Fate of a Man

Ch. 5 The Holocaust on the Thawing Screens: From Fate of a Man (1959) to Ordinary Fascism (1965)

The Fate of a Man (1959) was one of the most important war films of Khrushchev’s Thaw. Acclaimed nationally and internationally, it tells an epic story of a Russian everyman named Andrei Sokolov (played by the film director, Bondarchuk) and his trials and tribulations before and during the war. On the front, Sokolov is captured by the Germans, sent to prisoner-of-war camps, and later to a concentration camp. The scene shown here depicts Sokolov arriving at a German concentration camp, where he encounters various groups of inmates, including Jews.

Availability: The Fate of a Man is available on DVD, with English subtitles (Moscow: RUSCICO, 2000) and on the Mosfilm studio website without subtitles.

  1. The camera portrays the concentration camps as seen through Sokolov’s eyes. What does he see?
  2. Which groups (or categories) of inmates can you identify in the scene? How are they treated differently by the Nazis?
  3. As you watch the scene, pay close attention to the images created on screen. Which images look familiar? How do they compare with international Holocaust films?
  4. Why would a German concentration camp be depicted in a Soviet film?