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Berga: Soldiers of Another War
Stories of Berga What Would You Do? Timeline & Maps Berga and Beyond War Crimes
About the Film
Intro Description The Filmmaker Interview with Charles E. Guggenheim Broadcast Schedule Credits

Interview with Charles E. Guggenheim Page 1 Page 2 Page 3
DM: There must be some part of your recollection of the war that makes you wonder, "Why me? Why was I spared?" Does it occur to you that maybe you were spared to make this film?

CG: Oh, it goes through your mind, but you want to eliminate it pretty quickly because somehow there's divine providence that says you have an obligation here.

DM: In what way?

CG: Well, once I talked to these people, I felt I owed them something.

DM: Had they been interviewed before?

CEG: Some of them had, sometimes by the local newspaper, maybe by the Army association.

A young Charles Guggenheim, member of the 106th Division, 424th Infantry Regiment, Company E, Second Battalion Company.
DM: But you must have found that they themselves were recalling things that they hadn't thought of for a very long time. It is an extremely powerful film for anyone who sees it for the first time, and its impact, I think, is in large part because you're dealing with a relatively few people. To comprehend the scale of the larger atrocity of the Holocaust is almost more than anyone is capable of. The numbers are so enormous that it becomes ...

CG: ... Incomprehensible.

DM: ... And for any of us who see the film as Americans, to see our own guys in this nightmare strikes home. It strikes the heart in a way that nothing that I've seen quite does. What was it about them that increased your feeling of responsibility that you had to make the film? It certainly wasn't their self-pity, was it?

CG: No, it never was self-pity. It was never, "Why me?" Never. I think one thing that drew me to the picture was the Holocaust. The Holocaust was so huge, incomprehensible, and when you get things in front of you that are just so large, you're unable to absorb it in any kind of normal way, and you have a tendency to push it aside. This was the first time Americans who spoke like I did, who looked like I did, who grew up in the same country I did, were part of something that I never comprehended as being close to me. And I decided to do a film about this thing that was done to Americans -- not only Americans, but American soldiers.

DM: I think that one of the most compelling sides of the film is the seamless way you combined historic, archival material with footage that you shot in Germany in order to evoke the scene. I assume that many of those people who are playing the silent parts as extras are Germans.

CG: They are.

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