“Everybody knew about it, but nobody talked about it,” says Helke Sander, the renowned feminist filmmaker, writer and activist. She’s referring to the widespread rape of women that took place at the end of World War II. Many of the women who share their story with Sander stayed silent for 46 years. The 1945 crimes by Russian liberators in Berlin are central to this documentary, but this impressive study isn’t just limited to those in confronting the long-ignored phenomenon.
Sander not only meets with female victims. In search of the the perpetrators’ motives, she goes to Russia to track down some of those who were directly or indirectly involved. The men she meets often explain away their behavior. Someone even claims that the German women let themselves be raped in order to infect the enemy with sexually transmitted diseases. Filled with often disturbing historical images, the film goes wide in its exploration: from dry facts to probing testimonials to the long-term effects. It delves into the shame, the culture of silence, the political aspects and the lack of justice. Sander also talks with some of the children who were the products of rape, about the influence that this prehistory has had on their lives.