Categories
Television

Wartime Girls (5)

The highly-acclaimed Polish television series, Wartime Girls, has reached its fifth and final season. This is regrettable because it has been a stellar production from start to finish in every respect.

The concluding 13 episodes, which are available on the ChaiFlicks streaming platform from May 8 onward, bring the story to a close.

Wartime Girls, set in German-occupied Poland, revolves around several young Polish woman from Catholic and Jewish backgrounds who carry out intelligence and sabotage missions¬†for the Polish underground army. They’re courageous, fearless and resourceful, always ready to sacrifice their lives, if need be, for the cause of Polish freedom and independence.

The operatives in question are Ewa (Vanessa Aleksander), Marysia (Aleksandra Pisula) and Karolina (Maja Szopa). Irka (Marta Mazurek), who appeared in the first four seasons, has been written out of the script.

Vanessa Aleksander has a key role in this Polish series

In the first episode of season five, they break into a German radio station and broadcast a morale-boosting ¬†announcement that Allied armies are advancing against the Germans. “Our victory is close,” says Marysia, the Jewish woman, playing the Polish national anthem.

Chaos in wartime Poland

For a fleeting moment, Poland feels free from Nazi brutality and oppression. In reality, the country is still very much under foreign  occupation. As Marysia glumly notes, the Nazi ghetto in Warsaw has almost been liquidated. In a desperate attempt to assist the remaining Jewish fighters inside, her boyfriend, Andrzej (Sebastian Jasnoch), a physician, tries to smuggle seven grenades into the ghetto.

As the next few episodes unfold, Ewa’s new boyfriend, Sonka (Mateusz Rzezniczak), a professional boxer with a dubious past, joins the anti-Nazi struggle, while Magdalena (Karolina Rzepa), a Polish operative, returns from Britain. Parachuting out of a plane at night, she lands on a tree and is seriously injured. A German doctor of partial Polish ancestry performs life-saving surgery.

Karolina Rzepa plays a member of the Polish underground

In the following episodes, Witek (Michal Czernecki), one of the Polish commanders, teams up with Magdalena to kill two Germans and a Pole who have hunted down and fatally shot a Jew in a forest.

The pair are also enmeshed in a scheme to manufacture a locally-made machine-gun, which will be produced by a Polish Jew in hiding named Chaim Lewinski (Aleksander Kurzak).

Karl Meier (Maciej Brzoska), a German filmmaker with conflicting loyalties, is another recurring character. He’s charged with filming scientific experiments in a secret Nazi facility that the Poles want to penetrate. The hapless subjects of these cruel experiments are captured Russian soldiers. Appalled by their mistreatment, Meier hands the Poles incriminating information about the laboratory.

Maja Szopa and Maciej Brzoska, left, in a pivotal scene

The series, ably directed by Filip Zylber, is shot through with references to Polish Jews, who are being ruthlessly decimated by the Nazis.

Bronia (Magdalena Smalara), a middle-aged member of the Polish resistance movement, goes out on a date with a canny Polish businessman. As they enjoy a sumptuous meal in a fancy restaurant, he gives her an exquisite piece of jewelry with Hebrew lettering on the back. Realizing that it is stolen property, she leaves in disgust.

A German officer

In another scene, an avaricious and antisemitic Polish maid employed by Karolina’s wealthy mother threatens to inform the Germans that she has allowed Jews to shelter in her mansion.

Wartime Girls, featuring a fine cast and realistic sets, is credible and often compelling. I’m sorry that it has come to an end.