Hello folks! I thought it would be fitting to kick off my return to blogging with some recommendations! Once again, the season is changing & (in most places), things are getting cooler. This means that instead of braving the elements, some of us (like me) will be getting cozy on the couch after hours & turning on the television.

These days, I find myself searching pretty extensively for ww2-related media I’ve not seen. I have also noticed that when I am looking for the “Best WW2 films of all time,” the same selection pops up. Usually, we get slammed with the classics, which everyone has come to know & love. Because of this, there is not a lot of exposure for other works & thus, I have broken my film choices down into different genres. The collection I’ve put together includes foreign, classic & documentaries films.

Personally, I’ve always preferred foreign films to domestic ones (with a few exceptions). Foreign films seemingly glorify war way less & focus more on telling us about real stories & real people. The films I’ve chosen to list do not pull any punches when it comes to depicting the harsh reality of warfare. & this is why they’ve made the cut.

Top 15 Foreign Flicks

Downfall1. Der Untergang (Downfall):  Depicts the final 10 days of Hitler’s reign over Nazi Germany, straight from the Führerbunker during the Battle of Berlin, 1945. It is based upon the books Inside Hitler’s Bunker, by historian Joachim Fest, Until The Final Hour, memoirs of Traudl Junge, Albert Speer’s memoirs, Inside The Third Reich; Hitler’s Last Days: An Eye-Witness Account, by Gehardt Boldt & Siegfried Knappe’s memoirs.  [View Trailer]

 

 

 

SophieScholl2. Sophie Scholl: Die Letzten Tage (The Final Days): About 21 year-old Sophia Magdalena Scholl, a German revolutionary, student, & an active member in the non-violent resistance group The White Rose. She was arrested by the Gestapo & convicted for treason in the People’s Court by the notorious Nazi lawyer & judge Roland Freisler after being caught distributing anti-war leaflets at Munich University. [View Trailer]

 

 

 

Katyn3. Katyń: Based on the book Post Mortem: The Story of Katyń, by Andrzej Mularczyk, this film tells the story of the Katyń Forest Massacre, a mass execution & liquidation of approximately 22,000 members of the Polish Officer Corps committed Soviet authorities in 1940. The events leading up to the massacre are revealed through the eyes of the mothers, wives, woman, daughters & victims executed & widowed by the NKVD.  [View Trailer]

 

 

 

Eichmann4. Eichmann: A biographic film based on the actual transcripts of Adolf Eichmann’s interrogation by Israeli police captain Avner W. Less. The film alternates between three distinct storylines: the interviews, a series of flashbacks exposing Eichmann’s culpability as a key strategist & enabler of “The Final Solution” & the public outrage that ensued over Eichmann being given the chance to defend the accusations against him. [View Trailer]

 

 

 

Napola5. Napola: Elite Für Den Führer (Before The Fall): A compelling script about two young graduates of the Hitler Youth who form an unsuspecting bond while attending one of the Reich‘s National-Political institutions at the height of World War II. As Napola’s military training intensifies, Albrecht rebels & Friedrich must choose between his best friends moral imperative & his sworn allegiance to Hitler. [View Trailer]

 

 

 

ThePianist6. The Pianist: Based on the real-life memoir of Wladyslaw Szpilman, who was playing Chopin on a Warsaw radio station when the first German bombs fell, The Pianist tells the story of a classical Jewish musician who escaped deportation & survived the Holocaust. Forced to reside in the heart of the Warsaw ghetto, Polish pianist Szpilman shared in the suffering, humiliation & struggle of his fellow Jews. [View Trailer]

 

 

 

MaxManus7. Max Manus, Man of War: A Norwegian biographical film based on the real events of the life of resistance fighter Max Manus, a ruthless anti-Nazi & Second World War Hero who, after escaping from the Germans, is sent back into Norwary to carry out sabotage missions against the occupying forces.  Man of War draws from Manus’ own publications Det Vil Helst Ga Godt & Det Blir Alvor as well as other accounts & historical documentation. [View Trailer]

 

 

 

FlameAndCitron8. Flammen Og Citronen (Flame & Citron): The movie title refers to central characters, code-named Flame & Citron, two fearless resistance fighters who calmly assassinated collaborators working with the Nazis after the 1942 invasion of Denmark. As a pair, Flame & Citron were best friends & colleagues fiercely committed to eradicating all traitors. Even as they continued to carry out these strict assignments, they suddenly discover that things are not as clear-cut as they would like to believe. [View Trailer]

 

 

AimeeAndJaguar9. Aimée & Jaguar: During the darkest days of the war, while the Allies bomb Berlin & the Gestapo purge the capital of Jews, a dangerous love affair blossoms between two women. For Lilly (Aimée ), a married woman, mother of four sons & an exemplar of Nazi motherhood, this affair will become the decisive experience of her life. For Felice (Jaguar), Jewish & a member of the underground, their love fuels her hope for survival. Based upon Erica Fisher’s book, Aimée & Jaguar. [View Trailer]

 

 

LArmeeDuCrime10. L’Armee Du Crime (Army of Crime): A French war drama that deals with the events of the Affliche Rogue (Red Poster) Affair, a famous propaganda poster distributed by the Vichy Government & German authorities to discredit 23 French resistance fighters. The story is told in flashback form from the opening moments, shot inside a prison bus in which the 23 FTP-MOI partisans, rounded up for execution, are shown peering glumly through barred windows as a roll call of their names is intoned. [View Trailer]

 

 

Zwartboek11. Zwartboek (The Black Book): In the German-occupied Netherlands during World War II, Jewish singer Rachel Stein infiltrates the regional Gestapo headquarters for the Dutch resistance after tragedy befalls her in an encounter with the Nazis. With 15 nominations & 3 Golden Calves, The Black Book received the most awards at the Netherlands Film Festival in 2006. [View Trailer]

 

 

 

TheCounterfeiters12. Die Fälscher (The Counterfeiters): The Counterfeiters tells the true story of Salomon Sorowitsch, a swindler who made a name for himself as Berlin’s “King of the Counterfeiters.” However, his life of women & easy money is cut short when he is arrested by the Nazis & placed in a concentration camp. With the German army on the verge of bankruptcy, Sorowitsch makes a sobering deal with his captors: in exchange for a comfortable bed, fair treatment & good food, Sorowitsch, along with the other hand-picked specialists, must counterfeit bank notes to fund the Nazi war effort. [View Trailer]

 

 

 

AWomanInBerlin13. Anonyma: Eine Frau In Berlin (A Woman In Berlin): In the final weeks of World War II, the conquering Soviet Army occupied a Berlin in ruins & did what occupying armies often do, raped & pillaged. There was nothing to stop them, least of all their officers, who knew that after years of relentless battle it was useless to try to enforce discipline, even had they wanted to. A Woman In Berlin is a diary written at that time & published some 15 years later. Its author, who identifies herself as a journalist, was anonymous. The book’s publication in 1959 inspired outrage in Germany, where the idea of German women cooperating somewhat with the Soviets was unthinkable, & in Russia, where it soiled the honor of the Red Army. [View Trailer]

 

 

EuropaEuropa14. Europa, Europa: Based on the 1989 autobiography of Solomon Perel, a German-Jewish boy who evaded the Holocaust by masquerading as an elite “Aryan” German. Separated from his family & on the run from the Nazis, Solly, through a chain of remarkable happenstance, becomes first a model Soviet student in an orphanage devoted to Stalinist indoctrination & then a model Hitler Youth. [View Trailer]

 

 

 

 

Stalingrad15. Stalingrad: Only the second German movie to portray Battle of Stalingrad. It is against this horrific backdrop that we follow a squad of Wehrmacht soldiers who have been transferred to the Russian front. It is a powerful anti-war film, driving home the horrors of war from a viewpoint we have rarely seen. From a historical standpoint, Stalingrad paints one of the most accurate portraits of the Second World War to date. Stalingrad definitely succeeds at being a film that is taut, riveting & memorable. [View Trailer]

 

 

Honorable mentions: Les Femmes De L’Ombre (Female Agents), La Rafle (The Round Up), Tmavomodrý Svet (Dark Blue World), Oorlogswinter (Winter In Wartime), & The Reader.

Check back for Part II of my Best WW2 Films & Documentaries of all time for the classics!

Title: The Noor Inayat Khan Story: A Muslim Heroine Who Fought The Nazis During World War Two
Genre: War Drama
Category: WWII, Politics

Alex Kronemer is the co-founder of Unity Productions Foundation, a nonprofit organization that seeks to “create peace through the media” by producing documentaries on Muslim stories. His latest film, “Enemy of the Reich: The Noor Inayat Khan Story,” premiered on PBS stations on Tuesday, September 9th.

Back From Hiatus

Posted: September 24, 2014 in World War 2
Tags: , , , ,

imagesHello fellow geeks! I just wanted to let you all know that I am officially back from my extended hiatus. Over the next few weeks, I will be adding tons of pages, content, pictures & videos all about World War 2! I’ll also be gearing up for Remembrance Week.

If you are a history lover & like to nerd out on the internet from time to time, be sure to check back frequently for new updates as I will be posting regularly again.

Thank you for sticking with me throughout the years & happy reading!

– Vera

 

Title: The Sinking of the Laconia
Type: War Drama
Genre: World War II, PoliticsIn September 1942, at the height of WWII, a German U-boat torpedoed the RMS Laconia, unaware that it carried more than 2,000 passengers. What followed is a harrowing true story of heroism, heartbreak, & humanity.

During his speech at Parliament following the British evacuation of Dunkirk, Winston Churchill delivered what was to become one of the most famous passages of rhetoric in British history:

 

Even though large tracts of Europe & many old & famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo & all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the sea & oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence & growing strength in the air; we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing-grounds, we shall fight in the fields & in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender; & even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated & starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed & guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power & might, steps forth to the rescue & liberation of the Old.

 

Winston Churchill, 4th June, 1940

Title: James Cameron’s Expedition Bismarck
Type: Documentary
Category: World War II, Politics

It was WWII’s most fearsome ship. A ship so powerful, it sank the pride of the British fleet with a single salvo. Hearing the news, Winston Churchill saw no choice. He sent nearly the entire Royal Navy to hunt & destroy the Bismarck. But what really happened to this German legend? Was she sunk? Or was she scuttled? Now Titanic director James Cameron returns to the high seas to tell the tale & search for the truth. Leading a team of explorers, historians & Bismarck survivors, Cameron examines the wreck three miles down & discovers the answers that may finally end the debate. With revolutionary production techniques & high-tech Remotely Operated Vehicles, Cameron lights up this dark world & gives us the first glimpse inside the Bismarck in more than 60 years. Stunning high-definition footage shows underwater images with cinematic clarity. & cutting-edge animation & ultra-realistic reenactments bring the survivors’ stories to life. Join the expedition & relive the dramatic final days of the DKM Bismarck.

Sharing with you a wonderful First World War film that I truly love to watch on or around the Holidays & New Year. Joyeux Noël depicts the widespread spontaneous ceasefires or the “Christmas Truce” that took place along the Western Front in 1914. Lest we forget.

Title: Joyeux Noël
Category: World War I, Politics

The year is 1914, & as World War I continues to rage across the European countryside, four individuals stuck on the front lines find themselves faced with the unthinkable in director Christian Carion’s Academy Award-nominated account of the true-life wartime event that would offer hope for peace in mankind’s darkest hour. When the war machines began rolling in the summer of 1914, the devastation that it waged upon German, British, & French troops was palpable. As the winter winds began to blow & the soldiers sat huddled in their trenches awaiting the generous Christmas care packages sent by the families, the sounds of warfare took a momentary backseat to the yearning for brotherhood among all of mankind. It is here that the fate of a French lieutenant, a Scottish priest, a German tenor, & a Danish soprano’s lives were about to be changed forever. On Christmas Eve of that year, the lonely souls of the front lines abandoned their arms to reach out to their enemies on the battlefield & greet them with not anger or hostility, but with the simple, kindly gesture of a much needed cigarette or a treasured piece of chocolate, & to put their differences aside long enough to wish their brothers a sincere “Merry Christmas!”

Title: 48 Hours of Kristallnacht
Author: Mitchell G. Bard, Ph.D.
Genre: World War II, Politics

I have posted a couple of excerpts from this book over the past year or so & it is high time I recommended it to those of you who are interested in what transpired on Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass).

48 Hours of Kristallnacht is the first book to thoroughly chronicle this pivotal event by presenting a wide array of eyewitness testimony, much of it previously unpublished, & to set the event firmly in historical context. Drawing on his unprecedented access to key archives, Dr. Mitchell G. Bard presents a shocking story that centers on the words of those who, as children, were on the scene first-hand. Together, these accounts & Bard’s incisive analysis reveal what led up to the pogroms, how they transpired, & their aftermath – & why the Holocaust can be dated from these two harrowing nights.

Kristallnacht’s new Book of Lamentations. The power of Mitchell Bard’s 48 Hours of Kristallnacht derives from the start & vivid words of German Jewish children who, in a single day, saw their well-ordered world suddenly destroyed by the Nazis’ brutality & by the apathy & silence of their neighbors & classmates.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Mitchell G. Bard’s book, 48 Hours of Kristallnacht can be purchased online via Amazon in hardcover, paperback or for your Kindle.

48 Hours of Kristallnacht
Night of Destruction / Dawn of the Holocaust

NO CRIME TO BE JEWISH

The progressive steps to remove the Jews from German society still allowed them to remain in their homes, & most still enjoyed a certain degree of comfort. The most serious indication that Jews were no longer welcome in Germany occurred on October 27th, 1938, when about 18,000 Jews from around the Reich were arrested & transported by train to the Polish border. They were allowed to take only one suitcase with them, & all of the rest of their possessions were either looted by their neighbors or seized by the Nazis. Only 4,000 were allowed into Poland; the rest were stranded at the border.

The expulsion of the Polish Jews ultimately had an unexpected & even more devastating impact on those who remained in Germany.

Among the Jews sent to Poland was the Grynszpan family. They had been expelled from Hanover where they had lived for the previous 27 years. Their oldest son, 17-year-old Herschel, escaped the deportation because he was living in Paris, where he had been arrested & sent by cattle car at night without food or water to the Polish Border. Once they reached the frontier, the Nazi SS guards forced the Jews to run, whipping those who were not obedient or quick enough to escape the lash. Inside Poland, the Jews were housed in filthy horse stables. The starving people eventually received a shipment of bread, but not enough arrived to feed everyone.

The postcard infuriated Herschel. He decided to seek revenge for the treatment of his family.

At 8:35am on November 6th, Herschel went to a sporting & hunting goods store in Paris & bought a gun. About an hour later he calmly presented himself at the German Embassy & asked to see the ambassador, Johannes von Welczeck. The ambassador was actually heading out & overheard the request, but ignored it & continued on his way. Herschel insisted on seeing someone to whom he could deliver what he claimed was an important document. His persistence lead him to Third Secretary Ernst vom Rath.

Ironically, vom Rath was under investigation by the Gestapo because he was suspected of lacking the proper zealotry expected of a Nazi official, particularly toward the Jews. Grynszpan knew nothing about the man except that he represented the government that had deported & abused his family. When vom Rath asked to see the document he was carrying, Herschel shouted, “You are a sale boche (filthy kraut) & here, in the name of 12,000 persecuted Jews, is your document!” He then fired five shots at close range; the first two penetrated the diplomat’s stomach, the rest missed. Vom Rath was wounded but still conscious. Herschel seemed surprised he wasn’t dead & remained standing calmly in the office as the scene grew chaotic. Herschel did not resist when police came & escorted him from the embassy to a nearby police station. “I did it to avenge my parents, who are living in misery in Germany,” Herschel informed the officers. He later told his interrogators, “It’s not a crime to be Jewish. I’m not a dog. I have the right to live & the Jewish people has the right to exist in this world. Everywhere I am persecuted like an animal.”

Vom Rath was rushed to the hospital after the shooting, but he succumbed to his injuries & died at 5:30pm on November 9th.

From 48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction / Dawn of the Holocaust, by Mitchell G. Brad, Ph.D.

Title: Aliens & The Third Reich
Type: Documentary
Category: World War II, Politics

If ancient aliens visited Earth in the remote past, could they have given us advanced technology, past down through human history? & could this technology have helped the Third Reich build mysterious weapons & crafts far beyond the limits of 20th century science? During World War II, there were reports that the Germans built an operational flying saucer, known as the Hanebu, which was said to use mythical technology found in ancient Indian texts. Another craft was rumored to have been constructed with the help of psychics & mediums who claimed to have received detailed blueprints from extraterrestrial beings. Is it possible Hitler’s quest for world domination was aided & abetted by ancient extraterrestrial technology that was rediscovered? & could the allegedly rebuilt alien devices developed in Germany have played a role in America’s ability to land a man on the moon?

Title: WWII In HD: Darkness Falls
Type: Documentary
Category: World War II, Politics

Seventy years in the making. Three thousand hours of color film footage few knew existed. The first documentary to show original color footage of World War II in immersive HD, the world premiere HISTORY series WWII IN HD uses the journals & accounts of those who served in the war’s biggest battles to create a personal, introspective, & detailed look at life on & off the front lines. Follow 12 unforgettable Americans, & experience the war through their eyes, in their own words, as it really looked & sounded. WWII IN HD transforms their stirring journey into a tangible piece of history. Culled from rare color film found in a two-year worldwide search & converted to HD with meticulous technique, WWII IN HD provides a picture of World War II as it has never been seen before.

WWII IN HD is a ten-part documentary series consisting of the following episodes:

Hard Way Back, Bloody Resolve, Battle Stations, Day Of Days, Point Of No Return, Striking Distance, Guts & Glory, Edge Of The Abyss, End Game.

Title: Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed The World (1940-41)
Author: Ian Kershaw
Genre: World War II, History, Politics

The series of events that marked the opening of the Second World War left most of the world in a state of shock. Suddenly it seemed almost anything was possible. For the aggressors there was no limit to what they could do; for their victims a new Dark Age seemed to beckon. Within this hurricane of events, small groups of individuals were faced with a huge range of decisions on which triumph or extinction could turn.

In this gripping book Ian Kershaw re-creates ten critical decisions taken between May 1940 (when Britain decided to fight on rather than surrender) & the autumn of 1941 (when Hitler decided to destroy Europe’s Jews). In London, Tokyo, Rome, Moscow, Berlin & Washington, politicians & generals, often working with very poor information & vast logistical, financial, economic & military problems, had to decide how they were going to exploit or combat the unfolding crisis. These decisions really did determine the future of the world.

Fateful Choices gives the reader an extraordinary sense both of the real constraints within which leaders worked but also of the role of personality: Churchill fighting on in the face of the catastrophe in France, Hitler ordering the invasion of the USSR despite Germany’s failure to defeat Britain, Stalin trusting Hitler & leaving his country wide open to Operation Barbarossa, Roosevelt realizing that the revolutionary idea of lend-lease could keep Britain fighting, the Japanese high command opting to attack the USA even in the face of evidence that it would fail.

Fateful Choices is a remarkable book that looks into the terrible heart of the modern age, & attempts to understand how decisions that changed or ended millions of lives really came about.

Read more about Sir Ian Kershaw @ Wikipedia

Title: A Place of Hiding
Author: Elizabeth George
Genre: World War II, Espionage, Mystery

An isolated beach on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel is the scene of the murder of Guy Brouard, one of Guernsey’s wealthiest inhabitants & its main benefactor. Forced as a child to flee the Nazis in Paris, Brouard was engaged in his latest project when he died: a museum honoring those who resisted the German occupation of the island during World War II. It is from this period that his murderer may well have come. But there are others on Guernsey who want Buy Brouard dead. As forensic scientist Simon St. James & his wife, Deborah, soon discover, seemingly everyone on the history-haunted island has something to hide. & behind all the lies & albis, a killer is lurking.

Visit George’s website @ Elizabeth George Online

Type: Documentary
Title: Apocalypse: The Second World War
Category: World War II

Thanks to the efforts of a few, private collectors & archivists, these forgotten films have been rediscovered, restored & made available by National Geographic Channel in an extraordinary six-part series: Apocalypse: The Second World War. In addition to stunning footage, the series presents WW2 in an innovative & provocative way, giving audiences an unprecedented sense of the reality of war not conveyed by black & white footage.

Made up entirely of original 35mm, 16mm & 8mm films, Apocalypse: The Second World War includes rare footage of the Polish officers’ massacre at Katyń, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk, the inhumane treatment of French soldiers taken prisoner by the Nazis & the sacrifice of Soviet soldiers at Stalingrad.

By bringing this incredible footage together, Apocalypse: The Second World War provides viewers with a ground-breaking portrait of WW2 that depicts not only its complexity, but the perspectives of both its victims & its victors.

Apocalypse: The Second World War is a six-part documentary consisting of the following episodes:

The Aggression (1933-39): Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V
The Crushing Defeat (1939-40): Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V
Shock (1940-41): Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V
World Ablaze (1941-42): Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV
The Great Landing (1942-43): Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV
Inferno (1944-45): Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV