegraph station. He is furious about having to attack the same target all over again.  He says he thinks him men are being sacrificed all for a stretch of road.  Friedhelm tells his brother:  "We're human livestock for the slaughterhouse."

Wilhelm's men try to take the telegraph station the next morning.  And again, they get a terrible beating by the Russians.  The Russians have heavier weapons to use against the lighter German arms.  Friedhelm sees his brother dead or unconscious, but he can't get to him.  So he grabs an automatic weapon and charges the Russian position.  He kills the three men in the machine gun nest area.  He then charges into the telegraph station.  All the people in the telegraph office are already dead.  Friedhelm starts laughing.  They lost so many German soldiers and for what?  For this mangled up old telegraph office? 

Wilhelm awakens.  He gets up, but it's hard for him to walk straight.  He notices that the fighting has stopped. 

Wilhelm goes stumbling along.  He's dead tired and goes inside a destroyed tank to sleep. 

Tarnow, Poland.  Berlin 650 km away.  Viktor and Alina sleep in a barn.  She tells Viktor that if they make it to Lodz, Poland, they have a chance.  She has friends who live there. 

Now the Germans are retreating.  Friedhelm tells the soldier with him, named Martin, that they better get going.  They both stand up, but Martin is shot through the head.  He's a goner.  Friedhelm knows that a Russian patrol is coming through the area.  So he puts on a Russian military uniform and walks out of town.  As he walks, he is shot through by a bullet from a German soldier.  Two soldiers come to look at the body and they discover that it's Friedhelm. 

Wilhelm walks along a pond in his German uniform.  He collapses by the pond.

Friedhelm is brought to the hospital.  Charly comes across him and tries to awaken him.  She begs the doctor to operate on him even though his chances of survival are low.  For Charly, the doctor will operate now. 

Wilhelm walks inside an abandoned shack. 

The operation on Friedhelm is successful.  Charly gives the doctor a big hug for saving her friend.  She then watches over Friedhelm.  Greta is still at the hospital.  Friedhelm tells Charly that Wilhelm is dead.  Charly is stunned by the news.

September 1943.  Friedhelm is ready for service again.  He says goodbye to Charly.  Greta is leaving too.  She also says goodbye to Charly.  Alone now, Charly cries over the loss of Wilhelm.  When she finishes crying she goes to her doctor and starts kissing him passionately. 

Friedhelm goes home to see his mother and father. His mother is happy to see him, but father really would prefer seeing Wilhelm. 

Greta comes back to where she was working  --  at the bar.  There are drunken soldiers there and they are way too familiar with Greta Del Torres.  When she resists them, they start saying that she got too much sex at the front.  She strikes back at them by saying:  "The final victory has been cancelled."  One of the soldiers asks her:  "Are you insane?"  Greta adds:  "So if you want to be heroes, you should hurry."

A farmer catches Alina and Viktor in his barn.  He holds them with a shotgun in his hands.  Later, he invites them to eat with them.  And he says they can stay here for a couple of days.  The farmer's son, however, says that the two escapees better come with him if they want to stay alive. 

At a restaurant, a couple of young guys come over to speak with Friedhelm in his uniform.  Friedhelm doesn't answer any of their questions and they say the soldier thinks he's too good for them.  The owner of the place chases the young boys out of the restaurant. 

Greta can't get in touch with her Gestapo man and she is very irritated.  So she calls the man at his home.  The wife does not like that. 

The son of the farmer walks the two escapees into the woods and into the hands of the partisans. 

Friedhelm decides to go back to fight on the front lines again.  His mother is very upset about this and tries to get him to stay with her.   Friedhelm leaves. 

At the little shack by the pond, Wilhelm is arrested by two German soldiers for desertion. 

Greta is now arrested by the Gestapo.  She is sat down at an interrogation table.  She is asked if it's true what she said to the soldiers in a local bar: that the final victory has been cancelled? 

Viktor and Alina are taken to the camp of the partisans.  The leader questions the two new comers.  Alina passes the test, but the leader is wondering if this Viktor fellow is a Jew?  Alina says he's not a Jew.  But the leader is still somewhat suspicious of Viktor. 

Now Greta's lover comes in to speak to her.  He acts very formally with her.  She is charged with defeatism, propaganda and belittling Hitler.  She says he can't arrest her because she is pregnant with his child.  She gets up to walk and the Gestapo fellow hits her right in the area of her womb. 

Wilhelm's superior officer tells him that the verdict is that Wilhelm will be stripped of his German civil rights and executed by firing squad at 6 a.m. tomorrow. 


 

Part III. A Different Country.

Greta is put into a prison cell with cellmate Erika. 

Two German soldiers are killed by the partisans when they stop to help a so-called German collaborator who is tied to a tree.  The bloodied man is just part of the ambush. 

Wilhelm is now a prisoner of the German army  He is now a member of Probation Unit 500 for the eradication of all the other garbage.  He says he doesn't even know if his brother is alive.  Nor does he know the fate of the others: Greta, Charly and Viktor. 

June 6, 1944.  150,000 American have landed in Normandy.  Rome has fallen.  The Wehrmacht has withdrawn from Tuscany.  Wilhelm says :  "Three years ago, we headed east to save our people.  We thought.  Instead, we brought death, suffering and destruction to millions.  Back then we were heroes, today we're murderers."

June 1944.  Janow Lubelski, Poland.  Partisan Supply Depot.  Berlin is 700 km away.    The partisans speak to some local farmers and buy some supplies from them.  Viktor is working with the partisans.

Berlin.  Charlottenburg Nazi prison.  Greta gets to know some of the other female prisoners.

Zamosc, Poland.  Wehrmacht HQ  --  Berlin is 750 km away.  Friedhelm is told he will be a driver. 

Butsyn, Ukraine.  Probation Unit Camp.  Berlin is 850 km away. Wilhelm gets the assignment to burn down a farmhouse because it's supposedly in the way of German artillery.  He tells the sergeant that this will only bring the attention of the Russians upon them.  The officer is not concerned about what Wilhelm says.  Wilhelm takes the petrol can and heads over to the farmhouse.  An old man and a woman are staying at the farmhouse.  They ask the German soldier to sit down and have some tea with them. 

Ostroleka, Poland.  Field Hospital.  Berlin is 600 km away.  Charly still takes care of the soldiers.  The doctor is getting friendlier with her. 

At the Probation Unit Camp Wilhelm returns without burning down the the farm house.  The sergeant starts to abuse Wilhelm.  A messenger comes to tell the sergeant that he is not to set any more fires otherwise the Russians will realize that they are withdrawing from the area.  The sergeant is not happy with this order.

A girl dresses as a boy named Hiemer.  She delivers a message to the partisan leader that a war criminal officer is coming to wipe out the partisans.  The officer led campaigns against Jews and partisans in the Ukraine and White Russia.

Greta lies awake on her bunk listening to the screams of a fellow inmate being tortured.  Charly helps a soldier delay his return to the front by making his wounds looks worse.  One of the other nurses, Hildegard, sees this and doesn't like it.

The partisans set up a roadblock at an ambush site for the infamous German officer with Vicktor and another partisan dressed in German military uniforms.  Viktor and driver Friedhelm see each other as Vicktor tells Friedhelm to follow a detour route.  Friedhelm follows after a motorcycle with a side car, but he does so slowly because he expects this might be an ambush.  When the partisans set upon the two German soldiers on the motorcycle, Friedhelm stops immediately and starts driving backwards.  The partisans start start firing at the jeep now.  Friedhelm keeps his composure and is able to get away from the partisans.  Viktor did not fire at the jeep so as not to hit Friedhelm. 

The German officer in the front passenger seat is dead.  Friedhelm pulls of the road.  The war crimiunal German offficer in the back of the jeep pushes the dead man out and onto an agricultural field.  He asks Friedhelm how he knew they were driving into an ambush?   Friedhelm replies:  "Instinct."  Now the officer says he recognized Friedhelm straightaway.  And now Friedhelm learns that his brother is still alive.  He deserted from the German army and now is with Probation Unit 500. 

Hildegard tells Charly that she should report Charly to the authorities for undermining military morale.  Hildegard also knows that Charly and the doctor are having an affair.  She asks Charly if she wants to get herself killed?  If the Russians win, they will not forgive Charly.  Charly comments that she thought Hildegard believed in a German victory.  Hildegard says that the Russians are gaining ground everywhere.  Minsk (in Belarus) has fallen.  Warsaw is just 500 km away. 

Friedhelm with his war criminal officer now starts acting like a ruthless German soldier.  By the order of his officer, he shoots down a farm boy running away from a raid on a local farm providing partisans with food.  Four men and one woman are taken to be publicly hanged before the towns people.  Friedhelm is the one ordered to pull the platform from under the prisoners' feet, while his officer takes a picture of the event.  Viktor is upset at the event, but also because Friedhelm acted as the hangman.

The German doctor hands Charly a transfer back to Germany.  Charly says she doesn't understand.  The doctor says that Hildegard wanted to report Charly for undermining morale.  Charly rushes out to confront Hildegard.  Hildegard tells her that she warned Charly.  And, anyway, she is doing the same thing that Charly did to the Jewish Ukrainian doctor Lilija.  At this moment, Charly and Wilhelm see each other.  Hildegard is a bit disgusted that Charly knows one of the soldiers in the probation unit.  She leaves.  Charly is in shock because she thought Wilhelm was dead.  The two friends hug each other, but soon Charly yells and cries at Wilhelm that he should be dead.  And now she tells Wilhelm:  "I love you."  She runs away crying.  Wilhelm's sergeant tells Charly:  "Don't worry, nurse, he'll die soon."  Now Wilhelm starts crying. 

When Charly composes herself, she returns to speak with Wilhelm, but Wilhelm went for a walk in the woods to clear his head and grieve.

Cellmate Erika tells Greta that she met her husband because of her singing. They played one of her songs, while her future husband came over to talk with her.  They got married two months later.  And now they will come to collect Erika in the morning.

July, 1944.  Wilhelm remarks:  "We're back where we started three years ago.  The Army Group Center is completely worn down, half a million men.  The Red Army has reached the Vistula River (which rises in the south of Poland and flows north through such towns and cities as Kraków, Sandomierz, Warsaw, Płock, Włocławek, Toruń, Bydgoszcz, Świecie, Grudziądz, Tczew and Gdańskm, to empty into the Vistula Lagoon or directly into the Gdańsk Bay of the Baltic Sea).  Warsaw will soon fall.  The war has been long lost, but it just goes on and on. 

The probation sergeant tells the prisoners that a group of cowardly traitors have tried to kill Hitler.  But Hitler still lives on.  Now he gives Wilhelm duty picking up the bodies of dead German soldiers.

The partisans decide to blow up a German train.  Greta hugs Erika goodbye as the prison guards come in to take Erika away to be executed.  Alone, Greta starts crying. 

The partisans watch as the train comes around.  The train stops at a sign that says stop and the partisans kill the train engineer.  Then they kill the guards on top of the train cars.  They start to approach the train but a guard inside a car kills or wounds several partisans.  Viktor runs toward the train as the partisan leader watches from where the German guard is.  Viktor is grazed across the neck, but the partisan leader wounds the German guard.  The leader then finds the guard and finishes him off with his pistol.  There are Jewish prisoners in some of the the cars, but no one, except Viktor, wants to give them their liberty.  As the partisans leave, Viktor opens up the car doors and sets the prisoners free.

Viktor thinks the leader is going to execute him for being a German and a Jew.  The leader walks him out one morning into the woods, but he says that Viktor was a good comrade and throws a pistol to him and wishes him good luck in surviving until the war's end, which should not be that far away.  The leader then walks back to headquarters. 

Greta's Gestapo lover pays her a visit in her cell.  He uses her show business name Greta del Torres.  He wants Greta to sign a piece of paper that says that he helped get her Jewish friend his freedom.  The Gestapo man is thinking that this will give him an advantage with the Allied troops.  Greta, however, won't sign it.  The Nazi leaves, telling Greta that all the prisoners will be killed before they can be saved by the Allies. 

Viktor walks in the woods.  He sees a local leading the German troops toward the partisan hideout.  He then hears the shots of the skirmish.  He runs after the Germans.  Viktor runs into Friedhelm, who tells him to get out of here while he still can.  He asks Friedhelm about his parents and Greta.  Friedhelm says Greta was arrested for defeatism.  The war criminal officer comes up and starts a countdown for Friedhelm to kill the man.  Friedhelm fires, but shoots the officer instead of Viktor.  He then tells Viktor to get out of here.  Viktor leaves.

February, 1945.  The Red army has crossed the Oder River (border between east Germany and west Poland).  100 km from Berlin. 

Raciborz, Poland.  Frontline.  Berlin is 500 km away.  Wilhelm is planting mines as Russian troops start attacking the probation prisoners.  One of the new prisoners is killed.  Wilhelm and another fellow run for their lives. 

The German doctor operates on a wounded man while the Russians are breaking through the German lines.  The Russians are only 5 km away.  The doctor finishes up and then tells everyone to evacuate the hospital.  Charly runs through the hospital calling for the Russian nurse Sonja.  She can't find her, so she goes outside to get on a truck, but all the trucks have now gone.  The Russians come into the hospital and start killing all the German wounded.   Charly finds Sonja and they hold on to each other.  Sonja is hauled away to be raped.  Another soldier tries to rape Charly, but a Russian woman in uniform saves the two women.  The Russian woman turns out to be Lilija.

Breslau  (then in Lower Silesia, Germany, now Wrocław, Poland) has been surrounded.  The sergeant comes to harass Wilhelm again, but this time Wilhelm knifes the sergeant in the mid-section.  Another soldier comes to help Wilhelm push the sergeant's body down a hill.  Then they both take off running. 

Sonja is beings mistreated by the soldiers, until Lilija arrives and takes her away.  Lilija then executes Sonja.  Charly has watched from her cell what happened to Sonja.  Charly cries. 

The Soviet medical now arrives at the hospital.  Lilija tells the doctor about the German nurse known as Charly.  She says Charly can work as a nurse to help the Russians now.  

Wilhelm and his buddy hide out in a barn near the nearby town. 

Charly asks Lilija why she's helping her?   Lilija says:  "Because otherwise it'll never stop."  She adds:  "I'll see you in Berlin."

At night Wlilhelm and his buddy start moving again. 

Greta's Gestapo fellow burns his uniforms and boots.  Greta herself is shot by a firing squad. 

Klodzko, Poland.  Berlin is 350 km away.  Wilhelm and his buddy now separate.  They're going in different directions. 

May, 1945.  Wilhelm says:  "Four years ago we said goodbye.  We were five friends and thought the war would be over by Christmas.  Now it's ending where it was started.  In Berlin, or what's left of it.  Soon there will be only Germans and not a single Nazi."

Viktor arrives back in Berlin, looking for any of his friends. 

Bohemian Forest.  Three days before the capitulation.  Russian troops tells Friedhelm and the men with him to give up because the war is over. 

Viktor goes to Greta's place.  He sits down. 

Friedhelm commits suicide by attacking the Russians and letting them kill him. 

Viktor confronts his old Gestapo enemy and finds that he is working for the Americans and they already know about the German's background and don't seem to care.  Viktor learns that Greta is dead.

Viktor now goes back to his father's old business and busts in.  While he sits and waits, Wilhelm comes into the shop.  And now Charly arrives.  Wilhelm says they don't have to wait for Friedhelm.  Charly asks about Greta.  No one says anything about Greta.  Wilhelm grabs three glasses and some liquor.  He tells Viktor and Charly that he's glad they are alive.  They toast to Friedhelm and Greta.  They remember back to when they were young, before the war.

Viktor died in 1997.  Charlotte died in 2003.  Wilhelm was still alive at the time of the film. 

 

Interesting film about action on the Russian front from the German point of view.  A German military officer Wilhelm is the narrator of the story.  As he says, their group of five friends were very optimistic about their futures.  They said they would all meet back in Berlin at Christmas time with a German conquest of Russia.  They didn't know then that the Russian front would prove a disaster for the Germans.  Their German Jewish friend ends up fighting alongside partisan against the Germans.  Brothers Wilhelm and Friedhelm are disillusioned by the German war crimes against the Jewish people and against ordinary civilians at the front.  Charly becomes exhausted by trying to fix up the vast number of German wounded in Russia.  And Greta gets thrown in prison for "defeatism".  Their happy lives and outlooks are shattered to the core and that's something we just don't get to see in too many films.  I actually felt bad for some of the Germans in the group of friends.  That surprised me, but I do have a big store of empathy for people, so I shouldn't have been surprised. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

 

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