There is a new show on Netflix called The Defeated. It takes places in Berlin, in 1946, a year after World War II ended.
After the war, Berlin was a bombed-out shell of a city. It was also a city divided into sections — the American section, the Russian section, the British section and the French section. The German police force, such as it was, comprised mostly of women and mere boys, was not allowed to carry guns. Hell, we see the senior police officer sharpening pencils outside her own station with a pen knife. An American police officer comes to the German police force, under the guise of helping them organize and tackle the most immediate problems that plagued Berlin — rape, theft, murder. As the defeated, helpless, starving people tried their best (and worst) to survive, this was a city overrun by crime. Sanity was one of two things in shorter supply than food or clean water — we will get to that other thing shortly.
What was in abundance, however, were lies. The Cold War had begun the moment the Germans and the Japanese surrendered, if not earlier. And everyone had an agenda, a secret to hide, or a blackmailer to answer to.
In The Defeated, the American cop was running around, cleaning up after his unhinged brother, who has found inventive ways of torturing and killing Nazis (the ones who escaped Nuremberg trials).
The German police woman was trying to gather enough secrets — intel about the Americans’ activities in Berlin — in hopes of freeing her husband from a Russian prison. And so on.
This is a well-written, and well-acted show. It is a dark, very difficult to watch show, about a dark and difficult time. The viewer knows, from minute one, this is not a show that is going to have a happy ending or have happy characters. I can only watch this show during the daylight hours, never before bed, never before I have quiet reflection time. As a Jew, as someone who lost much of her family to the Nazis, and who lost her paternal grandfather — a Russian soldier — in the last days of fighting in the final advance on Berlin (his grave is still there in Germany), sometimes I have to stop watching, stare outside at the green trees and pet my dogs to calm down my racing heart.