A Woman in Berlin (film)

A Woman in Berlin (German: Anonyma – Eine Frau in Berlin), known as The Downfall of Berlin Anonyma in the UK, is a 2008 German film directed by Max Färberböck, starring Nina Hoss and Eugeny Sidikhin. It is based on the memoir, Eine Frau in Berlin, published anonymously (by Marta Hillers[citation needed]) in 1959 in German, with a new edition in 2003. (It was also published in English in 1954 and 2005, and in seven other languages.)

A Woman in Berlin
Directed byMax Färberböck
Written byMax Färberböck
Produced byGunter Rohrbach
Music byZbigniew Preisner
Release date
  • 2008 (2008)
Running time
126 minutes
CountriesGermany, Poland
LanguagesGerman, Russian

The film premiered at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival and was praised for its portrayal of a morally complex and brutal period.


In the waning days of World War II, an assortment of women, children and elderly men struggle to survive in Berlin, cast out of their formerly middle-class lives.

The Soviet Red Army arrives, defeating the last German defense. Its soldiers rape women of any age as they occupy the city. After being raped by a number of Soviet soldiers, the film's anonymous woman, a German journalist (Nina Hoss), petitions the battalion's commanding officer for an alliance and protection. After initially rejecting her, the married officer Andrei Rybkin (Eugeny Sidikhin) is gradually seduced by the beautiful but battered German woman. She has a cool, practical approach to her life and has been part of an informal community that developed among survivors in her apartment building.

The officer subsequently protects, feeds and parties with her and her neighbors. Other women in the flats also take particular officers or soldiers for protection against being raped by soldiers at large. Rybkin comes under suspicion and he is reassigned.



The film received strong reviews for its brutal truthfulness. The Washington Post described it as "A clear-eyed portrait of a highly charged chapter in Germany's history, a history that once again proves rewarding fodder for an alert artistic imagination."[1] The reviewer wrote that after the film portrays the initial rapes and assaults against German women by Soviet soldiers, it takes a "much more somber and morally complex turn."[1] The protagonist and her mostly women neighbors must "navigate a city that's become a physical and psychic no-man's land."[1]

Roger Ebert noted that "Yes, she profits from their liaison, and yes, he eventually takes up her offer. But for each there is the illusion that this is something they choose to do....The woman and man [Andrei] make the best accommodation they can with the reality that confronts them."[2]

The Austin Chronicle praised Hoss "in a supremely complex and modulated performance." It described the film as "that rarest of wartime dramas: an intimate, sorrowful glimpse into the heart and loins of the hellish aftermath of war."[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Ann Hornaday, "Movie mini-review: Ann Hornaday on 'A Woman in Berlin'", Washington Post, 6 November 2009, accessed 7 September 2014
  2. ^ Roger Ebert, "Review: 'A Woman in Berlin'", Roger Ebert website, 23 September 2009, accessed 8 September 2014
  3. ^ Marc Savlov, "Review: 'A Woman in Berlin', Austin Chronicle, 9 October 2009, accessed 8 September 2014

External linksEdit