Posts Tagged ‘germany’


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.


Type: Documentary
Title: Battle of Britain: The Real Story
Category: World War II

James Holland presents a fresh analysis into the Battle of Britain, exploring the lesser-told German point of view, & highlighting the role of those who supported the Few during the summer of 1940.

Focusing on the tactics, technologies & intelligence available to both sides, Holland examines the ways in which both Germany & Britain used their resources: from aircraft to air defence, & from intelligence to organization. &, by gaining rare firsthand testimony from German veterans, & access to the untapped diaries & documents we reveal that this was a battle of two sides & many layers.

Note: Released as part of the Battle of Britain season to mark the 70th anniversary.

Title: Third Reich: Rise & Fall
Category: News, Politics & World War II

Third Reich: The Rise & Fall uncovers familiar anecdotes & fascinating details about the people who comprised the Nazi Party, & raids the treasure trove of archives the Nazis left behind, including rarely seen German newsreel recordings along with other unique footage carried home by Russian troops.

In History’s two-part, four-hour Special Presentation: Third Reich, rare & never-before-seen amateur footage tells the epic story of the Third Reich as it’s never been told before: through the eyes of the people who lived it. A unique perspective on the rise of Nazi Germany & how millions of people were so vulnerable to fascism, told through rare & never-before-seen amateur films shot by the Germans who were there. How did the Germans experience the Allied victory in World War 2? Rarely & never-before-seen amateur films recount the catastrophic downfall of the Third Reich through the eyes of the people who lived it: the Germans themselves.

As a slimmed-down history of Nazi-ruled Germany during the 1930s & 1940s, The Third Reich offers a stylish & engaging look at the rise & fall of a nation. Comprised entirely of vintage film clips shot by Russian troops, journalists, German citizens & others, it’s a visual tour-de-force of a terrifying era. Divided into two 90-minute halves (“The Rise” & “The Fall”, each given their own DVD), The Third Reich reminds viewers of the horrors of war, the dangers of a totalitarian government and the fragility of human life.

As described on DocumentaryWIRE.

Part I: The Rise

Part II: The Fall

Title Das Drama Von Dresden, A Documentary
Director: Sebastian Dehnhardt
Awards: International Emmy (2005) & the Magnolia Award (2006)

The baroque city of Dresden, known as the Florence of the Elb because of its magnificent buildings, was one of the few German cities to have been largely spared Allied bombing during the Second World War, but in just 24 hours the city was reduced to rubble. At least 25,000 people suffered agonizing deaths in the fire-storms which swept the city. The film provides a dramatic account of these tragic events, from the perspective of both the inhabitants of Dresden & also the British bomber pilots who mounted the air raid on the city. They were all part of a tragedy which left nobody victorious.

As described on Broadview TV


Paderborn is a small cathedral city which is well-served by Air Berlin flights from the UK. The reason for this is that it is home to a big UK military presence. There are about 4,500 troops in local army camps & a British population of 12,000. The cathedral is stunning and it is here, in 799, that Charlemagne was made the first ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. There is a bustling market, a Tractor Museum, “Germany’s smallest river” (so says the tourist board) & – on the outskirts, near the airport – a very strange castle that has a scary past.

We arrive at Wewelsburg Castle. It is shaped like a triangle, a yellow-stone structure with two towers topped by bell-like domes & one wider fortified tower, sitting on a hill overlooking fields spreading towards the airport. There are leaded windows with curtains drawn inside, dark dirt stains spreading across the yellow-stone walls from gutters, thin sprinklings of snow on the northern faces of the bell towers, plus a definite sense of menace.

Kirsten, my guide, is a bright-eyed thirtysomething, with trendy dark-framed glasses, a multicoloured scarf, red jumper, & bright red lipstick.

We enter the guard house museum, a two-storey stone building with an aubergine tiled roof. Inside, schoolchildren are being shown round a series of displays explaining the freakish plans Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, had in mind at Wewelsburg. There’s a grainy black & white picture of Himmler taken at the castle, with his pudgy gerbil face, glasses, thin moustache & double chin.

“He wanted to make Wewelsburg the centre of the SS world,” says Kirsten, as we pause by a sturdy medieval-looking chair whose leather back is inscribed with a jagged ‘SS’. “He had a plan for a huge ring of buildings on the slopes above the castle. We don’t know exactly what he wanted to do with them. But it appears he wanted to make the north tower of the castle into an SS shrine of some sort. Where people could remember the SS dead. It would be at the centre of a new SS village. This would be where the Germanic elite group would live. Himmler wanted to create the cult of ideology here.” [Read More]

This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that unless we heard from them by eleven o’clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you that no such understanding has been received & that consequently this country is at war with Germany.

Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 1939

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.