Forgiveness?

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a documentary by Peter and Susanne Scheiner
2020 / 64 Minutes
Languages: German and Russian
Subtitles: German and English
English trailer will follow soon.


Content

«It's in our Russian soul, everything: we haven't forgotten it all. And the problem is not that we can't forget, but that the world has forgotten it all.» (Sergej Altukhov)

A small and religious group of German Christians didn’t forget. The group travels to Volgograd to join the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Sergej Altukhov, a Russian and protestant pastor, is their tour guide. Hans-Joachim Scholz, a protestant pastor from Gernsbach, Germany, initiated the trip. The group wants to ask for forgiveness for what their ancestors did to the Russian people during the war. There was no official German presence at this celebration day, besides Frank-Walter Steinmeier, then foreign minister, who spent the eve of May 9, 2015 in Moscow,

1943 Russian troops in Stalingrad, now called Volgograd, fought against the 6th Army of the Germans and were victorious. About a million people died at a single place. Historians see the battle as a psychological turn of the war. May 8, 1945 (May 9 in Russia) Germany signed the certificate of surrender.

The celebrations in Volgograd are highly diverse as the film shows. Again and again, at different meetings, the Germans speak about the guilt of their ancestors, often nearest members of their families. The group takes part when hundreds of thousand of people in Volgograd march together towards the Mamajew memorial, holding up photos of their lost family members. And the Germans put on wreaths as do the Russians. When being spectators at the military parade, which shows Russian force and where victory is emphasized, they sit next to highly decorated veterans. But what does it mean, when the Germans ask for forgiveness? Do people understand them, do they accept it or, on the contrary, do they refuse what the Germans are asking for?

The film shows the atmosphere, the mood on both sides and it’s also a personal reflection about the trip. We, the filmmakers, are Jewish and we are descendants of Holocaust survivors. The topic of the film has a special meaning for us too. The question is: what does it mean when descendants of perpetrators and descendants of victims meet?

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