A new drama that has been tagged as ‘a German Band of Brothers’ begins on RTÉ Two next Sunday Nov 17.
Generation War is an unflinching and violent depiction of the experiences of five friends during the years 1941-1945 and is regarded as a turning point in German television given its portrayal of the role of ordinary Germans during WWII.
Its German title is Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter (Our Mothers, Our Fathers) and each episode in the three-part miniseries was watched by record audiences of more than seven million (around 10% of the population) when it was aired by German broadcaster ZDF.
The drama has been praised for its unflinching and graphic portrayal of a much-debated and deeply painful period in German history, while also offering characters and stories that combine with the emotional punch that marks all great drama.
The story begins in Berlin, 1941 where five young people, just out of school, are hurled into the atrocities of the Second World War. Somewhat naively, they believe they will soon meet again. But four years must pass before they do. Those who survive are heavily scarred by their experiences.
The main characters include the brothers Wilhelm (Volker Bruch) and Friedhelm Winter (Tom Schilling), who come from a good home where they maintain Prussian military values.
Viktor Goldstein (Ludwig Trepte) is the son of a Jewish tailor who proudly fought for Germany in the First World War and who considers the Star of David to be a “mistake”.
Viktor is the partner of Greta (Katharina Schüttler) who admires the film star Marlene Dietrich and dreams of her own singing career while rinsing glasses in a pub. For Greta, the Third Reich does not really matter.
Charlotte (Miriam Stein), however, is proud to serve Germany and volunteers as a nurse on the Eastern Front.
The stories are told concurrently and - like Band of Brothers - the personal experiences of former war veterans also flow in and out of the narrative.
Here's the official trailer for Generation War: