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Winter of Starvation 1946/47 (Hungerwinter 1946/47)

Winter of Starvation 1946/47
Scene from “Hungerwinter 1946/47” (photo © NDR)

Production Report featured in
German Films Quarterly 03/2009

It is October 1946 and Europe lies in ruins. The verdicts have been pronounced at the Nuremberg war crimes trial. But the vast majority of Germans still have only one concern: survival! Reconstruction in the towns and cities, some of them up to eighty percent destroyed, is proceeding only at a desultory pace. There is an acute shortage of living accommodation. At the same time, millions of refugees from the former eastern parts of Germany are looking for a new home. In the autumn of 1946 famine rears its head. The approaching European winter threatens to be the hardest one of the century.

The onset of winter sees death returning once again to Germany’s cities. The exact number of victims is still unknown to this very day. Historians estimate, as best they can, that in Germany alone several hundred thousand people perished from the effects of the cold and hunger.

Hungerwinter 1946/47 (“Winter of Starvation 1946/47”), the latest docu-drama from writer-director Gordian Maugg and his writing partner Alexander Haeusser, focuses on the struggle for survival as experienced by ordinary people during that terrible period. Many of the protagonists have still not overcome what they went through and, to this very day, can speak of their tribulations only with great difficulty.

Gordian Maugg was born in Heidelberg in 1966. Among his previous credits are the feature film Zeppelin! as well as the historical TV-movie Denk ich an Deutschland in der Nacht – Das Leben des Heinrich Heine. His last production was Wir Schmidts – Ein Leben, a portrait of Loki and Helmut Schmidt for ARD television.

Alexander Haeusser was born in Reutlingen in 1960. His credits as a novelist include Zeppelin!, after which he worked together with Maugg on the screenplay for the film. His other collaborations with Maugg include Du, Ich und Er (a treatment for a documentary on Alzheimer’s), Schwarze Milch and Denk ich an Deutschland in der Nacht – as Leben des Heinrich Heine.

LE Vision was formed by young independent filmmakers and reporters in Leipzig in 1993. The company’s range of products includes documentaries, corporate films and fiction as well as hybrid genres such as documentary drama and docu-soaps. “The word vision is part of our company name because we never rest on our laurels. We are constantly on the lookout for new challenges.” Two subsidiaries, Local Heroes and Magic Tree Pictures, offer film services and complement LE Vision’s profile.

With Hungerwinter 1946/47, this tried, tested and experienced team are set, once again, to bring a gripping mixture of fact and fiction to the screen, reminding viewers that what has now become a footnote to history still meant countless fatalities and terrible suffering. The guns may have fallen silent, but the dying continued.

Genre History
Category Docu-Fiction
Year of Production 2009
Director Gordian Maugg
Screenplay Gordian Maugg, Alexander Haeusser
Cinematography Frank Amann, Lutz Reitermeier
Florentine Bruck-Ramisch
Frank Godt
Cast Anett Heilfort, Hendrik Massute, Lisa Jopt, Rouven Stadelmann, Cedric Stadelmann, Jule Dormann, Jannik Werner, Louis El-Ghussein, Amber Bongard, Jannik Bueddig, Ernst-Erich Buder
Producer Friederike Freier
Production Company LE Vision/Leipzig, in co-production with NDR/Hamburg, WDR
Format 16 mm, color, b&w
Sound Technology Stereo
With backing from Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, Nordmedia, MEDIA

LE Vision Film- und Fernsehproduktion GmbH
Koernerstrasse 56
04107 Leipzig/Germany
phone +49-3 41-96 36 80
fax +49-3 41-9 63 68 44