A movie that shows a Red Army officer trying to rape a German orphan in 1945 was pulled off the air by pro-Kremlin NTV over veterans’ protests, the Russian channel said on Saturday.
“It was never NTV’s intention to spoil the [Victory Day] holiday for the generation of victors,” the company said in a press release.
Instead of Achim von Borries’ “Four Days in May” (aka “4 Tage im Mai”), NTV will air on May 7 “In August ‘44,” a 2001 Russian war action movie about the Soviet SMERSH counter-intelligence agency.
Von Borries’ film, a Russian-German-Ukrainian co-production, premiered at the prestigious Locarno film festival in Switzerland in 2011 and had a limited theatrical run in Russia earlier this year.
The film was made using a 50 million ruble ($1.7 million) grant from Russian Culture Ministry, which supports “culturally significant” film projects.
The movie, set in the days before Nazi Germany’s capitulation in early May 1945, tells the story of a Red Army unit headquartered in a German girls’ orphanage and at a standoff with Wehrmacht forces awaiting evacuation nearby. A senior officer dispatched to the Soviet unit attempts to abuse a girl and, when stopped, tricks other Soviet units into attacking the orphanage, which prompts the Red Army and the Germans to unite their forces in order to save the girls.
Russian reviewers, including in prominent dailies Kommersant and Izvestia, hailed “Four Days in May” as an atmospheric movie with a humanistic message. It remained unclear which veteran groups criticized NTV’s plans to air it.
Victory over Nazi Germany in World War II became in the 1970s a staple of Soviet propaganda, which praised it as a joint heroic effort by the people and the government, and remains a vital element of state ideology in modern Russia.
However, critics insist that this leads to a taboo on discussing atrocities committed by the enraged Red Army in Germany, where hundreds of thousands of women were raped by Soviet soldiers in 1945, according to German historians.