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  • To begin with the end note: When the anonymous memoir adapted here ('Anonyma - Eine Frau in Berlin') was published in Switzerland in 1959, it was greeted with such outrage among Germans the author allowed no further editions; she of course never revealed her name. Here we are, fifty years later, and the material is still incendiary and hard to get your head around. It concerns events that are unspeakable and incomprehensible.

    As played by the strikingly handsome, elegant Nina Hoss, "Anonyma" is an ash blond who can wear odds and ends as if they were couturier fashions, a journalist fluent in French and Russian, at home in Paris and London, who comes back from assignment to be in the Führer's capital for the final victory she still believes in. The Third Reich for her and her pals seems a time of freshness and energy for Germany. The war is just a blip on the horizon soon to be done with. She parties with fellow supporters of the Fatherland's great endeavor who toast the troops and boast that the buffoonish Russians will fall by the wayside. They don't, and when they invade Berlin and begin the wholesale raping of the German women, she chooses to mete out her favors selectively for her own protection and that of her neighbors in the apartment building. This is the story of how that happens.

    When Berlin crumbles apartment dwellers are hiding in the basement, like ghosts; then, like condemned men and women given an uneasy reprieve, they return to living in the remnants of apartments. "Anonyma" moves in with a group of others in a large flat and turns over the studio she occupied with her absent soldier boyfriend Gerd (August Diehl), for whom she keeps a diary of what happens, to an unrepentantly Nazi young woman and the adolescent German soldier boyfriend she hides (Sebastian Urzendowsky), who is armed. This unwise gesture is the pistol we know will go off eventually, endangering everybody.

    The film shows only two public events: the invasion, and the official German declaration that the Germans have surrendered Berlin. The period in between is the main focus of the diary and the film. It's not specified but it was about three months.

    The film focuses on a handful of neighbors, who include ; two lively sisters (Joerdis Triebel, Rosalie Thomass), a strong-willed widow (Irm Hermann); an elderly bookseller (Katharina Blaschke); a liquor dealer (Maria Hartmann); a pair of lesbian lovers (Sandra Hueller, Isabell Gerschke); a refugee girl in hiding (Anne Kanis) and a stolid octogenarian (Erni Mangold). And there are more, not to mention a half dozen clearly defined Russians, including the high ranking officer's Mongolian guard.

    It's a bit difficult to keep track of all these, and Woman in Berlin is best at making us feel close to the narrator and conveying a sense of the chaos and uncertainty when the invasion and the raping begin. There seems to be no control. It's hard to see that anything is going on. The Russians are just there, wandering free, and brutalizing the German women. When these women meet the question they ask each other is not whether but "How often?" Anonyma sleeps with various Russians, willingly and not. Protesting the violations and seeking a protective officer she first becomes involved with Anatol (Roman Gribkov), a pretty, frivolous man who turns out to be not a career soldier but a dairyman. He comes and goes and is no real help. She calls him "a gypsy." Then she finds a battalion commander, Major Rybkin (the excellent, charismatic Yevgeni Sidikhin), who is unresponsive when she confronts him boldly in front of a lot of Russian soldiers, and then comes around to find her. Unlike the Germans, she says later in her diary (which we see her constantly scribbling in pencil), the Russians appreciate an educated woman.

    A strength of the film is that it alternates naturally between noise and violence, drunken celebration when Russians and Germans fraternize in the big apartment, and "love," which has lost its usual meaning, but lingers on. These extremes never seem overwrought or manipulative. Here's a time when in a film the fact that nothing makes sense, makes sense. The protagonist recognizes that in the eyes of many she is now a whore, but she questions what a whore is.

    Marguerite Duras' screenplay for 'Hiroshima Mon Amour' is poetic and overwrought, ut in its rhythmic repetitions it strongly conveys a sense of the aftermath of trauma isn't found in the somewhat overlong 'Woman in Berlin,' which is simply about the confusion of day-to-survival in a world where morality is turned on its head. As Anonyma knew however and as we see in the film, the defeated must capitulate or die, and the invaders have suffered horribly too. One young soldier reconts in Russian, demanding that she translate to all present, how invading Germans brutally slaughtered all the children in his village while he watched. Even Andreij's wife has been killed by the Germans. And the film shows the range of the then Russian people, the Ukrainians, Caucasians, Mongols, who are to be the Soviet Union.

    Though reviewers and commentators seem to think they know what all this material means and proclaim judgments if not on the protagonist, on the filmmaker, this is primarily an example of Germans taking hard looks at repressed material that formerly was too ugly to examine. This isn't an impassioned indictment or defense, but a movie that uses an extraordinary diary (only published in Germany in 2003) to present an admirably complex picture of a crazy time. If it is both remarkable in its focus and at times quite old fashioned in its methods, that's as good a way as any to get things across. The result is both specific and wide-reaching, because there's ample time to ponder a basic issue for civilians in wartime: what does it cost you to survive?
  • manon-buttan27 October 2008
    rape is the particular plight of women during war and acknowledged at long last as a war crime.The plight of German women at the end of WW II was especially awful as they had protection from no one. General Eisenhower who punished rape committed by his men with execution outside of Germany (first rape took place six hours after invasion of Normandy had begun)but as for German women all men had free hands as these women were all declared "willing". The Americans are the only ones to have gone through archives as for army rape in WW II however the one recent book existing is not allowed for publishing in the US because of the war in Iraq (!!)so exists in French version only. The French and the British have preferred to turn a blind eye to what was done by their soldiers towards German women let alone the Russians. It is very important that this film has been made at long last. Subject concerns all not just its victims let alone the children born out of the horrors. Bravo Germany.
  • Although I was aware of the awesomeness of German cinema in the past decades, I was still pleasantly surprised by this film. The title of the movie implies a specific point of view - the plight of a woman trapped in Berlin during the last days of WW2. The movie is however far less black-and-white (metaphorically speaking, of course) than it could have been. It goes beyond a simplistic right/wrong attitude and instead puts the audience in a position to ponder how in a war atrocities escalate and feed on themselves in a typical "chicken and egg" problem. Even the fact that the book on which the movie is based was met with outrage when it was first published in the 50's is ultimately part of this chain.

    There are more complex answers to why horrible things happen in a war, and in the world in general - and Europe has had its share of it - and this film manages to capture these complexities masterfully.
  • War is not a pleasant experience. Those who follow the news know that there have been several of our own soldiers accused and prosecuted for rape and murder in Iraq. In all wars there are local citizens who prostitute themselves to feed their family. It is often hard to make a choice between honor and survival.

    This is the story of German women at the end of WWII when the Russians have moved into Germany. They are, of course, raped and abused, as women often are by invading armies. The question then becomes, how best to survive. Anonyma (Nina Hoss) decides the best way is to find the best Russian officer to care for her in exchange for sex.

    It is easy to see why the Germans and the Russians hated the book, upon which this film is based, when it came out after the war. They are not shown in a good light. That is no surprise. Soldiers usually do not come from Ivy League universities, but from farms and shops.

    Nina Hoss is one of the very few women that can look splendid even in rags.

    Oustanding film.
  • ANONYMA - EINE FRAU IN BERLIN (A Woman In Berlin) is the painfully sensitive title of this exquisite film from writer/director Max Färberböck based on a once occult book by 'Anonyma' that has become a recent bestseller in Germany. It has the courage to tell the story of what it was like in Berlin as World War II was ending - the time of the Russian siege of the city just before and just after Hitler committed suicide, ending the horror of the Nazi regime. While many films have been made about the German populace and how they coped with the fall of their 'great Third Reich' country that was to rule the planet, few have been able to allow the audience to understand the brutalities of war on the people of Germany in so direct a fashion. It is a film that will haunt the viewer for a long time, a film that will restore some dignity to the German people who lived through it, not being part of Hitler's madness but being trapped in the ugliness that followed his fall.

    Anonyma (Nina Hoss) is a journalist, a pretty woman living in the cellars and other hiding places while the Russians took over Berlin. She helps her fellow survivors of the bombing of Berlin, struggling for food and protection. The Russian soldiers, still angry with the gnawing hatred for the Germans from the Siege of Leningrad and the loathing of anything that exists in Hitler's Berlin, drink heavily and seek out the women from hiding to satisfy their insatiable lust. 'Berlin is a German whorehouse' and all women, from children to youngsters to elderly fraus are continually raped and beaten as part of the victors' rage. Anonyma speaks several languages including Russian and decides her only hope for survival is to align with the Commander of the troops, Major Andreij Rybkin (Yevgeni Sidikhin), believing that if she becomes his concubine she will be safe from the random raping by the rest of the soldiers. Their liaisons become more than outlets for the Major and the two gradually bond despite the horrors outside their rendezvous. They survive. Hitler commits suicide and the war is over and the two face the reality of returning to their previous pre-war lives...or can they?

    Nina Hoss is brilliant in this difficult role and though the script allows her little to say, she conveys so much through her expressions that words are nearly unnecessary. Likewise, Yevgeni Sidikhin captures the dichotomy of emotional response his character must display, finding just the right balance between the conquering Russian soldier and the compassionate and vulnerable lover. The cinematography by Benedict Neuenfels captures the devastation not only of the buildings but also of the emotions of both sides of the participating groups and Zbigniew Preisner is responsible for the musical score that adds immeasurably to the drama. This is one of the great German films that took many years of maturing to make. It should be seen.

    Grady Harp
  • I haven't read the diary, but my father has and after we watched this together, he said that they got everything from the compelling book with its important testimony. This review is based upon the version with a two hour running time and six minutes of credits. After Berlin was taken over by Russian soldiers(among them men who had not had sex for four years) at the end of WW2, and raped 100.000 women, leading to the death of 10.000 of them. When this was first revealed in the late 50's, the truth outraged many in the country. It was called an attack on the virtue of female Germans. Fortunately, it was re-released in 2003, and now this excellent adaptation has hit theaters. There is apparently also a longer cut, and if the standard of this is maintained, it is undoubtedly great and worth it. This is gripping from start to finish. It all comes across as real and authentic(helped by the fact that they speak the three languages they are supposed to), and since this is entirely objective and doesn't take any sides in the conflict, you feel for both groups. The acting performances are spot-on. This has some marvelous little touches and details, and it is historically accurate. The characters are complex and psychologically credible. This is immensely well-produced. The camera-work and editing put you right in the situation when this fits, and is in general expertly done. This has extraordinary lighting. There are a few light portions that keep it from being all sad(without it taking away from how touching and engaging the rest of it is). It is tense and unpleasant when it means to be, albeit it isn't outright depressing. The atmosphere is built up well. There is a bit of moderate sexuality, nudity of both genders, brutal violence and disturbing content in this. The DVD comes with a trailer for this and ones for other films. I recommend this warmly to everyone mature enough for it. What happened should never be forgotten. 8/10
  • A Woman in Berlin (2008)

    Imagine the horrors of women caught in a large city during the chaos of war, with occupying troops storming your apartment building day after day. Well, think again. It isn't imaginable. I think even people who live through such things (and we are talking Berlin, 1945 for this movie) the truth is something that is pushed away. Because even watching a movie--a movie!--of these events is unbearable.

    Not that the movie is unwatchable. Just the opposite. It's beautifully made, seeming to parallel that other recent German movie about the last days of the Nazi reign, "Downfall," 2004. But unlike that movie, this isn't about political history, or the history of war, or even the dramatization of historical figures as real people. This is a personal story, centering around one woman played by Nina Hoss, and about the repeated rape and abuse of women by the Russian troops for days and weeks on end. There was no escape, no power to complain to, no justice anywhere, anywhere, not German or Russian or even American (assuming they were any better) a mile or two away.

    The movie is based on a book, "Anonyma," by a woman whose identity is not revealed, if it is even known (this was her protection even after death). The movie suffers now and then from a sameness, a steady pounding, beginning to end. The parade of horrors is continuous even as relationships develop and the first wave of anarchistic occupiers shifts to more entrenched troops and some general partying. You do cling to some semblance of progression, or of events to stand out from the others, but it's mostly about horribleness.

    But maybe that's the way it should be. It was an endless nightmare on every level, even if you (they, these women) survive. In some ways, the end of the war is more believably insane here than in "Downfall" even though they are in many ways comparable movies, comparable moments. Such an array or gritty, believable acting and sets you won't find often. And thankfully, even the sentimental aspects are handled without swelling music and other cinematic tricks found too often this side of the Atlantic.

    One last point, whatever you think of the Germans and WWII, here is yet another kind of national acknowledgment and, for many, soul-searching. This is a German film. The Russians don't come off great, for sure, but the Germans are clearly at fault, and are shown that way, and shown as responsible for even greater crimes. There's no glossing over any of it. Watch this movie. It won't be fun, but it'll be stirring and important.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    'A Woman in Berlin' is set in the last days of World War II as the Soviet Army wreaks vengeance upon the German civilian population following their invasion of the German capital. The main recipient of the soldiers' wrath are the women of Berlin who they end up raping in great numbers. The focus of the movie is one woman, Anonyma, who attempts to survive in the midst of great degradation and humiliation. 'A Woman in Berlin' is based on the a true-life anonymous diary which was published in West Germany in 1959. At that time, the diary created a scandal, where the German public could not accept the graphic descriptions of women as rape victims. The author withdrew her work from publication for approximately four decades until it was republished and accepted by a new generation of Germans.

    At the beginning of the film, in a flashback, we see Anonyma in her earlier life as a journalist and unrepentant supporter of the Nazi cause. After the Soviet invasion, Anonyma takes refuge in an apartment building where she's given shelter by an older woman. In one harrowing scene after another, the brutish Russian soldiers raid the apartment building and seek out their female victims. Some women are dragged off the street and raped in dark hallways or alleyways. Unlike the other residents of her building, Anonyma speaks Russian and at first attempts to appeal to someone in charge to stop the brutality. When she approaches one officer and asks to speak to someone in charge, he asks, who do you want to speak to—we're all commanders here. When she finally gets to speak to an officer, he asks her why she's so upset, indifferently and nonchalantly pointing out that the rapes only take a few minutes.

    After Anonyma is raped herself, she's determined not to be violated again. She first seeks out a lower ranking soldier, Anatol, as a protector but then moves on to Major Andrei Rybkin who is educated like her and they end up forming a bond together. Meanwhile, as the Russian Army gains more control, the residents of the apartment building begin forming more of a relationship with their occupiers. The Russians come off as more complex as they first appear especially in regards to their interactions with the apartment residents.

    The détente between the two groups is shattered when a Russian soldier discovers that a young woman, a Nazi sympathizer, has been shielding a young German Solder who is in possession of a gun and a hand grenade. The Russian solder throws the German over the stairway landing and he plunges to his death, stories below. When Anonyma admits that she was aware that the couple had been hiding in the attic, the Major refuses to bring her up on charges. The Major is castigated by his men and eventually he is removed from his command and either sent to Siberia or executed (it's not clear what is his exact fate).

    The film ends when Anonyma's soldier-boyfriend returns from the front and she gives him her diary to read (she has been addressing it to him, all along). The boyfriend wants nothing to do with Anonyma as he ashamed that she was raped. The implication is that she allowed herself to be subjected to the humiliation and is now forever, a 'marked woman'. The boyfriend takes off, leaving Anonyma to fend for herself. I question how the boyfriend could have ended up back home without being taken into custody by the Russians, who were rounding up all ex-soldiers and shipping them off to imprisonment in the Soviet Union.

    'A Woman in Berlin' commendably handles the rape scenes in a matter-of-fact way. There is nothing salacious about these depictions as the focus is more on how the women maintain their dignity in the face of all the depravity. Oftentimes, the women use humor to brunt the feelings of pain and humiliation—other times they express detached objectivity (one woman greets a friend on the street and asks, "how many?")

    The film does suggest a number of times that there is a reason for the Russian soldiers' brutish behavior. A German woman tells another that had the Russians did what (our) soldiers did to them, "we would all be dead by now". In another good scene, Anonyma is called upon to translate a Russian soldier's account of the massacre of his family by Germans. And finally, it's revealed that Andrei's own wife was killed by German soldiers. Still, some kind of prologue at the beginning of the film, chronicling the extent the German atrocities committed against the Russian population, would have put things more in its proper context. While the rape of German women by the Russian soldiers was deplorable, the film could have made the soldiers' motivations for doing so, more understandable.

    'A Woman in Berlin' is a bit long and sometimes it's difficult to follow everything that's happening. All in all, this is an admirable film, depicting a little talked about period in history with verisimilitude and insight.
  • Max Färberböck, known to the world-wide audience since his "Aimee and Jaguar", shows in this newer film for once not the standard story of the bad Germans, who, deserving after what they have done, being Nazis, are liberated by the good Russians, the good Americans and the good Allies. It shows exactly the same experience that we all, who grew up in the East Block, had about our Russiand "friends". They came to rape, to destroy, to violate, to erase. It is a very interesting fact concerning mass psychology or perhaps better mass-psychosis that nobody normally speaks about the enormous amount of destruction done or caused by the liberators of end-World War II Europe. And nobody even mentions the Stalinist concentration camps. This is why we need films like "Eine Frau In Berlin".

    However, in Färberböcks film, we see the Russians, "like animals, like pigs, an-alphabets, without culture" - as the Russian Major says it in his own words, he, who speaks, according to the main female character "a seldomly high-style Russian". Well, a little bit of "justness" had to be - not ALL Russians are like the "scum" (quotation from the movie) that we see. Interestingly, my Hungarian home-town had been bombed by Americans, but afterward the Russians came like vultures and pitched themselves into the ruins, what was female, was raped, what had been church or synagogue - was emptied and the treasures stolen, a subculture sneaking from the sou-terrain up to the ruins and even profiting from corpses and debris.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A well made German movie that touches with frankness 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 afterward, 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.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    While this isn't a terrible movie, it is a disappointment for those who read the book. It creates a completely different reality from that presented in the book. The author would be disgusted with the character they created from her diary. How disappointing, since the character in the book is so fascinating and complex. Ignore the historical revisionist reviews in these pages. Here's a summary of what to expect in this movie.

    As a movie: It's an interesting plot with characters that are only partially developed. What dominates is the setting--Berlin in Spring of 1945. The intrigue of the movie is the setting, the war, the meeting of the different peoples (Germans and Russians). It's worth watching for that.

    As history: It does present a story that needs to be told--the rape of the German women by the Russians. Rape is prevalent in war, all nations were guilty of rape on the part of their men, but what the Russians did to the German women is beyond compare. There are a lot of reasons for that, but you won't discover those in the movie. You'll need to read the book for that.

    As a movie based on a book: What a great disappointment. The richness of the book is the perspective given by this author, her insights into war and people, and her writing. Very nicely done. The movie, on the other hand, focuses only on the action. A very complex diary is distilled down to some very basic themes in the movie (war is bad, people do bad things in war, love crosses boundaries). Spoiler Alert: The keeper of this diary is portrayed as falling for her Russian friend. That is not the case in the book. She is simply trying to survive a situation the men of Germany and Russia placed her in. The true drama in the book revolves around the choices she must make to survive. Also, the movie character addresses her diary to her fiancée, Gerd. Not so in the book. She is her own person, and not the woman waiting for her man.

    Bottom line: read the book, but watch the movie if you can't read it--just keep in mind that this is not the real story.
  • In 1959,a book was published in Switzerland,entitled 'Anonyma:Eine Frau In Berlin',about a woman who had lived through the liberation of Berlin by the Red Army,in 1945,just mere months before Adolf Hitler committed suicide. This book shocked those who had read it,also resulting in it being immediately banned in Germany (although it was eventually published there many years later). In 2008,German film maker,Max Farberbock adapted this eye opening novel into a new film from the original novel by the author (Anonyma). The film stars the lovely to look at,Nina Foss as Anonyma,who's husband is seen shipping out for the elite S.S. squad of the German Army the very morning of the Soviet invasion of Berlin in 1945. For the next three months,she,as well as the rest of the residents of Berlin are subjected to brutal treatment of their captors. Determined to survive this nightmare,she forges a relationship with the Russian leader, Major Andrei Rybkin (played by Yevgeni Sidikhin,who commands a genuine presence here),as well as a renegade member of the German army,that is hiding in the attic of the apartment block she lives in. The rest of the cast is made up of both German & Russian actors who truly live up to their roles (and watch out for a winning performance by Irm Hermann, generally known for her work in the films of the late Rainer Werner Fassbinder,as Witke).Comparisons to Paul Verhoeven's 'Black Book' will be obvious. Benedict Neuenfels' camera work,which gives this film it's grainy,grim look & Ewa J.Lund's tight editing is right on track This grim,gritty film is yet,another winning entry from Constantin Film Produktion,who gave us the likes of 'Last Exit to Brooklyn',and the recent,'Der Bader Meinhof Komplex'. The film is a bit long in the tooth,but there isn't a slack moment in it's 131 minute running time. Spoken in German & Russian with English subtitles. Not rated by the MPAA,this film contains rough language, violence,flashes of nudity & sexual content,including several unpleasant rape scenes
  • Anonyma - Eine Frau in Berlin – A Woman in Berlin - CATCH IT (B+) A Woman in Berlin (German: Eine Frau in Berlin) is an autobiographical account of the period from 20 April to 22 June 1945 in Berlin (Battle of Berlin). At the author's request, the work was published anonymously for her protection. The book purports to detail the writer's experiences as a rape victim during the Red Army occupation of the city. Two years after her death in 2003 the anonymous author was identified in the Süddeutsche Zeitung by Jens Bisky (a German literary editor) as Marta Hillers. (Wiki) The controversial German movie is about the women who survived the war by working as captivate prostitutes for the Russians. Just like every war all the men were killed and women were tortured and captured by the occupiers. The starting of the movie is really nice as how it shows how people have to go through and live through once Russians won over Germany. The women whose husbands were Nazi were bound to be raped and tortured by the occupiers. The performances by all the German actor and actresses and especially Nina Hoss, August Diehl & Evgeniy Sidikhin are admirable. Because the performances in these hard hitting movies makes you believe the situation. The beginning of the movie really good but the movie falls when they start showing the romance between German woman and the Red Army commander, it slowed down the phase. On the whole, A woman in Berlin is a really nice movie about the aftermaths of the War.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I had already submitted a review of this movie earlier, but as it may have seemed misleading for some people I thought I should rephrase it.

    First of all I'd like to congratulate to Glock22 for his review (The Germans are pathetic, 25 February 2011), who summarized the problematic parts within the movie very well. This movie comes 2nd on the self blame list of Germans: the 1st one is Stalingrad in case you are wondering. The main problem with the movie is that it's actually a quasi love story - instead of a war drama - between a German woman and a Russian major. It's something that was quite unlikely to have happened if not impossible at all. So instead of the facts it shows us an example that probably never happened (I know the movie is based on a diary but it sill doesn't make it authentic). At the beginning, the movie focuses on the rape itself, because that's what happened when the Soviet Army occupied a town or settlement – a gang rape, that lasted for several days until they left the area. Then of course a new wave of soldiers came and the whole process started all over again. There were also lootings and murders, which aren't really emphasized in the movie. The movie fails to mention that several thousands of women died during the rapes in horrendous ways (their back broken, beaten or tortured death), and also children were involved amongst the victims – sometimes not above the age of 9. It wasn't a rare example when the mother and the daughter were raped at the same time by these "soldiers".

    To me, the scenes where German women are joking about how many soldiers had raped them seemed very unnatural, morbid and improper. I can't really imagine anyone could be making fun about this. The scene where they celebrate and dance together with the Soviet soldiers provoked similar feelings. The reason why I found these unnatural is maybe because in Hungary - where the same things happened as in Germany and Austria - the women who were raped often committed suicide after they had been raped, because of shame, self blame and moral issues. In those years for a woman to sleep with a man who wasn't her husband, meant terrible shame (not to mention that rape could hardly be called "sleeping"). Sadly, in Hungary there are people also who still call the Soviets "liberators" and never think of the hundreds of thousands of women who were raped, humiliated and sometimes killed.

    What the movie shows well is when the Soviet officers show no concern when they hear about the rape cases. Usually they said it helped the soldiers to "cool off", to let out the steam. Now that's true. Question is: who is going to give compensation to these people (and to those who have been taken to Siberia to work in labour camps – if a woman was really unlucky she was robbed, raped and then taken to a labour camp where she died)? Seemingly everyone has forgotten about them.

    If you are looking for true facts, historically accurate emotions and situations from the invaded Germany from the end of WW II, then avoid this movie. Instead go and read a book about it from a Hungarian author, Alaine Polcz – who had also "experienced" the liberation: A Wartime Memoir (Asszony a Fronton – in Hungarian). There's another movie that deals with the topic and is much more authentic (therefore much more disturbing): Joy Division (2006).

    Only if you do not care about true historical facts and would like to see an unlikely story taking place in Berlin at the end of WW II, should you watch this movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Eine Frau in Berlin (2008) tells the story of a German woman (Nina Hoss) --who was identified as Marta Hillers only after her death--, a professional journalist who gets repeatedly raped during the Red Army occupation of Berlin.The anonymous journalist who can speak Russian and French writes the horrid wartime experiences she and the other German women had during the occupation. After numerous complaints she makes to different ranking Russian officers she decides not to let any Russian men touch her unless she wants to and she finds a protector,an idealist Russian major (Yevgeni Sidikhin)whom she will learn to like along the way. If you have seen a number of WW2 movies you must know that most of the WW2 movies are just about the Nazis and the Holocaust. Either they just try to make you sympathize with the grieving experiences the Jews had to undergo (let us not forget WW2 claimed the lives of 50 million people while only six million of these people were Jews)or they just want you to demonize all the Germans. Yet again, when you make such a statement or when you try to criticize those movies people will just call you an antisemitist. However, in this movie, while we are watching the appalling atrocities the Soviet soldiers perpetrate in Berlin, we also realize that they were once simple men who had to go through similar acts of brutality back in Moscow. Like the major said: "Every newborn child cries for war.Nothing and nobody, no man,no nation, will stop this vicious circle.Only death." When it comes to war humanity loses its collective conscience. In an age on which we still face meaningless wars and killings in different regions of the world we need more movies like this to remind humanity that all of us have responsibilities in our own way.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    WAR IS BAD - RAPE IS BAD. If you don't know or appreciate these moral values, then perhaps you should see this movie.


    Other than being the living epitome of the lessons set out above, this movie offers next to NOTHING in terms of the sorts of dramatic tension, human emotion, character development, or other aspects of film that can make the movie-going experience so rich.

    OK - so you can read the other reviews to learn that this true story provides an interesting, hushed-up perspective of World War II relating to the horrors of war, mass rape, and living within a world in which mass rape and horror are daily occurrences.

    Like the opening minutes of Saving Private Ryan, this movie provides a first-person point of view of the horrors of war. However, whereas Private Ryan spends 20 minutes or so jarring the audience into the requisite horrific frame of mind - before reverting to a more-traditional storytelling mode, A Woman in Berlin is mired from the beginning to the end in a nearly unending parade of horrors including rape, rape, rape, death, fear, intimidation,coercion, personal moral compromises, loneliness, darkness, explosions, death, rape, and fear.

    While I appreciate that the move may be interesting from a historical perspective as a window to a little-known perspective on the closing days of World War II, the movie offers little else.

    In this movie we learn that the Germans treated the Soviets badly, that the Soviets treated the Germans badly, that the Germans had more money than the socialist Soviets, that soviet soldiers raped German women, that the soviets had women soldiers, that the Soviet army was culturally divers including Mongols, Ukrainians, Russians and others, that people living in a occupied country make moral compromises in order to survive, that some people can't live with the compromises that they make, that human emotions are still alive during wartime, and that rape is bad, war is bad, and that the whole mess is unfortunate.

    If you want to experience how horrible war is - go see this movie. It is perhaps the most uncomfortable, least enjoyable movie-going experience I have ever had. Perhaps that is the point of the makers. If so, they succeeded.

    If you are looking for a challenging, thinking film - this movie is not for you. If you are looking for an unblinking look at the horrors of war - and little else - go see this movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    What a great film. It tells the story of the epon(anon)ymous protagonist, who both witnessed and endured the rape of Berlin in a very personal manner. And yet the film manages not to be too depressing until the very end, thanks in no small part to the assured acting skills of Nina Hoss. She conveys an unbreakable spirit and intelligence despite having so little dialogue in the film. And yes she did make me wonder what would I do in her shoes. Having watched it, I also feel strangely empowered about rape. Anonyma's story seems to validate that there is always more than one way to deal with a desperate situation.

    I am a tad shocked that the story of these women was silenced for so long, but knowing what I do of the German people I suppose I shouldn't be surprised - stoicism plays a huge role in their public life. Yet apparently 10,000 women died 'just' from being raped during this period of German history. It's a sobering statistic, and one which makes a mockery of the assertion of the Russian commander who, early on in the film, implies that STIs are the greatest threat women face from his soldiers. Like rapists everywhere, they seem blissfully oblivious to the physical and psychological costs of their abuses, and are correctly portrayed in the film as phallically obsessed, emotionally retarded cowards. It's important to remember that the average age of their victims was 16. The majority of these girls and young women were children at the start of the war and had no say in the actions of their government which was, at any rate, a misogynistic dictatorship.

    There has been a lot of discussion around what this film is saying about wartime rape. Were these women making concessions with the enemy, or were they enduring a relentless onslaught of sexual violence in the best way that they could? The film explores both possibilities. It also makes it clear that there is not one answer for every woman; in the film some of the victims lose their minds and end up killing themselves (or others); others find a sugar-daddy in the Russian army who gives them 'gifts' in exchange for protection (or at the very least, less violent sex).

    Personally, I see this film as a story about the way in which women cope with unimaginable, unjustifiable violence from their other halves. The scene that sums up the madness of their situation is when the 'girls' get together for drinks and joke about being attacked by Russian soldiers. Beneath the smiles and laughter you can see, hear and even FEEL that something is falling apart inside them. That they are on the verge of hysterics. I sincerely hope that viewers didn't wrongly interpret this scene to mean that women think rape is funny because to me it was very obvious that it had the opposite meaning. A cunning and subtle move on the part of the director, who never underestimates his audience.

    I sincerely feel for the women who remained in Berlin during this time, and so should every human being with a conscience. They didn't have choices: they were trapped in an occupied city with no way out and very few habitable buildings. The only supply of food and necessities came through the very men who were raping them. The Allied nations were well aware of the situation and did not intervene for nearly a year because they felt that raping Germans boosted morale (sorry to be so blunt but there was an actual quote to that effect from the American military). It's an all too familiar story, and one that has been played out in war torn countries right up until this day (Bosnia, the Congo, etc). So it boggles the mind that it's taken so long to make a film about the subject. I guess that just goes to show how male-dominated the film industry really is!!

    In one scene Anonyma confronts a major and asks him to do something to stop the rape of Berlin women. He replies, "Who should I protect? My people or yours?" My answer to that question would have been, 'You should protect the women and the unarmed civilians whom you're fighting to free.' After all, the whole point of overthrowing Hitler was to gain freedom for everyone, or so the Allies said. In reality, the fall of Berlin became a pitched battle in the war of men versus women. Eine Frau in Berlin paints a grim picture of what the world might look like if the men were triumphant.
  • Being of German blood and having a mother who actually lived through the experience of living in Berlin as the Russian armies marched in, I was looking forward to a film that mirrored the experiences that she lived through. She joined to watch and disappeared about half an hour into the movie. Germans at the time thought of Russians as brutal subhumans and that was part of the justification for conquering & enslaving them so that the more deserving master race could take over their lands. Looks like some still have that attitude. My mother does not, nor do most of her friends who also experienced the war from various parts of Berlin and Germany. Sure rapes did happen, but not to the extent that this movie portrays where every day consisted endless Russian abuses. My mother was not raped once, nor any of her friends. The Russian soldiers were human - some good, some bad - no different than any other human beings. She tells the story of an extremely drunk Russian soldier invading the basement they were hiding in as their first contact. Yes he did drag a woman off into the corner, no doubt a terrifying experience. But then before he could do any damage he fell asleep & started snoring.
  • A wonderful movie, well directed and very well acted (main characters, especially Anonyma, played by Nina Hoss, and the Russian major, played by Evgeny Sidikhin, were simply superb). I loved that the Russian and German characters are colored as human and not in simple black and white. It is very unfortunate that this film did not get more attention and a wider distribution! I was lucky enough to see it last year at the Toronto Film Festival. As a holder of a Ph.D. in history I was immediately intrigued: I knew about the events depicted in the film and I was concerned about how such brutal rapes would be shown but the director handled it perfectly, emphasizing that rape is more about violence and terror than about sex. The enquiring mind, the emotional understatement, and the moral complexity of this film got unfortunately overlooked by the Academy, possibly because of the "take-no-side" approach to its subject matter. I recommend this movie highly to anyone with interest in history, women's issues, and cinematics. At the same time, it is not for viewers who cannot handle the human reality in its darkest form.
  • The Treptower Park monument in Berlin depicting a Soviet soldier with a German girl he rescued is just typical of the conduct of the Red Army, characterized by unprecedented heroism and courage. In destroying the fascist vermin, Russia not only defended its freedom and independence but played the decisive role in the liberation of Europe and Asia from enslavement. World civilization was saved. As the great German writer Johannes Becher wrote in a poem after the war, "Who has done all the deeds/To free us from drudgery?/The heroes of the Soviet Union/Thanks to you, Soviet soldiers"

    But influenced by the Cold War triumphalism of Anglo-Americans, a resurgent neo-Nazism in Germany, and fascist nationalism in countries of Eastern Europe, there is an effort to rewrite the facts and results of World War II. Blackening the name of the Red Army with sensationalistic, perverted accusations of mass rape made is part of an effort to revive German nationalism, whitewash the Nazi past, and normalize the fact that Germany was and will always be responsible for imposing a genocidal war. The Anglo-American revisionists in their soft war with Russia want to minimize the accomplishments of the Red Army and even portray Russia as being equivalent to Nazi Germany. German revanchists justify their vile designs with the fabrication of a "ravished Germany" at the hands of the "Russian Mongol hordes". The intent of this film to slander the Russians and the great Soviet soldiers as a hordes of marauding, Asiatic beasts has its roots in the dying days of the German Reich.

    As Russian historians have shown, an objective analysis of abuses by the Red Army demonstrates that rape and other crimes against Germans did not represent a massive and extraordinary phenomenon, and were not the reflection of an organized and systematic policy by the authorities. Rather, the heroism and humanity of the Red Army is amply documented, as is the gratitude they received from the German people. The authorities did their utmost to ensure that that civilians would not be harmed by educating the rank-and-file soldiers and severely punishing offenders. The Germans did not experience a mere fraction of the horror that their soldiers staged in the East. The methodology employed by the falsifiers for their delusions about mass rape consist of dubious statistical manipulations and extrapolations based on the prevalence of abortions at a few health clinics. Nothing in their work provides convincing evidence that mass rape occurred.

    While western falsifiers of history are so keen to highlight this "Eine frau in Berlin" story by devoting enormous resources for a movie and book, there is a curious absence of the stories of Red Army veterans who discredited these allegations of abusing German civilians, as well as countless German residents who expressed gratitude to the liberators. For example, Russian historian A. Dyukov cites the memoir of Lieutent P. Kirichenko, who confirmed that "The question of revenge against the Nazis dropped out. It is not in the traditions of our people to take out reprisals against women, children, and elderly. The attitude of the Soviet soldiers to the German civilians was neutral. Nobody, at least from our regiment, committed persecutions. Moreover, when we met with many hungry German children, we shared our food without hesitation."

    Also from Dyukov's work are the reminisces of Irgmard Dietz, a Berliner: , "His name was Nikolai Semyonovich Silnev. We met in Berlin in May 1945. I was 20 years old and I lived with my mother and sister... I liked him, but he never approached me. He followed me when I was sick with pneumonia. He laughed a lot, which helped to free us from fear. His openness and humanity led us to become friends despite the language barrier, poor conditions of life, different backgrounds. He greatly influenced my spiritual healing and, of course, influenced my future. I thought a lot about him and wanted to say that I am forever grateful for the brief time we spent together."
  • What, Germany was invaded by Russian troops during the last few months of World War II, and the men were beaten, the women were raped and everyone had their property stolen by these shameless Ruskies? It's true... you learn something new everyday. Some might be tempted to say the Germans were getting a taste of their own medicine... until you realise not EVERYONE voted for Hitler or believed in his ideals, so why should they suffer? I guess 1939-1945 really was the most difficult era to live in ever, regardless of what nationality you were.

    Into this mix arrives a German journalist who came home to witness the final days of the fighting... and ends up slap, bang in the middle of the upheaval. A virtual prisoner in her own house, and regularly abused by ugly Russian troops, she nevertheless attracts the attention of the local Soviet battalion leader. They start a romantic relationship, which is complicated by their different beliefs and stations in life. This whole production is a true story based on a book written by the reporter in 1960, who due to the outrage and being called a 'traitor', has remained anonymous to this day.

    Alas, watching creepy, unattractive men forcibly getting into the knickers of innocent ladies is not very pleasant viewing, and for too long the focus lingers on the tiresome activities of these abusers. When the central pairing eventually get together, it feels more at the behest of the writer than any other tangible reason, and he fails to flesh out why these two opposites would ever get together in reality. Which of course they did... so what did they miss from the novel, which didn't translate to the screen? I don't know.

    All I can tell you is after over two hours of long-drawn-out drama, I'm ready to vow that this'll be the last war film I watch this year, after seeing 3 in a row. So, horror and comedy for the next fortnight it is, then... 5/10
  • Pure, boring ahistorical Euro-trash. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the victory of Western Capitalism, the West is rewriting history. All films are propaganda. Film costs millions to make. Bankers/Financiers are not going to finance films where they teach working class people their own history. Period. The film doesn't work on a historical level nor as an artistic cinematic endeavor.

    From the point of view of history: Many of my family members & neighbors lived in Nazi Germany. This story is purely fictional. Were there any Russian soldiers who raped German women? Of course. American soldiers who raped German women? Of course. In fact, some women are being raped as we speak whether on the streets of New York City, Rome, or China. The relevant question to ask was whether the Soviet government ever encouraged or legalized rape during WW2? The answer is: Absolutely, not! Let's look at the time period: World War 2 was coming to an end and all of Eastern Europe went socialist. France, Italy, Germany, and Greece were also going to go socialist. The Finance Bankers of the US and Great Britain wanted to stop this from happening. Thus the Marshall Plan was created. It was a battle between the East and West for the hearts and minds of not only the East Germans, but the Central Europeans. If Russian soldiers were raping millions of East German women as this film falsely show, why did East Germany become socialist and remain socialist for over 40 years? Why are East Germans; particularly East German women protesting by the hundreds of thousands to restore socialism there? From the prospective of artistic endeavor: Because a film may have been created as a piece of propaganda doesn't mean the production values need to be low are unwatchable. Regardless of how I feel about Nazi Germany, many of their film productions like Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will were masterpieces of their time that still resonant to today's audience. Lousy direction, abysmal acting, horrible cinematography, and poor script make this film unwatchable. The cinematography is shot in an almost gray pallor. Why? I don't know. Was the world black and white before 1960? The script and dialogue is silly and vulgar beyond belief. I'm ashamed and my German Protestant Family would have been even more ashamed. To give just one of several examples: An old lady willingly raped repeatedly by Russian soldiers comments how Russian men love having sex with her because as she depicts with her hand her vagina is small like a pea; unlike Ukrainian women who have vaginas the size of grapefruits. First, why would any young soldier, let alone many, want to rape ugly, old women old enough to be their grandmother? It's ridiculous! More over the overt racism against Ukrainian women is offensive and the dialogue just plain smut. Women didn't speak like this when I was a young woman in NYC in the 1990's and they for sure didn't speak this way in sexually repressed post-war Germany.

    One last thing before I end my review: A relevant question to ask is why certain films are financed and not others? This was a film destined to flop at the box office, so why would Bankers finance bombs ? Simple: This was the period when Austerity began and workers throughout Europe were having their worker rights' destroyed, pensions decimated, and so on. The film's purpose is to make people doubt the possibility that a better alternative is possible, so people continue to accept the tyranny of the Robber-Baron, Finance Capitalists 1%. By demonizing the Soviet Union, the 1% is trying to indoctrinate into the population that all alternatives are worse. 1 Star-Rotten. Pure trash, if it would have been created to be trashy Euro-porn, it would have been less trashy.
  • It seems that WWII has produced an almost unlimited number of stories. Even over sixty years later there continue to be major productions coming out, e.g. "Inglorious Basterds," "Valkyrie," "Letters from Iwo Jima," and "Flags of Our Fathers." Now, "A Woman from Berlin" can be added to the list.

    This is a story based on the diary of a woman living in Berlin at the time of its downfall in late April and early May of 1945 when the Red Army moved in for the final assault. In the West we tend to think that the UK and the US won the war, but this movie makes you consider that perhaps the Soviet Union played the more decisive role.

    I found the story told here very believable. It provokes some complex reactions. The Red Army is presented as not being overly gentlemanly in victory. But, after losing over 25 million dead in the war, it is hard to blame the Soviets for being a little more than peeved and participating in the spoils of war. Unfortunately, as depicted here, much of their revenge is taken out on German women.

    The central character, who is called "Anonyma," decides that it would be in her best survival interests if she were to attach herself to the highest ranking army officer she could find. This turns out to be Major Rybkin who is seen to be a decent sort of man. The evolving relationship between Rybkin and Anonyma, and its consequences, forms the core of the story.

    At first one is tempted to feel sorry for the Germans, but then you think of the horrors the Germans perpetrated, particularly on the Soviets, and you feel guilty for your compassion. The fact that Anonyma is presented at the beginning of the movie as being an intelligent journalist who is toasting the German conquests complicates your feelings for her. In the end I was just left with an overwhelming sense of the tragedy this war spawned. So many dead, so many lives changed forever.

    The production values are high--this was no minor undertaking. I was impressed with Nina Hoss who plays Anonyma, and Evgeniy Sidikhin as Major Rybkin is good as well. In fact the entire cast is excellent.

    The movie prompted me to do some reading on the Battle of Berlin (even in some printed books!). A lot of the written descriptions are fairly dry, which makes you appreciate a film like this that provides a backdrop for trying to understand what happened. I think that any movie that compels you to do a little research can't be bad.
  • blue14118 April 2012
    I sat through this movie for almost 1 hour watching filthy soldiers rape rape rape rape. This must be some sort of fetish film, for strange people to get off on.I found this movie totally useless. I know the strong have power over the weak, but this movie pushes the envelope over the hill and beyond.As a man, I do Not have to force myself on anyone, nor do I. I get it, Berlin was mostly taken over by Russian soldiers, mean rotten ones, using woman as sex objects. It's horrible, and I feel sick watching the implication of it in the shadows and behind closed doors. There should have been so much more subject matter to this film, but no, for those who are excited by this trash, the directors decided to keep it centered only on the forced sexual advances on women. Worst titillation film ever. The producers,directors and those who payed to have this film made, should feel very badly about themselves. I am so mad I watched this rotten movie for as long as I did.
  • I like cold war mpvies, and this kne could be really interesting. It covers the soviet occupation of Berlin, but the time seems stuck. We want to see developments, how and when the Americans arrive, and we miss this opportunity. We only see Russian soldiers and the Verliners, ignoring the German communists that were trained by the KGB in Moscow to take over the country (they were in power until 1990). Where are the proto DDR?
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