Class Picture

The second film in Eberhard Fechner's “panorama of German society,” Class Picture is subtitled, “Memories of German Citizens.” “The reference here is, quite directly, to times which the average, well-to-do citizen does not care to remember, about a period that is taboo to speak about in public. One look at the class picture... tells why: this is the ‘lost generation,' people who remember all too clearly the events before, during, and after World War II.
“...Fechner decided to... chart a course through the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s via interviews with those who experienced the critical years. Since it was his own generation, he knew how difficult it could be. He returned to Berlin-Wedding and found a photo of an Abitur graduation class (1937) in a high-school... a list of addresses.... More names and addresses... until the dozen young men in the original photo were all discovered to be alive. The search took months, and the film hadn't even begun as yet.
“...After 70 hours of ‘letting people talk,' Fechner had more than an analysis of the results. One man was a P.O.W. in the Soviet Union; another adapted himself all too comfortably to the times; a third, a Jew, emigrated to New York.... The first impression an outside viewer may have in hearing the ‘political thoughts' of the group is that they didn't have any. At closer inspection, however, this kind of thinking reflects the present political consciousness of far too many citizens in every country. Class Picture challenges the viewer himself.”

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