The Great Journey of Agathe Schweigert


January 19, 2022

The Great Journey of Agathe Schweigert is a German literary adaptation by Joachim Kunert from 1972. It is based on the story of the same name by Anna Seghers, included in the collection The Power of the Weak. The title role is occupied by Helga Göring, supporting roles by Holm Henning Freier, Günter Naumann, Helmut Gauss and Günter Wolf. The film was produced by DEFA on behalf of GDR television.


Ernst Schweigert had to leave his mother Agathe and Nazi Germany for Paris overnight because he had taken part in a protest. After his trail is lost, Agathe goes in search of her son. To raise money for her venture, she sells her haberdashery and travels west by train. The woman, who is well-known and respected locally, is immediately recognized and spoken to by the conductor. She gets a little scared at the customs check, but everything goes well. Arriving in Paris, Agathe takes in the city and its sights. After all, she has never made such a long journey in her life and has always just stood behind the counter of her shop. After she found the address from which her son's last letter came, she found out that Ernst had traveled on a long time ago. Luckily, Ernst finds a friend who tells her that her son is fighting the fascists in Spain. Agathe wants to follow him - if necessary to the front. First she goes to Toulouse and is amazed that her son also has friends here. Only now does she realize that Ernst has been a member of the International Brigade for a long time. Traveling from France to Spain proves to be a problem because they don't want to issue Agathe with the appropriate papers. Only when she agrees to take a job in Spain does there seem to be a solution. However, you now have to wait and see, but in the end everything goes faster than expected and your application is approved. So the journey continues by train across the Pyrenees and then on foot to the border. There, Agathe and the men accompanying her are welcomed as fighters for the freedom of Spain and taken to the next town. Here Agathe hopes to finally find her son, but she has to learn that he is still fighting at the front and that she cannot visit him there. Agathe gets to know many different people on her way, but everyone is friendly to her and they all speak a little German. The simple woman tries to understand what drives people of all nationalities to come here to Spain to fight against the fascists. Agathe drives to Valencia with a young Pole and sees the sea for the first time. There is also a large hospital here, where Ernst is said to be staying. But she comes too late because her son had to go back to the front two days ago. So Agathe has no choice but to wait in the hospital and work there until Ernesto comes back here, as he had announced. Since there is a lot to do, she doesn't have much time: laundry has to be folded, the beds have to be made, food has to be distributed and there are other tasks that Agathe is responsible for taking care of. But soon a letter comes that Ernst has to stay at the front. However, it turns out that a wounded man has to be taken to a special clinic, and since this is in the city where Ernesto is currently stationed, Agathe is supposed to accompany the sick man on the transport. Once there, however, she has to learn that her son will not come because the battalion had to move on. Disappointed, Agathe wanders through the streets of the city and ends up being taken back to the hospital by a transport. Here she receives the devastating news of her son's death. Only work can jet them

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