pick of the week
Sunday, 8.30pm, SBS One
THIS three-part miniseries proved controversial when it was shown in Poland last year. While German critics generally applauded it, many Polish reviewers were upset by inferences the Polish Resistance was antiSemitic. The program, with subtitles here, certainly started a lively debate. Letters of complaint from various countries’ Polish ambassadors were sent to the broadcasters and a demonstration against the series in London showed how strongly people felt about perceived misrepresentations. Some amendments were made as a result. Set in Berlin in 1941, the story follows five German friends, aged about 20, forced to navigate the unconscionable moral compromises of life with Nazism and World War II. Wilhelm, an officer and a hero, and his younger brother Friedhelm serve in the same platoon on the Eastern Front; Charlotte volunteers as a nurse in a military hospital; Greta is an ambitious singer who is having an affair with an SS officer — and Viktor, her secret Jewish lover who joins the Polish partisans. They get together on the eve of Operation Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union; they promise to meet again the following Christmas, but of course their lives will never be the same. The series ends in 1946, when the friends meet again in Berlin in their favourite pub, now an empty ruin.