Scen.: Wolfgang Kohlhaase, Konrad Wolf. F.: Werner Bergmann. M.: Evelyn Carow. Scgf.: Alfred Hirschmeier. Int.: Jaecki Schwarz (Gregor Hecker), Vasilil Livanov (Wadim), Alexej Ejboshenko (Sascha), Galina Polskich (ragazza sovietica), Jenny Gröllmann (ragazza tedesca), Mihail Gluzskij (generale), Anatolij Solov’ev (Starschinka), Kalmursa Rachmanow (Dsingis). Prod.: DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme. DCP.
German-born Gregor Hecker (played by Jaecki Schwarz) is 19 years old when the Second World War ends. His parents emigrated to Moscow when he was eight, but in April 1945 he returns to Germany as a Soviet lieutenant. The episodic, diary-style film follows Hecker and his companions from 16 April to 3 May 1945 on their journey along the Oder River to the Berlin area as they meet different German people. Hecker tries to understand the Germans, but he feels more comfortable with his Russian comrades. Ich war neunzehn is Konrad Wolf ’s most personal film. Wolf was 17 years old when he went to fight Nazi Germany for the Red Army. Between 18 March 1943 and 18 April 1945 he kept a war diary and his notes end – mid-sentence – at the beginning of the Soviet offensive on Berlin. This film picks up where the diary ended, when Wolf was 19. Wolf directed Ich war neunzehn soberly without pathos and so created perhaps the most authentic German film about the last days of the war. Ich war neunzehn marks the beginning of a long collaboration between Wolf and the renowned screenwriter and author Wolfgang Kohlhaase. The leading actor Jaecki Schwarz was only 21 years old and in his second year of film school when he was offered the role. Afterwards he became one of the most popular DEFA actors. Originally conceived under the working title Heimkehr 45 (Homecoming 45), Ich war neunzehn gradually alters between the objective claim and subjective viewpoint of the main character. Essential information about the course of the front, its causes and consequences in the fight for Berlin is dispensed in a way that is realistic and always reflected by the reactions of individuals, partly confirmed and partly broken. Some things are only hinted (rape, vigilante justice), others are explained in detail; above all, the narrative style motivates the audience to think and to reflect for themselves.