Three series haunted by communism: “The Patients of Doctor Garcia”, “Sam, a Saxon” and “The Last Socialist Artefact”


Verónica Echegui in the series


In 1848, the specter of communism haunted Europe. Today, he is just prowling in the European series. We can, these days, discover three of them, coming respectively from Spain, Germany and Croatia, which, each in its very different way, tell of the withering away of a utopia devouring men.

Despite its thickness – ten episodes of more than an hour – we will quickly pass on The Patients of Doctor Garcia. Produced by Spanish national television with the support of Netflix, this adaptation of a novel by Almudena Grandes (The Pocket Book) withers in the shadow of an outdated narration, of means as considerable as poorly used. Last part of a tetralogy entitled Episodes of an endless war, The patients… follows, from the first battle of Madrid, in 1936, to the death of Franco, in 1975, the fate of a republican doctor forced into hiding, engaged in the fight to dismantle the support networks for the Nazis set up by the Caudillo regime after 1945.

As usual, the novelist mixes historical characters (the Republican leaders Azcarate and Negrin, the Hispano-German fascist Clara Stauffer, SS Colonel Otto Skorzeny) and fictitious, Doctor Garcia and his Francoist wife, the Republican secret agent of obedience Socialist Manuel Benitez. The material for an ample and melodramatic soap opera is there, which would have mixed the anti-communist obsession of Francoist Spain and the conflicts of gender, generation and class. The compactness of the interpretation, the linearity of the narration make it tasteless.

Historical Tourbillon

The case of Sam, a Saxon arouses more interest. This title, as intriguing as it is unsightly, refers to the slogan which adorned a poster distributed by the Land of Saxony in 1991, just after the reunification of Germany. While the former GDR was the scene of a far-right lynching campaign against foreigners, the poster showed the face of Sam Meffire, born to a Cameroonian father and an East German mother, who was engaged in the regime’s police force in East Berlin in the months before the fall of the Wall.

The first episodes stage the pseudo-socialist comedy which allowed that, east of the Wall, one can both claim proletarian internationalism and practice open-faced racism (the leaders of the democratic protest are not not spared). The sequel shows how the heirs of Nazism were able to plunge into the abyss left by the end of really existing socialism and the futility of the essentially cosmetic efforts of the federal regime to confront it.

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