Made during the 1950s, in the middle of the Cold War period, this is an elegant German anti-war film. Set in a post-war Soviet prison camp the movie accurately shows that many Germans were held in Stalinist Russia until the 1950s.
While one can’t really sympathize with the plight of the Germans too much here, the human element is very strong in this movie. German / Soviet relations are compellingly portrayed. The anger and anxiety both feel toward each other is vividly shown, yet there is compassion and even love for some below the icey surface. The Soviets, while seen as agents of Stalinist propaganda, are not one dimensiional characters and their inner struggles are shown as well as the Germans. The German doctor portrayed here has gained a repuation for being an accomplished physician and his services manage to gain salvation for himself and many of his men. Whether this person was an actual historical character is hard to say. But someone like him was doubtless around. The doctor’s dedication to his field rises above Soviet and Nazi propaganda providing a human look at a very ugly period in modern history. The acting in this early German film is great. You can almost say its a German version of “Stalag 17”. Worth seeing for the different perspective on the standard prisoner of war theme. A classic anti-war film as well.

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