RTE last night broadcast the first episode of the German epic Generation War (Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter). Produced by the makers of Downfall, it draws comparisons to the excellent Band of Brothers. There are no Wahlbergs in it and it’s only a fraction of the length of the American series but it’s just as brilliant. It tells the story of five young friends in 1941 Berlin. They are separated due to the war and vow to reunite for Christmas. However, their paths do not cross again until 1946 when their lives have changed forever.
They are two soldier brothers, an aspiring singer and her Jewish tailor boyfriend and a naive army nurse. The action moves from Nazi-terrorized Berlin to the Russian front and is interspersed with historical footage and personal insights. It received record ratings when it aired over three nights in Germany and sparked a national debate. Der Spiegel called it a “turning point in German television” and a review in Suddeutsche Zeitung said Generation War provides “the first and last chance .. to ask grandparents about their true biographies, their immoral compromises … the missed chances to act – everything which, in masses, leads to catastrophe.” The BBC’s plans to broadcast Generation War have led Britain’s Polish community to protest outside the BBC’s headquarters due to perceived depictions of anti-semitism in Poland’s Home Army.
Amazing acting, writing and epic production qualities should be enough to lure you in and make up your own mind about this German point of view. The first episode in currently on the RTE Player and the second airs on RTE 2 on Sunday 24th November at 9pm.
By Julie Melia