Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Enemy at the Door (1978-80)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

'The Jerrybag' (BBC1, 18/3/1978), written by N.J. Crisp, directed by Bill Bain

After Betty's father dies, she takes a job at the Nazi headquarters. While cleaning the floors, a soldier knocks over her bucket. On her way home he accosts her and apologises. His name is Erich. He notices that she always walks with her head bowed, commenting that she has no reason to.

The next day Erich walks Betty home and then asks her out. She reluctantly agrees. They go for a picnic and talk about their pre-war lives. Betty and Erich spend the night together. Erich is sure that the war will soon be over and that then he will return to work on his father's farm. He invites her to a dance.

Clare Martel and Peter Porteous return to her parent's house after leaving the dance early. She was disgusted that the islanders were socialising with the Germans. Betty falls pregnant. Erich speaks to Major Richter and asks for permission to marry Betty. Richter refuses, even though he sees that Erich sincerely loves her, as such unions are forbidden. Shortly afterwards, Erich is posted to Dresden. He promises to be true to her and to write often. Clare goes to see Betty and unsuccessfully tries to convince her to give the baby up for adoption. Betty gives birth to a baby boy.

After the invasion of Russia, Dr Martel goes to see Richter about supplies but also to discuss Germany's breaking of their non-aggression pact with Russia. Betty is accosted by Hans, a friend of Erich. He informs her that Erich was killed on the Eastern Front. She sees Dr Martel to see about getting her baby adopted. Spat at by her own people, Betty is also treated badly by some of the German soldiers. Peter is able to get her and the baby away from them.

Betty tells Peter that she lost heart when Erich stopped writing and that, according to Hans, he never told his parents about her. Peter suggests that with the poor postal service on the Eastern Front it is likely that his letters never arrived and that Erich would have wanted to wait until he could tell his parents in person. Betty's faith is restored. She tells Dr Martel that she is going to keep the baby. Going home, she is taunted as a 'jerrybag' by children. Remembering Erich's first words to her, she walks away with her head held high.