Meike Schrut

Because I could not understand it...

I will try to let my thought in run free so far, as that I give to the reader the possibility to understand, why I could not understand many things from a long completed film. Superfluously to call the title of the film, the presentation “of The readers” already serves in schools as an “object of the attempts to explain guilt and responsibility." Hence, does arise necessarily about whom it is with the German lawyer and the former concentration camp supervisor now 61 year-old woman, this woman is also Germans and would not necessarily read certainly also in the prison in English and learn to write, or, nevertheless? This small history would have been the explanation for me, why she reads in English and writes. She uses the book “The lady with the little dog” from Anton Chekhov which you are given in in English and also on the cassette which handed over her M.B., is his voice on in English. But why. The film dismisses at least the German spectator without answer and I do not know how it goes for the English-speaking seers. Yes, it is an English-speaking film, but the figures are German people. To be able to write a screenplay, foreknowledge is also necessary. Something is that I had to do cutting-wise such a thing during my study, I want to try it and it can happen that in the shot mistakes are included.

M.B.hat find out that H.S. should be soon dismissed and he came to come to an agreement briefly with her, the guard shows to him the table, in the H. sits. “It is the 4th table.” Afterwards she looks down, calmly she tries to look, but the melancholy look of the lawyer makes them thoughtfully.

Where does the scene happen? In the big hall where the imprisoned can eat it is already shortly after 13 o'clock, dessert is taken to itself.


M. B. slowly shuts to her table, turns round weakly smiling to the old woman.

H.S. (surprised and also startled) looks him.

Camera shows 2 people of very different age sit opposite themselves: 40, they meanwhile 61, them sinks her arm above the table, her hand of the age drawn, he seizes them briefly it is disagreeable to him.

H.S. (in quiet tone) Being become adult, little boy

M.B. does not come on it, sees from the window, quietly answers, constrained quietly and (determining moment would have been for me!) into broken German:

Ich habe einen Freund, der Schneider ist, er wird dir Arbeit geben. Eine Wohnung wartet auch auf dich, nicht groß, aber nett und wird dir gefallen..


I have a friend, the tailor is, he will give you work. You will like a flat also waits for you, not largely, but nicely and.

(Here the dialogues are right in possibly, now certainly not accurately, but may make no difference because THIS dialogue purely fictive now is which has never taken place just, unfortunately!)

H.S. (very much surprised) “I would have expected from you better German, why did you send me the cassette “The lady with the little dog” on in English? Am only curious, you must not say it me, but.”

The look of the man shakes them more than she can say: deeply sadly, it are absent, actually, only tears, but he controls himself, before this woman who destroyed his future (privately), he wants to give himself no nakedness.

M.B. (uneasy he turns his head sometimes to the window, thinks sometimes in the way): one has never heard (also this internal voice, unfortunately, I put them fictitiously in.)

“This interests you? Language has been important to you, my voice as me 15 was, but my voice will not be there any more for you, now no more. The same is valid for my body, my destroyed feelings, my soul. If you had loved, you would know, why I cannot be really cheerful any more. You have used me and have used, abused. I never again leave this to.”

He answers in German (for the English readers I translate it also): “ Ja, mag sein,dass mein Deutsch besser sein müßte, aber ich halte mich dienstlich mehr in England auf, da geht einem die Sprache in Fleisch und Blut über. Meine Schrift ist zu schlecht, deshalb habe ich nicht zurückgeschrieben.” Yes, may be that my German would have to be better, but I stay officially more in England, there the language goes over to one in meat and blood. My writing is too bad, therefore, I have not written back.”

This lie goes for him almost laxly over the lips, he cannot allow that this woman again finds out everything from him. Now, nevertheless, he succeeds in looking at them.

He subjoins (quietly, almost shyly) “Have you learnt then what here?” “Hast du denn was gelernt hier?”

They (proudly, very much calmly):” I have in German read and do write qualified and because I liked your voice on in English very well, did I copy a side from the book “The lady with the little dog”, hence, I also sent you my short letters only on in English, have you liked them?”

He does not answer, slowly understands that she has neither worked off the guilt from the past, nor has ever understood, with her he will be neither together, nor he will read to her a word and feels that she has understood this very well: he will never again belong to her.

Note to a scene which was turned apparently sometimes in the pathology by Berlin?


M.B. appears the next week, around H. to fetch, instead, he sees her small cell in which German and English books stand and about him a report in in English when he was 15. His vibration is to be marked to him, this still increases up to that moment at which he bursts into tears. (R.F. in such a way to have to see, did the worst moment of the film.) Why one not only the sentence “being able to do I them seem good for me, actually see?” but also the scene left out in which M. sees them once again, but deadly, for it I find only few reasons, for myself: other mistake, but from the mask: H., the old woman, looks in the death again a little younger, thus the death can also not cause a strong change thus, M. stroked shaken her head in the painted scene, more feeling than he could bring to the living old woman.

Final remark: painted scenes as well as the English literature in the youth of M., as well as letters of her in in English, book in in English in her cell, article about M.B. on in English: yes, for an action in England with English figures only too understandably, but Michael Berg as well as Hanna Schmitz are not just this: Britons, probably, however, Ralph Fiennes and Kate Winslet... Actors correspond her roles only, but equipment did not have to go for the spectator - all the same in which country! - is always unequivocal or at least are explained, right?

I have concentrated upon the figure of the lawyer whether also Hanna had to use different sentences in German, I do not know.

Very much personal:


When I was 12 or 13 years old and with my parents to ski went in the CSSR at that time in the Sudeten Mountains, my father asked me to speak only not according to in German, I to whom I have nothing to do with war, war guilt did not understand it of course. To me seemed only, that to be Germans, must probably be of some negative. My father has been a year in 1927, has my mother year in 1934, both have seen the war. Years after the war pupils explain with the help of the reader's guilt for the war, responsibility etc. Yes, it is important to understand, why Hanna Schmitz traded in such a way like they meant to have to act, but she puts the question to the judge in the film: ”What would have you done then?” And gets no answer. Not because it she would not give, for every person there is another answer, Hanna was a fulfilment assistant, but I was not this and my parents also not, soldiers are never asked whether they want to move in the war.


"All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players."
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All rights belong to its author. It was published on by demand of Meike Schrut.
Published on on 10/01/2009.


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