7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Good World War II movie touches delicate subject,
This review is from: The Downfall Of Berlin - Anonyma [DVD]  (DVD)
A well made German movie that touches frankly (though not very graphically) a very delicate historical subject: the mass rape of German women by Soviet soldiers during and after the Battle of Berlin. The movie, which has a good historical reconstruction of the times, is based on the memories of a woman, who choose to publish the book anonymously. After her death, it was revealed that she was a relatively well to do minor functionary in the Nazi propaganda ministry. She knew several languages including Russian and was well traveled. Her book was first published in the 1950s in Germany, but its frank portrayal of the sexual relations between the Germans and the Russians shocked many at the time who felt it besmirched German women. Also I suppose some people were afraid the book could be accused of Nazi revisionism. As a result, the book languished in obscurity for many decades afterwards, and it was only republished, with great public success, in 2003, well after the Cold war ended and the author died.
According to the movie, the Russians engaged in rape not because they were sadistic (very few of them are portrayed this way) but because they have a very natural urge for sex and they had few available Russian women around among the troops. In this, the movie disagrees with the feminist adage that rape is not about sex but about power. The Russian soldiers were so starved of sex that they even rape older German women in their 60s or even 70s. As shown in this film, German women at first were obviously shocked at being raped, but later would more or less adapt to the situation and even joke about it, and seek powerful Russians as lovers, to protect themselves from mass rapes by drunken, lowly soldiers. The protagonist here seeks as a lover a Russian commander that seems to be quite a decent fellow, but who would eventually find there are problems in getting too near to her.
I think that in general the movie is quite fair in its portrayal of the Russians troops. This doesn't mean that if the movie is ever shown in Russia (I seriously doubt that) the audience would feel very comfortable in the portrayal of their countrymen: most of the Soviet soldiers appear here as loud, brash, vulgar, many times drunk. But they are not portrayed as sadistic. Personally, I don't think one can make a moral equivalence between the rape of German women (which is obviously reprehensible) and the genocidal behavior of the German army in the Eastern front during World War II, killing millions of innocent Jews and Slavs (the movie should have mentioned more about the latter, I think). That objection aside, this is a fine movie.