Winter’s Children – The Silent Generation

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Was Grandfather a Nazi? This is the question Jens Schanze asks his mother. For, after decades of silence, new information about grandfather is unexpectedly revealed to the family - information that does not fit with the loving image portrayed by his mother in her stories. Jens Schanze and his four older sisters never knew their grandfather, who passed away in 1954. When their mother decides to allow a critical examination of her father, it becomes clear that an unresolved trauma has lain dormant under the surface of their daily lives for over 60 years. In the process now begun, all involved experience a disturbing and highly emotional journey.

An Emnid survey from 2002 reveals, that the family is by no means unique in this matter. According to the survey, nearly half of all Germans believe that their own relatives opposed the Nazi Party. Jens Schanze, born in 1971, researches in Winter’s Children (Winterkinder – die schweigende Generation) the collective family conscience of his parents and sisters from the viewpoint of the grandchildren. At the center of the film stands the seventy-year-old mother, who confronts her memories during the filming process. The son travels with her, his father and the film crew to the town formerly known as Neurode in Lower Silesia, now known as Nowa Ruda in present-day Poland, where she spent her childhood until 1945. The grandfather, to the very end a convinced Nazi functionary, worked in a management position as a mining engineer there. Jens Schanze accompanies this journey and the recollection process within the family gently with the camera, without remaining a mere observer. The film shows in a very intimate and unspectacular manner that things suppressed and concealed are passed on from generation to generation and persist unless there is a conscious confrontation with the personal past.


Grand Prize of the Jury - Festival du Film, Belfort 2005
Best Director Award - One World Human Rights Film Festival, Prague 2006
Honorable Mention - Festival International de Films, Montreal 2005
Nominated for the Prix Europa 2007
Nominated for the Babelsberg Media Prize 2006
Pre-selection for the German Film Prize 2006, Category “Best Camera”
Rated “especially worthy”
Statement of the Grand Jury, One World Film Festival Prague:
"The recipient of the Best Director Award has precisely, yet with consideration, managed to bring back to life the disturbing history of his own family. The silence of the family breaches the film in concentrically closed up circles which no longer remain circles of family therapy, but diffuse in the world surface even beyond Germany - towards each one of us."


Written, directed, edited by: Jens Schanze
Cinematography: Börres Weiffenbach
Camera Assistant: Helge Haack
Sound Recording: Mauricio Wells, Mario Köhler
Head of Production: Kristina Strohm
Production Manager: Raphaela Bardutzky
Sound Mix: Gerhard Auer, Berthold Kröker, Anton Vetter
Head of Production HFF Munich: Natalie Lambsdorff
Colour Timer: Peter Weide
Translator: Adam Lukaszewicz
Script Advisor: Raimund Barthelmes
Psychological Advisor: Ulla Roberts
Commissioning Editors: Benigna von Keyserlingk (BR), Margrit Schreiber (ZDF / 3sat)
Supported by: BMW Group, Fuji Kine Film, CinePostproduction Bavaria Bild & Ton
Music: Erik Satie, Gnossienne Nr. 1
Piano: Matthias Funkhauser
Music Recordist: Daniel Wehr
Graphic Design: Gerwin Schmidt
Legal Advisor: Christian Füllgraf
Financially supported by: FilmFernsehFonds Bayern, German Commissioner for Culture and Media (BKM)
Public Relations: Ana Radica
Producer: Jens Schanze

Production Notes

Country: Germany
Year: 2005
Shooting Format: 35 mm Colour
Screening Format: 35 mm 1 x 1,85 or Digibeta 16 x 9
Sound: Dolby SR
Running Time: 95 minutes