A Woman in Berlin (2008) Poster

A Woman in Berlin (2008)

  • Rate: 7.0/10 total 1,864 votes 
  • Genre: Drama | History | War
  • Release Date: 23 October 2008 (Germany)
  • Runtime: 131 min | 175 min (2 parts)
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A Woman in Berlin (2008)

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  • IMDb page: A Woman in Berlin (2008)
  • Rate: 7.0/10 total 1,864 votes 
  • Genre: Drama | History | War
  • Release Date: 23 October 2008 (Germany)
  • Runtime: 131 min | 175 min (2 parts)
  • Filming Location: Cologne, North Rhine – Westphalia, Germany
  • Gross: $287,526(USA)(15 November 2009)
  • Director: Max Färberböck
  • Stars: Nina Hoss, Evgeniy Sidikhin and Irm Hermann
  • Original Music By: Zbigniew Preisner   
  • Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
  • Plot Keyword: Invasion | Spring | Invader | Sexual Desire | Gang Bang

Writing Credits By:

    (in alphabetical order)

  • Anonyma  book
  • Max Färberböck  writer
  • Catharina Schuchmann 

Known Trivia

  • As a protective measure the author requested her anonymity as author of her book: Eine Frau in Berlin (A Woman In Berlin).
  • The autobiographical book, of the same name, and film, is based on the diary of its author, Anonyma (meaning “unnamed author”), which is set between the dates of 29th April 1945 to 22nd June 1945.
  • Anonyma’s memoir was virtually banned in Germany when it was first published in the late 50s. However, it became a huge bestseller and nationwide sensation when it was reprinted in 2003.
  • It is estimated that between 95,000 and 130,000 Berlin women were raped by Russian soldiers in the four months in 1945 that the Russian army occupied the city.
  • Anonyma was later revealed to be journalist Marta Hillers.

Plot: A woman tries to survive the invasion of Berlin by the Soviet troops during the last days of World War II. Full summary »  »

Story: A nameless woman keeps a diary as the Russians invade Berlin in the spring of 1945. She is in her early 30s, a patriotic journalist with international credentials; her husband, Gerd, a writer, is an officer at the Russian front. She speaks Russian and, for a day or two after the invasion, keeps herself safe, but then the rapes begin. She resolves to control her fate and invites the attentions of a Russian major, Andreij Rybkin. He becomes her protector of sorts subject to pressures from his own fellow soldiers and officers. Dramas play out in the block of flats where she lives. Is she an amoral traitor? She asks, "How do we go on living?" And what of Gerd and her diary?Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>  

FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Martin Moszkowicz known as executive producer
  • Günter Rohrbach known as producer
  • Bernhard Thür known as line producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Nina Hoss known as Anonyma
  • Evgeniy Sidikhin known as Major Andreij Rybkin
  • Irm Hermann known as Witwe
  • Rüdiger Vogler known as Eckhart
  • Ulrike Krumbiegel known as Ilse Hoch
  • Rolf Kanies known as Friedrich Hoch
  • Jördis Triebel known as Bärbel Malthaus
  • Roman Gribkov known as Anatol
  • Juliane Köhler known as Elke
  • Samvel Muzhikyan known as Andropov
  • Viktor Zhalsanov known as asiatischer Rotarmist
  • Aleksandra Kulikova known as Masha
  • Oleg Chernov known as Erster Vergewaltiger
  • Anne Kanis known as Flüchtlingsmädchen
  • August Diehl known as Gerd
  • Rosalie Thomass known as Greta Malthaus
  • Sandra Hüller known as Steffi
  • Erni Mangold known as Achtzigjährige Frau
  • Sebastian Urzendowsky known as Junger Soldat
  • Hermann Beyer known as Dr. Wolf
  • Ralf Schermuly known as Buchhändler
  • Isabell Gerschke known as Lisbeth
  • Aleksandr Samoylenko known as Petka
  • Eva Löbau known as Frau Wendt
  • Evgeniy Titov known as Volodja
  • Louis Schuchmann known as Felix
  • Catharina Schuchmann known as Frau Binder
  • Tomasz Leszczynski known as Grisha
  • Dmitri Bykovsky known as Sibiriak
  • Yvo Rene Scharf known as Ivan, russischer Soldat
  • Stella Kunkat known as Lenchen Hoch
  • Maksim Konovalov known as Zündapp Junge
  • Olgierd Lukaszewicz known as Buttermann
  • Hans-Peter Abts known as Stiefelrusse
  • Jasmin Al-Yasri known as Tanzende Frau
  • Dimitri Bilov known as Pfannenrusse
  • Katharina Blaschke known as Buchhändlerin
  • Wolfgang Ceczor known as Deutscher Offizier
  • Andreina de Martin known as Belästigte Frau
  • Lili Färberböck known as Fünfzehnjährige
  • Maria Hartmann known as Likörfabrikantin
  • Waléra Kanischtscheff known as Russian soldier (voice)
  • Artur Kowalski known as Hübscher Unterleutnant
  • Simon Raphael Louwen known as Russischer Soldat
  • Romuald Makarenko known as Adjutant
  • Aleksei Poluyan known as Pockennarbiger Unterleutnant
  • Kirill Ulyanov known as Dichter
  • Konstantin Vorobyev known as Vierzigjähriger
  • Igor Yatsko known as Erster Russe im Keller

..

 

Supporting Department

Makeup Department:
  • René Jordan known as makeup artist
  • Anette Keiser known as key makeup artist

Art Department:

  • Martina Barthelmes known as assistant set decorator
  • Markus Bendler known as picture vehicle supervisor
  • Klaus Bienen known as carpenter
  • Holger Buff known as art department intern
  • Eckart Friz known as stand-by props
  • René Heß known as art department intern
  • Stefan Isfort known as property master
  • Kai Koch known as assistant production designer
  • Anika Lotz known as art department intern
  • Joachim Monninger known as construction coordinator
  • Robin Reißmann known as art department intern
  • Joanna Skoberla known as art department intern
  • Uli Tegetmeier known as set dresser
  • Petra Maria Wirth known as drawing artist

..

 

Company

Production Companies:

  • Constantin Film Produktion
  • Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) (co-production)
  • Tempus (in association with)

Other Companies:

  • BKM  funding
  • Dolby Laboratories  sound post-production
  • Filmförderungsanstalt (FFA)  funding
  • Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen  funding
  • Globus-film  production services: casting in Russia
  • Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg  funding
  • Post Republic, The  sound post-production
  • Tonstudio Hanse Warns  foley effects

Distributors:

  • A-Film Distribution (2008) (Belgium) (theatrical)
  • A-Film Distribution (2008) (Luxembourg) (theatrical)
  • A-Film Distribution (2008) (Netherlands) (theatrical)
  • Alfa Films (2010) (Argentina) (theatrical)
  • Seven Films (2009) (Greece) (theatrical)
  • Strand Releasing (2009) (USA) (theatrical) (subtitled)
  • A-Film Home Entertainment (2009) (Netherlands) (DVD)
  • Cine Colombia (2009) (Colombia) (all media)
  • Constantin Film Verleih (2008) (Germany) (all media)
  • Constantin Film (2008) (Austria) (all media)
  • Constantin-Filmverleih (2008) (Austria) (all media)
  • Divisa Home Video (2010) (Spain) (DVD)
  • Metrodome Video Ltd. (2010) (UK) (DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • Monolith (2008) (Poland) (all media)
  • Multimedia (2008) (Portugal) (all media)
  • Paramount Home Entertainment (2009) (Sweden) (DVD)
  • Scanbox Entertainment (2009) (Denmark) (all media)
  • Scanbox Entertainment (2009) (Norway) (all media)
  • Scanbox Entertainment (2009) (Finland) (all media)
  • Scanbox Entertainment (2009) (Iceland) (all media)
  • Shapira Films (2008) (Israel) (all media)
  • Transeuropa Video Entertainment (TVE) (2011) (Argentina) (DVD)
  • Vii Pillars Entertainment (2012) (Hong Kong) (DVD)

..

 

Other Stuff

Special Effects:

  • ARRI Film & TV Services

Visual Effects by:

  • Andreas Alesik known as digital artist
  • Matthias Brauner known as main title designer & animator
  • Manfred Büttner known as visual effects
  • David Laubsch known as visual effects supervisor
  • Katja Müller known as vfx & digital intermediate producer
  • Paul Poetsch known as senior compositor
  • Henning Raedlein known as visual effects
  • Marco Ringler known as digital compositor
  • Abraham Schneider known as senior compositor: ARRI
  • Tim Stern known as digital compositor
  • Stefan Tischner known as digital compositor

Release Date:

  • Canada 10 September 2008 (Toronto International Film Festival)
  • Germany 23 October 2008
  • USA 5 November 2008 (American Film Market)
  • Netherlands 15 January 2009
  • Germany 7 February 2009 (Berlin International Film Festival)
  • Germany 24 April 2009 (DVD premiere)
  • Poland 8 May 2009
  • USA 6 June 2009 (Seattle International Film Festival)
  • Denmark 26 June 2009
  • Portugal 16 July 2009
  • USA 17 July 2009 (limited)
  • Sweden 7 October 2009 (DVD premiere)
  • UK 5 February 2010
  • UK 28 February 2010 (Keswick Film Festival)
  • Germany 4 May 2010 (extended version) (part 1)
  • Germany 5 May 2010 (extended version) (part 2)
  • Germany 10 May 2010
  • Argentina 4 November 2010

..

 
 

Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database


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Posted on March 30, 2012 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , , , .

10 Comments

  1. manon-buttan from paris, France
    30 Mar 2012, 9:54 pm

    rape is the particular plight of women during war and acknowledged atlong last as a war crime.The plight of German women at the end of WW IIwas especially awful as they had protection from no one. GeneralEisenhower who punished rape committed by his men with executionoutside of Germany (first rape took place six hours after invasion ofNormandy had begun)but as for German women all men had free hands asthese women were all declared "willing". The Americans are the onlyones to have gone through archives as for army rape in WW II howeverthe one recent book existing is not allowed for publishing in the USbecause of the war in Iraq (!!)so exists in French version only. TheFrench and the British have preferred to turn a blind eye to what wasdone by their soldiers towards German women let alone the Russians. Itis very important that this film has been made at long last. Subjectconcerns all not just its victims let alone the children born out ofthe horrors. Bravo Germany.

  2. Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California
    30 Mar 2012, 9:54 pm

    To begin with the end note: When the anonymous memoir adapted here('Anonyma – Eine Frau in Berlin') was published in Switzerland in 1959,it was greeted with such outrage among Germans the author allowed nofurther editions; she of course never revealed her name. Here we are,fifty years later, and the material is still incendiary and hard to getyour head around. It concerns events that are unspeakable andincomprehensible.

    As played by the strikingly handsome, elegant Nina Hoss, "Anonyma" isan ash blond who can wear odds and ends as if they were couturierfashions, a journalist fluent in French and Russian, at home in Parisand London, who comes back from assignment to be in the Führer'scapital for the final victory she still believes in. The Third Reichfor her and her pals seems a time of freshness and energy for Germany.The war is just a blip on the horizon soon to be done with. She partieswith fellow supporters of the Fatherland's great endeavor who toast thetroops and boast that the buffoonish Russians will fall by the wayside.They don't, and when they invade Berlin and begin the wholesale rapingof the German women, she chooses to mete out her favors selectively forher own protection and that of her neighbors in the apartment building.This is the story of how that happens.

    When Berlin crumbles apartment dwellers are hiding in the basement,like ghosts; then, like condemned men and women given an uneasyreprieve, they return to living in the remnants of apartments."Anonyma" moves in with a group of others in a large flat and turnsover the studio she occupied with her absent soldier boyfriend Gerd(August Diehl), for whom she keeps a diary of what happens, to anunrepentantly Nazi young woman and the adolescent German soldierboyfriend she hides (Sebastian Urzendowsky), who is armed. This unwisegesture is the pistol we know will go off eventually, endangeringeverybody.

    The film shows only two public events: the invasion, and the officialGerman declaration that the Germans have surrendered Berlin. The periodin between is the main focus of the diary and the film. It's notspecified but it was about three months.

    The film focuses on a handful of neighbors, who include ; two livelysisters (Joerdis Triebel, Rosalie Thomass), a strong-willed widow (IrmHermann); an elderly bookseller (Katharina Blaschke); a liquor dealer(Maria Hartmann); a pair of lesbian lovers (Sandra Hueller, IsabellGerschke); a refugee girl in hiding (Anne Kanis) and a stolidoctogenarian (Erni Mangold). And there are more, not to mention a halfdozen clearly defined Russians, including the high ranking officer'sMongolian guard.

    It's a bit difficult to keep track of all these, and Woman in Berlin isbest at making us feel close to the narrator and conveying a sense ofthe chaos and uncertainty when the invasion and the raping begin. Thereseems to be no control. It's hard to see that anything is going on. TheRussians are just there, wandering free, and brutalizing the Germanwomen. When these women meet the question they ask each other is notwhether but "How often?" Anonyma sleeps with various Russians,willingly and not. Protesting the violations and seeking a protectiveofficer she first becomes involved with Anatol (Roman Gribkov), apretty, frivolous man who turns out to be not a career soldier but adairyman. He comes and goes and is no real help. She calls him "agypsy." Then she finds a battalion commander, Major Rybkin (theexcellent, charismatic Yevgeni Sidikhin), who is unresponsive when sheconfronts him boldly in front of a lot of Russian soldiers, and thencomes around to find her. Unlike the Germans, she says later in herdiary (which we see her constantly scribbling in pencil), the Russiansappreciate an educated woman.

    A strength of the film is that it alternates naturally between noiseand violence, drunken celebration when Russians and Germans fraternizein the big apartment, and "love," which has lost its usual meaning, butlingers on. These extremes never seem overwrought or manipulative.Here's a time when in a film the fact that nothing makes sense, makessense. The protagonist recognizes that in the eyes of many she is now awhore, but she questions what a whore is.

    Marguerite Duras' screenplay for 'Hiroshima Mon Amour' is poetic andoverwrought, ut in its rhythmic repetitions it strongly conveys a senseof the aftermath of trauma isn't found in the somewhat overlong 'Womanin Berlin,' which is simply about the confusion of day-to-survival in aworld where morality is turned on its head. As Anonyma knew however andas we see in the film, the defeated must capitulate or die, and theinvaders have suffered horribly too. One young soldier reconts inRussian, demanding that she translate to all present, how invadingGermans brutally slaughtered all the children in his village while hewatched. Even Andreij's wife has been killed by the Germans. And thefilm shows the range of the then Russian people, the Ukrainians,Caucasians, Mongols, who are to be the Soviet Union.

    Though reviewers and commentators seem to think they know what all thismaterial means and proclaim judgments if not on the protagonist, on thefilmmaker, this is primarily an example of Germans taking hard looks atrepressed material that formerly was too ugly to examine. This isn't animpassioned indictment or defense, but a movie that uses anextraordinary diary (only published in Germany in 2003) to present anadmirably complex picture of a crazy time. If it is both remarkable inits focus and at times quite old fashioned in its methods, that's asgood a way as any to get things across. The result is both specific andwide-reaching, because there's ample time to ponder a basic issue forcivilians in wartime: what does it cost you to survive?

  3. cix_one from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 9:54 pm

    Although I was aware of the awesomeness of German cinema in the pastdecades, I was still pleasantly surprised by this film. The title ofthe movie implies a specific point of view – the plight of a womantrapped in Berlin during the last days of WW2. The movie is however farless black-and-white (metaphorically speaking, of course) than it couldhave been. It goes beyond a simplistic right/wrong attitude and insteadputs the audience in a position to ponder how in a war atrocitiesescalate and feed on themselves in a typical "chicken and egg" problem.Even the fact that the book on which the movie is based was met withoutrage when it was first published in the 50's is ultimately part ofthis chain.

    There are more complex answers to why horrible things happen in a war,and in the world in general – and Europe has had its share of it – andthis film manages to capture these complexities masterfully.

  4. lastliberal from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 9:54 pm

    War is not a pleasant experience. Those who follow the news know thatthere have been several of our own soldiers accused and prosecuted forrape and murder in Iraq. In all wars there are local citizens whoprostitute themselves to feed their family. It is often hard to make achoice between honor and survival.

    This is the story of German women at the end of WWII when the Russianshave moved into Germany. They are, of course, raped and abused, aswomen often are by invading armies. The question then becomes, how bestto survive. Anonyma (Nina Hoss) decides the best way is to find thebest Russian officer to care for her in exchange for sex.

    It is easy to see why the Germans and the Russians hated the book, uponwhich this film is based, when it came out after the war. They are notshown in a good light. That is no surprise. Soldiers usually do notcome from Ivy League universities, but from farms and shops.

    Nina Hoss is one of the very few women that can look splendid even inrags.

    Oustanding film.

  5. hasosch from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 9:54 pm

    Max Färberböck, known to the world-wide audience since his "Aimee andJaguar", shows in this newer film for once not the standard story ofthe bad Germans, who, deserving after what they have done, being Nazis,are liberated by the good Russians, the good Americans and the goodAllies. It shows exactly the same experience that we all, who grew upin the East Block, had about our Russiand "friends". They came to rape,to destroy, to violate, to erase. It is a very interesting factconcerning mass psychology or perhaps better mass-psychosis that nobodynormally speaks about the enormous amount of destruction done or causedby the liberators of end-World War II Europe. And nobody even mentionsthe Stalinist concentration camps. This is why we need films like "EineFrau In Berlin".

    However, in Färberböcks film, we see the Russians, "like animals, likepigs, an-alphabets, without culture" – as the Russian Major says it inhis own words, he, who speaks, according to the main female character"a seldomly high-style Russian". Well, a little bit of "justness" hadto be – not ALL Russians are like the "scum" (quotation from the movie)that we see. Interestingly, my Hungarian home-town had been bombed byAmericans, but afterward the Russians came like vultures and pitchedthemselves into the ruins, what was female, was raped, what had beenchurch or synagogue – was emptied and the treasures stolen, asubculture sneaking from the sou-terrain up to the ruins and evenprofiting from corpses and debris.

  6. secondtake from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 9:54 pm

    A Woman in Berlin (2008)

    Imagine the horrors of women caught in a large city during the chaos ofwar, with occupying troops storming your apartment building day afterday. Well, think again. It isn't imaginable. I think even people wholive through such things (and we are talking Berlin, 1945 for thismovie) the truth is something that is pushed away. Because evenwatching a movie–a movie!–of these events is unbearable.

    Not that the movie is unwatchable. Just the opposite. It's beautifullymade, seeming to parallel that other recent German movie about the lastdays of the Nazi reign, "Downfall," 2004. But unlike that movie, thisisn't about political history, or the history of war, or even thedramatization of historical figures as real people. This is a personalstory, centering around one woman played by Nina Hoss, and about therepeated rape and abuse of women by the Russian troops for days andweeks on end. There was no escape, no power to complain to, no justiceanywhere, anywhere, not German or Russian or even American (assumingthey were any better) a mile or two away.

    The movie is based on a book, "Anonyma," by a woman whose identity isnot revealed, if it is even known (this was her protection even afterdeath). The movie suffers now and then from a sameness, a steadypounding, beginning to end. The parade of horrors is continuous even asrelationships develop and the first wave of anarchistic occupiersshifts to more entrenched troops and some general partying. You docling to some semblance of progression, or of events to stand out fromthe others, but it's mostly about horribleness.

    But maybe that's the way it should be. It was an endless nightmare onevery level, even if you (they, these women) survive. In some ways, theend of the war is more believably insane here than in "Downfall" eventhough they are in many ways comparable movies, comparable moments.Such an array or gritty, believable acting and sets you won't findoften. And thankfully, even the sentimental aspects are handled withoutswelling music and other cinematic tricks found too often this side ofthe Atlantic.

    One last point, whatever you think of the Germans and WWII, here is yetanother kind of national acknowledgment and, for many, soul-searching.This is a German film. The Russians don't come off great, for sure, butthe Germans are clearly at fault, and are shown that way, and shown asresponsible for even greater crimes. There's no glossing over any ofit. Watch this movie. It won't be fun, but it'll be stirring andimportant.

  7. gradyharp from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 9:54 pm

    ANONYMA – EINE FRAU IN BERLIN (A Woman In Berlin) is the painfullysensitive title of this exquisite film from writer/director MaxFärberböck based on a once occult book by 'Anonyma' that has become arecent bestseller in Germany. It has the courage to tell the story ofwhat it was like in Berlin as World War II was ending – the time of theRussian siege of the city just before and just after Hitler committedsuicide, ending the horror of the Nazi regime. While many films havebeen made about the German populace and how they coped with the fall oftheir 'great Third Reich' country that was to rule the planet, few havebeen able to allow the audience to understand the brutalities of war onthe people of Germany in so direct a fashion. It is a film that willhaunt the viewer for a long time, a film that will restore some dignityto the German people who lived through it, not being part of Hitler'smadness but being trapped in the ugliness that followed his fall.

    Anonyma (Nina Hoss) is a journalist, a pretty woman living in thecellars and other hiding places while the Russians took over Berlin.She helps her fellow survivors of the bombing of Berlin, struggling forfood and protection. The Russian soldiers, still angry with the gnawinghatred for the Germans from the Siege of Leningrad and the loathing ofanything that exists in Hitler's Berlin, drink heavily and seek out thewomen from hiding to satisfy their insatiable lust. 'Berlin is a Germanwhorehouse' and all women, from children to youngsters to elderly frausare continually raped and beaten as part of the victors' rage. Anonymaspeaks several languages including Russian and decides her only hopefor survival is to align with the Commander of the troops, MajorAndreij Rybkin (Yevgeni Sidikhin), believing that if she becomes hisconcubine she will be safe from the random raping by the rest of thesoldiers. Their liaisons become more than outlets for the Major and thetwo gradually bond despite the horrors outside their rendezvous. Theysurvive. Hitler commits suicide and the war is over and the two facethe reality of returning to their previous pre-war lives…or can they?

    Nina Hoss is brilliant in this difficult role and though the scriptallows her little to say, she conveys so much through her expressionsthat words are nearly unnecessary. Likewise, Yevgeni Sidikhin capturesthe dichotomy of emotional response his character must display, findingjust the right balance between the conquering Russian soldier and thecompassionate and vulnerable lover. The cinematography by BenedictNeuenfels captures the devastation not only of the buildings but alsoof the emotions of both sides of the participating groups and ZbigniewPreisner is responsible for the musical score that adds immeasurably tothe drama. This is one of the great German films that took many yearsof maturing to make. It should be seen.

    Grady Harp

  8. Grann-Bach (Grann-Bach@jubii.dk) from Denmark
    30 Mar 2012, 9:54 pm

    I haven't read the diary, but my father has and after we watched thistogether, he said that they got everything from the compelling bookwith its important testimony. This review is based upon the versionwith a two hour running time and six minutes of credits. After Berlinwas taken over by Russian soldiers(among them men who had not had sexfor four years) at the end of WW2, and raped 100.000 women, leading tothe death of 10.000 of them. When this was first revealed in the late50's, the truth outraged many in the country. It was called an attackon the virtue of female Germans. Fortunately, it was re-released in2003, and now this excellent adaptation has hit theaters. There isapparently also a longer cut, and if the standard of this ismaintained, it is undoubtedly great and worth it. This is gripping fromstart to finish. It all comes across as real and authentic(helped bythe fact that they speak the three languages they are supposed to), andsince this is entirely objective and doesn't take any sides in theconflict, you feel for both groups. The acting performances arespot-on. This has some marvelous little touches and details, and it ishistorically accurate. The characters are complex and psychologicallycredible. This is immensely well-produced. The camera-work and editingput you right in the situation when this fits, and is in generalexpertly done. This has extraordinary lighting. There are a few lightportions that keep it from being all sad(without it taking away fromhow touching and engaging the rest of it is). It is tense andunpleasant when it means to be, albeit it isn't outright depressing.The atmosphere is built up well. There is a bit of moderate sexuality,nudity of both genders, brutal violence and disturbing content in this.The DVD comes with a trailer for this and ones for other films. Irecommend this warmly to everyone mature enough for it. What happenedshould never be forgotten. 8/10

  9. Turfseer from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 9:54 pm

    'A Woman in Berlin' is set in the last days of World War II as theSoviet Army wreaks vengeance upon the German civilian populationfollowing their invasion of the German capital. The main recipient ofthe soldiers' wrath are the women of Berlin who they end up raping ingreat numbers. The focus of the movie is one woman, Anonyma, whoattempts to survive in the midst of great degradation and humiliation.'A Woman in Berlin' is based on the a true-life anonymous diary whichwas published in West Germany in 1959. At that time, the diary createda scandal, where the German public could not accept the graphicdescriptions of women as rape victims. The author withdrew her workfrom publication for approximately four decades until it wasrepublished and accepted by a new generation of Germans.

    At the beginning of the film, in a flashback, we see Anonyma in herearlier life as a journalist and unrepentant supporter of the Nazicause. After the Soviet invasion, Anonyma takes refuge in an apartmentbuilding where she's given shelter by an older woman. In one harrowingscene after another, the brutish Russian soldiers raid the apartmentbuilding and seek out their female victims. Some women are dragged offthe street and raped in dark hallways or alleyways. Unlike the otherresidents of her building, Anonyma speaks Russian and at first attemptsto appeal to someone in charge to stop the brutality. When sheapproaches one officer and asks to speak to someone in charge, he asks,who do you want to speak to—we're all commanders here. When she finallygets to speak to an officer, he asks her why she's so upset,indifferently and nonchalantly pointing out that the rapes only take afew minutes.

    After Anonyma is raped herself, she's determined not to be violatedagain. She first seeks out a lower ranking soldier, Anatol, as aprotector but then moves on to Major Andrei Rybkin who is educated likeher and they end up forming a bond together. Meanwhile, as the RussianArmy gains more control, the residents of the apartment building beginforming more of a relationship with their occupiers. The Russians comeoff as more complex as they first appear especially in regards to theirinteractions with the apartment residents.

    The détente between the two groups is shattered when a Russian soldierdiscovers that a young woman, a Nazi sympathizer, has been shielding ayoung German Solder who is in possession of a gun and a hand grenade.The Russian solder throws the German over the stairway landing and heplunges to his death, stories below. When Anonyma admits that she wasaware that the couple had been hiding in the attic, the Major refusesto bring her up on charges. The Major is castigated by his men andeventually he is removed from his command and either sent to Siberia orexecuted (it's not clear what is his exact fate).

    The film ends when Anonyma's soldier-boyfriend returns from the frontand she gives him her diary to read (she has been addressing it to him,all along). The boyfriend wants nothing to do with Anonyma as heashamed that she was raped. The implication is that she allowed herselfto be subjected to the humiliation and is now forever, a 'markedwoman'. The boyfriend takes off, leaving Anonyma to fend for herself. Iquestion how the boyfriend could have ended up back home without beingtaken into custody by the Russians, who were rounding up allex-soldiers and shipping them off to imprisonment in the Soviet Union.

    'A Woman in Berlin' commendably handles the rape scenes in amatter-of-fact way. There is nothing salacious about these depictionsas the focus is more on how the women maintain their dignity in theface of all the depravity. Oftentimes, the women use humor to brunt thefeelings of pain and humiliation—other times they express detachedobjectivity (one woman greets a friend on the street and asks, "howmany?")

    The film does suggest a number of times that there is a reason for theRussian soldiers' brutish behavior. A German woman tells another thathad the Russians did what (our) soldiers did to them, "we would all bedead by now". In another good scene, Anonyma is called upon totranslate a Russian soldier's account of the massacre of his family byGermans. And finally, it's revealed that Andrei's own wife was killedby German soldiers. Still, some kind of prologue at the beginning ofthe film, chronicling the extent the German atrocities committedagainst the Russian population, would have put things more in itsproper context. While the rape of German women by the Russian soldierswas deplorable, the film could have made the soldiers' motivations fordoing so, more understandable.

    'A Woman in Berlin' is a bit long and sometimes it's difficult tofollow everything that's happening. All in all, this is an admirablefilm, depicting a little talked about period in history withverisimilitude and insight.

  10. Andres Salama from Buenos Aires, Argentina
    30 Mar 2012, 9:54 pm

    A well made German movie that touches with frankness a very delicatehistorical subject: the mass rape of German women by Soviet soldiersduring and after the Battle of Berlin. The movie, which has a goodhistorical reconstruction of the times, is based on the memories of awoman, who choose to publish the book anonymously. After her death, itwas revealed that she was a relatively well to do minor functionary inthe Nazi propaganda ministry. She knew several languages includingRussian and was well traveled. Her book was first published in the1950s in Germany, but its frank portrayal of the sexual relationsbetween the Germans and the Russians shocked many at the time who feltit besmirched German women. Also I suppose some people were afraid thebook could be accused of Nazi revisionism. As a result, the booklanguished in obscurity for many decades afterward, and it was onlyrepublished, with great public success, in 2003, well after the Coldwar ended and the author died.

    According to the movie, the Russians engaged in rape not because theywere sadistic (very few of them are portrayed this way) but becausethey have a very natural urge for sex and they had few availableRussian women around among the troops. In this, the movie disagreeswith the feminist adage that rape is not about sex but about power. TheRussian soldiers were so starved of sex that they even rape olderGerman women in their 60s or even 70s. As shown in this film, Germanwomen at first were obviously shocked at being raped, but later wouldmore or less adapt to the situation and even joke about it, and seekpowerful Russians as lovers, to protect themselves from mass rapes bydrunken, lowly soldiers. The protagonist here seeks as a lover aRussian commander that seems to be quite a decent fellow, but who wouldeventually find there are problems in getting too near to her.

    I think that in general the movie is quite fair in its portrayal of theRussians troops. This doesn't mean that if the movie is ever shown inRussia (I seriously doubt that) the audience would feel verycomfortable in the portrayal of their countrymen: most of the Sovietsoldiers appear here as loud, brash, vulgar, many times drunk. But theyare not portrayed as sadistic. Personally, I don't think one can make amoral equivalence between the rape of German women (which is obviouslyreprehensible) and the genocidal behavior of the German army in theEastern front during World War II, killing millions of innocent Jewsand Slavs (the movie should have mentioned more about the latter, Ithink). That objection aside, this is a fine movie.

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