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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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Any attempt to represent the Russian front impartially is almost certainly going to alienate one or other of the various participants' descendants. And so it is with this production, which does have its fair share of controversy! It tells the fictional story of 5 twenty something friends, all of whom are native Berliners, as they each in their own way prepare to deal with the looming crisis of the drive to gain Hitler's `Lebensraum'. The need for this `living space' was outlined in the infamous Mein Kampf dictated to his lackey, Hess, when both were languishing in Bavaria's Landsberg Prison following the failed Munich Beer Hall Putsch in 1924.

Two of the friends are brothers, the eldest, Wilhelm (Volker Bruch), who is a junior army officer, and his pacifist brother, Friedhelm (Tom Schilling), a private in the army, are shortly off to participate in Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia, which begins on June 22nd 1941. Two are girls, Charlotte (Miriam Stein), who is in love with Wilhelm, and Greta (Katharina Schuttler), an opportunistic, somewhat cynical would be singer, working as barmaid. The final member of this group is Viktor (Ludwig Trepte), who is Jewish and therefore, perhaps, the most unlikely. Some critics were left `open-mouthed' at the improbability of any twenty-something Germans, having had nine years of Nazi indoctrination, enjoying friendly relations with a Jew. However, Viktor and Greta's relationship is a little more than friendly and in the opening scene during which the group assembles in the bar for the last time before they all have to go their own way, Greta establishes a fateful relationship with an SS officer who interrupts their party, in order to save Viktor from discovery.

Other critics have poured scorn on the production for seemingly ignoring any aspect of the holocaust, for depicting ordinary Germans as victims of Nazism rather than more than willing participants and portraying Polish partisans as rabid anti-Semites. Nonetheless, the series is brilliantly acted and does succeed in illustrating certain aspects of Hitler's `War of Annihilation' on the Russians. Aside from a minority of fanatics, there can be few in the modern world who aren't aware of the wide-scale committing of atrocities by both the Nazis and the Russians and the criticisms of this production are certainly well-founded. However, it still represents a welcome addition to other similar series such as, 'Holocaust' and `Band of Brothers' also, with some justification, not without their critics, which serve to educate succeeding generations about the hell of war, the barbarism of Stalin and the satanic nature of Nazi Germany.
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on 11 January 2015
I was sceptic in the beginning to buy this DVD as some reviews were so against it, saying that it did not portray the real effect of the atrocities of the Nazi's. Well I think this is more about those who followed what the main stream culture were and how it affected them, any war has 2 sides to it - people on the "other side" seldom understands really what the "wrong" side's normal human beings went through in spite of how they were indoctrinated. It's not easy and this movie gives a peek into this very scenario. Actors were very good as well as how their characters developed, some scenes are quite gruesome, but it is about war after all. Well executed and a top quality production.
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on 18 July 2014
Generation War
This was a truly gripping drama showing the horrors of war and how it affected the lives of the young protagonists we meet in the first section. It was so interesting to see it from the German perspective for a change - I watched a recording of a panel discussion on it when I had finished. It has been very controversial and criticised in some of the countries where it has been screened. I thought the ending was a bit unbelievable but I appreciate it was a drama not a documentary.
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on 20 June 2016
Absolutely magnificent German (and German made) p-o-v mini-series of WWII. No punches are pulled in the view of Germans at war with the protagonists quite clearly understanding their part. Terrific acting and very tight writing has the viewer glued for the entire four and a half hours (in three 1.5 hour ""episodes").
The story covers the lives of five friends who "do their duty" from just before Operation Barbarossa until just after the end of the war. Two brothers are soldiers, one an officer and one who would have been a conscientious objector in virtually any other country involved and we go through their "growth"." The other male friend is a Jew, simply, initially, striving to survive, the fourth is his girlfriend who is determined to become the next Greta Garbo (or simply star when she realises being the next GG actually won't go down well in Nazi Germany). The fifth, another girl is full of the belief of the German Woman and her place in the Reich and becomes a front-line nurse where her beliefs are gradually eroded. Their lives remain intertwined in various manners until the war finishes.
Powerful, emotional and gritty, this is a film that should be seen by anyone with an interest in "the other side" of the war.
Unless you speak German (or Russian, Polish and I believe Yiddish) you must read the subtitles but they are easy to see and read without impacting upon the visual. Probably the best sub-titles I experienced so don't let this put you off.
Watch it.
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on 13 April 2014
An extraordinary German television series about a group of five young Berliners during the Second World War. A number of Jewish characters, including one of the five, draw out the moral dilemmas of the other four as they struggle to be both loyal Germans and decent human beings in situations where they can only be one or the other. This is an amazingly honest and intelligent effort to portray the psychology of the five, whose characters are sharply delineated by superb directing and acting. Caught up in a war which they did not seek they must nevertheless come to terms with it. My only reservation was the improbability of the Jewish character remaining good friends with the ideologically committed pair amongst the five. I'm not giving any more away!
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on 16 May 2015
Brilliant story telling, the war in Russia accurately depicted. This isn't your usual Hollywood nonsense, the interwoven story lines make for compelling, often harrowing viewing. The degeneration of normal human beings caught up in the horror of a racial war is totally convincing. Recommended.
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on 11 May 2014
This 3 part drama has just finished airing on BBC 2 and has been a truly excellent WWII drama. We rarely see dramas about WWII from the German point of view - yes, we get documentaries on Yesterday, but most of the time these are bias and most of the WWII TV series are from the Allied perspective, e.g. We'll Meet Again; Enemy at the Door and more recently, The Crimson Field. This is not a criticism - merely an observation.

Generation War tells the story of 5 friends during the years 1943 to the end of WWII in 1945. It starts with the 5 of them having a party and innocently believing that the war will be a short one - that they'll all be together again in Berlin by Christmas. Of course the tragedy is, that we know how long WWII lasted and how it changed the lives of all those who lived through it - whether they were on the frontline fighting or not.

It is a story of the human spirit's struggle to survive in the face of some of history's worst atrocities, but it warns us that no one comes away from something like this without being damaged and that, that damage will last a life time - what once was, will never be again, and this is heart wrenching.

What I liked about this drama in particular was that it wasn't bias towards any side - it simply showed things as they must have been for all those involved and that, in the end, the soldiers on both sides had little choice but to just follow orders from the top - it wasn't their war, it was the politicians' war.

Overall, an excellent drama and well worth watching.
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on 29 January 2016
One of the best films I have seen. It is more true to life than most. It leaves you thinking about it for months afterwards.
Although it is in subtitles you forget, as the acting and action are superb
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on 16 August 2015
This German dvd was the best I have seen about the war in Russia. At last a very true version. The scenes of destruction were horrific and real life.
The Germans and the Russians fought the greatest battles in history. The tank battle set in Minsk in Russia was the decisive battle that changed the 2nd World War, and was the biggest tank battle scene ever, with over 7,000 tanks taking part.
The Germans had most of their tanks destroyed by the Russians, and from then on the Russians advanced rapidly towards Germany and the defeat of Nazi Germany.
The way the Germans killed Jews and partisans in huge numbers was typical of the Nazi outlook.
During that time I was a young boy in the UK and plotted the armies on a war map on the wall in the 1940s.
It was good to see the German dvd as they, the Germans, fought this war with Russia.
90% of the German army was stationed in Russia.
The shocking winter in Russia with deep snow caught the Germans unprepared. Planes could not fly, tanks refused to start with frozen oil.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.
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on 3 December 2015
This is a terrific piece of television. Some might find fault, for instance in the way the characterisation of the Poles as uniformly vicious anti-semites, and the lack of light-and-shade regarding the Jewish character himself, but overall there is far more here that is creditable. Some of the details are superbly rendered - the descent of the younger brother into amorality; the action involving the infantry assaults; the creeping hopelessness - but it is the overall message that is the most important element: how 'Our fathers, our mothers' came to be part of such an insane and murderous enterprise, and what that would tell us about our own susceptibility if we had been in their shoes.

If you're interested in reading more about how ordinary people were affected by Nazism, Nicholas Stargardt's excellent new book 'The German War' is a good start.
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