White-tiled rooms, neon lighting; on the walls black and white photographs from an exhibition entitled ,Vernichtungskrieg’ (War of Extermination) documenting the atrocities committed by the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. Against this background, Ruth Beckermann and cameraman Peter Roehsler have filmed former soldiers talking about their experiences beyond the bounds of ,normal’ warfare. With a mixture of helplessness, impotence, shame, opportunism and undiminished fanaticism, witnesses from that time tell of atrocities such as the shootings of Russian prisoners-of-war, the murder of Jews and abuse of women. The differing accounts of these events demonstrate how selective perception was even in this most inhuman and brutal of environments.
This film seeks not only to contribute to the demolition of the myth of the ,decent’ Wehrmacht (as opposed to the evil SS) but also to illuminate the period in which the Second Republic was founded in Austria and to make a diagnosis of the present. It shows the fathers who worked to rebuild the country, who shaped today’s society and who transmitted their ideas to their sons and daughters, and who now, more than fifty years on, at last attempt to articulate their experiences.
The images of this war that take shape in the accounts of these ,talking heads’ have an immediacy and power to move rarely found in historical documents or fictional portrayals.
4.71GB | 1h 52m | 1440×1080 | mkv