Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Nazis: A Warning from History

When Ken Burns' famous "The War" came out on DVD, we rented it just in time for the Spring Break so our daughters could watch it with us. But after doing the first two disks, we were too bored to continue.

I found "The War" to be very repetitive and shallow, and it suffered very much from the US-centric view of history, skipping almost entirely over anything that was going on in Europe until the landing of American troops in Italy (and then it focused on, well, you guessed right - American troops in Italy!). Which means that it missed about 70% of the conflict (http://1-800-magic.blogspot.com/2008/05/how-us-has-won-world-war-ii.html).

Being overhyped to the high heavens by the media did not help of course - it had set my expectations high, and the movie came way short...

"The Nazis: A Warning from History" which we rented a week ago, was only two disks to Burns' six, but I learned more from the first 15 minutes of it than from watching the first two DVDs of "The War".

The film covers the period from Weimar Republic to right before the fall of Berlin.

Like the War, it focuses on interviewing the eyewitnesses - but the people who participated in the European theater where majority of the action was happening.

Most of the interviewees were former Nazis, former soldiers, leaders of small Hitler-Jugend, just German citizens at the time. I think the focus of the movie was the banality of evil - that Hitler and his senior henchmen aside, the war would have been impossible without willing and sometimes enthusiastic cooperation of the "simple folks", although it does give a good insight on how the Nazi government operated on all levels.

In several cases, the movie research teams had unearthed documents that the interviewees probably would preffer to have never had existed - a letter denoucing the neighbour, court documents depicting someone's participation in the death squads, etc, and confronted the interviewees with them. Responses varied, but to fully appreciate the situation, you have to see the movie.

Highly recommended!


Eldar said...

I am lost. You get quickly bored, but you recommend it... which of two?

Anonymous said...

You are lost my friend :)

He is talking about two different documentaries: "The War" and "The Nazis: A Warning from History" ( imdb link )