Summer of My German Soldier (film)

Summer of My German Soldier is a 1978 American television film based on the 1973 novel of the same name written by Bette Greene. Set during World War II, it stars Kristy McNichol as a Jewish-American girl and Bruce Davison as the German prisoner of war whom she befriends.

Summer of My German Soldier
VHS cover
Written byBette Greene (novel)
Jane-Howard Hammerstein (screenplay)
Directed byMichael Tuchner
StarringKristy McNichol
Bruce Davison
Esther Rolle
Michael Constantine
Music byStanley Myers
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducersLinda Gottlieb
Robert F. Colesberry (associate producer)
Production locationsCrawfordville, Georgia
Madison, Georgia
Universal Studios - 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City, California
CinematographyPeter Sova
EditorMichael Taylor
Running time100 minutes
Production companyHighgate Pictures
Original release
ReleaseOctober 30, 1978 (1978-10-30)



Thirteen-year-old Patty Bergen lives in the small American town of Jenkinsville, Georgia, during World War II. Patty's Jewish-American family owns the local clothing and general supplies store, in which Patty occasionally works. Her abusive father and uncaring mother have little time for her, instead favoring her younger sister Sharon, however, Patty does have a friend in Ruth, the family's black, middle-aged housekeeper.

The U.S. government opens a prisoner-of-war (POW) camp for captured German soldiers in the town. One day, when the POWs are brought into the Bergen's store to buy supplies, Patty meets Anton, one of the few prisoners able to speak English. Soon after, Anton escapes from the camp and goes on the run. He is about to board a train when Patty sees him and spoils his plan. Rather than inform the authorities, Patty hides Anton in some abandoned rooms above the family's disused garage and brings him food. Anton shows Patty a warmth and respect that she never had from her cold family and the two become close friends.

Anton is almost exposed when he sees Patty's father beating her one day and nobly runs out of hiding to protect her, but she shouts for him to go back before he is seen. However, Ruth sees Anton. She does not approve of Patty harboring him, but agrees to keep her secret and helps by giving Anton food. Before long, the FBI begins conducting a thorough search of the town looking for Anton. When they call at the Bergens' home, Patty runs out to the garage to warn Anton that he must leave immediately or he will be caught. Anton flees from the garage after thanking Patty for her help and gives her a valuable ring that belonged to his grandfather. However, while trying to leave the town that night, the FBI finds Anton and they shoot him dead while he is trying to escape. The FBI return to the Bergens' house that night and relay the news of Anton's death to Patty, who is utterly devastated.

Appalled to hear that his own daughter aided a Nazi prisoner, her father virtually disowns her and tells her that she is dead to him. She also feels alienated by the townsfolk who view her as a traitor. The only person who still talks to her is Ruth, who has now been fired from her job as housekeeper for helping Patty. Ruth tries to comfort Patty in her grief and tells the townsfolk to leave Patty alone as only God has the right to stand in judgment of her.



Differences from the novel


Although the TV movie is generally faithful to the source novel, some minor changes were made. The town of Jenkinsville is now situated in Georgia rather than Arkansas. Also, whereas in the novel Patty stands trial for treason and is convicted and sentenced to reform school, in the movie she is simply classed as a juvenile delinquent and remains in her parents custody until she is 18. The novel also mentions Patty's plans to visit Anton's mother in Germany after the war is over, but this is not mentioned in the film. Lastly, while Patty is depicted as a 12 year old in the novel, her age isn't actually mentioned in the film though press for the movie stated she was 13 (and actress Kristy McNichol was 15 when she made the film, suggesting Patty was in her teens).

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Humanitas Prize 90 Minute or Longer Network or Syndicated Television Jane Howard-Hammerstein Won [1]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama or Comedy Special Linda Gottlieb Nominated [2]
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special Esther Rolle Won
Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series or a Special Jane Howard-Hammerstein Nominated


  1. ^ "Past Winners & Nominees". Humanitas Prize. Retrieved April 29, 2023.
  2. ^ "Summer of My German Soldier". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved April 29, 2023.