[[caption-width-right:350: ''Wir waren fünf Freunde. Wir waren jung. Wir waren unsterblich. Wir sollten es bald besser wissen.''[[labelnote:*]] We were five friends. We were young. We were immortal. [[DespairEventHorizon We would soon know better.]][[/labelnote]]]]

''Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter'' (literally ''"Our Mothers, Our Fathers"'', titled ''Generation War'' in the US, UK and France) is a 2013 German drama miniseries set in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII. Sort of ''Series/BandOfBrothers'', but with Germans. And [[CrapsackWorld extra grim]], since it's primarily set on the Eastern Front and involves UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust.

June 1941. Five childhood friends gather in Berlin to hold a goodbye party for the three among them who are soon to head for Russia. [[{{Narrator}} Wilhelm Winter]] and his younger brother Friedhelm have been [[GotVolunteered called to serve]] in the Wehrmacht, while Charlotte has volunteered as a nurse. Staying in Berlin are [[GlamorousWartimeSinger aspiring singer]] Greta Müller and her Jewish lover Viktor Goldstein. The group wish each other well, and part ways in high spirits, [[HomeByChristmas hoping to be together again at Christmas]].

[[CaptainObvious Of course, it doesn't quite work out like that]]. And as the months and years drag by, and the fighting becomes ever more brutal, for these young people the war becomes a desperate struggle not only to survive, but to retain their humanity even while serving an [[UsefulNotes/NaziGermany inhumane regime]].
!! This series contains examples of:

* AbandonedHospital: The military hospital where Charlotte is stationed is inevitably evacuated in the wake of the Russian advance.
* ActionGirl: Alina [[DoNotGoGentle breaks out of a train bound for a concentration camp]] with just a knife and sheer grit. With a bit of help.
* AlliterativeName: Wilhelm Winter.
* AllGermansAreNazis: Averted - none of the five main characters are Nazis and are depicted as normal people living in Nazi Germany. Interestingly, this actually became one of the most prominent points of criticism, within Germany and without - the series was accused of going too far the other way and whitewashing German history by suggesting "''of course'' none of these regular, lovely young folks actually supported the Nazi agenda, they were just victims of history!" Obviously they would be far less sympathetic then. [[spoiler: Even so, Charly turns in a Jewish nurse to what she knows will be certain death (though the woman survives), and Friedhelm executes numerous unarmed people, including a little boy.]]
* AloofBigBrother: Wilhelm, who has previous experience from the invasions of Poland and France, and who has attained the rank of Lieutenant, considers his bookish brother, a new recruit, to be too soft for the work of a soldier, and confesses to feeling ashamed of him on occasion. On the other hand, he also admires Friedhelm's [[TheSmartGuy wit and intelligence]].
* AnguishedDeclarationOfLove: Charlotte to Wilhelm, after she discovers he's alive.
* AnyoneCanDie: Naturally. [[CaptainObvious There is a bloody war on.]]
* AttemptedRape: Charlotte is assaulted and almost raped by a Russian soldier, but is rescued by [[spoiler: Lilija]].
* BattleDiscretionShot: After Viktor leaves the partisans, Germans run past him to invade their hideout, accompanied by [[SoundOnlyDeath screams and gunshots offscreen]]. [[UncertainDoom It is unknown whether any of the partisans survived.]]
* BigDamnHero: As written above [[spoiler: Charlotte is rescued just in time by Lilija from being raped by a Soviet soldier.]]
* {{Bookworm}}: Providing the situation does not merit a gun, Friedhelm Winter is never seen without a book. In one of his first scenes, he attempts to stuff as many books as he can into his luggage.
* BoyishShortHair: Alina, the Polish prisoner Viktor goes on the run with.
* BreakHisHeartToSaveHim: Greta begins an affair with Dorn in order to obtain false papers from him to help Viktor escape from Germany.
%%* BreakTheCutie: ''Especially'' Charlotte and Friedhelm.
* BreakTheHaughty: Greta had always been impetuous, but even her status as a GlamorousWartimeSinger doesn't save her from [[spoiler: imprisonment and death for treason]]. Not to mention how [[SleepingTheirWayToTheTop the things she's done for the sake of her ambition]] take a toll on her.
* BreakThemByTalking: Friedhelm tells Wilhelm what he's known all along: that the war is pointless. The disillusionment leads to Wilhelm [[spoiler: deserting the Wehrmacht twice, which [[ReconstructedTrope may have saved his life.]]]]
* CassandraTruth: We can do a DrinkingGame for all the times that Viktor tells his father that German Jews are going to have such [[FinalSolution hard time]] and his daddy blindly ignores him.
* CatScare: When Wilhelm looks around an abandoned Russian cabin, he's disturbed by a black cat who knocks over some pans.
* ChekhovsSkill: [[spoiler: Friedhelm manages to use his fluent Russian to disguise himself as a Soviet soldier to escape the enemy lines.]]
* ChildByRape: Alina was repeatedly raped by the German farmer she was forced to work for as a Polish slave laborer, then got pregnant and gave birth to a girl. Her daughter was taken away by the farmer because he and his wife couldn't have children. After he stated his intent to sire a son by her as well, she threatened him with a knife, and was sent off to Auschwitz, though she escapes before arrival.
* ChildhoodFriends: The five main characters have grown up in the same neighbourhood.
%%* ChildhoodFriendRomance: Greta and Viktor.
* ChildSoldiers: The average age of new recruits steadily drops as the war continues, and by 1945, Friedhelm finds himself serving alongside a 12-year-old.
* TheCorrupter: Sturmbannführer Hiemer assumes this role towards Friedhelm, [[spoiler:halfway ordering him, halfway coaxing him into shooting a child InTheBack in one scene, and being the executioner for a group of Polish partisans in another]].
* CunningLinguist: Friedhelm is the only one of his fellows soldiers who speaks fluent Russian.
* CycleOfRevenge:
--> '''Charlotte:''' Why are you helping me?
--> '''Lilija:''' Because otherwise it will never stop.
* DadTheVeteran: Viktor's father fought in UsefulNotes/WorldWarI [[spoiler: but this won't save him from being deported as a Jew.]]
* DeadpanSnarker: Friedhelm is very cynical about the entire war, and when he does open his mouth, it's usually to let everyone around him know. The snark wears off as the [[BreakTheCutie breaking]] sets in, however.
* DeathFakedForYou: When the Polish resistance group decide they want to kill Viktor for being German and/or Jewish, the leader, who doesn't agree, takes Victor off into the forest, [[SoundOnlyDeath fires a shot into the ground]], and tells him to get lost.
* DeathOfAChild: In the first episode Hiemer shoots a little Jewish girl in the head.
* DeathSeeker: Implied with Friedhelm; when a Russian bomber flies over the squad's position, his fellow soldier tells him to put his cigarette out. Instead, he takes a long, ostentatious drag. [[spoiler: At the end he gets the Soviet soldiers to kill him.]]
* DesolationShot: When Viktor returns to his old neighborhood after the war and finds it's been half-destroyed.
* DirtyCommies: A couple of the Wehrmacht soldiers have this attitude. One of them is just plain terrified of communists. The Polish partisans of the Home Army also hate the communists (the feelings were mutual-in the wake of the war, many were shot or imprisoned).
* DressingAsTheEnemy: When Friedhelm is abandoned behind enemy lines, he takes a dead Red Army soldier's uniform to sneak past the Soviets, but this results in him getting shot dead center by the Germans and he nearly dies from blood loss.
* EvilVersusEvil: UsefulNotes/NaziGermany versus the [[UsefulNotes/SovietRussiaUkraineAndSoOn USSR]]. One of the [[LaResistance Polish partisans]] puts it correctly;
--> "The Germans think we're only fit to be slaves. The Russians won't be any different."
%%* FaceDeathWithDignity: [[spoiler: Friedhelm and Greta]]
* FatalFamilyPhoto: [[spoiler: Lilija]]'s family photo. Literally, because it [[TooDumbToLive has a flipping]] ''[[TooDumbToLive menorah]]'' [[TooDumbToLive in the background.]] Subverted though, as [[spoiler: she turns up alive and heading a division of Russian soldiers]] near the end of the series.
* ForegoneConclusion: Nazi Germany loses World War II.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: When Friedhelm tells a RedShirt "They have Siberian hunters who can hit a coin from 300 metres," you can probably guess what happens next.
* GetAHoldOfYourselfMan: Friedhelm grabs Wilhelm to tell him to pull himself together after the latter breaks down over the futility of their current mission during the Battle of Kursk (basically, keep advancing down this useless street until your whole unit is dead), because despite everything, they ''need'' a commander.
* GirlishPigtails: Charlotte sports these in the beginning - and in the photograph seen throughout the series - though army regulations mean her hair is soon in a bun.
* GlamorousWartimeSinger: Greta, to the point of deconstruction. While her signature song becomes a universally recognized hit, her singing career comes at the price of [[spoiler:sleeping with a Nazi officer]] and she finds herself performing as much on makeshift, open air stages just behind the front lines as she does in swanky dance halls or recording studios. Ultimately, her status as a nationally renowned singer isn't enough to save her from [[spoiler: arrest and execution at the hands of the Gestapo.]]
%%* GoryDiscretionShot: [[spoiler: Greta's death.]]
* HomeByChristmas: In the opening scenes, five friends have one last drink in Berlin. Two of them are leaving for service in Operation Barbarossa, one of them has volunteered to be a nurse on the front, another is an aspiring singer, and the last one is Jewish. They leave, hoping that by Christmas, Russia will be crushed and all of them will be reunited in that bar. The war ends four years later, Germany is defeated, [[spoiler: and two of the friends don't make it back.]]
* IdiosyncraticEpisodeNaming: The three parts are respectively called ''A Different Time'' ("Eine andere Zeit"), ''A Different War'' ("Ein anderer Krieg"), and ''A Different Country'' ("Ein anderes Land").
* ImperiledInPregnancy: Aspiring actress Greta begins an affair with a Gestapo officer to protect her Jewish boyfriend. Later in the war she confronts him by revealing that he has gotten her pregnant and should provide for his out-of-wedlock child. He responds by beating her so severely that she miscarries, then has her arrested.
* InsigniaRipOffRitual: A very unwilling Captain Feigl does this to [[spoiler: Wilhelm]].
* InterruptedDeclarationOfLove: Charlotte is about to tell the departing Wilhelm that she's in love with him, but is interrupted by a knock on the door from the [[SecretPolice Gestapo]], of all people.
* {{Irony}}: Wilhelm, a respected lieutenant, becomes so disillusioned with the war and the suffering it brings that he deserts. Friedhelm, a draftee who has known this all along, keeps serving the army until the very end.
* JumpedAtTheCall: Charlotte enthusiastically volunteers to become a nurse in the front line, genuinely believing that she can serve the country she loves in a just war.
%%* JustFollowingOrders: Invoked by Sturmbannführer Hiemer.
* KarmaHoudini: [[spoiler: Dorn]] ends up in the employ of the Allied administration after the war, and is ironically tasked with helping victims of Nazi persecution locate their relatives.
%%* KilledMidSentence: Schmidt
* TheKindnessOfStrangers: In the probation unit, Wilhelm is ordered to burn a peasant's house down. The elderly couple inside invites him, kerosene tank and all, to have a meal with them. [[spoiler: [[ScrewTheRulesImDoingWhatsRight He doesn't burn their house down.]]]]
* LandMineGoesClick: Zig-zagged. When one of Wilhelm and Friedhelm's fellow soldiers steps on a mine in a muddy swamp, the rest of the unit has time to evacuate the blast radius before the doomed private blows himself up. Shortly afterwards, however, when the survivors force the local civilians to walk through the swamp as human mine detectors, any mines they step on go off immediately.
* LightFeminineDarkFeminine: The two girls: GlamorousWartimeSinger Greta and GirlNextDoor Charlotte.
%%* ManlyTears
* ManyQuestionsFallacy: The partisan leader uses this on Alina to ascertain if she really is from Warsaw and not a spy.
* TheMedic: Charlotte, Hildegard, Lilija, and the other nurses.
%%* MoralityKitchenSink: It's wartime. No one is completely morally good or evil, not even the protagonists.
* MyCountryRightOrWrong: Tragically, Mr. Goldstein, a veteran of UsefulNotes/WorldWarI who is a proud German and determined to remain loyal to his country even as the persecution of Jews intensifies.
* NaiveNewcomer:
** [[WideEyedIdealist Charlotte]] as a nurse at the Eastern Front. The freezing look that the chief nurse gives her speaks for itself.
** Greta, during her morale boosting tour at the front, seems tremendously out of touch, assuming planes will wait for her - or that she can just call someone for a ride - in the midst of battle.
** Many of the NewMeat soldiers posted to Wilhelm and Friedhelm's unit are depicted this way, overly eager for battle and clueless about conditions at the front. At one point, the veteran soldiers even refuse to learn their names until they've survived four weeks in combat.
%%* {{Narrator}}: Wilhelm.
* NewMeat: Fresh-from-bootcamp replacements are posted to Wilhelm and Friedhelm's unit on several occasions. At the end, [[spoiler:Friedhelm]] leads a squad that, aside from himself and one man old enough to be a World War I veteran, consists entirely of [[ChildSoldier teenaged boys]] who have never seen combat.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Wilhelm tells a superior officer that partisan activity has increased, and the officer [[DeadpanSnarker drily]] replies "Thanks to our far-sighted policy of treating these people as inferiors."
** When [[BearerOfBadNews Friedhelm]] tells Charlotte that [[spoiler: Wilhelm]] is dead, she starts an affair with [[spoiler: [[MayflyDecemberRomance the old doctor]]]] in her grief.
* NobleDemon: Wilhelm is pretty much okay with fighting [[MyCountryRightOrWrong an aggressive war of conquest and territorial expansion]], and Captain Feigl has little difficulty convincing him to shoot Russian [=POW=]s, but on the other hand he's never pointlessly cruel, [[AFatherToHisMen frequently goes into battle ahead of his men]], and is genuinely horrified and outraged when Hiemer kills a Jewish child in front of him.
* NoGoodDeedGoesUnpunished: Seeing as this is set in fascist Nazi Germany, it's not surprising.
** Viktor is outed as a Jew and expelled from the Polish resistance because he rescues Jews on a train car being shipped to a concentration camp. [[spoiler: Subverted in that being kicked out meant he was spared the German ambush that happened moments later]]
** [[spoiler:Lilija]] helps Charlotte at the military hospital with her expertise, but gets reported as a Jew and taken away.
** Averted when Wilhelm refuses to torch a peasant couple's home. Orders come by telegraph just in time decreeing that no more houses may be burned, since it reveals the Germans are retreating.
** Charlotte take little time in the evacuating process to find Sonja. Other Germans left without her.
* NurseWithGoodIntentions: Sweet Charlotte practically has good intentions streaming out of her ears, but she has little technical expertise and is at first so shaken by the carnage of the front line that she finds it difficult to follow simple instructions. Later on she gets so desensitized to the violence that it's Greta who reacts with horror to the carnage around her when she visits Charlotte during her tour.
* ObligatoryWarCrimeScene: Particularly given [[UsefulNotes/NaziGermany what they're fighting for]], yeah.
* OpeningNarration: Wilhelm provides one at the beginning of each episode.
* ParentalFavoritism: Both Winter parents indulge in this. Wilhelm is clearly his stern father's favorite, while younger Friedhelm is [[DotingParent doted upon]] by his mother, who makes Wilhelm swear to bring his little brother back safely. When Friedhelm returns for sick leave after a battle in which Wilhelm is believed to have died, their father barely conceals his wish [[YouShouldHaveDiedInstead that Friedhelm had died instead]]. He thus returns to the front despite his mother's tearful plea.
* PetTheDog:
** When Wilhelm goes AWOL after a mental breakdown during a pointless battle, he retreats to an abandoned Russian cabin and spends his time catching fish and sitting around petting a cat.
** SS-Sturmbannführer Hiemer makes a Ukrainian auxiliary cop let go of a Jewish girl when Wilhelm intervenes, [[spoiler: then horribly subverts it by shooting her in the head.]]
* PreviouslyOn: The second and third parts have a brief recap with the title "Was bisher geschah" -- "What happened before."
* RapeAsBackstory: [[spoiler: Alina]] was repeatedly raped by the German farmer for whom she performed forced labour, giving birth to a girl who was taken away by him because he and his wife couldn't have children. When she decided to fight back against the farmer after he wanted to also father a son by her, she was immediately shipped off to Auschwitz.
* RapePillageAndBurn: Between them, the Russians and the Germans wreak all three.
* RegretfulTraitor: Turning [[spoiler: Lilija]] over to the Gestapo haunts Charly [[spoiler: until she discovers Lilija is alive, well, and leading a squad of Russians to the hospital.]]. She tries to [[MyGreatestFailure atone]] for it by trying to save another Russian nurse, Sonja.
* TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized: The Polish Home Army is not portrayed as very heroic. Aside from Aline the others are openly antisemitic, leaving Jews bound for the concentration camp in a cattle car to die after they raid a German train. Viktor rescues them, revealing he's Jewish, and they want him killed for it. Their leader has warmed up a bit to him though by this point. [[spoiler: Instead of killing Viktor, he fakes it and lets him go, with a good luck wish.]] These depictions caused protest by Poles.[[note]]In reality, though antisemitism indeed was common among Poles, many rescued Jews nonetheless, Home Army members included, more than any other nation in fact. Over 6,000 individuals have been recognized as having done so. It's estimated that thousands of Poles were executed for this by the Nazi German regime.[[/note]]
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Friedhelm snaps and mows down almost a dozen Russians when [[spoiler: Wilhelm is apparently]] killed by one of them.
* ScrewTheRulesItsTheApocalypse: Seems to be the reasoning behind many of the soldiers' abandonment of their personal ideals when faced with the relentless carnage of the war.
* ScrewTheWarWerePartying: Averted. When the friends (minus Viktor) are reunited during Greta's singing tour, they attempt this, but simply cannot shut out the [[WarIsHell horrors about them]], and return to their respective posts fairly quickly.
* SecretPolice: The Gestapo break up the protagonists' party at the beginning of the series. SS and Gestapo officers go on to play significant roles in most of the protagonists' lives, particularly Friedhelm, who is posted under one for much of the series, and Greta, who [[spoiler: sleeps with a Gestapo officer but is still ultimately arrested and shot.]]
* SenselessSacrifice:
** [[spoiler: Greta]] refuses to provide testimony that Dorn helped Viktor escape Germany, which will serve as his GetOutOfJailFreeCard, and as a result, he has her executed for treason. [[spoiler:However, he escapes justice regardless and ends up working for the Allied administration.]]
** The order to capture the telegraph station cost nearly all of Wilhelm's squad, and when Friedhelm finally reaches it via his RoaringRampageOfRevenge above, he enters a HeroicBSOD to find out that all that sacrifice was done for just one broken room.
* SexForSolace: When combat nurse Charlotte believes that her longtime friend and secret love Wilhelm has died in battle, she throws herself at her medical superior for comfort.
* ShaggyDogStory: [[spoiler: Charlotte attempts to locate her friend Sonja before the hospital evacuation, but they both get stranded as the Russians descend on them. They shoot Sonja anyway for collaborating with the Germans as a nurse.]]
** [[spoiler: Greta breaks up with Viktor and sleeps with Dorn in order to get him passage to America. The Gestapo arrest him before he can leave the country, rendering Greta's efforts useless.]]
* ShiksaGoddess: Greta is this for Viktor. His parents are less than amused - mostly because they fear him falling foul of the law (having sex with an "Aryan" was punishable by death for Jews in the Nazi era).
%%* ShotAtDawn: [[spoiler: Greta.]]
* ShoutOut:
** Many to ''Series/BandOfBrothers''. For example, Wilhelm gives a Russian [=POW=] OneLastSmoke before he shoots them (though we actually see the execution this time around).
** And the protagonist's name is Wilhelm Winters, like, you know...Dick Winters.
* SlowlySlippingIntoEvil: Many of the soldiers. Contrast their attitude to shooting suspected partisans (very likely innocent civilians) in 1943 as opposed to their generally more upstanding conduct in 1941.
* SnowballFight: Brothers Friedhelm and Wilhelm, both Wehrmacht soldiers, engage in a snow fight on a quiet Christmas Eve at the Russian front, reminding them that they thought the war would soon be over so they could be HomeByChristmas.
%%* SnowMeansDeath: General Winter indeed.
* SoundtrackDissonance: [[GlamorousWartimeSinger Greta's]] song Mein Kleines Herz [[note]]My Little Heart[[/note]] is a tender, blithe love song, but [[BittersweetEnding the]] [[CrapsackWorld context]] gives it this. The effect is further demonstrated by showing how miserable her friends are in that moment: Wilhelm and Friedhelm are out in the winter cold, Charlotte is drinking away her guilt, and Viktor is detained in a cell.
* TheSquadette: [[spoiler: Lilija]] commands a division of Russian soldiers during the takeover of the infirmary. TruthInTelevision, as the Red Army did in fact have many female soldiers, and even several all-female units.
* StarcrossedLovers: Greta and Viktor as a gentile German and a Jew.
* [[SuicideByCop Suicide By Soldier]]: After the German surrender, [[spoiler: Friedhelm]], who has become something of a DeathSeeker, convinces his fellow soldiers to lay down their arms and give themselves up by walking steadily towards the Russians and shooting the ground in front of them. He is shot, and his death delivers the desired message.
* TakingYouWithMe: [[spoiler: Greta]] refuses to testify that Dorn helped Viktor secure papers to emigrate to safety, even at the cost of her life. Subverted when Dorn [[KarmaHoudini goes unpunished]].
* ToAbsentFriends: [[spoiler:In the end Wilhelm, Viktor, and Charlotte reunite in a bar in the bombed Berlin, all scarred by their experiences and raise a toast to the memories of Friedhelm and Greta.]]
* TokenMinority: Viktor is the only Jew between the friends.
* UnfriendlyFire:
** [[spoiler:Sturmbannführer Hiemer]] tries to coax Friedhelm into shooting Viktor in the same way he got him to shoot the Polish boy. Turns out it doesn't work the second time.
** When Friedhelm tries to return to friendly lines after having gone missing in action he is non-fatally shot by his comrades because he was [[DressingAsTheEnemy disguised in a Soviet uniform]].
** The brutal sergeant in the punishment battalion eventually gets stabbed by one of his own men.
* VillainousBreakdown: [[spoiler:Hiemer has a short but powerful one in the few minutes between when Friedhelm shoots him and he bleeds out. He spends the whole time staring at Friedhelm in utter disbelief, seemingly not comprehending why the man he thought was an unquestionably loyal tool would suddenly turn on him]].
* VerbalTic: Bartel has a noticeable stutter.
%%* VomitIndiscretionShot
%%* WarIsHell: The message of the entire series.
* WhereAreTheyNow: The final scene in the third episode lets us know the birth and death dates for each of the main characters. [[spoiler:Wilhelm is the only one who is apparently still alive as of the present day]].
* WouldHurtAChild: SS-Sturmbannführer Hiemer. [[SlowlySlippingIntoEvil And eventually]], [[spoiler: Friedhelm]], albeit reluctantly.