Die Russen kommen (The Russians Are Coming). 1968/87. East Germany. Directed by Heiner Carow. Screenplay by Carow, Claus Küchenmeister. With Gert Krause-Melzer, Victor Perevalov, Norbert Christian, Dorothea Meissner. In German, Russian; English subtitles. 91 min.
Banned in East Germany for its “psychologizing of fascism,” Heiner Carow’s The Russians Are Coming was thought for decades to have been destroyed until his wife, the editor Evelyn Carow, found and reconstructed a work print of the original cut in 1987. MoMA premieres a meticulous new 2K restoration by DEFA Stiftung in Berlin and ARRI Media in Munich and Berlin. As an anguished meditation on wartime lies, guilt, and madness, The Russians Are Coming is every bit the equal of Konrad Wolf’s I Am Nineteen and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood. The film takes place in March 1945. Sixteen-year-old Günter Walscher, a proud Hitler Youth, is awarded the Iron Cross for hunting down a runaway immigrant laborer. Raw with the news of his own father’s death on the Russian front, the boy volunteers to fight. Instead, his capture by the advancing Soviet army forces him to confront his complicity in a murder. Courtesy DEFA Film Library at UMass Amherst. DCP.