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Materials of the third film-webinar "Heroes of (Not) Our Time”

Опубликовано: 13.12.2019

The third film-webinar was held on March 7, 2019 with the support of the Center for Biographical Research "AITIA". We continued to watch and discuss the mini-series "Our mothers, our fathers" dedicated to the events of the Second World War.

The undergraduate and graduate students of the major “Cultural Studies” ("Culture of Germany", "Russian Culture") at the Institute of Philosophy of the Saint-Petersburg State University, as well as students and lecturers of other faculties took part in the discussion 

To see the materials of the first and second film webinars please follow the links: #aitia_kino1 and #aitia_kino2

The text below is a full transcript of the discussion at the third seminar.



Lyudmila Artamoshkina: From my point of view, the series gives us the images that need to be perceived and analyzed in the space of Russian culture. However, there are other positions – Dasha, please explain for everyone. 

Daria Krushinskaya: I learned from Internet sources that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation sent an official letter to the Ambassador of Germany in our country to notify that this film may be unacceptable for the Russian audience, and that the audience who had already watched it considered it unbecoming, even offensive (Polish audience also considered the screening of the film on the ZDF channel in 2013 as an German attempt to falsify history, see: Zeit.de; Livejournal.com - transcriptor’s note).

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: That's the reason why it's so important to get a response from the widest audience: is this film really so unacceptable for the Russian consciousness? Or is it still necessary for us?

Daria Krushinskaya: I think this series should be shown with caution, with a preliminary comment. It's like with monuments of dictatorship – they also need to be explained in context. This will avoid misunderstandings and eliminate the possibility that someone interprets the series as an attempt to insult.

Valeria Dudinets: Yes, the film should be shown with a comment to mentioned problems. Because otherwise... it may seem that Russian soldiers are shown on their bad side, although in the series, we hardly see any Russian, they are neutral, and serve only as indication that there is a war, but their images are not interpreted. Comparing with American films concerning the Cold war, we can say that in this series the image of the Russians is given cautiously and without judgement. We must understand that the German characters as they shown are necessary for the plot. This stays true to the history, to the historical events.

Daria Krushinskaya: Without a preliminary comment, an unprepared viewer may get the impression that all Germans are Nazis.

Valeria Dudinets: And without additional context it is also impossible to dispute this considering only the events shown in the series.

Daria Krushinskaya: It could be possible to talk about Resistance, about people who openly fought against ideology, for example, about students in Munich at the same time. Show people who actively opposed.

Valery Belyaev: Perhaps exactly the older generation can perceive this film with hostility, unlike the younger generations.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: Yes. I always wonder how my father would have taken this film. A similar story has been already mentioned in our discussion, in a conversation with Sabina.

Let's focus on the following. The series shows the Germans. It shows how a person becomes cruel. We have already mentioned this topic in previous discussions. But our films show this truth about the war even more brutally. For example, the film "Come and See" (direct. E. G. Klimov, 1985). I also remember Tarkovsky's" Ivan’s childhood" (1962), where the theme of children and war is reflected. But Sabine was surprised: "How can you say ”not so brutal cruelty'?! There is shown how Germans kill children!". It turns out that the intensity of pain in these stories has some difference by nature.

Tell me, who knows about the "Historians' quarrel" (Historikerstreit) in Germany in 80-ies? What was the dispute about?

Valery Belyaev: In a nutshell, the historian Ernst Nolte, from the Frankfurt school, had a different position on the Second World War and even wider, on the First World War and on the beginning of the XX century in general, than was generally accepted. He called all events from 1914 to 1945 "European Civil War." Based on his position, both world wars were not wars between groups of states, but, relatively speaking, the war of ideologies, which lasted half a century without stopping (and this is another difference between the theory of E. Nolte and the theories of other historians who have excluded the interwar period from consideration of the world wars).

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: But what was the crucial point of the dispute?

Valeria Dudinets: The essence of the dispute is how to consider the situation of world wars. Nolte is only one of the participants in the dispute. And his theory isn't even the initial, primary impulse of the argument. Here it is necessary to recall M. Heidegger and his letters…

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: First of all, I am interested in the concepts developed in the course of this dispute to the 80-ies.

Valery Belyaev: Partially, the concept of E. Nolte can be perceived as a denial of the crimes of Nazism. As the revision of those years as a kind of an ordinary event, ordinary from the historical point of view – "war as war". This entails belittling the Holocaust and other crimes of Nazism.

Valeria Dudinets: The Dialogue between the two positions began already in 1945 – with Carl Jaspers and his “Question of Guilt". He was one of the first who raised the issue. All the thoughts that he kept to himself throughout the regime, because he could not share them, he expressed in this work. This caused an emotional reaction, the wave of criticism towards him, because no one wanted to take such a position. And Nolte and Habermas... Habermas represents the Frankfurt school, which adhered to the Jaspers line and continued the considering of the problem in the context of the discussion how Germany should continue to develop; and Nolte also represents the position of those Germans who wanted to justify themselves, as M. Heidegger, who was "just mistaken", "wrong".

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: Yes... And I have a question for you, for the audience. What new perspective the series gives to you, to your perception and understanding of the events of that war, of its origins?

Aleida Assman, who in the book "New Dissatisfaction with the Memorial Culture" (“Das neue Unbehagen an der Erinnerungskultur”) writes about this series and how it stirred Germany in 2013, has right. Of course, not absolutely all in the Germany watched it, but it was a new impulse for a long-standing debate. And with regard to the Germans, it is clear why the discussion has become so active. But what about us? Does this series give us a new vision, a new feeling? After all, now we are in a situation where the last generation is leaving, which was directly, bodily connected with the memory of the war – through the generation of their fathers. The director of the series is a man from my generation. And the subsequent generations can only work with images: it is the reason why the reflections and reaction on those signs, images and symbols given in the series are so interesting. 

Alena Rezvukhina: For me, the image of the younger brother, Friedhelm, and his change was a great discovery, because for me this image was the answer to the question why many Germans fought to the end, when it was already absolutely clear that the continuation of the war was meaningless, that the war was lost – why then die, why kill others? And through this image it is shown, rather eerily, that at some point man is almost gone, and only the spirit of the war itself remains in him. And the last flash of humanity, that is in the person, at the end drives him to the death, in the attempt to stop. Because the person himself cannot stop, because if he does, he will have to realize what he is doing and what he has already done.

Daria Krushinskaya: But he's dying to save those boys, to let them see how the people die. If he had done nothing, they would have insisted on attacking. So he sacrificed himself for a chance for them.

Alena Rezvukhina: In fact, through this act he at the same time killed and saved himself. At the very last moment.

The actor's play in the last part is very strong – he managed to show us the completely dead look of the living person. Without superfluous emotions, but we feel that the person is not present any more, only his shadow remains. And only in the last minutes of life the character has again some emotions on his face.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: In my father's diary entries, already after the war, there was an image in connection with his last wound – and when I read all this in details, I always wondered... It tormented me that in the last weeks, the last days of the war, so many of our people died, soldiers who went through the whole war. I looked at this among other from the autobiographical point of view – for my father the war started with the Battle of Kursk. And the people have passed through so many perils – only to die at the last moment! Therefore, this part of the film, the final part, which we are talking about, I also very keenly perceive. Because "someone has to stop it." At least on some small plot... I agree that there is a remnant of something human here.

Valery Belyaev: The story shows that Friedhelm is the last of the soldiers of the Wehrmacht in the military detachment – the rest are from the Volkssturm (militia units of the Third Reich, created in the last months of world war II - transcriptor’s note), mobilized elderly people and children.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: I would like to note for the discussion of the series and the images of the Second World War in general: it is surprising how deaf the wall between cultures still is. This is evident from the fact that even the educated stratum of the society, with university grades, or Germans deeply interested in Russia do not know our images of war. And this lack of knowledge is obvious.

Daria Krushinskaya: I will add that this series in many respects humanizes the enemy. It is not about that there are "bad" and "good" people, it is about the tragedy of the human being. People fought on both sides. And many simply became hostages of the situation: they killed not because they wanted to kill, they occupied not because they wanted to occupy. Just they life turned this way. 

Valery Belyaev: And it is also important how the characters themselves understand that they were mistaken. They look back, after four years of war, and realize that when they were younger, they were wrong.

Nika Bezverkhova: I may be wrong, but most people have after a school history course a slightly idealized image of a Soviet soldier. He's a hero, and you can't argue with that. But the emphasis is on the fact that the Soviet soldiers were "better" than the German. Better means more human, less cruel. But it seems to me that it was correctly said this way: the Great Patriotic War was a tragedy for both sides.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: Please think what you say - "The Great Patriotic war as a tragedy for both sides" - the exact words are here very important.

Nika Bezverkhova: A lot of people died on both sides. Crimes and desertions were committed - both on the Russian side and on the German side. And I think the series made an important emphasis on the fact that the Russians at the end of the war are too very “exhausted” and began to lose their humanity. This illustrates the moment of violence in the hospital. War puts everyone on an equal ground. The Germans raped Russian women, and the same thing happened on the other side. And this tragedy affected people equally from both the Soviet and German sides. Which, in the end, led to nothing.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: And what do you mean by this: “which led to nothing”?

Nika Bezverkhova: Was it worth... Were such enormous sacrifices necessary? Of course, the fascism was defeated, and this is good. But how many victims suffered ... these figures even do not fit in the head.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: And how do you imagine at what point this situation could be stopped?

Valery Belyaev: There indeed exists an opinion that the Red Army should have stopped at the border of the USSR and not move further into Germany, should have leave this front to the Allies. And then it is assumed that the Allies would have ended the war, or there would have been a coup inside Germany – after all, there were attempts on Hitler, in 1944 and in 1945. And peace could have been concluded earlier, as, for example, in the case of the First World War.

Alena Rezvukhina: But how realistic was this scenario?

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: To the last street and to the last house defended not only boys. Please recall nurse from the series, she until the end remained with the same ideas. And that, too, is true. Therefore, the question could not be answered in our situation: whether it was worth to stop or not.

But the interesting thing is that you talk about it. In this accent there is already a difference of perception between my generation and your generations.

Valeria Dudinets: If stay not so far from the scene with soldiers in the hospital, which we discussed, I am personally affected by following: in the film, especially after the 60s, regardless of the fact that the Soviet Army was an army-liberator, arose the unfortunate image of the Soviet Army in general (I mean western movies), and for me this scene of violence and how it was stopped at some point, is just an indication that the idea that the Soviet soldier was first of all a liberator, is still alive.

And at the same time I was touched by a phrase when they were discussing "new Germany." This phrase stuck in my head and makes me think about the future of Germany from the Soviet point of view.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: And not only from the perspective of the Soviet leadership. The process of denazification is the point what started the work with the situation which arose in this time in Germany. Another side is the division into Germany and the GDR, but this is really an another story.

Valeria Dudinets: For me the most important thing is that a chance is given. On the example of the character of the nurse Charlotte we understand this: she is given a chance to improve. And this is a chance for the future Germany.

Alena Rezvukhina: I will allow myself a remark that even before watching the series I tried to understand for myself: what causes the need to watch war films (not only on the Second World War but also on the First, etc.)? This applies to our discussion about a person who finds himself in a situation where he cannot influence anything. For me, the military situation is about something else. This is a situation in which it is very clear that any, even the smallest choice can lead to the widest scope of possibilities. From the series, I recall a line of Polish partisans – for me one of the most ambiguous - when the head of the partisans chooses whether to kill Viktor or not, and we see that, despite his prejudices, he leaves him alive. And there are a lot of situations in the series where a small decision has big consequences. Therefore, for me, it is, first of all, always a story about choice. That even in the most severe circumstances (or as in physics-under the strongest pressure), to which a person is in principle not adapted, still, some small gap of human free will remains.

Daria Krushinskaya: It's very complicated. Free will in such situation... the characters are, in reality, criminals to all sides. Each character violates his ideology, goes to the wrong side and commits those acts that are punishable from different sides, from the German, from the Soviet, or even from the Polish partisans. All the characters we can understand from the humanistic point of view. In terms of war, they are criminals. In fact, they have no choice.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: I think you here do not contradict each other. This "legal impossibility" does not exclude the fact that there is always a gap in the ultimate situation. And it may not be even a particular choice. It is showed well by the character of the lead singer Greta – that there always is a choice, even when there is none. That's the paradox.

Daria Krushinskaya: It turns out that they chose the lesser of evils. That one which would allow to reach the end and survive.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: The situation of choice in the extreme situation reminds me of one episode. As children, I and my friends, boys and girls, all my generation played (unfortunately) in "Germans". The separation of Germans and Nazis was not yet in the culture of my generation. But we did not have the pathos of Victory, in the form in which it is now used in the official rhetoric. There was the pathos of Liberation, and it's a different accent.

For a very long time, perhaps from the age of five, I can't stop dreaming about the moment when the Nazis are coming, they go into the house, and I am hiding in an old well at the bottom of the garden. I sit there – and this place is really in our garden - with a wooden lid on top, and I wonder with horror would they understand that there is any space here, or not. And this dream remains for the whole life – I think, it indicates something very important for the state of the memory culture. And I know that, because every one of our generation has such war-related stories.

And in the series I was really touched by the moment when they are already sitting in the prison cell: the singer Greta and the woman who tells her about her husband. A situation without a choice. But this woman, I think, exactly reflects what Alena says. She has it. This woman has a choice, even in this situation, she shows that she has it. And she does it every day, almost every hour. She's feeding bird she named Arthur. Perhaps this is a rough example, but it shows well the human nature.

I have two other topics that concern me in the current situation around the war memory and how it is transmitted in culture through images, but I do not want to interrupt you. What other impressions do you have?

Guest Pavel: The series does not reveal to me something really striking, that means, that it does not significantly change my image of the war. But this is a very strong work, among other from an aesthetic point of view. It concerns characters and their development.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: I should say, I just remembered – there was a Soviet writer who passed the war, relating to the so-called "prose of lieutenants" - Yuri Bondarev. This was a new vision of war, "from the trenches." One of his last novels is called "Choice" (1981), and there a topic is raised that is now widely exaggerated. And in your comments, this topic also was present. "Bad" and "good." It is reason why I emphasized the phrase "the tragedy of both sides", "the mutual tragedy of the Great Patriotic War". The very wording is paradoxical: that on the both sides were the victims and the tragedy. It is necessary to be correct: the series does not show the Great Patriotic War, but the Second World War. And this way we can talk about the tragedy of the war.

But I should say that I personally do not like such point of view. There is such a tendency in this... Any war is always a tragedy. Afghanistan, Iraq is a tragedy. But in such a reversal, it turns out that there is neither right nor wrong side.

Guest: Why? The series does not justify the actions of the Nazis. We say that all parties suffered, but this is by no means an excuse for Nazism, their guilt is not denied. The main "villains" are still the Nazis. But the vector is shifted to the personal tragedies.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: It is good, when such a vision is preserved. It is closer to my understanding. 

Valery Belyaev: Most likely, exactly because of such reasons the film was created. At the beginning of the series, I noticed a small detail that may refer to the fact that Friedhelm is a fan of Ernst Junger.

Alena Rezvukhina: Yes, he took his books on front. 

Valery Belyaev: And I think the references to the image of Junger is obvious. A soldier who didn't betray his oath... Except for the episode with Victor.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: Relatively speaking, about this case nobody knows. Therefore, "legally" he did not violate the oath.

Daria Krushinskaya: But there was an episode where he attracted the attention of a military aircraft with a cigarette!

Valery Belyaev: In any case, through this image the division between the Wehrmacht and the SS is shown.

After the war Junger was criticized for sending Hitler his autographical book. It seemed that if he sent to the Fuhrer a book, then he was on his side. But what was he supposed to do? He was in command. 

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: Talking about the SS and the Wehrmacht – indeed, this subject is still very painful for the Germans. In this sense, the series is quite honest, but very cautious.

Historian A. I. Boroznyak in his monograph "Cruel Memory" describes in great detail the 90-ies and an art exhibition in Munich, which was arranged by young photographers on a documentary basis. And with this exhibition they visited different cities of Germany. In principle only the documentary materials of the Wehrmacht were shown. The sense of the exhibition was to show that crimes in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were committed not only by SS. After all, even the banal counting of the number of victims refutes this. The historian also gives excerpts from the book of reviews. When the exhibition reached Munich, the civil war literally began. Society was clearly divided into two halves: "no, we did not know and do not want to know" and those who were horrified to recognize in these photos their grandfathers. The state and the police stopped the bloodshed in this situation.

This summer, when Sabine and I were traveling to the Trutzhain prison camp, I recalled the exhibition and asked how the same situation is perceived now. And she replied: "If you come to visit a family, and you start a conversation on this topic, then in some families you can just refuse from the house (“refuse shelter”- trascriptor’s remark)". Do you understand how painful this topic is? That's the part of memory that's really hard to work with.

Also in the framework of inter-university exchanges I learned the German named Doris – during one of her visits she came to the Piskarevskoey memorial cemetery. And suddenly she said to me: "I will never understand how you can forgive us."

These plots are so deep plots inside the memory, first collective (because Doris is a person of my generation, maybe a little younger), then cultural. And these are problems present within modern new Germany. That Germany, which was built by those who served the Fuhrer very honestly. And this successful embedding of many of them into the legal system... Gradually denazification occurred, but on how deep level? This is a big and difficult question for the new Germany. And this should be as well taken into account when discussing how culture will work with memory in the future.

Therefore, it is important to read very carefully the English and German publications on this topic. I have some issues to discuss with Aleida Assman, for example. There is an organization MSA, she is among the organizers. I would like to meet with her and discuss some issues at the conferences. I saw how translations of her books appeared, how colleagues began to actively use the concepts she proposed, including the concept of "trauma", to describe our memory situation. And the series partly shows us how important it is to work with images considering memory, both German and ours.

The series is very honest. For example, in the line with the Nazi, who got a job in the postwar administration; the position of the Americans on this issue: "with whom we can work, we will work."

Another story that is increasingly resonating in publications and works is the problem of rapes. As Nika mentioned the war "exhausted" people. The problem of violence, the problem of rape of women, of course, was present - it was a war. In Germany, the publication of the diary of one of the women of that time found a great response. And I caught myself thinking that we raise this topic at the level of small works, novels, and treat it more harshly than the Germans themselves. Difference of approaches. The object of criticism is the Soviet soldier and the emphasis that "the Soviet Army raped half of Europe". And it was important for me to understand how the Germans work with this story. This is important, this is what your generation needs to work with – the concept of guilt, of the responsibility.

But is a problem which was not mentioned: "child and war" theme. You have right that we were brought up on the fact that the Soviet soldier is a liberator. And the well-known monument with a child (this refers to the monument "Warrior-liberator" in Berlin's Treptow Park – transcriptor’s note)image, which is preserved in our memory. And for me it is important, there are some boundaries of memory, necessary for the preserving of the integrity of life. But I don't know how the culture will continue to deal with this. What new images and themes may appear?

I will return to the original question of our discussion. Do you think the show should be watched by the wider audience?

Valery Belyaev: At least, this is a good film.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: I don't agree with the position that everything that is good as a work of art people should watch.

Valeria Dudinets: I remain of the opinion that by the demonstration to the wider audience, some additional context should be given. If you just show it to somebody and say "watch!", it will be a challenge for him.

Daria Krushinskaya: I think there should be an accompanying lecture of an expert who could explain some issues.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: I'm going to conduct a kind of "experiment" and call for viewing a circle of friends, purposefully not from «refined» intellectual (academic) spheres, to get a real response, to learn about their experiences and their views. And I want to turn to the representatives of different generations.

Daria Krushinskaya: But this film still cannot be broadcast by one of the federal channels.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: It will not be shown by one of them. 

Nika Bezverkhova: I believe that this film is really necessary, because the person who will watch this film will have his own opinion, and he can share it with the others, draw conclusions, think about it.

And today I remembered the unpleasant situation which happened in the school. In the 11th grade pupils are learning in history lessons about the Great Patriotic War, and one of this lessons I will remember forever. I understand that if they continue to teach in schools like this (and I graduated from high school), then I do not know what the image of war will be in the next generations. I had a task to make a presentation about "Ten Stalinist Strikes." I watched documentaries, comments, films. When I made the presentation before my classmates, at some point the teacher started laughing at something in my story, and quickly the whole class laughed. I basically did not understand what was happening. Did I looked wrong? Did I said something that sounded funny? Did I said something wrong? Or are people laughing at the way minesweepers drove through minefields? I never understood. But it was a shock to me. I realized that even teachers, who should understand the subject better than students, already are somehow very indifferent to these brutal battles and events. It scared me.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: Do I understand you correctly that you are concerned about the reaction – no matter what was the key problem: terms that was not understandable, or "strange" information?

Nika Bezverkhova: The problem was how the audience reacted to terms, geographical names and so on. It struck me.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: So the level of unawareness about the theme?

Nika Bezverkhova: Yes. A lack of understanding of how horrible it all was. And from this point of view, as already mentioned, the series that we watched is really well done, also concerning how the scenes of fights, battles, offensives are made. I think it should be shown. Because already exists some...incomprehension.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: And it is a dangerous situation for the culture. 

Guest: We are already for a long time living in an aggressive situation with great tensions. I didn't see the first two series, but I got the feeling that the person of traitor has a significant meaning here, that it's key to the series.

The Germans are fighting in a brutal, terrible war in which supposedly "innocent" people are crushed, who do not want to, but are forced to participate in the war and there die in this meat grinder. As it is voiced in the series: "war is a slaughterhouse". There are parties who are starting these wars, and they are equalized in this sense.

For example, a girl Sonia from the hospital who says that when the Russians come back, they'll kill her, that the Russian are slaves (it means that the landowners treated serfs like slaves)... the accents are emphasized this way. Emphasis plays an important role in the way how our consciousness is reformatted. Soviet soldiers and Nazis: a certain evaluation disappears, and the man himself comes to the foreground, who has his own little joys, sorrows and sufferings. And here is he, man as he is, here is he and exactly he has a fundamental significance and value – separately taken man, who is placed on the altar by this incomprehensible, unexplainable war.

And it turns out to be a story about the war, which destroys these unique individuals living and enjoying life, who are suddenly deprived of this opportunity to enjoy life. This subtext is felt in the series. And the emphasis of equalization. It turns out to be a situation when in the culture a kind of Stockholm syndrome is imprinted: we all have to become victims, should to empathize with the Nazis and others - "we are all involved in this mess – we are all victims." It is a process of victimization of modern culture. Polarities are removed (those that our older generation still has). Who fought and for what – it is already not so important. It is important that the person is destroyed. 

It is unclear where this trend will lead. Fichte has a work “Main Features of the Modern Era", where he gives a periodization of the history and extremely negatively states that his era belongs to the so-called "third era", which he calls "the empty era of naked individualism", when at the forefront are individual values and everything which is somehow related to the life of an individual who pursues just his well-being. For Fichte it is a catastrophe of human existence, when a person lives for the sake of his individual well-being, and not for the sake of the idea, for the embodiment of reason. Although the ideas of Fichte and Hegel secretly fueled Nazism itself. But it is interesting to compare. We have plunged, relatively speaking, into what Fichte or even Plato has led us to, and now we have again fallen back to such a banal, parochial parasitic existence, putting only our personal well-being at the forefront. And from this context we create a situation of equalization of everything and everything. It is a problem how to treat all this.

We after all can direct a film, which will have very sincerely, heartfelt and sometimes sentimental atmosphere, and which will show an idyllic life of some commander of the concentration camps. And we may even feel sympathy for this concentration camp commander. And all which is outside of his personal, individual life we could "gently" omit.

Such a line is actively carried out now in the cinema. Not even in military films, but also in criminal, where, for example, the leader of the mafia is presented in this way. Luc Besson has a film where he shows the mafia leader, played by De Niro, in a heartfelt and sympathetic way. This man is shown as a caring father of the family. The trend is very indicative for the state of our culture.

The older generation is confronted with the problem of how to articulate their own perception, because we are a part of a completely different memory. Difference between “black” and “white” doesn't work anymore. It's not tolerant. We ourselves are already afraid to express value judgments.

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: Speaking about how the language makes a substitution. Tolerance as a term came in the 90s. And Alexandra Karnatz, who was at our Department of Philosophy, at a small conference-seminar very accurately commented on why there is a situation when the term “toleration” is closed by the term “tolerance”. And how, in fact, these processes that seems to take place only at the level of language – as in the case of the concept of "trauma" and the existing alternative concept of "pain" - emphasize the blurring, splitting of everything, that corrodes the society. Therefore, the words we use for the analyzes are very important.

Guest: As for the question of the show, it seems to me that the series honestly told the true story, where all sides are represented. This is not some German propaganda, no. Only you should be careful with the accents. So I kind of understand that the Ministry of foreign affairs vetoed this series, most likely because of these read-out moments. Anyway, the Russians in the series are shown, and there's no additional comment – that not all soldiers were beasts, which were on either side. It seems that the Russians are the same as the Germans. And if good Russians are shown – they are traitors. So I return to Sonia's character. Therefore, it seems to me that here the figure of the traitor is a key figure. The word "traitor" is, of course, too harsh – rather a person from whom this label is removed through the empathy evoked by the series. 

There is an Israeli writer, Amos Oz, who is considered a traitor at home because he speaks out in support of the Palestinians. For him, this is a painful subject, he wrote the novel "Judas", in which he reflects on this theme: when you are called a traitor, while you try to take a humanistic or simply objective position, and it causes a conflict in the existing ideology. This is a very modern topic.

Daria Krushinskaya: But in this regard, we need to discuss the image of Lilia.

Valery Belyaev: Yes, she was in the first series on the place of Sonia. Lila is a Jewish woman with a good knowledge of German language, who got a job at the hospital, but Charlotte later betrayed her to the military .

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: She turned out to be a qualified doctor, and from the photo she kept, we understand that her husband is now, relatively speaking, fighting on the other side of the barricades. And the series is full of such situations-shifters. This is clearly shown by Victor's line, because at some point he is "nowhere". And this is especially clear in the final scene in Berlin, when he sees the Nazi, sees the reaction of the American – and he is again "nowhere". 

So the last point: what questions would you ask the German audience?

Valeria Dudinets: I would be interested to know their opinion about our Soviet films. As well the question of AfD remains, in a previous conversation Lars referred to them as a kind of continuation... The dispute with the AfD is partly very indicative of working with memory, pain, how society is trying to deal with it. 

Lyudmila Artamoshkina: Okay. And as a result of our meetings, there is the idea of creating a collective text in the form of a dialogue, if you support this idea. Concerning further projects, I was given a family archive associated with my grandfather, who participated in the Second World War and got into the pot near Novgorod, in which both Germans and Russians were squeezed at the same time. How they were trying to survive. The difference was that German soldiers received food dropped from helicopters, and the Russian soldiers had no such support. The second project is connected with a Soviet general who got to a concentration camp and died there. And he sat in a concentration camp with Yakov Stalin. Relatives are ready to provide materials. And the third project is, of course, the idea of volunteering.

Thank you for your time, colleagues! I hope for further cooperation.


Transcript of video recording of the seminar: Anna Rezvukhina

Stylistic editing and translation from Russian: Alena Rezvukhina


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