From the Introduction
Across Germany, thousands record every aspect of their lives, convinced they are filming the dawn of a new age. Others record their thoughts in diaries. Taken together, ink and 8mm film provide an unprecedented insight into life in the Third Reich.
The footage and diary extracts come from civilians, but also from Nazi Party organisers, firemen, local officials and soldiers on the frontline. They all play a role capturing the New Reich.
We know how this story ends, with Hitler and Eva Braun dead and Europe in flames. As Germany lay vanquished, much of this footage was hidden away, a reminder of a time most want to forget. But over the years, as the war generation has died, their descendants are finding the footage, revealing a candid insight into life under the Swastika.
The footage has the power to surprise and shock, while also showing how ordinary Germans experienced Hitler’s war. But it also poses a question… what did the ordinary Germans know about the things being done in their name?
The footage provides a unique insight into the lives of ordinary Germans and the atrocities that were committed in the occupied territories as Hitler’s dreams crumbled and the German people had to face a moral reckoning.
The films tell the stories of people who battled desperately to save their families from deportation to the death camps while others endured the horrors of ever more deadly bombing raids – all set against a backdrop of relentless propaganda and false hope that poured forth from the Nazi high command.
BBC Four Website Description
Recently discovered home movie footage from 1936 offers a unique and novel insight into what people in Germany were thinking and experiencing. In these pre-war days, Germany was on a high and the Hitler Youth seemed like fun and games, but Nazi control was soon to become an all-pervading force, militarising the nation. The rise of anti-Semitism is explicit and grotesque, shocking even though we now have the knowledge of what happens next.
The film follows an infantry division during the invasion of France, fighting their way to Dunkirk and revealing a new perspective on what the evacuation meant for the average German soldier. On the Eastern Front, a far darker and more visceral journey across the endless Russian steppe and the almost unimaginable horrors unleashed during Operation Barbarossa is captured by a soldier.
As well as amateur movie footage, the film charts the progress of the war through the diaries of ordinary Germans, some dizzy with excitement at what Hitler had achieved, others horrified by the effect it was having on their friends and families.
Christmas in Germany 1941 is an unsettling time. Food is scarce, the weather is freezing and news from the front line in Russia is causing Germans to realise the war is a very long way from over. The stage is set for the second half of the conflict.
Through the home movies and diaries of ordinary Germans, this film charts Hitler’s dreams crumbling and the moral reckoning the German people must now face. It reveals the stories of people battling to save their families from deportation to the death camps, while others endure the horrors of ever more deadly bombing raids, all set against a backdrop of propaganda and false hope pouring forth from Nazi high command.
In Russia we meet a doctor who throws himself into the firing line at every opportunity, not to win glory but to save his wife and three young children from deportation to the death camps in the east, while in Dresden a Jewish diary writer struggles to deal with ever-mounting restrictions and deportations.
We also meet some of those forced to live under German rule, including extraordinary footage of a group of Jews living in hiding just a mile from Anne Frank, and a family in Normandy enjoying a bucolic summer before they find themselves on the front line when the Allies take on the German troops on the Atlantic Wall.
The film then moves to the endgame of the war, the choices faced as the net tightened and the crazy efforts to fight to the bitter end even as all hope is gone.
4.24GB | 1h 58mn | 1280×720 | mkv
Subtitles:English (Muxed SRT)