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Germany Year Zero (1948) Poster

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Narrator: This movie, shot in Berlin in the summer of 1947 aims only to be an objective and true portrait of this large, almost totally destroyed city where 3.5 million people live a terrible, desperate life, almost without realizing it. They live as if tragedy were natural, not because of strength or faith, but because they are tired. This is not an accusation or even a defense of the German people. It is an objective assessment. Yet if anyone, after watching Edmund Koeler's story, feels that something needs to be done-that German children need to relearn to love life-then the efforts of those who made this movie will be greatly rewarded.

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Il maestro: Weren't you one of my students?

Edmund: Yes, Mr. Enning.

Il maestro: My memory's good. What's your name?

Edmund: Edmund Koeler.

Il maestro: Edmund Koeler. First desk on the left. You've grown up. How is your father?

Edmund: My father is sick, very sick.

Il maestro: Didn't you have a brother in the Wermacht?

Edmund: Yes, Karl-Heinz. He was in the military, but he's home now.

Il maestro: Then he must be out of work, like me.

Edmund: You're not teaching anymore?

Il maestro: I didn't share the ideas of the people in power about teaching children.

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Edmund: I have no work, and neither does Eva. My brother still won't report and get his card.

Il maestro: I understand, but what can I do?

Edmund: My father needs treatment. Can't you help me? What can I do?

Il maestro: There's nothing you can do. Times are hard for everyone, worse for weak and old people. You've done all you can.

Edmund: But what if he dies?

Il maestro: If he dies, he dies. We all die sooner or later. Would you rather die yourself or let an old man live?

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Edmund: Is he your brother?

Christl: Who? Jo? No.

Edmund: You're always together.

Christl: So? What about it?

Edmund: Wherever he goes, you're right behind.

Christl: And that makes him my brother?

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Eva: Did you get the Number 2 Card?

Edmund: No, they kicked me out because I'm not fifteen yet.

Il padre: I knew that would happen. Still, I'm glad you're not going anywhere. That's too much work for a boy your age.

Edmund: But it would have meant more to eat. For Karl-Heinz, too.

Il padre: Did you hear that, Karl-Heinz? You know that poor Edmund, at his age, can't support all of us. He's still a child. But you, what do you do? You keep hiding. You didn't even register for a food card.

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Eva: You're so selfish. You don't care about getting food. You only care about eating it.

Karl-Heinz: Didn't I tell you to send Edmund to work?

Eva: You don't do anything. You just hide, and yet you want to eat and drink. You don't ask where I go every night. All that matters is that I come back with a couple of cigarettes for you.

Karl-Heinz: Did I smoke them?

Eva: No, but you know that cigarettes are like money.

Karl-Heinz: Should I thank you for that? Nowadays everybody does it.

Eva: They do worse things, too.

Karl-Heinz: You see?

Eva: Then tell me to sell myself!

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Frau Rademaker: His sister goes out every night, too. She's really shameless. You shouldn't let these people near our daughter.

Herr Rademaker: One of these days I'll kick them out.

Edmund: What have you got against my sister? Why are you always mad at us?

Herr Rademaker: You shut up! Get out! Take the scale and don't come back without the money. Is that clear?

Edmund: Yes, Herr Rademaker. I'll come back tomorrow morning.

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Edmund: Your friend is in the work service?

Il maestro: He clears the ruins.

Edmund: No mandatory labor for you?

Il maestro: Luckily, no.

Edmund: My brother thought he'd have to. He stayed away.

Il maestro: They all should stay away, those that share our ideas. Remember? Long ago, your father falsified a document to get you out of Hitler Youth. But you said right away that it was false. You knew your duty. I should have reported your father for that, but I didn't because I like you.

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Edmund: Where are we? I don't know this area.

Jo: Well, you look out for yourself.

Edmund: I live in Alex. How do I get back at this hour?

Jo: You don't have to go back home.

Edmund: Where am I supposed to sleep? I don't know anybody here.

Jo: It's up to you. Everything around here's empty.

Edmund: By myself?

Jo: [pointing to Christl] With her. Why not? She's your type.

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Il maestro: What do they teach you in school now? Democracy?

Edmund: I don't go to school anymore.

Il maestro: Why not? You don't like the new teachers?

Edmund: I have to work now.

Il maestro: Work? Why?

Edmund: There are four of us at home, and we only have three food cards.

Il maestro: Poor Edmund. Why doesn't your brother have a card?

Edmund: He never registered. He fought in the streets until the Allied troops arrived.

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Edmund: It wasn't my fault. I was with other boys.

Il padre: Enough! I don't want to hear any lies!

Eva: He didn't mean any harm, Papa. He wanted to get something to eat.

Il padre: I'll do without.

Karl-Heinz: Me, too. I'd rather die of hunger.

Eva: Easy for you to say.

Il padre: I can't stand it anymore, here in this bed.

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Herr Rademaker: Tell me the truth. What did you do with the money?

Edmund: What money?

Herr Rademaker: The money for the scale. Did you give it to your father?

Edmund: I swear that's not true.

Herr Rademaker: You're not going to cheat me, boy. I know you'll do anything for money. You got into my house ...

Edmund: The housing superintendent sent us here.

Herr Rademaker: Yes, and I have to put up with it. Your father is a pain, always complaining. Why doesn't he die and give us some peace?

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Karl-Heinz: Who gave you money to buy cigarettes?

Edmund: It was a gift.

Karl-Heinz: From who? Those bad boys you go stealing with?

Edmund: It wasn't boys. It was a girl.

Karl-Heinz: You should be ashamed of yourself.

Edmund: Why? Everybody does it.

Karl-Heinz: That's not a reason.

Edmund: Her name is Christl. She's all alone, and she sleeps in a basement. She's a nice girl. I like her. She gives cigarettes to all her friends. You should have a woman to take care of you.

Karl-Heinz: A woman? That's all I need. Like this bitch of a life wasn't enough.

Edmund: Don't talk like that! Have courage!

Karl-Heinz: I had courage. A soldier can lose everything but his courage. But now I'm not a soldier anymore. I'm less than useless, another mouth to feed.

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Il medico: His heart is very weak. His whole condition is bad.

Eva: What can we do?

Il medico: He needs nutritrious foods, vitamins.

Eva: How can we do that, Doctor?

Edmund: With the cards we have, we can't get more

Il medico: Yes, I know. It's the same all over. The best thing would be to get him into a hospital. But they are all more than full.

Karl-Heinz: Couldn't we at least try, Doctor?

Il medico: Cases worse than his have not been admitted.

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Edmund: Eva, they're cutting the power.

Eva: The power? Why?

Edmund: They discovered someone was stealing it.

Eva: Who?

Karl-Heinz: Someone.

Edmund: Rademaker says it was us.

Karl-Heinz: As usual.

Eva: So that's what he was screaming about.

Karl-Heinz: That black marketer. One day I'll smash his head.

Eva: You're such a big talker, but when it comes to helping us, you do nothing.

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Il padre: I've considered killing myself, but I don't have the courage.

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