The historical drama, If not Us, Who? (Wer wenn nicht wir), was created by a German director, Andres Veiel, and released in 2011. The film tells a story of the romantic relationship between Bernard Vesper (August Diehl), a writer, and Gudrun Ensslin (Lena Lauzemis), a future Red Army Faction (RAF) leader.
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In 1963, a young student at Tübingen University, Vesper, founds the publishing house, trying to combine business with pleasure by propagating Marxism. He arranges the meetings of the left wing youth, where he meets his mate, Gudrun Ensslin − an advanced student of the German Studies faculty. A stormy, agonizing, and exhausting relationship begins, and Ensslin always takes the leading position in this romantic struggle. Suffering from the imperfections and injustice of the world, the heroine is both spiritually and intellectually stronger than Vesper, who is torn between love for his father and shame for his involvement in the Nazi past (Veiel, 2011).
The movie depicts the historical period from the 1960’s-1970’s, when “students and young adults in West Germany grew more politically radical” (Stefanik, 2009, p. 5). After Social Democrats failed to win the election in 1966, Ensslin and her supporters decided to take proactive steps to withstand the system and the political past of the country – the opposition to the older generation was one of the major purposes of the RAF operations. It was also a terroristic group, and after series of bombings and shootings in West Germany, the key RAF activists, including Ensslin, were sentenced to life imprisonment and later found dead in their cells (“German terror trial tapes found,” 2007).
Previously, Veiel created a prize-winning documentary, “dealing with the historical facts of the RAF” (“Wer wenn nicht wir,” 2011, par. 3). Thus, If not Us, Who? also provides a rich and accurate historical material. It is full of the details, names, black-and-white chronicles and documents that shed light on the RAF history and do not allow the narrative to turn into a simple melodramatic story despite the fact that personal relationships are in the center of the plot.
German terror trial tapes found. (2007). BBC News.
Stefanik, C. L. (2009). West German terror: The lasting legacy of the Red Army Faction.
Veiel, A. (Director). (2011). If not Us, Who? [Motion picture]. Germany: Soda Pictures.
Wer wenn nicht wir. (2011)