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  • Goethe-Institut Washington 1990 K Street Northwest Washington, DC, 20006 United States (map)

Germany, 1967, black and white, 119 min., Director: Konrad Wolf

Introduced (in English) by Paul Werner Wagner, editor and publisher of Konrad Wolf’s war diaries. Based on the diary by the acclaimed German filmmaker, I Was Nineteen is the director's most personal film and a highlight of the DEFA collection.

In his diary entries as well as in the film I Was Nineteen, Konrad Wolf describes his experiences during World War II.

More than 10 years have passed since protagonist Gregor Hecker and his family fled from Germany to Moscow. In April 1945, at the age of nineteen, Gregor returns to Germany as a lieutenant in the Red Army. He feels like a stranger on German soil, and just like his Russian comrades, he is ashamed of the German people. Nevertheless, he realizes that he is different from his comrades in arms, for this defeated land is his home and the Germans he meets upon his return are his compatriots. Gregor is a victor, but also one of the vanquished.

I Was Nineteen received several awards, including the National Prize, 1st Place (1968), the Heinrich Greif Prize, 1st Place (1969) and the Art Prize of the Society for German–Soviet Friendship (1975).

Konrad Wolf, son of doctor and writer Friedrich Wolf and brother of Markus Wolf, was born in Germany in 1925. In 1933, the family immigrated to Russia, where Wolf went to school and acquired Soviet citizenship. At the age of 17, Konrad Wolf was drafted into the Red Army where he served not only as a soldier but also as a translator and interpreter. He served with the 47th division, which was among the troops that captured Berlin in 1945. After the war ended, Wolf worked as a journalist and cultural advisor. After enrolling at Moscow’s film college in 1949, he started his international career as a director and DEFA producer. Konrad Wolf died in 1982 at the age of 56. His war diaries were edited and published by Paul Werner Wagner in 2015.