Winter Soldier

In February 1971, one month after the revelations of the My Lai massacre, an astonishing public inquiry into war crimes committed by American forces in Vietnam was held at a Howard Johnson motel in Detroit. The Vietnam Veterans Against the War organized this event called the Winter Soldier Investigation. More than 125 veterans spoke of atrocities they had witnessed and committed.

Though the event was attended by press and television news crews, almost nothing was reported to the American public. Yet, this unprecedented forum marked a turning point in the anti-war movement. It was a pivotal moment in the lives of young vets from around the country who participated, including the young John Kerry. The Winter Soldier Investigation changed him and his comrades forever. Their courage in testifying, their desire to prevent further atrocities and to regain their own humanity, provide a dramatic intensity that makes seeing Winter Soldier an unforgettable experience.

Like a live hand grenade brought home from a distant battlefield, the 34-year-old antiwar documentary "Winter Soldier" has been handled for decades as if it could explode at any moment. Now, the 95-minute film is about to get its first significant theatrical release." New York Times, August 9, 2005

"Winter Soldier" is an important historical document, an eerily prescient antiwar plea and a dazzling example of filmmaking at its most ichnographically potent. At its best, it is the eloquent, unforgettable tale of profound moral reckoning. The Washington Post Friday, December 9, 2005

Read Reviews

Jane Fonda on Winter Soldier The Brian Lehrer Show (PBS), Tuesday, April 12, 2005.

"In 1971, an earlier caller had mentioned that I had spoken some place where she was. That was a trip that I was taking to raise money for the Winter Soldier investigation. Over one hundred military personnel from every branch of the service, American soldiers, sailors, marines, officers, pilots, they came and testified in Detroit as to atrocities that they had committed or had seen committed in the presence of officers while in Vietnam. It took such unbelievable courage for them to do that. They were disparaged by the Nixon administration, but all of them were telling the truth and they shook while they spoke and I realized while I sat there that these men, by virtue of their collective truth telling, were being redeemed. They had seen the heart of darkness and because they were willing to own their experience and speak to the American people, they were healing. They were asking American people, ‘Come with us, understand what this has been. Understand the nature of this war that your young men are being put into, by its nature atrocity producing. This is how we will be redeemed as a nation’ and we did not listen. A film was made of it called Winter Soldier . Barbara Kopple, the award winning documentarian was one of the young filmmakers that did it. Graham Nash was one of the people who helped me fund it and raise money for it and it’s out there and it is grainy black and white reality and it is very important."

John Kerry on the Winter Soldier Investigation Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee April 22, 1971.
"…I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command … They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country…"

"We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out."

1972. 95 minutes. Black & White and Color. Produced and directed by Winterfilm Collective in association with Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Filmed in 16mm. Extras include FBI Files, filmmakers discussion, short documentaries and a massive stills gallery.

Price €14.99
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