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Winter's Children – The Silent Generation

Winter's Children – The Silent Generation

(Winterkinder – Die schweigende Generation) Director: Jens Schanze, NĚM, 2005, original version / Czech subtitles, 99 min

Sixty years after the end of the Second World War silence still reigns over several of the crimes of the past. It is a painful process to gather the courage to uncover the dark side of one's roots, yet this is what the grandchildren of the German high officers, who were members of the NSDAP and worked in the concentration camps all across Europe, must do. Jens Schanze takes the first step to break the silence which has surrounded his family. He puts forth questions to his mother, the daughter of the NSDAP officer, with great consideration and without pressure so that she has time to weigh her answers. The documentary film gives the effect of watching a slow recovery from a chronic illness. The long takes of the winter landscape creates an unwelcoming feeling and the details of the typical carefully maintained German house seem to point to the existence of a strictly guarded secret. Despite the mother's outer unwillingness, revealed in her terseness in which she remembers her father, we can feel the relief which she is filled with after she admits out loud her ambivalent relationship to her father. The character testimonies of Jens' sisters reveal the fact that their relationships to the family have also been negatively affected by the family taboo. However, for Jens' family it is not too late. In spring they all set off to the location of the concentration camp at Gross–Rosen, where their family member worked, and at the center of the pain they receive some healing in the form of several words from each member who had previously been silently haunted in their own lives.


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