Scen.: Angel Wagenstein. F.: Werner Bergmann. M.: Christa Wernicke. Scgf.: José Sancha, Maria Iwanowa, Alfred Drosdek. Mus.: Simeon Pironkow. Int.: Sascha Kruscharska (Ruth), Jürgen Frohriep (sergente Walter), Erik S. Klein (luogotenente Kurt), Stefan Pejchev (Bai Petko), Georgi Naumow (Blashe), Iwan Kondow (il padre di Ruth), Milka Tujkowa (partigiano), Stiljan Kunew (‘Doktor’), Naitscha Petrow (capo della polizia) Elena Chranowa (anziana ebrea). Prod.: DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme (Berlin), Studio für Spielfilme (Sofia). DCP.
During their deportation to the Auschwitz concentration camp, Greek Jews have a three-day stopover in Bulgaria, where they meet Wehrmacht sergeant Walter (played by Jürgen Frohriep), who was wounded in Leningrad. During the war he has become a nihilist, and he falls in love with one of the Jewish women, Ruth (Sascha Kruscharska). Walter will support the Bulgarian partisans and try to save Ruth. In a completely unsentimental but artistically outstanding style, with factual, sober dialogue, under a masterly direction, Sterne tells a Jewish tragedy in which there are no shocking dramatic effects, but rather the more internalised drama of human suffering. The outstanding work of cameraman Werner Bergmann (1921-1990), who shot almost all of Wolf ’s films, deserves special mention. Together with Wolf and set designer Alfred Hirschmeier, he drafted a visual script for the first time. Each shot was planned in detail beforehand, which turned many images into symbols. In his screenplay, the Bulgarian author Angel Wagenstein used motifs from his own biography and he suggested Wolf, a friend from his student days in Moscow, as director. Sterne is one of the most important anti-fascist films of the DEFA, which deals with the guilt and responsibility of the Germans in the Holocaust and it was shot in co-production with Bulgaria in the area around Sofia. It received a special jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival, however, due to West Germany’s claim to sole representation, the film was billed as an exclusively Bulgarian production and the involvement of DEFA was suppressed. The young leading actress Sascha Kruscharska was also celebrated in Cannes, although she was actually cast out of necessity, as favoured star actresses such as Haya Haraeet and Tatiana Samoilova were not available. Later Kruscharska emigrated to Italy for private reasons and renounced a great film career