Wilfred and Alexandra
A young recruit and a village girl. Two victims of massive political cataclysms. In other circumstances, they might have become friends or even more. The war made them enemies. But the war has long ended, the suffering is behind, the hostility has disappeared. Now they are allies. They are united by a common bitter experience. The two surviving witnesses of the worst events of the 20th century are now facing common enemies: time and oblivion. They define the borderline of our memory. A little more time will pass, and their story will turn into a distant legend just like the Napoleonic Wars.
A double portrait against the images of the past war two veterans of the WWII. Wilfred, a former Wehrmacht soldier, and Alexandra, who had lived on the occupied territory, talk about hatred, fear and death, which failed to destroy these people.
She is 95, he is 92. Like black and white pawns on the chessboard, they watched the match from the middle of it but from the opposite sides, It was not them who had started that slaughter, but they both could die or cause somebody's death at any moment. By pure chance, Wilfred and Alexandra remained alive. However, the war did not spare them. They are going to relive the most terrible years in their destinies, the common traumatic history of the WWII.
In Russia, they do not usually say "the World War II". Here it is customary to talk about the Great Patriotic War, the war that began with the invasion of the Soviet Union and ended with German capitulation. For many people, that war is associated with remembrance, grief and mourning. For many people, it means pride for their heroic ancestors. However, there is a tendency to manipulate this pride for various purposes. One can often see stickers saying "we can repeat that" on car windows.
Our film crew has arrived in Germany to find out what the German people think about this issue. Even 70 years after the war ended, many Germans still feel uneasy when it comes to the WWII, feeling guilty for the actions of their ancestors lead by Adolf Hitler. The very fact that a film crew from Moscow is interested in his life, has brought out incredibly strong emotions in Wilfred Redlich. He repeats again and again, "A film crew from Moscow has come to visit me, they want to hear my story." According to him, his life is not interesting to German researchers.
It seems that, despite years of research, many people in Russia are still blinded by the victory, and people in Germany - by guilt. And this blindness prevents people from seeing things the way they are, from understanding those horrendous events and what had caused them.
"Wilfred and Alexandra" is an attempt to look at the events of one of the most terrible tragedies of the twentieth century from the both sides, by comparing two fates and two opposing views. This is not a story about the winners and the defeated, it's not a story about the heroes and the guilty, it's a story about two people, the victims of the war.
When I see the slogan "We can repeat that," I feel perplexed. I would like these young people to see Wilfred and Alexandra, to hear their stories and then I would ask them: "What exactly would you like to repeat?"
Wilfred Redlich, who took up arms as a 17-year-old boy, is now 92 years old. After the war, there were about 2000 veterans in Falkensee. Now he is the only one left alive. Alexandra Barkovskaya, who was a very young girl during the occupation, is 95 years old. She is the only living witness of the war in Grebenevo.
In a few years there will not be a single living person who can recall those events. Our children will no longer be able to listen to stories about the war without propaganda. I would like this film to become "the story told by grandparents", whom they will soon be deprived of.
What do we need to know and remember about the war so that it is never repeated? That is the question the viewers should ask themselves after watching this film.
Charming and smiling, aunt Sasha has only left her native village Grebenevo once in 95 years. She spent almost all her life here, near Orsha. The city became a strategic point for the Wehrmacht army: there was a railway junction that connected Russia with Europe. Therefore, the occupying forces seized Grebenevo on the twentieth day of the war. Sasha was only 19 when her village was occupied. 3 years of losses and endless fear lay ahead of her. Her husband lost his leg at the front, her parents' house was burned down for assistance to partisans, the same partisans shot down her sister for a pair of new boots. Alexandra got shot several times, she was taken to executions along with other villagers. But fate left her alive: perhaps, in order to let this woman save and raise more than a dozen children: her own, as well as her neighbours' and partisans's children; and even save a Jewish girl who was facing imminent death. Aunt Sasha did not enjoy happiness after the war. Hard work and patience became her daily companions.
Aged 92, he is one of the oldest residents of Falkensee near Berlin. Born in Poland, near the border with Germany, he eagerly awaited Hitler's arrival, and then joined the Hitler Youth and volunteered for the front. Pride and enthusiasm quickly gave way to the horror of death, which he himself had to sow. Yesterday's teenager found himself in hell, in the epicenter of hatred, in a world where any wrong move meant death. He was captured during retreat, then was transferred into a prisoner-of-war camp in Siberia. He survived humiliation, hunger, exhausting work. Siberia became a real school of life for him. He only returned to Germany in 1949, on the verge of nervous and physical breakdown. His peers had already had careers and families by that time. Wilfred had a post-traumatic syndrome and a fascist murderer stigma. It took him years to cope with that.