Director: Joachim Kunert
Werner Holt has not had a real home since his parents were divorced. As a loyal member of the Hitler Youth he despises his father, who has fallen into disgrace with the authorities because of his humanist principles. Holt's ideal is Gilbert Wolzow, ruthless leader of the sixteen-year-olds. Their mutual admiration cements a lasting friendship between the two boys. They remain together when they are called up in the last stages of the war. The atrocities in which they find themselves involved, and the breakdown of the Hitler war machine, throw Holt into deep confusion. He tries to escape from it by shutting his eyes to the realities around him, but Wolzow's fanaticism forces him to face the truth.
This absorbing film is one of the most ambitious productions made by DEFA, and was two years in the making. Directed by Joachim Kunert, in a powerfully organised series of flashbacks, the film analyses the mind of a typical young German of 25 years ago, and traces his slow disillusionment with the glory of the new Germany. Holt's obvious relish for the discipline of a military education and army life, tempered by a tender concern for his girl friend, Gundel, is outstandingly portrayed by Klaus-Peter Thiel. Manfred Karge as the violent Wolzow also gives a fine performance.
Special Jury Award, Moscow Festival; Diploma of Merit, Edinburgh Festival.