Apparently the team responsible for "Our Mothers, Our Fathers" are to get together again, this time to make a film of Bruno Apitz's "Nackt unter Wölfen" ("Naked among Wolves") for MDR (Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk). There is, of course, a classic GDR film of this novel, first shown in 1963. Apparently MDR hope to base the new film on Apitz's original draft of his novel, which contained some passages that cast a critical or at least questioning light on the role of the communist resistance organisation at Buchenwald. The original draft was reconstructed by Susanne Hantke, and was recently published by Aufbau. More information on the plans for a new film can be found at:
It will come as no surprise that Apitz was put under pressure to make changes. I discovered, for instance, that he removed references to Bergen-Belsen as the destination for the possible transport of Stefan Cyliak, the novel's child hero, when the head of the communist resistance organisation insists on having Cyliak removed from the camp. Bergen-Belsen, at the time the novel was set (1945), was a death camp.
Yet other novelists got away with more. Stefan Heym's novel "The Eyes of Reason", first published in English, came out in German in the GDR in 1955.
Heym’s novel covers a range of political and economic issues pertaining to the reestablishment of Czechoslovakia after World War Two, and it is not without its criticism of political opportunism, political skulduggery and even censorship. It also asks searching ethical questions. One of the characters, Karel, was a prisoner doctor at Buchenwald and carried out autopsies for the SS on the corpses of prisoners killed by various medical experiments, writing reports on his findings. He survived partly because he became insensitive to weak and dying prisoners, or indeed issues of medical ethics. At the same time, it is clear he used his position, which he was ordered to take up by the communist prisoner Nowak, to “organise” medication and steal instruments to help save his own life and the lives of other “select” prisoners. Not only does Heym’s novel clearly point to the problematic role of political prisoners and prisoner functionaries at Buchenwald – something Bruno Apitz was not able to do in his 1958 novel – it also poses the question as to whether there might be parallels between Karel’s later “selection” of Sudeten Germans for expulsion (he has to declare them fit for travel) and the selection procedures of the SS. This question is answered clearly in the negative, yet with the caveat that he, Karel, having experienced the selection methods of the SS, did not really have the right, as doctor, to “play fate”