Mama, I'm Alive (1977) - full transcript

Four young Germans in a Soviet POW camp decide to join the Red Army to hasten the end of the war. Their new identities elicit different reactions from Germans and Russians, and are difficult to live up to when they are sent behind German lines.


If you're still our buddy, Becker,
take this with you.

Becker, come on!

...the dime turned into wine, into wine.

The cent turned into water,

the dime turned into wine.

Hei-di-, hei-do, hei-da,

hei-di, hei-do, hei-da...


In my third year of captivity I was finished.

The others said
I'd "betrayed them for a bit more grub."

I knew I was leaving them,
but I didn't know where I was going.

How does one extemporize to the masses?

What brought about the German catastrophe

and how can Germany extricate itself from it?

Optional essay:

sugar production in the Soviet Union.

Comrade Captain, may I?
- Comrade.

Go ahead.

Comrade Becker.

A nice farewell tune for our German comrades.

Let's go!

Swap clothes to the music!

Give me that.

The pants? You can have them.
- Give me the jacket. - OK.

What about this?

Give me the jacket.
- No, not that.

You know our buddies keep anything useful.
- Not the jacket.

Typical air force...

Carry on.

Joseph! Play "Katyusha!"

Maybe you'll be sent to the southwest front,
to Hungary.

I want to go home.

To Germany.


Excuse me, I'm looking for Pankonin's squad.
- That's us.


And you're supposed to be traveling
to Moscow? - Yes, sir.

Good day.

My surname is Mauris,

my first name is Danas.

I'm a Balt.


- Koralewski.

- Kuschke.


Those creases need to be further back.

The shirt collar
should protrude by one millimeter

and should be changed every day.

Let's drink to your success, Comrades.

There are two possibilities:

You risk your life on the barricades,

during an assault,

beneath a waving flag,
in front of the eyes of the working class.

And if you fall in battle,

it's a great death for a revolutionary.

But there's another kind of death.

When you're alone,
when everyone has forgotten you.

When you die like a dog

and don't even know
if your friends still trust you.

Boss, I've got to take a leak.
- Go ahead.

We'll be through by night.
- And if they catch us?

It's simple.

We'll save the last bullet for us.
- Sure.


You'll be going home, Comrades.

But the struggle will be a long one.

As long as life itself.

Comrade Lopatkin was speaking
on behalf of the Soviet communists.

Our party wishes you a good journey.

May I, Comrade Major...
- I'm sorry, this compartment is reserved.

This compartment's reserved.
- What does that mean?

Czechoslovakian correspondents.

Did he say "Czechs"?
- Yes.

Did he mean us?
- No talking, please.

Like I've said:
Czechoslovakian correspondents.

But there are only four bunks.
- You can sleep there. - Why me?

No talking, son.

We're moving.

There's snow on the ground outside.

As if it was winter again.

For Pete's sake!

Merry Christmas.

I'm suddenly not sure
if what we're doing is right.

What's up?

That maybe what we're doing isn't right.

What isn't right?

I'm thinking about that speech yesterday.
I'm no revolutionary.

And I don't want to be one.

What's the matter with you?

I believe in God.

So what?

I'm a devout Christian.

Then you're a Christian revolutionary.

And you're an asshole.

Try to understand.

I come from a place
where almost everyone believes.

Good, decent people.
My father plays the church organ.

They don't need a revolution.

They don't need a system like this one here.

So why are you here?

No one forced you to come.
- That's what I'm asking myself.

Damn it!

Instead of laughing,

you should think about
what you've done to this country.

The show's over.

Why so severe, Friedrich Marxovitch?

Are you responsible for culture?


Come over here.

What do you think of
the political work in the camp?


I don't think you're achieving very much.

Why not?

You talk differently.
People can't understand you.

It's not Nazi German, huh?


Give me an example.

You say this is a workers' paradise.
- And that's not true?

It doesn't seem like paradise to people.

And how would you put it?

Maybe I would say

that Russia used to be very poor.

And that now it's less poor.

And that we want to take away
all the things the people have created.

You tell them.

Why me?

That's what you're like.

That's the way you all are.


A people of followers.

A tiny bit of conscience for domestic use.

The rest is cowardice.

Forget it.

You can go.


on behalf of the anti-fascist committee,
this is a report about the state of the war.

How much longer are we going to
eat fish heads, creep? - I eat them, too!

Let's give them something.

Damn...! Give me a hand, Pankonin!

Stop it.
- But we've got enough.

Maybe it's not our job.


I just wanted to give the children
a piece of bread, you idiot!

Are we with the Russians or not?

Excuse me.

You've already eaten?

Without tea?

Fly home to me

and tell my mother,

tell her,

my dear mother,

that I died for the fatherland...

What's up? Never seen a German before?


Captured. Junkers.

Him. Junkers.

Maybe the comrades
find being stared at unpleasant.

Putting your pants on
over your head is unpleasant.

What did he say?

I didn't understand.

It was just a saying.

Are they Germans?
- Former prisoners of war.

Why former?


Stay seated.

Who are you?
- They were at a special school for POWs...

Can't they answer themselves?

Of course.

Introduce yourselves to the comrade general.

Pankonin, Walter. Pioneer.
POW since 1942.

Koralewski, Karl. Corporal, infantry.
POW since late '42.

Becker, Günther. Airman third class.
POW since '41.

Shot down?
- Yes, near Leningrad.

By a fighter?
- No, flak.

His flying days are over.

Kuschke, Helmut. Private, infantry.
POW since '43.

What did you do before the war?

Vaudeville artiste.

I ride bicycles,

either really small or really big ones,

sometimes upside down.

Why are you laughing?
That kind of thing happens to artistes.

And you?
- I'm a carpenter.


I don't have a trade.

He's a freelance artist?

I went to secondary school.



The general says: "In the name of the Father,
the Son and the Holy Ghost, Amen."


Will you shoot?


Will you shoot?

At your fellow countrymen?

We want to help bring an end to the shooting.

If there's shooting to be done, I'll shoot.


I can't say.

The comrades aren't prepared
for this question.

Vasya, give me the chest!

Open it.

Share it out equally.

You know, Comrade General...
- Vasya!

They won't starve to death!

Did you hear that?

This isn't just any old honey,
it's May honey.

It's like medicine.
There's an entire pharmacy in this pot.

A tablespoon of honey
has as much energy...

as an egg.
- Help yourselves!

I'm a beekeeper.

I'm only a general because of the war.

My father was a beekeeper
and my grandfather was a beekeeper.

And this here is...

- Vodka.

No one guessed it: rum!
A swig for everyone.

Comrade General!
- Vasya. A little swig! Just a little swig.

Have you known them long?
- No, since yesterday.

No, not everyone.

Vasya, close your restaurant.

The show's over, guys.

I have a suggestion:

You all join my unit.

The comrade general suggests
that you join his unit.

He's a Partisan.

I hope you understand
that we have other orders.

What did you translate there?

That we have other orders.
- Did I ask you to? Linguistic genius!

I need these Germans.
They were promised to me.

I'll fix everything. Persuade them.

- Are we allowed to choose?

There are enough fighters on the main front.
Men like you.

But in my unit, every individual counts.

What each man does is important,

not what he used to be
or what he was christened.

In my unit there are only Partisans,
no Germans.

Major, translate that.

There are many at the front,
but every man counts in his unit.

Translate everything.

In his unit you won't be Germans,

you'll be Partisans.

Red Partisans.

He repeated it.

Red Partisans.

You'll get submachine guns too.

The comrade general has a printing shop
with German type.

I'm leaving the train tomorrow.

If you join me,
we'll fly together in my plane.

You have till tomorrow morning to decide.

He even has his own plane.

I'll deal with the formalities.

What's your profession, by the way?


We'll be all right with him.
- If it's possible.

Did you learn to shoot here?

Do you know who you'll be facing?
Your own memories.

I believe you can shoot.

Shoot without thinking,

the Germans can do that.

And whether you're Partisans,
and whether you want to or not,

you'll always be Germans.

The general is mistaken.

You'll be Germans
who have to tell other Germans the truth.

And that will take courage!

Maybe more courage
than it takes to shoot!

I'm not a general...

I'm not a farmer...

But I love you too.



Oh, Fritz, Fritz...

No will of your own!

Where will you end up?

In socialism!


I can imagine
what kind of socialism that will be.

The lock's broken.

Close the door or come in.

Come here.

I've just seen a completely naked woman!

Completely naked!
- I don't believe it.

She wasn't wearing a stitch!

She was topless.
- Where?

In the john. And she said to me:

That means "come," doesn't it?
- Yes.


She stood there naked and said "come."

I don't believe it.

I think the photo was taken that day.

Our major didn't want to be in it.

Pankonin said we should have a sign
with "Free Germany" on it.

But we couldn't find a board
or anything like that.

And then the train whistled
and started moving.

Shall we have breakfast, Comrades?

Shall we go look for water to make tea?

A good idea.

Why aren't you eating, Comrades?

We're eating sugar.

Haven't you anything to eat?

Not really.

You've eaten everything you had?


Comrade Pankonin,

you're the eldest, I'll ask you:

Did you receive rations for five days?
- Yes.

And you've eaten them in two days?
- Yes.

- Everything.

That's dreadful.

I'll share with you.

We don't want that.

Then I won't eat either.

You want potatoes?
- Yes.

- No, money.

Your belt?
- No.


Hold these.

He ripped you off. - Why didn't you
say something if you're so smart?

Do I speak Russian?

Thank you.

"Jacket potato."

A new word for me.

Comrade Becker, do you know
what "jacket potato" is in Russian?

That means "potato in uniform."

In full dress uniform.

Look over there.


Where are you from?

Where are you from?

Are any of you from Lüneburg?

He'll only take water.

The Italians collect 200 grams of bread
every day, just so he'll sing.

And not even a military cemetery.

That's Bolshevism.

The civilians here
don't have anything to eat either.

They can die for all I care. We're prisoners.

The Russians should give us enough to eat.
- Or not take us prisoner.

The Hague Convention stipulates
that we should be given enough to eat.

I can't listen to this crap anymore!

Do you know what's in store for you?

I work twelve hours for 200 grams of bread.

And I don't have
a fine leather jacket like yours.

I have a fine leather jacket and 150 grams.

So why do you do it?

You can sit down.

The carrots were meant for all of us.

So you have solidarity?
- They're my buddies.

Can't you win them over?

I see: detention or the anti-fascist platoon.

Can you sing?


In the choir?
- No.

You're an artiste and you can't sing?
- No.

Give me your cap.

What's left of the Russian tobacco.

Give me the paper.

It got wet.

Air force!

And a non-smoker!

What's that?

It's a message.
- Show me.

"Saarbrücken, Bahnhofstraße 6."

"Mama, I'm alive."

You can remember that.
- No, give it back.

He almost beat me to death.

I want to go home and work.

Work every day.

Feel the wood in my hands.

I don't know what I'll do.
I suppose I won't be flying anymore.

And my wife opens the door...


How will they receive us,
the people at home?

After all, we're traitors.

I can live somewhere else,

in France or Poland.

You know how we behaved there?

Not us.
- Us or not us...

And revolution in Germany? A real one?

A world without God,
but a good world nevertheless.

But can good exist without its opposite?

We want goodness to reign.

I understand that.

But what about the evil in your system?

Are you simply going to abolish evil?

And dialectics?

That conflict is the motor of progress?

If evil is abolished,
where's the conflict?

How can goodness prove itself?

Man, Koralewski.

You've slept all day.

Good luck, Comrades.

I'll see you soon.


Does he think we have lice?


Then I won't take part in the welcome
for the German anti-fascists.

Don't then.

I'm going to headquarters and complain.

That's up to you.

The German comrades
can make their decision after my return.

That would be a waste of time.
- I'm asking you expressly.

The Germans were supposed to help me.
- They will, when they return.

At least one.

I do everything on my own.
I can't tear myself into pieces. - I know.

First of all I need them,

for an urgent mission
in the German hinterland.

When they return,
you can have them all, Svetlana.

I'd like to welcome you to the front.

You may sit down.

Is your accommodation in order?
- It's very good.

First of all, you should get some rest.

Captain Glunsky will brief you.

Captain Glunsky

will be at your disposal.

You can't do without that.
The front is the front.

Nobody knows that better than you.

He'll show you

what you're going to need here.

As you know: the front is the front.

And when do we start work?

Life will show you.

We'll still be alive...

and then we'll see.

Time will tell.

Yes. Time will... Yes.

Help yourselves. Take what you want.

Take some candy too.

Damn it!

Pour a bucketful over me too.

What did she say?

"Spicy German wurst
and cabbage give you thirst."

Heil Hitler!

I'm the artiste.


I'm an artiste, too.

- Yes.

But what for?

Now Karl!

Now Günther!


I can't do it with a knife.

I'm sorry, Victor.

What did he say?
- You'd be dead now, Helmut.

I'm returning to Moscow today.

I've been ordered to ask you one question
before I leave.

Are you prepared
to work in the German hinterland?

I wasn't able to prepare you for this question.
It's new to me too.

We'd be expected to use weapons.
- Yes, that too.

It's important to headquarters
that you decide of your own free will.

Comrade Pankonin, you're the eldest.


Everyone should say what he thinks.

- Why me first?

I presume they'll know what's right.

We're at the front,
so I think we should do what's most effective.

Maybe we'll meet the general again.

The one with the honey.
- Cut out the phony romanticism, Becker.

If you go, I'll go, too.

I won't do it.

Could you explain to us why?

What's up?
- These three say yes, but Pankonin says no.

Very well.

That's a good thing. Karl.



The captain says the three of you
will go into the forest for one week.

To train for your mission.

You'll have to fend for yourselves,
without him, just with Kolya.

Is that clear?
- Yes.

Pack your things, Pankonin.

Oh, that's good!

That's good!

That's really good!


Are those the Krauts they've sent us?

Not Krauts, our boys.

Then they're our Krauts.

But I won't sweat next to them.
They can wait.


Get down from there.

And an apology wouldn't go amiss, Sergeant.

Go fuck yourselves...

Everything all right?
- Sure, like always.

I never fired a shot.

You won't believe it,

but I haven't fired at anyone
during this war.

And that's how I want to go home.
- Yes.

That's a brave decision,

Comrade Pankonin.

Just as brave as your comrades' decision.

They're right, too,

Kuschke, Becker and Koralewski.

That's war.


I'll think of you,

all of you.

"At the Sevastopol bridgehead,

German and Romanian troops

are still embroiled in heavy fighting

with the advancing Bolsheviks.

In the course of our withdrawal,

the ruins of the city of Sevastopol
were cleared.

In the Yasny area

and on the west bank of the Vltava river,

localized Bolshevik attacks failed.

Solitary British planes

dropped bombs last night

on the city of Berlin."

That was a report from military high command
for notation.


I'll relieve you.

England calling.

England calling.

England calling.

This is England calling
with a broadcast for the German armed forces.

This broadcast can be heard
on the 456 meter medium wave

and the 49 and 41 meter
short wave bands.

Go on, shoot!

To me!
- Yes!

We're concerned, Lieutenant.

Yes? - Why are the Russians being shot,

The regiment weeded them out.

But you can't do that.

I'd like to inform you, Pankonin,
that it's a direct order from the Führer.

Commissars are to be shot.

But you can volunteer for the
reconnaissance patrol that's about to leave.

When we get back, they'll be gone.
- That's no solution.

What is a solution?

I didn't shoot.

I didn't shoot.

I didn't shoot!

Our neighbor...

was a carpenter, too.

He made the most beautiful furniture...

and married the most beautiful girl.

The most beautiful girl in our area.

She was very blonde.

He was Jewish.

Very dark.


a child came every year.

And when the fourth child came,

so did the war.

They had been very happy together.

The BBC report, please.

Fix yourself up.

It's nice.

How long did it take you to make it?

A few hours.

I thought you'd returned to Moscow.

The major brought me here.

For peaceful work,

wouldn't the POW camp be better for you?

You don't want me here?

Our soldiers are beginning to understand
that there are two kinds of Germans:

fascists and anti-fascists.

It's difficult, but they understand.

They won't understand
that there are two kinds of anti-fascists:

those who fight,

and those who make chairs.

Say, Kalle...

How do you become an artiste?


I mean, how did you become an artiste?

I actually work for the postal service.

I thought you were a trick cyclist.

I used to deliver parcels by bike.

And I once did a headstand on the bike.

At a Christmas party.

Man, if someone had told me
I'd end up in the military...

Can you imagine it?

We're in the shit again.

And if they catch us?

You heard what Glunsky says:

"March towards the front
and you won't attract attention."

Do you think that's true?

You talk like a flyer. They're after
anyone absconding from the front.

But after the war
I'm going to become an artiste.

It's really tremendous
that they trust us so much.

You're going back

to the camp.

It's not bad.

And then the war will be over
and everything will be OK.

I won't make it home.

Kolya! Here!

Artiste! Here!



Don't be afraid.

- Russians!

Don't be stupid! Stay where you are!

Shoot them!

Why didn't you shoot them?
- How?

In their backs?

They didn't attack us!

They went this way.

I think you should have shot them, Karl.

What am I going to do now?

Rest in peace, Kolya.

And forgive us.

We shouldn't have concealed
what really happened.

OK, then I'll go to Glunsky.

Shouldn't we stick together
at a time like this?




Who've you been cooking for, Popyshkin?

For men who're going into battle?
- Yes, Comrade Captain.

And you put baking soda in their food?
- It was an order.

See that it doesn't happen again.

Yes, sir!
- Dismissed.

Everyone outside! Time to go!

Hidden in seas of grain

lies our poor village.

Bitter misfortune

roamed throughout the world

and came to visit us unexpectedly.

Bitter misfortune

roamed throughout the world

and came to visit us unexpectedly.

Something terrible happened,

the like of which we had never seen before:

A strange man,
totally confused, the poor soul,

came into the village
and shot himself dead...

Yes sir, Lieutenant!

For the farewell parade...

fall in!

Eyes front!

Let's go.

Just a moment, please...


Can you keep this note until we come back?

We should have used it
for smoking wild tobacco.

How did it happen to Kolya?

He'd gone to fetch water.

It could've been one of you.


No, it couldn't have been any of us.

Get out.

One of us has to stay here.

Why, Victor?

There are only four seats
and they need a place for someone else.

We're staying together.

We're supposed to decide for ourselves.

How about you, Walter?

The flyer won't be flying.


"My darling. I've been thinking today
about what love is.

Love is a sickness

that befalls two people at the same time.

And if that happens,
only one thing can help:

they must be together,

immediately and forever."

A girl from Cologne.


Please forward this message...


"Mama, I'm alive.

Saarbrücken, Bahnhofstraße 6.

Please forward this message towards home..."

Is everything correct?


Shall we go sit in the sun for a while?


Go on, keep walking.

You here,

me here,

Pankonin here, Kuschke here,
Koralewski here, Glunsky here...

After the war...

on the first day, yes?

That day, Glunsky came.

We knew that the three had landed safely
and accomplished their mission.

They were on the way back to us.


Glunsky asked:

Is your German here?


Should I fetch him?

I'd rather tell you.

Something went wrong.

When they were crossing the front.

All of them?

All of them.

Subtitling by SUBS Hamburg
Michael Hale, Antje Harbeck