(1924 - 2008
), a thirty minutes documentary cinematographed and directed by Wolfgang Held
. Pola Rapaport
also participated to the making of this movie.
I watched it with emotion: I know all personages who are in Vatis Geschichte
. A film made by a son (Wolfgang
) about his father (Wilhelm
). And I felt the emotion of Wolfgang in making this film.
It is a very personal movie, while dealing with something that happened in so many German families. It is the final act of a painful conflict between two generations. The generation of parents, raised in a totalitarian regime, educated in a totalitarian ideology, sent to the front to fight for Nazism. And the generation of children, born after all this nightmare was over, raised in a totally different system of values.
It is not about criminals here. They were ordinary citizens, these parents, and their guilt mainly was that they lived during Nazism. A very subtle form of guilt, not totally understood even by them. Only when Nazism was over they could realize the whole horror of all that had happened. And for the rest of their life they carried in themselves the personal burden of a collective guilt. And they kept it secret, mainly because they were not able to explain what had happened to anyone else. You should have lived under a totalitarian regime to really understand how it was possible.
A conflict between these two generations, the parents and the children, each one raised in a totally different system of values, each one with very different parameters in their lives. A conflict that took sometimes dramatic forms.
And, after many years, when the perspective on those horrible times became free of too rapid judgments and of big pathetic words, when children became mature enough to understand, only then the parents felt capable to explain.
Wilhelm Held was eighty years old when he told his story in front of his children (who were then in their late forties). He was born in 1924, learned in classrooms decorated with swastikas, and when war came he was sent to the front. He could have been killed twice, firstly on the Russian front, then in Paris, he simply had chance. He was eventually captured by the Americans and stayed for a year and a half in a POW camp. He spent the rest of his life as a high school teacher of French and Latin.
And after so many years, he simply told his story, and his son Wolfgang filmed him. With emotion, with love, and with the memory of the acute misunderstandings that had been between the two of them long time ago.
Wilhelm Held passed away after another four years. He died suddenly, a heart attack while he was sleeping. I know them all, Wilhelm and his wife, Wolfgang and his two sisters, and the little granddaughter of Wilhelm. I watched this movie with great emotion.
Labels: Wolfgang Held