One of the best-known DEFA (East Germany’s state-owned film studio) productions in history, Konrad Wolf’s film is based on his own experiences during World War II, arriving with Soviet troops to fight in the Battle of Berlin at age 19. As the Red Army moves closer and closer to Berlin we see young Gregor Hecker (standing in for Wolf, the son of a Communist leader during the Weimar Republic) becoming commander of a small town and later playing a key part in the final run on Berlin. The film’s narrative structure, editing style, camera movement, and dialogue are highly progressive for the time and seem closely related to techniques later employed by the directors of the French New Wave.