by Ariadna Theokopoulos
Sunday, May 6th, 2012
For both internal and external reasons Russian patriotism is now high currency and Putin’s administration, fully cloaked in it, wishes it to stay high. Reminiscent of any of Hollywood’s rash of patriotic movies of the 40s and 50s, the Kremlin-subsidized movie “The Death Match” recounts the story of the football match between Russians (Soviets) and the German Nazi team in the Ukraine under Nazi occupation.
The Russian team had been told by the Nazis to throw the game (“Lose or die”) but they refused, emboldened by the strong leadership of their heroic goalkeeper and captain of the team:
But they’ll kill us,” warns a teammate.
That’s a minus, but we’ll get over it,” quips the captain of the team.
They won and were then sent to a concentration camp where most of them were shot. There are objections to the movie but not from the Russians. The Ukrainians dislike the way they are depicted as Nazi helpers.
Others claim the footballers were not deported and killed as punishment for their defiant victory but for other, unspecified, reasons. ‘History or part legend’ is not a question to be settled by a movie but the movie serves to bring history up for discussion.
History is not a dogma but rather a retelling of the past in a constant process of revision, rarely as radically as a palimpsest thoroughly razed of its previous writing to make room for a new story, but rather edited to accommodate new findings and the changing perceptions and self-perceptions of the historians.
Freely discussing history is always a plus, and they’ll “get over it.”