Generation War shows seldom-seen side of Germans during WWII

Generation War, which was broadcasted as a mini-series on German television last year, was an attempt to stabilize German history. The generations following the war were angry and enraged with the atrocities their ancestors committed. The show, originally called Our Mothers, Our Fathers attempted to show that the Germans of the time were no different from anyone else.

Part melodrama, part combat action movie, the film written by Stefan Kolditz and directed by Philipp Kadelbach tells the story of five friends (all 20-year-olds) during World War ll. It starts off in a bar where the five are all smoking, drinking champagne and dancing to American jazz. It is their last goodbye before they all go their separate ways. Two brothers, Wilhelm (Volker Bruch) and Friedhelm (Tom Schilling) are about to leave to the eastern front. Charlotte, nicknamed Charly (Miriam Stein) is soon off to duty as field hospital nurse. Both Wilhelm and Charly are in love with one another but they do not say. Charly planned to tell Wilhem that night but decided not to. Their friends Greta (Katarina Schuttler) and Viktor (Ludwig Trepte) are in an illegal relationship because Viktor is a Jew. The five believe that the war will soon be over and they will all be back together for Christmas. None are aware of what is to come.

The characters are all different from one another. Greta is sensitive and passionate. Viktor is cautious, and more aware of what is actually going on in the war. Friedhelm is timid and righteous, he believes that killing is not right, he is believed to be a coward because of his lack of aggression and urge to kill. Wilhelm is a leader, a lieutenant, and he is very brave with his actions. Charlotte is sweet and has a lot of pride in participating in her country’s heroic destiny. Charly and Wilhelm are very patriotic and eager to be a part of the war. However, they do not realize that this will involve the murder of millions of innocents, betrayal, and the destruction of their ideology.

As they go their separate ways and encounter the harshness of war they begin to slowly change. What happens to them is exciting and very real. The moral choices they face are incredibly excruciating and agonizing.

Wilhelm begins as a patriotic lieutenant, ready to fight for his country. As the war carries on and he sees the evilness of the Nazis and what they stand for, he quickly begins to realize that he doesn’t want to fight for his country anymore. He realizes that they are losing the war and at the end he ends up being a deserter.  Although they find him and punish him for deserting his country when they need him the most.

Friedhelm was believed to be a coward by his comrades. They beat him up, made fun of him and he always had to give them his weapons. He was shot during the war and returned home. His father was so upset with him for returning and mentioned that he wished it was Wilhelm that returned not Friedhelm. Friedhelm replied “I’m sorry the bullet missed by one inch.” Friedhelm recovered and returned to battle as a new person, determined to kill. At the end, he would not surrender no matter if the Russians were surrounding him and some younger soldiers. He walked up to them trying to shoot at them but they shot him down. He refused to die a coward.

Charlotte, as well as Wilhelm was very patriotic, she was extremely proud to serve her country and it’s men. Throughout the war she experienced so many deaths and injuries. All the things that she encounters makes her a colder and careless person. While she’s working at the field hospital she meets a woman who lied about being a jew. Once Charlotte finds out, she betrays and reports her. When Friedhelm got shot, he went to the hospital in which Charlotte worked. He then told her that Wilhelm was dead, in rage and sadness Charlotte goes and sleeps with the head doctor. Overall. Charlotte transformed from a sweet young girl into a careless person full of betrayal.

Greta was in love with Viktor, she was loyal and devoted to him. She found out that they were sending jews to camp so in order to get a passport for Viktor, she started sleeping with an SS officer. She got into a fight with Viktor when he found out she was sleeping with the officer, she snapped and yelled at him. He left and didn’t say goodbye to him. That SS officer made her a singer and Greta got really famous. She started to change a lot, she went from being loyal to Viktor to sleeping with a man just to get what she wanted. As she became a singer she was only into herself and became pretty uptight. She is sent to jail for defeatism propaganda is killed while she is there.

Viktor knew from the beginning that the Nazis disliked the jews. He knew they were sending them away and had no plans of bringing them back into society. When he got his passport and was on his way to go to America, a car picked him up and took him to the SS officer. They later placed him on a train heading towards Auschwitz concentration camp. On his journey their, a young girl was planning to escape from under the train and he joined along with her. They escaped the train and soon became a part of a Polish anti-nazi group.

Throughout all the encounters and hardships they faced, Charly, Viktor and Wilhelm make it home alive to a ruined Berlin. Greta and Friedhelm are dead. They promised they’d meet up in Christmas in 1941, however the war did not turn out the way the hoped. They returned in 1945 after the war was over.

This is a great movie to watch because it shows the German’s point of view during the war. Every time we see a movie that deals with the war we mostly see those with American’s perspective. The show told the story of what people with different roles encountered throughout the war, Soldiers, a nurse, a German civilian, and a Jew. Overall, the movie is set up well and has a very good plot. The characters change throughout the movie because of the circumstances they dealt with. It showed that nothing came from the war but death and destruction. It demonstrates that not all those that are on the enemy side are bad, there is good and bad in everything and everyone. It also showed that circumstances and situations change people and what they believe in.