Winter’s Children - Breaking the Silence

Society/Family, Germany 2005

Was grandpa a Nazi? When director Jens Schanze confronts his mother with her father's past, decades of silence have passed. The information that emerges about grandpa does not fit with the loving father that Jens' mother always talked about. Jens and his four older sisters never met their grandfather; he died in 1954. Jens' mother is in her seventies when her son, born in 1971, starts to poke around in the family history. She agrees to a critical examination of her father. Secrets hidden for over 60 years finally come to light. As they uncover the truth, this perfectly normal family goes through a highly emotional journey. Most shaken is the mother; her story of discovery is at the center of the film. The Schanze family are not alone. In a 2002 Emnid survey, almost half of all Germans who participated believed that their own ancestors were active contributors to National Socialism. Jens Schanze explores the family memories from the perspective of the grandchildren of Nazi perpetrators. The son travels with her, his father and the film crew to Neurode in Lower Silesia, now Nowa Ruda in Poland, where she grew up until 1945. The grandfather, an engineer and staunch Nazi believer to the end, held a management position in the Silesian mining industry as well as an office in the Nazi party. As director Jens Schanze documents his family story he is not just an observer. In an intimate way, his film shows how repressed memories are passed on from generation to generation. The ghosts of the past haunt the family until they decide to confront them.
96 min
Starting at 0
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Festival du Film Belfort 2005 Grand Jury Prize
Festival International de Films, Montréal 2005 Special Jury Mention
ONE WORLD Human Rights Film Festival Prague 2006 Best Director

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Jens Schanze


Jens Schanze


Erik Satie

Sound Design:

Mauricio Wells (Sound)

Mario Köhler

Daniel Wehr (Sound Engineer)


Jens Schanze

Original title:


Original language:


Further titles:

Winterkinder - Die schweigende Generation


16:9 HD, Color


FBW predicate "especially valuable"

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Starting at 0

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