World War II in Film: A Hundred for One (1941)

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In 1941, a Soviet film short was released on Yugoslavia entitled A Hundred for One, 100 za Odnogo or Sto za Odnogo in Russian, Sto za Jednog in Serbian, Hundert für Einen in German, by Austrian-born Soviet director Herbert Rappaport. The film drama was on the German occupation of Yugoslavia. The plot revolved around the German policy of shooting 100 civilians for the death of a German soldier in Yugoslavia. The film was released on August 11, 1941 in the Soviet Union. This film was also released in the United States on July 3, 1942 under the title This is the Enemy as part of an anthology. The film was also released in Mexico as Este es el enemigo on February 17, 1943. This segment was part of the series Boyevoy kinosbornik from 1941 as No. 2. This was a film collection for the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union approximately an hour in length usually consisting of two approximately thirty minute film shorts.

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In the prologue to the segment, the following appears on the screen in Russian: “Son for father, brother for brother, bitter is the German retribution.” The scene is a town in Yugoslavia under fascist occupation. The back of the helmet of a German soldier on sentry duty is shown. Then German troops are patrolling a street in the town. A man and his two children peer out of a window and then close the shutters.

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In a German occupied town in Yugoslavia, a couple is walking on a deserted street. They are stopped by two German soldiers. They are accused of violating the 10:00 PM curfew. The German soldier is shown moving the hands of the clock to 10:10 PM. One soldier accosts the woman. They both eventually sexually assault her. One of the soldiers is knocked out cold. Her companion attacks the other soldier. The soldier wrestles him to the ground and pulls out his dagger. The woman takes the gun from the other German soldier and shoots the soldier attacking her companion in the back. He is killed. They then flee. The other soldier rouses himself and fires his weapon to alert other German troops.

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The commanding German officer decrees that for the death of the German soldier, one hundred civilians will be executed. German troops begin rounding up civilians in the town, men, women, and children. A woman nursing a child is also taken into custody.

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The civilians are being shown marching off to the execution site in the woods led by German troops. In two scenes, a German officer is heard counting off the number of civilians to reach the number of one hundred. The commanding officer follows the civilians to the execution site in a vehicle.

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The couple who killed the German soldier witness the plight of the hostages and surrender. They both confess to the killing. The commanding German officer strikes down the man. He is determined to go through with the executions.

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The civilians take shovels from the truck and begin digging their own graves. Making prisoners dig their own graves was something German troops did routinely in the Soviet Union but was not a feature of the Yugoslav conflict. They devise a plan to attack the German troops. They use the shovels to attack the soldiers. One of the German soldiers shoots the elderly man. He is then shot by the woman with a rifle. The hostages are able to kill the German troops. They shout slogans of defiance as they battle against fascism, emerging victorious. A guerrilla war is to be conducted. The Russian word for “guerrilla” is used, “Partisan”. In the final scene, the woman who appeared earlier is shown nursing her child. The film has a triumphant and a victorious ending.

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The segment was written by Yevgeni Ryss and Vsevolod Voyevodin. The film featured Lev Bordukov, Boris Poslavsky, Larisa Yemelyantseva, and Elena Kirillova. The cinematography was by Khecho Nazaryants. The art direction was by Semyon Mejnkin. The sound was by Ilya Volk. The film was made by Lenfilm Studio. The alternate title was Victory Will Be Ours, Part 2, or Pobeda budet za nami, seriya 2. A translation of the Russian title of the series is: A Collection of Films for the Armed Forces #2.

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The Yugoslav segment A Hundred for One was released in the U.S. on July 3, 1942 as part of the anthology This is the Enemy. Two U.S. posters for the 1942 American release were also produced as 14″ x 22″ theatrical window cards. The segment on Yugoslavia, A Hundred for One, was illustrated in the top right corner of one of the posters and was featured extensively in the second. Archer Winsten, the film critic of the New York Post, wrote a positive review for the film: “It is the immediate duty of every American to see this film”.

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The anthology featured seven Soviet directors: Yevgeni Chervyakov, Viktor Eisymont, Vladimir Feinberg, Ivan Mutanov, Aleksei Olenin, Tamara Sukova, and Herbert Rappaort, as Gerbet Rappaport. The other segments included “Meeting”, “At the Old Nurse’s/Saboteur”, “One of Many/Air Raid”, and “Three in a Shell Hole”. The goal of the film was to expose what the enemy was like. “What does the enemy look like? …. How does he treat women and children? See Europe’s little people holding the Hitler beast at bay!” The film starred Boris Chirkov, Vladimir Lukin, Boris Blinov, Aleksandr Melnikov and Ivan Kuznetsov. The film consisted of eight re-edited short segments from the Soviet series illustrating the Nazis, including a lead off segment called “The Hitler Beast”, which was an animated cartoon by Russian animator Ivan Ivanov-Vano. The final segment was a fantasy with the spirit of Napoleon sending a telegraph to Adolf Hitler telling him what happened when he invaded Russia in 1812. The movie was shown and promoted in the U.S. in 1942 with the tagline “The Soviet Mrs. Miniver” because both contained similar scenes and because they both sought to mobilize the country for total war against Nazi Germany depicting the enemy as ruthless and without any mores.

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Mrs. Miniver came out on June 4, 1942 in the U.S. This is the Enemy came out on July 3, 1942. The Soviet segments were filmed earlier. Mrs. Miniver was an American movie by MGM directed by William Wyler about World War II in Great Britain. The Soviet segment “Saboteur” has a similar theme. An elderly woman lets in a guest into her home who is a German agent. He has a gun with him that a sleeping child in the house is able to take and hide. Eventually, the woman is able to expose the guest and to capture him. This is similar to a major scene in Mrs. Miniver where a German pilot is able to enter her home.

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The Soviet Union had signed a treaty of alliance with the royalist Yugoslav government of Peter II in 1941. The Soviet Union and Yugoslavia were allies during World War II. The Soviet film short A Hundred for One supported the royalist Yugoslav government’s resistance against Nazi Germany. A second Soviet film short in support of the Peter II Yugoslav government would be released in 1942 entitled Night Over Belgrade or Noc nad Belgradom. A Hundred for One demonstrated the Soviet Union’s commitment to Yugoslavia as an ally during the war.