Posts Tagged ‘allies’

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!

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The Treaty Of Versailles

The Peace Treaty which formally brought the First World War to an end was signed in Versailles, France on June 28th, 1919. The terms forced Germany to give up territories, recognize her war guilt & pay compensation to the Allies.

Germany had to surrender fifteen percent of its territory & ten percent of its population. Allied troops also occupied the Rhineland & the Saar region, two of the country’s coal producing regions, limiting the output of iron & steel; many armament factories were also closed down. Alsace & Lorraine, the provinces taken from France following the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, were also returned. Germany also handed over territory to Belgium & Denmark. Large tracts of the country’s eastern territories were given to Poland. Many of Germany’s overseas colonies were also divided up between the Allies.

New countries were established on Germany’s borders. Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary & Lithuania were created, while Austrian independence was assured; Danzig was also made into a free city. Many German-speaking areas would now be administered by new governments.

The German armed services were also severely restricted. The army was reduced to 100,000 men, conscription was abolished, tanks & heavy artillery were banned. The navy was limited to a small number of capital ships, & there were to be no U-Boats. Germany was not allowed to have a military air force.

The treaty was held in contempt by political parties & individuals across Germany. Political slogans called it the ‘Versailles Diktat.’ In December, 1918 an English reporter writing in the Zew Zurich newspaper noted that ‘as far as the German Army is concerned the general view is summarized in these words: it was stabbed in the back by the civil population.’

Nationalists & anti-Semites blamed the ‘stab in the back’ on traitors, black marketeers, Communists, Social Democrats & the Jewish community. The idea of betrayal appealed to soldiers returning from the trenches because many had marched home with their units to find their homeland in disarray. The German generals also wanted to believe that they had been defeated by forces beyond their control.

A Reichstag investigation later concluded that the morale of the German Army had been undermined by many internal & external factors. Although morale had fallen after the spring 1918 offensives, defeatists, pacifists, revolutionaries & corruption in Germany had reduced it further. The investigation concluded that the ‘stab in the back’ was a myth but it was a myth that the National Socialists exploited.

The League Of Nations

Towards the end of the war, plans were underway to prevent future conflicts. President Woodrow Wilson advocated the League, a group of nations formed to guarantee political independence & territorial integrity for all states, as part of his Fourteen Points of Peace. Although the formation of the League was approved at the Paris Peace Conference in January 1919, Wilson could not get the US to join. He was; however, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping establish it. On June 28th, 1919, 44 countries signed up to the League & on January 16th, 1920 the first meeting was held. By the mid-1920s its role expanded beyond its original remit & the number of members increased.

The Weimar Republic

Germany needed a new government & the first National Constituent Assembly planned to draw up a new constitution in Berlin in February 1919. Battles between communists & parliamentary units forced the assembly to relocate to Weimar, 150 miles to the south-west, where it drew up the constitution in the city’s National Theater. The system of government in Germany between 1919 & 1933 become known as the Weimar Republic.

The constitution provided for an elected president in place of the Kaiser, who would serve for seven years. There was a bicameral legislature, involving two debating chambers, the national Reichstag & Reichrats representing the states. The system allowed proportional representation &, for the first time, women had the vote. Delegates were returned by percentage of votes, making it difficult for a single party to gain full control. The system favored minority parties & this resulted in many unstable coalition governments. There would be twenty cabinets between February 1919 & 1933.

The system curbed the powers of the states, particularly the largest state, Prussia, which had used its size to block many decisions. The Reichrat could veto Reichstag bills. In turn the Reichstag could overrule a veto if it had a two-thirds majority, an unlikely occurrence in the multi-party politics of the era.

Although the constitution was one of the most advanced & democratic in the world at that time, it had been written to both appease the Allies & serve the Germans; in trying to do both it did neither. It had serious weaknesses, including the fact that the President could use Article 25 to dissolve the Reichstag while Article 48 gave him the right to define & declare a national emergency. He could then suspend civil rights, rule by decrees (temporary laws) & use the army to restore order. The clause was intended to protect Germany if there was an internal revolution but it was also open to exploitation.

The Ghost of Goebbels: Historical Revisionism & World War II

This article written by Wayne Madsen, political scientist (USA), Strategic Culture Foundation expert, & was published in International Affairs magazine.

An expected outgrowth of the world’s steady descent into total & extreme capitalist control is the increasing tendency by some historians and their accomplices in the media to re-invent certain aspects of history.

Although the history of the Middle East & colonialism have been favorite playgrounds for the historical revisionists, it is World War II & the role played by the Soviet Union in the war that has attracted the attention of most of the alterers of history, both professional & amateur. As we recall the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the 70th anniversary of which we now remember, it is important to note that the “revisionism” of the events of that day began with chief Nazi German propagandist Joseph Goebbels and the disappearance of historical facts “down the memory hole,” as George Orwell put it in 1984, is carried on to this day by Goebbels’s ideological heirs who are mainly funded by the barons of Wall Street through various tax-free right-wing “think tanks” & research institutes in the West.

Although the revisionists claim that the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact & its secret protocol to divide eastern Europe into respective German & Soviet spheres of influence somehow made Soviet leader Joseph Stalin a “partner” of Hitler, little attention is paid to secret German-British talks in 1939 that would have divided the world into German & British spheres of influence while making common cause against the Soviet Union.

Goebbels’s ideological heirs would have everyone believe that Stalin & German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler were on the same ideological plane & were conniving to jointly conquer the world. This revisionist account is meant to mask the goals of the Western industrialists at the time. Many of the world’s wealthiest capitalists, including the German-descent British royal family, wanted Hitler to stamp out Soviet Communism & had no problem with the Nazis’ “long march East.”

The pandering of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to Hitler at the 1939 Munich Conference, which saw the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, was seen in the eyes of many British & American industrial barons as the remnants of Czechoslovakia being safe from Soviet Russia. That same mind-set would exist as Nazi troops invaded Poland, the Baltic states, Yugoslavia, & then, the USSR, itself. Not until December 7, 1941, & the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, would the western industrial barons decide it was time to support the war effort against the Axis Powers, albeit reluctantly.

Certainly, Britain was not alone in its secret campaign to align with the Nazis against the Soviet Union. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, who enraged many capitalists & Republicans by establishing diplomatic relations with the USSR after he took office in 1933, found himself almost ousted in a coup d’etat in 1933 arranged by Wall Street robber barons intent on declaring a state of national emergency & placing Roosevelt under virtual house arrest. The plot was discovered by retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler & communicated to the U.S. Congress where details of the plot remained secret until 1970. Among the chief coup plotters was Prescott Bush, the father & grandfather, respectively, of two later U.S. presidents. Prescott Bush was a chief Wall Street banker for German Nazi-owned businesses in the years leading up to & following the outbreak of World War II.

In 1936, U.S. ambassador to Berlin, William Dodd, wrote to Roosevelt to warn him that the threat posed to him in 1934 by the Wall Street-Nazi alliance remained as such two years later. Dodd wrote:

A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime . . . A prominent executive of one of the largest corporations, told me point blank that he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism into America if President Roosevelt continued his progressive policies. Certain American industrialists had a great deal to do with bringing fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy. They extended aid to help Fascism occupy the seat of power, and they are helping to keep it there. Propagandists for fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare.

The words of Dodd: “propagandists for fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare” ring true today. Wall Street of the 1930s & 1940s owned the major media outlets, including the large publishing houses, that gave notoriety to the revisionist commentators & historians of their day. The situation remains much the same today.

There is the distinct danger that soon, the historical revisionists will not be content in putting Stalin & Hitler on the same level. With global media in the hands of a select few capitalists, it is forseeable that Stalin will be re-assessed as the reason Hitler had to conquer most of Europe & Hitler will be painted favorably. There are already signs that this historical revisionism is taking place among the right-wing political parties of Europe that are adopting many of the planks of the neo-Nazi movement, including the meme that Hitler had no choice to invade eastern Europe & the Soviet Union to protect the world against Bolshevism. That argument of the capitalists is nothing new but it is one, 70 years after the invasion of the USSR by the Nazis, that should have long ago been discarded into the ash bin of fascist propaganda.

Final Statement

We, the assembled representatives of historical research communities & civil societies of Belarus, Latvia, Moldova, Russia & Ukraine participating in the Sevastopol International History Conference commemorating 70th Anniversary of the outbreak of 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, regard the War and our Victory as one of the most tragic and at the same time heroic pages in the common history of our nations.

We are increasingly alarmed with the current rise of revisionism of the history of World War II in the West & in several post-Soviet republics where incendiary political considerations outweigh commitment to historical accuracy.

We consider it absolutely unacceptable to draw the Great Patriotic War against fascism as a ‘fight of two totalitarian regimes’, to deny the justified & liberating nature of that war for our nations, to depict the Red Army’s liberation mission in 11 European countries as ‘Soviet occupation’.

We state that the concept ascribing ‘mutual responsibility’ for unleashing the war to ‘the Nazi & Soviet regimes’ lacks any historical & moral foundations. As historians, we are aware that the responsibility for that devastating war rests fully with the Western powers. Until now the diplomatic archives in London keep guarding the secrets of the British-German talks held in June 1939 on the division of the world into Great Britain’s & Germany’s spheres of influence, aimed to deter Soviet Union from taking part in shaping the future of Europe.

While Hitler’s military machine was destined to exterminate Soviet Union as a ‘hotbed of Bolshevism’, today the Nazism is sometimes being portrayed as a ‘natural response to the red threat’. This is an utmost lie contradicting recognized historical facts.

We claim that all civilized nations should officially outlaw any endeavors to justify fascism, Nazi criminals or collaborationists. Any revisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal outright statements condemning fascism are totally inadmissible.

The present round of revisionism is supposed to provide an ideological backing for “anti-totalitarian” appeals like the notorious OSCE Parliamentary Assembly resolution adopted on July 3, 2009 calling for a trial over the Soviet Union’s allegedly ‘criminal past’. Such campaigns, provoking territorial claims against Russia & compensation demands for ‘damages caused during Soviet occupation’ trigger imminent & far-reaching dangerous consequences for the European security, still not adequately assessed by the short-sighted instigators of these campaigns & their blind contractors.

A distorted view on the meaning and the results of World War II & Russia’s Great Patriotic War would pave the way for a new division of Europe & the world with catastrophic consequences. This is why we are calling upon the academic community for a fair & unbiased research of the period of 1941-1945 in the name of historical truth & our common future. The sacrifices of millions of Russians in the defeat of Fascism & the devastation wrought in the war must not be perverted for current political narratives. Such actions only serve to cause division within Europe, & prevent the advancement of peace & unity amongst peoples.

(Views expressed in this article reflect the author’s opinion & do not necessarily reflect those of RIA Novosti news agency. RIA Novosti does not vouch for facts & quotes mentioned in the story.)

At the time the Germans put their Case Yellow Invasion plans into effect on May 10th, 1940, they were actually outnumbered on the western front. Not counting the 19 divisions they had deployed defensively along the Maginot Line & the 42 divisions they were holding in reserve, the Germans had 75 divisions available for their invasion of the Low Countries. Opposing them were 144 Allied divisions: 101 French, 22 Belgian, 11 British & 10 Dutch. Even with 36 of the French divisions also tied down on the Maginot Line (which the Germans didn’t attack), the Allies were still able to commit 81 divisions, excluding reserves, to the German assault. The Allied weaknesses; therefore, weren’t manpower, or even equipment, but inferior strategy, leadership & training.

Both sides had about the same number & quality of tanks, yet the Allies dispersed theirs to support individual infantry formations, while the Germans concentrated their tanks in irresistible armored divisions, which spearheaded the German attack. Receiving little help from the Allies, the Netherlands fell within five days, as Nazi paratroopers quickly seized control of the canal & river bridges that were the key to the Dutch defenses. The Belgians, meanwhile, with a larger army & stronger fortifications, proved more resistant, but they, too, succumbed to German speed, daring & cleverness. The anchor of Belgium’s eastern defenses, for example, was the reputedly impregnable Fort Eben Emael, near Liège. Because its heavy guns commanded several important invasion routes, the Germans had to neutralize its firepower. Hitler himself provided the solution. “The top is like a meadow,” he said of the mostly buried fortress. “Gliders can land on it.” Indeed, they could, & fewer than one hundred airborne troops were able to stage a surprise landing, trap the fort’s 750 defenders underground, & blow up its big guns.

According to a previously arranged plan, thousands of French & British soldiers moved rapidly into Belgium to take up defensive positions on the Meuse & Dyle Rivers – only to find themselves outflanked by German forces pushing through Luxembourg & the lightly defended Belgian Ardennes. A Panzer corps led personally by Lt. General Heinz Guderian, the father of the Blitzkrieg, crossed the Meuse near Sedan & dashed to the coast, reaching the English Channel near the mouth of the Somme on May 20th. From this point on, the Allied forces in Belgium & northern France were trapped.

THE INVASION OF ITALY

A veil has been torn from a treacherous intrigue which for weeks had been enacted by an Italian clique, serfs to Jews, & alien to their own people.

German propaganda broadcast on news of Italian capitulation

After the fall of Mussolini, the Allies began peace talks with the Italians. The new Italian government agreed to surrender terms the day the Allies landed on the mainland. But the Germans simply took over. While Italian resistance faded, the Germans tried to force the Allies back into the sea. When that failed they established a series of defensive lines up the peninsula that would stall the Allies for nearly two years. Churchill‘s strategy of attacking Hitler’s Germany through the “soft underbelly of Europe” failed. He had aimed to race up the peninsula & cut Germany off from the advancing Red Army, but Allied troops had to fight ferocious battles every inch of the way.

From The Story Of A World At War: World War II, by Nigel Cawthorne