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Based upon the celebrated novels by Hans Helmut Kirst, the 08/15 film trilogy marks a touchstone in postwar German culture. A corrosively satiric look at German army life--the title comes from a notoriously malfunctioning gun type, the 08/15, which became a popular short- hand among soldiers for everything wrong with the military--the films depict the life and times of lance corporal Asch, a model soldier constantly out of step with his overbearing superiors. Kirst's novels, especially popular among German veterans, made him postwar Germany's best- selling author. The 08/15 films, directed by Paul May, were likewise successful; Part I became West Germany's biggest box-office hit of the 1950s.

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