Forgiveness — Stalingrad

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A documentary film by Peter and Susanne Scheiner
(work-in-progress; duration 52 minutes)


Synopsis

Wolgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, 70 years after the devastating battle. A Christian group from Germany joins the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II with the purpose to ask for forgiveness for the harm caused by their German fathers and grandfathers. My wife and I, two filmmakers from a Jewish background and second generation Holocaust survivors, accompany the Christian group. Forgiveness is a personal reflexion on this journey.

Why this film?

With foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier only paying a brief visit the night before the official ceremony, the German government rarely contributed to the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
The group of Christians, however, who have been forming the idea of forgiveness for about 20 years and who attended the official ceremony, were invisible in the German public eye. Instead, the Russian public TV, in spite of an embargo and the German guilt in killing 20 millions people, broadcasted a television program about the Christians.
As a filmmaker, I am particularly fascinated by my protagonist Michael Prinz zu Salm-Salm, the face of the Christian group, with his very personal and emotional way to forgiveness. His honest and humble attempt to seek forgiveness is often contrasted by rather rejective and unemotional reactions of the Russians.

Aspects

  1. The Wolgograd parade did not proclaim peace but victory, thus confronting us with Russia's demonstrative military power.
  2. Hundreds of thousands gathered in Wolgograd (1. - 4. generation war survivors) to commemorate their relatives killed during combat. Unlike during the Soviet era, they are not forced to attend, but join the parade as volunteers.
  3. EU embargo original sound: "We have won Stalingrad in 1943, we will also survive the embargo."
  4. Forgiveness? Fair enough, but we have well educated people and a functioning infrastructure, why don`t we just do business?

The film is an attempt to represent both sides of the spectrum and to contribute to a differentiated debate in the German-Russian conflict.

Additional shoot