Thursday, February 27, 2020

Nazi Germany As Seen In Theatrical Motion Pictures

American's and others seem to still be fascinated with Nazi Germany. Which was illustrated in February 2020 by a new television dramatic program called "The Hunters" starring Al Pacino. The series is set in the 1970's as a group of American's hunt down Neo-Nazi's attempting to create the "Fourth Reich". While 2019 saw the release of the Academy Award nominated comedy-drama "JoJo Rabbit" starring Scarlett Johansson. She portrays the mother of a lonely boy in Nazi Germany imagining his best friend is a comic Adolph Hitler. 

This is not a complete look at all the motion pictures made about Germany under the Nazi Party, or is it a scholarly work of the subject on the motion picture screen. What this long essay covers are selected motion pictures relating events true and fictional about the "Third Reich" as motion picture writers, directors and actors created.

It could start in Nazi Germany in 1933. As the German Film Industry saw hundreds of Jewish producers, directors, actors and technicians leave for France, the United Kingdom and America. but it is 1962 and Richard Basehart, two years before becoming television's "Admiral Nelson" on Irwin Allen's "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", had the title role in the motion picture "Hitler". Later, the movie's title would be changed to the more lucrative "Women of Nazi Germany".

The screenplay was by Sam Neuman and producer E. Charles Straus. They used Hitler's own words, from "Mein Kampf", as its basis to tell the story of Adolph Hitler from the 1923 "Beer Hall Purge" to becoming one of the most feared men in history. The film was one of the first biographical motion pictures to deal with the man behind the "Third Reich" and Basehart is frightening in his portrayal.





Adolph Hitler came to power, because the 1929 "Great Depression" hit Germany proportionally as hard as the United States. The unemployment rate was near 30 % under a government of fiscal austerity. A large group of German's wanted a change in their political leadership. Hitler appealed to the unemployed and others promising to improve their condition and Make Germany Great once more.

The Immigrants

In 1922 he gave the world ""Dr. Mabuse , der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler)". in 1927 he made "Metropolis", in 1929 with his wife created the rocket count down for "Frau im mond (The Women in the Moon)" and in 1931 made the sound classic "M" about a Berlin child murderer. His name was Fritz Lang and in 1933 he left Germany, because he was Jewish and feared for his life under the "National Socialist German Workers Party" aka: "Nazi".

Another filmmaker at this time was Leni Riefenstahl. She was Fritz Lang's director counterpart, by not being Jewish, and admitted being "memorized" by Hitler. Riefenstahl would become Hitler's main propaganda film maker with her 1935 "Triumph of the Will". Filmed during the 1934 Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg that was shown around the world to promote German superiority.



In 1936 Leni Riefenstahl filmed the "Summer Olympics" in Berlin to show the superiority of German athletes, but also captured American runner Jessie Owens' Gold medal performance.



My article on these two German filmmakers "Fritz Lang and Leni Riefenstahl: Their Films" can be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/03/fritz-lang-and-leni-riefensthal-their.html

Fritz Lang's "M" made an International Star out of the actor who played the child murderer. In 1933 Peter Lorre, born Laszlo Lowenstein, also left Germany, because he also was Jewish. He would go first to Paris, France, to escape the Nazi Party. My article "Peter Lorre: Overlooked, or Forgotten Performances" can be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2017/11/peter-lorre-overlooked-or-forgotten.html

Then they're were the two Jewish brothers Kurt (Curt) and Robert Siodmak. Both left Germany in 1933 and would find themselves in the American film industry. Curt was a screenplay writer and his most famous included a line about a man becoming a wolf when the full moon is bright, 1940's "The Wolfman". While brother Robert was a director of several Film Noir's both in France and the United States. The two came together for one motion picture, 1943's "Son of Dracula", that they made in the style of 1920's German silent cinema. The brother's story "CURT AND ROBERT SIODMAK: Horror and Film Noir" can be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2017/11/curt-and-robert-siodmak-horror-and-film.html

Another of the Jewish immigrants to America's film industry was director Samuel Wilder. Who changed his first name to Billy. Among his motion pictures are 1950's "Sunset Boulevard" starring William Holden and Gloria Swanson and 1959's "Some Like It Hot". That starred Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon.

Others immigrants included director Henry Kostner. who directed both the Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven's 1947 comedy "The Bishop's Wife" and James Stewart's 1950 "Harvey". Director Ernst Lubitsch would make Greta Garbor's 1939 "Ninotchka" and the Carol Lombard and Jack Benny comedic attack on Nazi Germany 1942's "To Be, or Not to Be". Anti-Nazi Conrad Veidt was a German actor best remembered as "Caesar the Somnambulist" in 1920's "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari". He married a Jewish women named Ilona Prager and one week after their marriage, in 1933, immigrated to the United Kingdom to save his wife's life.

Another actor was born Nicolaie Yoshkin and changed it to Martin Kosleck. Kosleck, below, was a strong anti-Nazi German. but became known for portraying "Nazi's" in motion pictures. He was in Alfred Hitchcock's 1940 spy thriller "Foreign Correspondent" starring Joel McCrea and Laraine Day and the real life "Joseph Goebbels", below, in 1944's "The Hitler Gang".



There were many others who escaped to the United States. One wonders what would have happened to the history of American film had they not been able, because the violently antisemitic Joseph Goebbels was moving against these German filmmakers. He started by blocking the very popular Fritz Lang's 1933 "Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (The Testament of Dr. Mabuse)" from release, because Lang was Jewish.

On May 6, 1937 the German passenger airship "LZ 129 Hindenburg" arrived at the Naval Air Station in Lakehurst, New Jersey. On board were 97 people made up of 36 passengers and 61 crewman. The newsreel cameras were rolling as the pride of the "Nazi" airship fleet approached its mooring dock. When disaster happened as cameras caught the airship bursting into flames.





What had happened? The conspiracy theories flew in the World's press and especially within Hilter's Germany.

On December 25, 1975, based upon a novel by Michael M. Mooney, Hollywood director Robert Wise brought the conspiracy to the motion picture screen. Heading an All-Star disaster movie cast was George C. Scott as "Luftwaffe Colonel Franz Ritter". Whose assignment is to search the passengers and crew for a suspected anti-Nazi bomber in the movie "The Hindenburg".



Anne Bancroft, Charles Durning, George C. Scott, William Atherton, Burgess Meredith, Roy Thinnes, and Gig Young in The Hindenburg (1975)



Not quite the tag line "The Truth at Last", but a typical Hollywood disaster picture of the period.

On February 20, 1939 the mood of the United States toward Nazi Germany was revealed at "Madison Square Gardens" in New York City. The "German American Bund" held a "Pro-Americanism" rally with an estimated attendance of 20,000.



Later that year two events changed many American's thinking toward Germany. The first was on August 23, 1939 with the signing of a non-aggression pact by Russian Vyacheslav Molotov and Nazi German Joachim von Ribbentrop. The following month, on September 1, 1939, Hitler's Germany invaded Poland causing Great Britain and France to declare war two days later. The Second World War had officially begun.

I am going to divide the rest of my article into sections. Each will illustrate one topic of how the motion picture industry, primarily in the United States and the United Kingdom, created movies about "Nazi Germany". Motion pictures that reflected Propaganda, Espionage, the War In Europe and Africa, The Holocaust and Justice, Heydrich-Eichmann-Mengele and Nazi Scientist Horror Movies. Some of these movies, such as Robert Wise's "The Hindenburg", were made after the War in Europe had ended and the film's date will indicate that point.

PROPAGANDA
I've mentioned Hitler's propaganda film maker Leni Riefenstahl, but there was a counter to her in the American film industry. As the studios started an attempt to win over the minds of the populace against Hitler's Germany.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer made a motion picture one year prior to the events of 1939 entitled "Three Comrades". The motion picture was released June 2, 1938 and directed by Frank Borzage. Who was an anti-Nazi film maker and both this feature and his next motion picture reflected that feeling. The screenplay, by novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, was based upon German novelist Erich Maria Remarque, the writer of "All Quiet On The Western Front", novel of the same title.

The story starts during the First World War is the "Three Comrades" are German soldiers. The three are "Erich Lohkamp", portrayed by Robert Taylor, "Otto Koster", portrayed by Franchot Tone, and "Gottfried Lenz", portrayed by Robert Young. World War One had ended and the three soldier's love the same women "Patricia Hollman", portrayed by Oscar nominated Margaret Sullavan, who is dying from tuberculosis. The picture should have been really labeled the "Four Comrades".



Into their lives comes the unnamed, but obvious Nazi Party. Political correctness of the day kept the studio from calling them by their proper name. There is a political rally in which Robert Young's "Lenz" is killed and the rise of Nazism begins to take hold on the German people. Sullivan's "Hollman" dies and the film ends with Taylor and Tone's, "Lohkamp" and "Koster", facing the future of their Germany under an unnamed, once again, Adolph Hitler.

While on October 8, 1939 the "Poverty Row Studio" "Producers Releasing Corporation" released director Sam Newfield's, using the name Sherman Scott, "Hitler-Beast of Berlin". There was backlash by viewers and critics alike. The State of New York banned the motion picture entirely for example. Politics reporter James Geddes Stahlman of the "Nashville Banner" newspaper criticized the motion picture for "exploiting people's emotions over a serious matter--a repugnant, dangerous, dictator".

Hitler, Beast of Berlin FilmPoster.jpeg

The screenplay by Fred Myton tells of a man "Hans Meming", portrayed by Roland Drew, and his wife "Elsa", portrayed by Steffi Duna, who lead an anti-Nazi propagandist literature movement. After being betrayed "Hans" in thrown into a concentration, but in the end is able to escape.

 

Notice the actor holding the pamphlet on the left. That's actor Alan Ladd.

"The Mortal Storm" released June 14, 1940 was, as I mentioned, also directed by Frank Borzage. The screenplay was based upon the novel of the same title by Phyllis Bottome. This is the story of one family, the "Roth's", and how their lives are changed in 1933. After Hitler becomes the German Chancellor.



Margaret Sullavan portrays "Freya Roth", James Stewart portrays "Martin Breitner", Robert Young portrays "Fritz Marberg", Frank Morgan portrays "Professor Viktor Roth" and Robert Stack portrays "Otto von Rohn",




In 1933, "Freya Roth" is engaged to "Fritz Marberg" and the couple are very happy. That is until she realizes the true nature of his political views as a member of the "Nazi Party". "Freya" breaks off her engagement to "Fritz" and turns to anti-Nazi "Martin Breitner". While her father "Professor Roth" is against the "Nazi's", because of their attacks on "Scientific Facts".

"Freya's" father's views toward the party leads to a boycott of his classes and eventually his arrest and being sentenced to a forced labor camp. The "Professor's" wife is permitted just one five minute visit with him and he tells her to take "Freya" and her younger brother and flee Germany. He dies shortly afterwards.

"Freya" is being blocked from leaving Germany by officials still suspect of her father's real work. She now reunites with "Martin" and the two attempt to escape Germany through a mountain pass. They're being pursued by a Nazi squad led reluctantly by "Fritz". In the end she is fatally shot and dies in "Martin's" arms after crossing the German border to safety.

Following Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, the American motion picture industry's propaganda arm, within days, was in full swing. Initially with motion pictures about the Japanese using Korean-American actor Philip Ahn and Chinese-American actor Keye Luke as the hated Japanese. However, Winston Churchill got America involved in the European front and the tone of the earlier films I mentioned above was harden.

For those of my readers interested in the way both the United States and Japanese governments, for propaganda purposes, had filmmaker portray the attack on Pearl Harbor. Along with how both countries motion picture's portrayed it latter. Can find my article "I BOMBED PEARL HARBOR: December 7, 1941 in Motion Pictures" at the following link:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/12/i-bombed-pearl-harbor-december-7-1941.html

One example of the new toned American propaganda film towards Nazi Germany, released July 24, 1944, from director Fred Zinnemann was "The Seventh Cross".



Spencer Tracy, Felix Bressart, and Signe Hasso in The Seventh Cross (1944)

The screenplay by Helen Deutsch was based upon a novel by Anna Seghers with one major change. Seghers was a German Communist living in Mexico during the war and her main characters are also Communists. Even though the Soviet Union was now fighting on our side. After Hitler broke the "Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact" the political affiliations of the seven men are not given, but the audience is manipulated into believing they were part of the German anti-Nazi Resistance.

The year of the story is 1936 and seven concentration camp prisoners escape. One is a writer, one a circus performer, another a school master, the fourth a simple farmer and the fifth a Jewish grocery clerk. While the sixth is star Spencer Tracy's "George Heisler" and the seventh his friend. Who just happened to be with him and was imprisoned. Not one of these seven men did anything as charged.

The camp commandant wants to make an example to all of Germany of these men and has erected seven crosses. For the purpose of crucifying each man once they are caught. One by one five of the men are captured and with their hands tied behind their backs placed upon a cross to die of thirst.



The pursued "George Heisler" is making his way across Germany to his home town of Mainz. Where he finds the girl he loved, who promised to wait for him, married, and refusing to help.



On his journey he is finding that nobody seems to care anymore about each other and are just trying to survive under the Nazi rule.  However, one women risks going to prison by giving him a suit of clothing to wear. Now, disguised somewhat, "Heisler" witnesses the circus performer, an acrobat, leaping to his death to avoid being captured. The pursuers take the acrobat's body and the commandant ties the dead man to the sixth cross.

Tracy's "George Heisler", near the film's climax, has lost his faith in humanity, because of the way his fellow German's have become. However, he meets a factory worker named "Paul Roder", his wife and a waitress. The three restore "Heisler's" lost faith, through human kindness, even within the madness of Hitler's Germany. With the help of the underground "Heisler" is taken across the border to safety and freedom.

Fred Zinnemann ends the movie with the concentration camp commandant's seventh cross empty as the other six are full.


ESPIONAGE

According to Merriam-Webster "Espinoage" is defined as:
the practice of spying or using spies to obtain information about the plans and activities especially of a foreign government or a competing company
There was nothing like a great, or not so great spy movie and during World War 2 and Nazi spies were everywhere. The following are examples of how American movie studios tackled German spies.

On the fun side was one of the 14 "Sherlock Holmes" motion pictures made by Universal Pictures. Each starred Basil Rathbone as "Holmes" and Nigel Bruce as "Watson".  "Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon" was released on December 25, 1942.

 


In this entry "Sherlock Holmes" pretends to be a Nazi spy. Actually to protect inventor "Dr. Franz Tobel" and his new bomb sight. The film starts out in Switzerland and was loosely based upon Sir Arthur Conan Doyles "The Dancing Man". Lionel Atwill portrayed the arch enemy of "Sherlock Holmes", "Professor Moriarty".





"The Came to Blow Up America" was released May 7, 1943 and was based upon the actual "Operation Pastorius". A failed German intelligence plan for sabotage within the United States in June 1942. The movie starred George Sanders as American attorney "Carl Steelman". Who takes on the alias of "Ernest Reiter" to infiltrate a German spy ring in the United States for FBI Chief "Craig", portrayed by Ward Bond.



Above Anna Sten as the wife of "Reiter" that George Sanders must convince to help him. Also in the still is Dennis Hoey as "Colonel Taeger". Hoey was known for portraying "Inspector Lestrade" in the Rathbone and Bruce "Sherlock Holmes" series. Below is a newspaper ad advertising the movie and reminding American's of their duty to buy "War Bonds" with just 10% of their pay checks each week.



While the two above spy thrillers were part of the many "B" films being turned out by the studios. The following are examples of "A" list features.

January 15, 1947 saw the release of director Henry Hathaway's "13 Rue Madeleine" starring James Cagney as "Robert Emmett 'Bob' Sharkey" , French actress Annabella as "Suzanne de Beaumont", Richard Conte as "Wilhelm Kuncel" aka: "William H. 'Bill' O'Connell" and Frank Latimore as "Jeff Lassiter".



The title refers to the real headquarters of the "Gestapo" in La Havre, France. The screenplay was based upon an actual series of events that took place during World War 2. During the war the motion pictures studios were prohibited by the government to mention the "Office of Strategic Services ()SS)", or its head William "Wild Bill" Donovan.

Cagney's character was based upon Donovan and the screenplay spoke to an operation with three specially trained operatives sent into Germany. What the audience knows is "O'Connell" is a German spy and the three were given false information about the Normandy Invasion.



Directed by Billy Wilder and released on May 4, 1943 was "Five Graves to Cario".

The screenplay was based upon the novel "Hotel Imperial" by Lajos Biro. Franchot Tone portrayed "British Corporal John Bramble" and the Hotel's waiter "Davos". Anne Baxter portrayed "Mouche" and director and actor Erich von Stroheim was the real "Field Marshal Erwin Rommel". Akim Tamiroff portrayed "Farid".
The excellent film starts out with Rommel's "Afrika Korp" engaging the British in a tank battle. The sole survivor is"Bramble" who makes it to the "Empress of Britain Hotel" owned by "Farid". There "Farid" and the French women working there, "Mouche", are trying to decided what to do with the British soldier . His double is "Davos", but the waiter is killed in a bomb attack. To "Bramble's" surprise "Davos" was a German spy and now he is mistaken by Rommel for the other man.

The German general reveals the location of five fuel dumps, the "Five Graves" of the film's title, and the problem for "Bramble" is how to get this information to the British.




On April 1, 1965 the Carlo Ponti produced "Operation Crossbow " was released. The film was based upon an actual operation by the allies to stop the German V-1 and V-2 rocket program in "Peenemunde". Which was located on the German Baltic Sea coast.



Although Carlo Ponti's wife Sophia Loren received top billing. Her appearance, about a third of the way into the picture, lasted perhaps 10 minutes of the films 115 minute running time. The motion actually focused on two roles. They were the American Army "First Lieutenant John Curtis", portrayed by George Peppard, and British soldier "Robert Henshaw", portrayed by Tom Courtenay.

Both men are fluent in German and given the identities of two men, killed by the British, who were to work at the Missile Installation. A third man named "Bamford", portrayed by Anthony Quayle, met "Henshaw" while waiting to be interviewed for the top secret mission, but was turned down without knowing what it was about.

The screenplay does an excellent job showing the development of the "V-1 Buzz Bomb" and the German's attempt to make it piloted. Along with the development of the V-2 and what was called the "New York Rocket". The A9/A10 with the capability of reaching New York City from Peenemunde.

The two agents go into Germany, but two events occur. The first is that "Curtis'" has cover almost blown. When the wife of the man he's impersonating, Loren, shows up wanting her husband to sign child custody papers. She will be killed by the women "Curtis" has been reporting too.



The second problem is that "Bamford" is actually a Nazi agent and recognizes "Henshaw".



In the end "Curtis" is shot and dying pulls the switch to open the launch bay doors during a British Air Raid. Which results in the destruction of the "New York" rocket and Peenemunde.

The real names of the German rocket scientists in "Operation Crossbow" are not mentioned. but the head of the German rocket program would come to the United States at war's end. Dr. Werner von Braun would create the Army's "Explorer" rocket program and the "National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)". On August 19, 1960 a West German and American co-production "I Aim at the Stars" was released. Curd (Curt) Jurgens portrayed von Braun in this pseudo biography. The reception of the motion picture by many movie critics, especially in the United Kingdom, had them use a touch of reality to the film's title writing:
I Aim at the Stars, BUT sometimes hit New York.
 Wernher von Braun (1960)


Another Universal Studio's picture had H.G. Wells meet German and Japanese agents. As the Allies counter with "The Invisible Agent", released July 31, 1942.



The screenplay was by  Curt Siodmak. Who was familiar with the material having written 1940's "The Invisible Man Returns" and, as I have already mentioned, fled Nazi Germany with his brother Robert. The screenplay had a strong anti-Nazi content and, reportedly, had a scene deleted of the "Invisible Agent" kicking Adolph Hitler in his rear end, because such scenes, even with the war raging, were banned by the government in motion pictures.

Ilona Massey portrayed "Maria Sorenson". The following year she would appear in the Curt Siodmak screenplay "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" as "Baroness Frankenstein".

Jon Hall portrayed "Frank Raymond, the Invisible Agent". He returned in 1944 in the title role in "The Invisible Man's Revenge". Making Hall the only actor to play the role twice.

Peter Lorre was the Japanese spy "Baron Ito". Lorre had portrayed famed Japanese detective "Mr. Moto" in a movie series, and here, complete with stereo typical glasses and fake Japanese accent. was the actor once more.

Sir Cedrick Hardwicke was the Gestapo agent "Gruppenfuhrer Conrad Stuffer".



Actually "Frank Raymond" is "Frank Griffin" the grandson of the original "Invisible Man". He is now living in New York instead of England. One night four men enter his shop and confront "Raymond". They include "Baron Ito" and "Conrad Stuffer" and offer to purchase his grandfather's invisibility serum, or they will cut off his hands if he refuses the offer. "Frank" manages to escape, but is also reluctant to turn over the formula to the United States government.

The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and things change for "Frank Griffin". Who now injects the serum and becomes America's "Invisible Agent". He is parachuted into Germany on a secret mission and goes after "Stuffer" and "Ito". While falling love with "Maria Sorenson" the allies German Espionage Agent he was to contact.



The movie was actually nominated for the Best Special Effects Oscar and liked by both the critics and the American audiences at the time.

On March 15, 1956 Londoners saw the World premier of "The Man Who Never Was". This was the true story of  a 1943 British Espionage operation that fooled the Germans into believing the allies would land in German-Occupied Greece. Rather than the obvious and actual landing site of Sicily for the Invasion of Southern Europe.



The plan known as "Operation Mincemeat" was devised by Royal Navy "Lieutenant Commander Ewen Montague", portrayed in the film by Clifton Webb. It was simple deception, if it worked. The body of a man, who recently died from pneumonia, with the permission of his grieving father would be used. The hope was that the German's would believe the man had drowned at sea. The body was dressed as a British Army Officer with fake documents pointing to an invasion in Greece. The body was taken by submarine and placed in the Atlantic Ocean off of Spain. There the tides would take it to shore and, again hopefully, found and taken to the local German Intelligence Service.



Below the actual faked "Identity Card".



Hitler was convinced the documents were genuine, but his Intelligence Chief "Admiral Wilhelm Canaris" wasn't, but "Lt. Montague" was a chess player and expected such a reaction from "Canaris", Who would send somebody to verify the information. The German's actually sent an Pro-German member of the "Irish Republican Army" whose girlfriend was a girlfriend of  "Montague's" assistant. The plan worked and the German's moved men and equipment to the wrong location.

Then, of course:
As Time Goes By---Everyone Comes To Rick's.

Released on November 26, 1942 and directed by Michael Curtiz was "Casablanca".



Humphrey Bogart was "Rick Blaine" an American ex-patriot with a gun running past and the owner of  "Rick's Cafe Americain" in Casablanca, Morocco. Ingrid Bergman was "Ilsa Lund" the women that was "Rick's" lover in that past. Paul Henreid was "Victor Laszlo" a "Czech Resistance Leader" married to "Ilsa" and needing "Rick's" help to get out of the country to freedom. While Claude Rains was "Vichy France Police Officer Captain Louis Renault". Who must carry out the policies of Nazi Germany with a little bit of grand larceny on the side and a friendship with "Rick". Conrad Veidt was "German Army Officer Major Heinrich Strasser". Who is in Casablanca to stop "Laszlo" from leaving German hands.



Above Henreid, Bergman, Rains and Bogart. Below Veidt and Rains.

My article "----Claude Rains Was The Invisible Man" will be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2019/05/claude-rains-was-invisible-man.html



The story takes place just before the United States entered the war. All types of people come to "Rick's". Some are refugee's looking for a way to still get to neutral America. While others, like the petty crook played by Peter Lorre, prey on them. Some are French and German spy's engaging in espionage by using "Rick's Cafe Americain" as an open place to do business. Some of "Rick's" patrons are the German Gestapo and German Soldiers just looking for an hours reprise from the war.

In the end "Ilsa" and her husband board a plane out of Casablanca with "Rick's" help. As he stands in the fog with "Captain Renault".







THE WAR IN EUROPE AND AFRICA
I will divide this section into three parts. The land, the sea and the air.

The Land War


Of Irish writer and war historian Cornelius Ryan's works about the Second World War. Two were used as the basis for motion pictures told from all sides of the land war in Europe.

"The Longest Day", released September 25, 1962, relates the story of the Normandy Invasion, D-Day, the 6th of June, 1944.



The massive two hour and twenty-eight minute epic was the child of 20th Century Fox owner and producer Daryl F. Zanuck. As the above poster indicates the film had an All-Star international cast telling the story of one day in one war.

The shooting was divided between three directors. The segments pertaining to the British and French were directed by Ken Annakin. The American segments were directed by Andrew Marton and the German segments were directed by Bernhard Wicki.

The picture starts with the allies waiting for the orders to set off for the Normandy beaches. As "General Eisenhower" receives the current weather report. In Germany even "General Erwin Rommel", the man who devised the beach defenses, leaves for his wife's birthday on June 6, 1941. Like the other German leaders, he believed the allies would attack Francis at the "Pas-de-Calais" and certainly not during the extremely bad weather that had been occurring.









After showing the sweeping battle sequences and the frustration on all sides throughout the day.

 





The film ends with a downed and wounded RAF pilot and an American soldier. Who has been lost all day looking for his unit asking the flyer:
WHO WON?




The second work based on Cornelius Ryan's research was "A Bridge Too Far". It was about the failed "Operation Market Garden" that was to bring the boys home for Christmas and end the war in Europe. There were two "Prima Dona's" in the allied forces, United States "General George Patton" and British "Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery". This was "Monty's" grand plan.

The motion picture was another All-Star cast epic at a running time of two hours and fifty-six minutes. It was directed by British actor and director Sir Richard Attenborough.



The plan looked great on paper as allied paratroopers would be dropped within Holland and Germany. Once there they would simply take control of all of the bridges leading to the city of Arnhem and the final bridge on the Rhine itself. "Operation Market Garden" involved 35,000 paratroopers who would be flown as much as 300 miles from their base in England. Fatal flaw number one.



As I said it looked good on paper, but the problems started before the operation. The radios the troops were to used had been great in the open African desert against Rommel, but they couldn't even work well in England with the wet British climate. Then there was the Intelligence officer who showed photos to British "Lieutenant General Frederick Browning", overseeing the operation, of German tanks in Holland in an area they should be in. "Browning" ignored the information and had the officer removed for "Medical Reasons" from "Market Garden".

Another problem was that fatal one. There were not enough airplanes to get the troops to their destinations in one trip. It would take three days to complete the drops, but unlike with "D-Day". Nobody was concerned with the weather that delayed the arrival of the Polish paratroopers. Another problem, there was only one road for travel and the armored division had to moving up the road to clear it for the paratroopers. They became delayed when the armored division immedately ran into those German tanks. All of these possibilities had been brought up to "Lieutenant General Frederick Browning" before he gave the go-ahead to start "Market Garden".

According to "Browning" the German opposition would be:
HITLER YOUTH AND OLD MEN ON BICYCLES




Both sides were confused, but other problems appeared that had not been expected including a bridge that had been destroyed and the need to rebuild something to cross that point of the advance.

In the end "Lieutenant General Frederick Browning" just considered the operation:
A Bridge Too Far
 

Of those 35,000 troops in the actual "Operation Market Garden". The allied casualties and losses were estimated between 15,326 to 17,200 and 88 tanks destroyed. On the German side the figure for casualties and losses are estimated to be between as high as 13,300 with 30 tanks and 159 aircraft destroyed.


On October 17, 1951 the motion picture "The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel" premiered. This American production was directed by Henry Hathaway and based upon the book "Rommel: The Desert Fox" by British "Brigadier Desmond Young".




James Mason portrayed "Erwin Rommel" and Desmond Young portrayed himself.

The screenplay was by Nunnally Johnson. The idea of doing this story and portraying "Rommel" in a sympathetic light was generally accepted in the United Kingdom, because of their attitude toward him. However, it was the opposite in the United States.

According to Thomas F. Bradley, in his February 25, 1951 article, in the New York Times. Nunnally Johnson said of writing the screenplay:


If Rommell hadn't been involved in the plot against Hitler, this screenplay wouldn't have been written. Circumstances allowed Rommell to be a pretty good fellow because there were no civilians involved in the North Africa campaigns. I have tried to write the script with detachment. There is no effort to solicit sympathy for him, except in the final sequence. There are the circumstances as he says goodbye to his wife and son to go to his death would undoubtedly create sympathy for any man. Rommell was a very limited man intellectually. His problem was a conflict of loyalties. He followed a false god and when he found that out he risked being a traitor.




James Mason returned as "Rommel" in "The Desert Rats" released May 6, 1953 and directed by Robert Wise. In actuality Mason's role was a cameo even though he had second billing.




The screenplay by Richard Murphy earned an Oscar nomination and concerned the "Siege of Tobruk" by Rommel during the African Campaign. "The Desert Rats" of the film's title referred too the "9th Australian Division" which earned that nickname. Murphy had been a liaison officer to the 9th in New Guinea and was familiar with several of the men that had fought at Tobruk.

The story was about the siege by Rommel and had a fictitious meeting between Richard Burton's character of "Captain 'Tammy'  MacRoberts" and James Mason's "Rommel". Which was probably based upon Desmond Young's actual meeting, as told in his book, that the previous film was based upon. The screenplay goes into how war can turn a good man into a coward with the role of school teacher "Tom Bartlett", portrayed by Robert Newton. As with "The Desert Fox" the portrait of Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps is as heroic as the Australians. We were now allies once more with Germany and tensions were easing somewhat.

Audie Murphy had won the medal of honor and written his autobiography published in 1949. Murphy was became an actor and Universal Pictures brought the two together. "To Hell and Back", also the name of the autobiography, was released on August 17, 1955





The story tells of young Audie Murphy, whose father deserted his family around 1940. Leaving Murphy's mother to raise nine children and how the 15 year old boy became their support. When war broke out he talks his way into the army, being too young. The screenplay then follows his career from Italy to France and the event that led to Murphy being awarded the "Congressional Medal of Honor". Which looks like perfect Hollywood, but other than substituting a M-4 Sherman Tank for an M-10 Tank Destroyer. What the audience saw on the motion picture screen was a concise re-enactment of what took place. The film ends with his release from service and the "Medal of Honor" ceremony.




Below is a photo of Audie Murphy in 1948. He is wearing his "Class A" uniform and all the medals he had won during World War 2.

Audie Murphy.jpg


"Сталинградская битва (The Battle of Stalingrad)" is a two part Soviet motion picture, Part One was released MAY 9, 1949 and Part Two November 8, 1949.



The motion picture was directed by Vladimir Petrov. Between 1928 and 1963 Petrov would direct 24 Soviet Union motion pictures. Five of which were directed during World War Two between 1941 and 1945.

Nikolai Virta wrote the screenplay. In 1943 Joseph Stalin decided to allow the "New Testament" to be published in Russia and chose Virta to translate it. His job was to censor that translation to fit Communist theology. Nikolai Virta decided nothing in the Bible was against Communist theology and just made a straight to Russian translation.

The first released part shows the Germans approaching Stalingrad and the Soviet Red Army and townspeople making plans to defend the city. While Joseph Stalin, portrayed by Aleksei Dikly, in Moscow plans the Soviet Union's counter attack.






Part Two shows the Wehrmacht's massive attack on the city. As the Red Army is pushed back to the Volga. Joseph Stalin commences what was known as "Operation Uranus". It causes the German 6th Army to be encircled and relief efforts by the Germans to fail. German General Friedrich Palus, portrayed by Vladimir Gaidarov, ordered by Hitler to hold until the end.Is letting his troops starve to death as the Soviet Troops now move on the city. Finally, Palus orders his remaining troops to surrender.


The Sea

"Action in the North Atlantic"
was released May 21, 1943 and reminded audiences that the "Merchant Marine's" existed. The purpose of this Warner Brother release was pure moral boosting propaganda against Hitler's U-Boats. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther put it clearly in his review the day after the movie opened:
... it's a good thing to have a picture which waves the flag for the merchant marine. Those boys are going through hell-and-high-water, as 'Action in the North Atlantic' shows




The picture opened with a German U-Boat, the U-37, sinking an American oil tanker and "Captain Steve Jarvis", portrayed by Raymond Massey, and "First Officer Jose Rossi", portrayed by Humphrey Bogart, swimming to a life raft with other crew members. The U-Boat surfaces and starts filming the crew who start mocking the Germans. The U-Boat Captain now has the lifeboat rammed and the men are left swimming in the Atlantic. They all make it to a raft and 11 days later are rescued.



Then the picture follows the crew getting a new "Liberty Ship" the "Seawitch" and joining a convoy that will be attacked by a "Wolfpack". "Captain Jarvis" will die and "Joe Rossi" will take command as they fight their. way to a safe port. As a U-Boat closes in for the kill. "Rossi" has the ship ram and sink it. Then Russian fighter planes arrive to escort the "Seawitch" to a safe harbor in Russia there original destination. Another illustration of the United States and the Soviet Union working together against Nazi Germany. One day, exactly, after the Japanese surrender on the Battleship Missouri the Soviet Union and the United States started the "Cold War" as enemies.




Directed by Wolfgang Peterson is the West German motion picture "Das Boot" released September 17, 1981. The motion picture might be considered the counter to "Action in the North Atlantic".

Das boot ver1.jpg

The motion picture introduced audiences to actor Jurgen Prochnow, as the "Kapitanleutant", the commander of the U-96 in October 1941. The story is set two months prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States joining the war.

For the next two hours and twenty-nine minutes, the audience is immersed in the life of a German submariner and the incredible claustrophobic world of a U-Boat. We get know the crew and their political views. Some are harden Nazi's, others are fighting just for Germany, some because the Navy is their livelihood. On this deployment there is a German newspaper reporter permitted to go with them and as the film progresses we see his attempt to understand these men.



 

These men operate in the North Atlantic without contact with land, being refueled by tankers and having supplies transferred at sea. They even have new torpedoes brought to them.





In one sequence the audience watches the crew survive through a three week long storm in the Atlantic. In another they are pursued by British warships and when at last they make it to port and promises of some time on land.



The allies bomb the base and before these men can get out of the U-Boat onto dry land. The U-96 is blown to bites and they all die.

One interesting British commando raid was "Operation Frankton". A fictionalized story of that raid was the screenplay for the British motion picture "The Cockleshell Heroes", released November 16, 1955, in the United Kingdom.

The Cockleshell Heroes (1955)



.
The picture was produced by "Pre-James Bond" Cubby Broccoli.and directed by its star Jose Ferrer.

Ferrer was the actual Royal Marine "Major Stringer", Trevor Howard was the fictional Royal Marine "Captain Hugh Thompson" and Christopher Lee was the actual submarine commander "Lieutenant-Commander Dick Raikes".





The commando's were taken by submarine and let out near the German controlled harbor of Bordeaux, France, to plant limpet mines on the German shipping in harbor.

The "Cockleshell" was a collapsible canoe that permitted the commando's to enter and move about the harbor undetected.

 

The raid was a complete success.

Movies can have more than one name depending on whose the target audience. As with the true story of the pocket battleship "Graf Spee". The title in the United Kingdom referred to the actual battle and the title in the United States the ship itself.

On October 29, 1956 was the "Royal Film Performance" of director's Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's "The Battle of the River Plate". Known in the United States as "The Pursuit of the Graf Spee. Both men also wrote the screenplay.





The "Admiral Graf Spee" was a "Panzerschiff (Armored Ship)" that the British Royal Navy referred to as a "Pocket Battleship". The Graf Spee was a German commerce raider that between September 26 and December 12, 1939 sank nine ships, before being confronted by three British cruisers in what became known as "The Battle of the River Plate" in the United Kingdom.

At 5:30 AM, on December 13, 1939, "Captain Hans Langsdorff", portrayed by Peter Finch in the movie, spotted what he thought initially were the escorts for a British convoy. That paperwork recovered from a merchant ship he sank mentioned. However, as the "Graf Spee" came closer, the group turned out to be the British "HMS Exeter" and two smaller warships the "Ajax", also the flagship, and the "Achilles". At 6:08 AM the British finally identified the Graf Spee and "Commodore Henry Harwood", portrayed by Anthony Quayle in the movie, split his ships to make it harder for the Graf Spee to return fire. At 6:17 AM Landorff opened fire on "Exeter" and the battle began.



Above Peter Finch as "Langsdoff" and below left Anthony Quayle as "Hardwood" and Ian Hunter as "Captain Charles Woodhouse" of the Ajax.



The battle broke off at 7:25 AM and the damaged Graf Spee made entry into the River Plate estuary. The Pocket Battleship had been hit approximately 70 times, 36 crewmen were dead and 60 were wounded. While the Exeter suffered 61 dead and 23 wounded.

"Langsdorff" decided to make a run for the neutral port of Montevideo, Uruguay to make repairs. The British brought in more ships and blockaded the entrance to the harbor. Eventually, to save the lives of his men "Langsdorff" would scuttle the Graf Spee.

Below a picture of the actual ship in Montevideo before and after the scuttling.

 



This event was watched on shore by an estimated 20,000 people. Later in his hotel room wearing his full dress uniform. "Captain Hans Langsdorff" shot and killed himself.

English novelist C.S. Forester was best known for a series of Napoleonic Era novels about his character "Horatio Hornblower" and the novel "The African Queen", but he also wrote, in 1959, the nonfiction "Hunting the Bismark" also known as "The Last Nine Days of the Bismark".

On February 11, 1960 a fictionalized motion picture based upon C.S. Forester's book "Sink the Bismark" opened in the United Kingdom.



Kenneth More was the fictional "Captain Jonathan Shepard" and Dana Wynter was the fictional "WRNS Second Officer Anne Davis". The story revolves around "Shepard" being given the position of coordinating the hunt and destruction of the German Battleship Bismark.



In the segments on land in the Admiralty War Room. Actor Lawrence Naismith portrays the real "First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Dudley Pound".



However, at sea there are several actors playing actual participants in either the hunt for the Bismark, or on the ship itself.

Karel Stepanek portrayed "Admiral Gunther Lutjens" and Carl Mohner was the Bismark's "Captain Lindemann".



John Stuart was the ill fated "Captain Kerr" of the battleship HMS Hood the pride of the British Navy. Hood engaged the Bismark and never got within their own guns range. Before a hit from the German battleship's massive guns blew the Hood up to the shock of the Royal Navy and the British people.



The "Mighty Hood" was in service from 1920 to its destruction on May 24, 1941. The shell fired from the Bismark hit directly between the funnels on the boat deck were ammunition was stored for the gun crews. Below is a photo of the actual Hood taken in 1924.

HMS Hood (51) - March 17, 1924.jpg

Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered a complete search and destroy mission for the Bismark by the home fleet to take priority over all over actions. Bismark was located and aircraft from the Ark Royal engaged, but without any major damage. A second attack was launched and by pure luck a torpedo hit the ships rudder and she could only steer in a circle. This would lead to the death of Germany's mightiest battleship. That had left port on May 13, 1941 on its first mission by order of Adolph Hitler, and like the Graf Spee, was scuttled nine days later on May 21, 1941.

Below an actual photo of the Bismark taken in 1940.

Bundesarchiv Bild 193-04-1-26, Schlachtschiff Bismarck.jpg

The Air War

"Unternehmen Seelowe (Operation Sea Lion)"
was Nazi Germany's plan to invade the United Kingdom with army troops arriving by sea during the air attacks by the "Luftwaffe". This was to occur during what became known as the "Battle for Britain". On September 15, 1969 an All-Star British cast appeared in a very accurate recreation of that Air Battle. As the outnumbered Royal Air Force (RAF) took on the German air force.
















According to the British the actual "Battle of Britain" covered the period July 10, 1940 through October 31, 1940. British casualties were 1,542 air crew killed, 422 air crew wounded, 1,744 aircraft destroyed, 14,286 civilians killed and 20,325 injured. German figures are 2,585 airmen killed or missing, 925 airmen captured, 1,634 aircraft destroyed in combat and 343 aircraft destroyed in non-combat situations.

As a result there was no Invasion of the United Kingdom as the Luftwaffe stood down.


"The First Motion Picture Unit" was the primary film production unit of the United States Army Air Corps from 1942 through 1945. One of its Commanding Officer's was Warner Brother Studio Head and then Lieutenant Colonel Jack L. Warner.

FMPU credit screen.jpg

The primary role of this unit was "Propaganda" and "Training". One of the units films released April 4, 1944 is the "Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress". Which was a documentary of the crew of the "Memphis Belle's" final mission May 15, 1943 over Germany. The film was directed by Army Air Corps Major William "Billy" Wilder.



Above the real crew of the aircraft during that final mission. The 45 minute film was designed for the building of "Home Front" morale and recruitment of new flyers.

On September 4, 1990, in the United Kingdom, the British-United States motion picture co-production of that final mission was released. The 45 minute actual documentary was expanded to one hour and forty-seven minutes.



In the motion picture's fictionalized version of that last mission written by Monte Merrick and directed by Michael Caton-Jones. Matthew Modine portrayed the pilot "Captain Dennis Dearborn". The real "Memphis Belle" pilot seen in the documentary was Captain Robert K. Morgan. In the motion picture Tate Donovan was co-pilot "1st Lieutenant Luke Sinclair". The real co-pilot in the documentary was Captain James A. Verinis. Billy Zane was bombardier "1st Lieutenant Val Kozlowski" in the motion picture. The real bombardier in the documentary was  Captain Vincent B. Evans. I could keep going on.

On December 21, 1949,a motion picture came out about the "United States Army Eighth Air Force". They were one of the first squadrons to fly daylight bombing raids over Germany. The film was "Twelve O'Clock High".



Somebody in the 20th Century Fox publicity department was trying to lure women in to see this picture. The above poster's tag line is extremely incorrect, because within the 12 major roles and 31 supporting roles. The only women in the cast is Joyce Mackenzie in a non on screen credited role as a nurse in one hospital scene.

This is a hard hitting, no nonsense look at American pilots and their officers under the stress of daylight precision bombing. It illustrated what happens to them, before "Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)" was ever imagined by Military Doctors. The screenplay was written by Sy Bartlett and Bernie Lay, Jr. from their novel "Twelve Clock High". Both writers were originally part of the "The Army Pictorial Service" responsible for all U.S. Army photography.

Army Second Lieutenant Lay, Jr., assigned to the "20th Bombardment Squadron", was able to get Army Captain Bartlett assigned as an aid to "Major General Carl Spatz", the overall commander of "Strategic Air Forces in Europe".

Sy Bartlett and Bernie Lay, Jr. used their experiences to initially write their novel and then the screenplay.








Between May 16th and 17, 1943 the Royal Air Force Squadron 617 carried out "Operation Chastise". Targeting the major dams in the Ruhr Valley of Germany and causing major damage from flooding and cutting off a majority of the electrical power used by Nazi Germany in their factories. The "617" earned the nickname of "The Dam Busters".

On May 15, 1955 the motion picture "The Dam Busters" was released in the United Kingdom.



The screenplay by R.C. Sherriff was based upon two books.

"The Dam Busters"
by Paul Brickhill. His war time experiences in the RAF led to Brickhill being shot down on March 17, 1943 over Tunsia. He became a prisoner of war and was sent to "Stalag Luft III" in Lower Silesia. He was part of an massive allied escape plan through three tunnels, but developed claustrophobia and wasn't permitted to go. In 1950 Brickhill published his novel based upon his prisoner of war experiences as "The Great Escape".
"Enemy Coast Ahead" was written by Guy Gibbson. Gibbson was the commanding officer of  "RAF Squadron 617" on "Operation Chastise". He would be shot down and killed on September 19, 1944 over the Netherlands.

The picture was directed by Michael Anderson. Who would go on to direct Michael Todd's 1956 "Around the World in 80 Days" and the same years first filmed version of George Orwell's "1984". In 1965 Anderson directed the previous mentioned "Operation Crossbow" and in 1976 "Logan's Run".

Richard Todd portrayed "Guy Gibbon" in the motion picture and Sir Michael Redgrave portrayed "Barnes Wallis". Wallis was a lowly civil servant working in aircraft production that came up with the idea for the unique bomb, a ball that could be bounced over the water, to hit the dams and blow them up. At one point Wallis needed a "Lancaster Bomber" to use to test the bombs during development and final testing. He was told that all Lancaster's were needed for the RAF and, true story, he said would it help getting him one as he had designed the plane?







The Lancaster had to obtain an exact height of 60 feet, no higher, no lower, over the water to drop the bomb. That meant they were constantly under direct fire by the German gun emplacements. To maintain the correct height. Guy Gibbon, while in London, watching a stage production noticed how lighting from two sides met in the middle as one circle. That concept solved the problem of height for the 617.

After the raid it was confirmed that both the Mohne and Edersee dams had been breached by the bombs. While the Eder and Sorpe dams had minor damage. Two hydroelectric plants were totally destroyed and other factories and plants damaged. The British lost eight Lancaster's and 53 crewman killed and 3 taken prisoner. The German losses, besides the damage I just described, were 600 military servicemen and 1,000 Soviet war prisoners being used as forced labor.

Prisoner Escapes

Paul Brickhill's story of "The Great Escape" from Stalag Luft III wasn't the only escape there. On October 16, 1950 the United Kingdom motion picture "The Trojan Horse" from a screenplay by the books author Eric Williams was released. Williams was also a participant in the escape.



The novel by Eric Williams and the screenplay were a fictionalized version of the true events. In the film Eric Williams became "Flight Lieutenant Peter Howard" portrayed by Leo Genn. His two escapee partners were Michael Codner who became "Captain John Clinton" portrayed by Anthony Steel. Along with Olivier Philpot who became "Phillip Rowe" portrayed by David Tomlinson.

"The Wooden Horse" of the title had a purpose. Like Odysseus' "Trojan Horse" it was to hide something. In this case not men inside, but a tunnel below it.







The actual escape started with Williams and Codner coming up with the idea of constructing a hollow vaulting wooden horse and it placing near the tunnel digging. A third prison Philpot assisted in the work. The sounds of the prisoners vaulting over the horse would cover the sound from the tunnel being dug.

The tunnel was completed on October 29, 1943. The trio made their escape and posing as French laborers the three made it to the Baltic Sea. William and Codner were able to make contact with the "Danish Resistance" and gained passage on a ship to Copenhagen. While Philpot didn't accompany them and went for Danzig. Where he was able to make contact with the resistance quicker, but all three came together again in neutral Sweden and from there obtained passage back to the United Kingdom.


"Escape from Sobibor" was made for ITV in the United Kingdom and CBS in the United States. It first aired on CBS April 12, 1987 and ITV on May 10, 1987. The ITV version ran two hours and fifty-six minutes, but the CBS version ran two hours and twenty-three minutes when shown.

The real Sobibor was located next to that train station in Poland and was a Nazi Extermination Camp for Polish Jews. The camp was part of "Operation Reinhard aka: Operation Reinhardt" which was the secret German plan to exterminate Polish Jews in the German Central Government area of Poland and was run by the "Schutzstaffel (SS)". The camp was operated between May 16, 1942 and October 14, 1943 and the estimates of the number killed there range are from 171,000 to 250,000 depending upon the source.

The British television film was the fictionalized story of the largest massive escape of Jewish prisoners from a Nazi Concentration camp.

The screenplay was by Reginald Rose based upon Richard Rashke's book of the same name as the film. Esther Raab was a Sobibor survivor who assisted Rashke with his book and was technical adviser on the film. She passed away on April 15, 2015.



Above Alan Arkin, left, portrayed "Leon Feldhendler", the leader of the Polish Jewish prisoners of the camp. Below a photo of the real "Feldhendler" who survived the war.

Leon Feldhendler.jpg

Rutger Hauer portrayed the real "Lieutenant Aleksandr 'Sasha' Perchersky". 



Below the real Soviet Officer Perchersky. Who became a prisoner at Sobibor and organized the escape.

Sobibór extermination camp (05b).JPG

 On October 14, 1943 under Perchersky's leadership 11 of the SS Death Head Unit guards were covertly killed along with several Ukrainian guards. Of the 600 prisons in the camp, 300 actually escaped and a manhunt began. All, but 50 of those escapee's were caught and executed.

To cover up the escape the SS Head Heinrich Himmler had the camp shut down, destroyed, literally buried, and tress planted over the site. To Nazi Germany and the World Sobibor never existed. Except that there were prisoners such as Leon Feldhendler and Esther Raab alive at the war's end.



Directed by Guy Hamilton, director of the "James Bond" films 1964 "Goldfinger" 1971 "Diamonds Are Forever",1973 "Live and Let Die" and 1974's "The Man with the Golden Gun", was the January 25, 1955 movie "The Colditz Story".

The screenplay was based upon "Colditz" prisoner of war Pat Reid's book about the escape. The screenplay was written by Hamilton and producer Ivan Foxwell.

The Colditz Story (1955)


Below John Mills portrayed "Pat Reid", but Eric Portman was the fictional British Officer in charge "Colonel Richmond".



The German Prisoner of War camp was at Colditz Castle, "Offlag IV-C",  below.





The only other real name besides "Pat Reid" was "Machiel van den Heuvel". A Dutch Officer who was also a prisoner of war at Colditz and portrayed by Theodore Bikel.

The screenplay follows Pat Reid's book "The Colditz Story". It relates his life at Colditz as the "Escape Officer" for the prisoners there. He uses fictitious names and composite characters to relate one escape and its results much like Paul Brickhill did with "The Great Escape".  Where the movie ended is not the ending of the book. The book ends with Pat Reid's own successful escape.

THE HOLOCAUST AND JUSTICE

Produced by Rodger Corman's brother Gene Corman and directed and written by Samuel Fuller was his autobiographical "The Big Red One".

The Big Red One (1980)

Although the names were not the real one's of Sam Fuller's "1st Infantry Division", aka: "The Big Red One" squad. Anyone who served with Fuller knew that Robert Carradine's "Private Zap, 1st Squad" was the director's own ultra ego. In fact Carradine had studied Sam Fuller's mannerisms and his history to bring the role alive.

The screenplay shows "Zap's" squad loosing men and receiving replacements. Who might not make it through their first day of actual warfare, being killed within minutes of their arrival. This realistic motion picture doesn't go "Hollywood" with Fuller's portrayals, or experiences. However, it is near the end of the two hour and forty minute feature that is important to this article.

Fuller doesn't soften the affect on his fictional squad arriving at the now SS deserted real "Falkenau Concentration Camp" he helped liberate. The audience has been following these combat veterans from North Africa into Europe and Czechoslovakia. As director and liberator Samuel Fuller now shows them breaking down at the site of these emaciated prisoners and he has his number one seemingly unfeeling sniper composite "Private Griff", portrayed by Mark Hamill, throw up at the sights he is witnessing, As he completely breaks down  realizing what they have really been fighting for.




Above Lee Marvin, Mark Hamill and Robert Carradine as Fuller's "Pvt. Zab" with Sam's ever present cigar.  My article "Samuel 'Sam' Fuller: The Ever Present Cigar and Six Movies" can be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2017/02/samuel-sam-fuller-ever-present-cigar.html

Below in the center is director George Stevens, 1953's "Shane", 1956's "Giant" and 1965's "The Greatest Story Ever Told". Who, as an Army Colonel in one of the film units, was asked by President Roosevelt to film the liberation of the concentration camps.



One of his two works was "Nazi Concentration and Prison Camps". It was first seen at the Nuremberg War Trials on November 25, 1945. The following are some stills from that film.

Nazi Concentration Camps (1945)

George S. Patton in Nazi Concentration Camps (1945)

Above George Patton at one of the camps.

Nazi Concentration Camps (1945)

Nazi Concentration Camps (1945)


"Ehe im Schatten (Marriage in the Shadows)" was a motion picture made by the newly created East Germany and released October 3, 1947 in the "Soviet Occupation Zone" of Berlin. According to Alan Sean and John Sanford's "DEFA: East German Cinema: 1946-1992". At the time of this motion picture's release it was described as an:

attempt to confront the German people about the morals of the past", being the first film to confront the people about the persecution of the Jews and the atrocities conducted during World War II.

Alfred Balthoff, Karl Hellmer, Claus Holm, Paul Klinger, Hans Leibelt, Kurt Maetzig, Willy Prager, Hans Schweikart, Ilse Steppat, Herbert Uhlich, Hilde von Stolz, and Wolfgang Zeller in Ehe im Schatten (1947)

The film was based upon the true story of Meta and Joachim Gottschalk and directed by Kurt Maetzig.

In this revised story, "Hans Wieland", portrayed by Paul Klinger, refuses to divorce his actress wife Elizabeth", portrayed by Ilse Steppat, who is Jewish. He is under extreme pressure from the local Nazi government officials to do just that to save his own life. After the husband and wife attend a premier of one of his films which is attended by high Nazi officials that he, unthinkingly, introduces her too.

 Paul Klinger and Ilse Steppat in Ehe im Schatten (1947)

"Hans" is now given an ultimatum by his friend "Dr. Herbert Blohm", portrayed by Claus Holm, to save himself by divorcing his wife, or be interned in a concentration camp with her. The fictional Meta Wolf Gottschalk and Joachim Gottschalk are seen doing what their real counterparts did. In their home they drink poison after giving it to their nine year old son Michael. The film ends with a dedication to the memory of Joachim.

On December 19, 1976 the motion picture "Voyage of the Damned" based upon the book by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts premiered. This was the true story, of the May 13, 1939, voyage to Cuba of the German liner "Motorshiff St. Louis" carrying 937 passengers. The majority of which were Jewish refugees being given the chance to flee Nazi Germany. but unknowingly part of a German Propaganda plan.

 Voyage of the Damned (1976)

The film had an All-Star cast headed by Faye Dunaway as "Denise Kriesler" and Max von Sydow as the ship's "Captain Schroder". Actually besides von Sydow's role there were only two other real people in the screenplay. British actor Denholm Elliot was German Naval and Intelligence Officer "Admiral Canaris" and Leonard Rossiter was Chief of the Army Operations staff "Commander von Bonin".

Below is the actual ship the "Motorshiff St. Louis" at its dock in Hamburg, Germany.

SS St. Louis surrounded by smaller vessels in its home port of Hamburg



The real facts had 909 Jewish refugees informed by the German government that Cuba would take them. The "St. Louis" traveled across the Atlantic Ocean from Hamburg to Cuba, but upon the ship's arrival the Jewish passengers were refused asylum by the authorities there. However, 28 passengers were permitted to leave the ship. Twenty-two were Jewish with valid United States passports, four were Spanish citizens and two were Cuban citizens. Everyone else had to remain on board the St. Louis.

Captain Schroder next sailed to the United States. While during the liners five day lay over in Cuba. American authorities had attempted to get Cuba to accept the refugees. However, when confronted with them their-selves. The same United States authorities refused to allow them into the country. Next Schroder went to Canada and the Jewish passenger met the same fate. The ship returned to Germany with all the passengers as the Nazi Propaganda administration had expected and used.



Shortly before the motion picture ends comes a crawl. It reveals that the governments of Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom agreed to accept a portion of the 909 Jewish refugees still on board the "St. Louis". The crawl further reveals that more than 600 of those 909 remaining passengers, who did not go to the United Kingdom, were executed in Nazi concentration camps.

Australian novelist, playwright and essayist Thoman Keneally wrote a non-fiction novel in 1982 entitled "Schindler's Ark". On November 30, 1993 director and producer Steven Spielberg turned the book into a harrowing look at the Nazi Holocaust "Schindler's List". .

 

This is at times a hard motion picture to watch and Steven Spielberg made the decision to film the picture in stark black and white. One small sequence in the film has power by using a hint of color as the audience sees a little girl in red as she heads for her death.



The picture had Liam Neeson as "Oskar Schindler", Ben Kingsley as "Itzhak Stern" and Ralph Fiennes as "Amon Goth".


Above Liam Neeson and below the real Oskar Schindler.

Schindler, Oskar.jpg



Above Ben Kingsley and below the real Itzhak Stern.

Itzhak Stern.jpg



Above Ralph Fiennes and below the real Amon  Goth.

Amon Göth-prisoner 1945.jpg


Steven Zailian's screenplay starts with Oskar Schindler arriving in Krakow, Poland, to make his fortune. He is a member of the Nazi Party and convinces the local German authorities to allow him to set up a business using labor from the Plaszow concentration camp. He hires a local Jewish official, Itzhak Stern, who has contacts with black marketeers to assist him.



This will lead to Schindler and Stern developing a plan to help Jews within the concentration camp to a safer place. A counter to their heroic work is the concentration camp under Nazi Amon Goth. Spielberg's imagery is extremely realistic as the following scenes illustrated taken directly from the feature film.





Goth was known to practice shooting by killing prisoners in the camp.





By war's end Oskar Schindler had saved the lives of 1,000 people from going to Auschwitz and certain death. Amon Goth would be tried and executed for war crimes and Schindler was honored by Yad Vashem (Translated as a "Monument and a Name")" Israel's official memorial to victims of the Holocaust. Oskar Schindler died October 9, 1974 in Hidesheim, Lower Saxony, West Germany.

On December 14, 1961 in Berlin, Germany, saw the premier of director and producer Stanley Kramer's "Judgement at Nuremberg".

Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

The expanded fictional screenplay was written by Abby Mann. Based upon his own original 1959 "Playhouse 90" work shown on CBS television. The screenplay focuses on four German Judges and German Prosecutors on trial in Nuremberg, Germany, and a look at one of the allied judges "Chief Judge Dan Haywood", portrayed by Spencer Tracy, and his experiences in and out of court.

The main German judge on trial is "Dr Ernst Janning". He is portrayed by Burt Lancaster as a composite of many of the German judges during the "Third Reich".





Richard Widmark was "U.S. Army Prosecutor Colonel Tad Lawson", a representation of many prosecutors during the trials, The motion picture uses director George Stevens motion picture during one of the trial sequences.

Maximilian Schell was Lancaster's defense council "Hans Rolfe".

 

Two excellent performances representing some of the witnesses against the judges and what crimes the Nazi's did to Jewish civilians. Are by Montgomery Clift as "Rudolph Peterson" and Judy Garland as "Irene Hoffman-Wallner".






The actual "Nuremberg Trials" had the "International Military Tribunal" bringing indictments against 24 Major War Criminals and 7 organizations. Those organizations included the actual leadership of the Nazi Party, who were still alive, the Schutzstaffel (SS), the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the Gestapo, the Sturmabteilung (SA) and the overall General Staff and High Command of the Military.

HEYDRICH-EICHMANN-MENGELE

In 1942 poet Edna St. Vincent Millay published a poem "Murder of Lidice". Which producer Seymour Nebenzal's used as his inspiration to make the the following motion picture.

Hitler's Madman (1943)

"Hitler's Madman" was released on August 27, 1943, It tells the fictionalized story of the destruction of the real village of Lidice in Czechoslovakia, In a more mid-World War 2 piece of propaganda. John Carradine portrayed "Reinhard Heydrich" the chief architect of what became the Holocaust.



Above John Carradine and below the real Reinhard Heydrich.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-054-16, Reinhard Heydrich.jpg

The screenplay claimed to be the true story of the assassination of Heydrich by Czech partisans and the reprisals upon the village of Lidice by the Nazi's.

Jorja Curtright, Natalie Draper, Leatrice Joy Gilbert, and Elizabeth Russell in Hitler's Madman (1943)

John Carradine and Al Shean in Hitler's Madman (1943)

The real Reinhard Heydrich, in January 1942, chaired the "Wannasee Conference", Which formulated "The Final Solution for the Jewish Question" in Nazi Germany. His complete title was "Schutzstaffel (SS) Obergruppenfuhrer and General der Polizei", He was the head of the "Reich Main Security Office" and the combined security services of Nazi Germany. Along with being the "Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia.

On May 27, 1942 he was critically injured in "Operation Anthropoid". Which was the code name for the assassination of Heydrich. The operation was carried out by soldiers of the Czechoslovak Army in exile. Below a photo of the actual car Reinhard Heydrich's was in when assassinated.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1972-039-44, Heydrich-Attentat.jpg



Another fictional film based upon true events was "Operation Eichmann" released March 15, 1961.

Donald Buka and Werner Klemperer in Operation Eichmann (1961)

In this picture Werner Klemperer, who would become "Colonel Klink" on television's "Hogan's Heroes" in 1965, portrayed "Otto Adolph Eichmann".

Werner Klemperer in Operation Eichmann (1961)

Above Klemperer as "Eichmann" and below the real "Eichmann".

Adolf Eichmann, 1942.jpg

Portraying the Nazi commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp  "Colonel Rudolf Hoss" was actor John Banner. Who would become the comic "Sergeant Schultz" also on "Hogan's Heroes". Seen on the far left below.


John Banner and Werner Klemperer in Operation Eichmann (1961)

Below the real Hoss in 1947 before the "Supreme Polish National Tribunal".

Rudolf Höß.jpg

The only other real name in this screenplay was Luis Van Rooten as "Reichsfueher Henrich Himmler". The screenplay starts with Eichmann as an SS officer and then uses fictional names for the Mossad agents that tracked Eichmann from Germany to Barcelona, Spain, and his capture in Argentina.

The real Eichmann's was given the task by Himmler of deporting Jews within Nazi occupied Europe into controlled ghettos and concentration camps. In 1941 Adolph Eichmann was told by Reinhard Heydrich that Hitler wanted all the Jews in Nazi controlled Eastern Europe to be killed after the complete German victory in the war. However, after the United States entered the war in December 1941. The orders from Hitler became immediate extermination of all Jews and the task was given to the newly promoted Eichmann.

Adolph Eichmann escaped Germany after Hitler committed suicide. For the next 15 years a manhunt to locate him took place and he was captured by Mossad agents on May 11, 1960 in Argentina. Then brought to Jerusalem for trial and execution by hanging on June 1, 1962.

Of the three men this section is about. It is Adolph Eichmann who has the most biographical versions of the hunt for him and his capture in Argentina. These include 1979's "The House on Garibaldi Street" and 2018's "Operation Finale", but movies about Joseph Mengele, while plenty, are not biographical in nature. Most are pure fiction about the man known as Auschwitz's "Angel of Death", or "White Angel" and what he might have been up to in Brazil.

Let me start with an overview of the real doctor. Josef Mengele was one of the doctors at Auschwitz, under Eichmann and Hoss. He help select those prisoners to be sent to the gas chambers, but more importantly he was known for experimenting on prisoners

Before the war Mengele was a medical doctor and a anthropologist that did research on the relationships between the lower animals and man. Josef Mengele joined the Nazi party in 1937 and was a medical officer for German troops, but transferred to the concentration camps in 1943. After seeing the opportunity to continue his genetic research on human beings.

Below Josef Mengele in 1944 at Auschwitz.

Josef Mengele, Auschwitz. Album Höcker (cropped).jpg

When the war ended Josef Mengele was nowhere to be seen. He was in Brazil, but his identity kept changing and even the Mossad could not find him. In 1972 his health started to fail and Mengele suffered his first stroke in 1976. On February 7, 1979 while visiting friends in the coastal town of Bertioga. "Dr. Josef Mengele went swimming in the ocean, suffered a second stroke and drowned.

So much for the basic facts and now to three movies using Josef Mengele as a central fictional character.

Writer Ira Levin, 1967's "Rosemary's Baby" and 1972's "The Stepford Wives", published in 1976 "The Boys from Brazil". On October 5, 1978 the motion picture version of Levin's novel starring Gregory Peck as "Josef Mengele" premiered.



A young American named "Barry Kohler", portrayed by Steven Guttenberg, in Paraguay over hears a conversation between a group of men. They are fugitives from the "Third Reich" and one of them is "Dr. Josef Mengele". "Kohler" calls Nazi Hunter "Ezra Lieberman", portrayed by Laurence Olivier, and the movie begins.



"Kohner" furthers discovers that "Mengele" and his group plan to kill 94 men in 9 different counties. The break down is 16 men in West Germany, 14 men in Sweden, 13 men in the United Kingdom, 12 men in the United States, 10 men in Norway, 9 men is Austria, 8 men in the Netherlands, 6 men in Denmark and another 6 men in Canada.

However, this isn't the main plot point. It is the discovery of how"Josef Mengele" plans to kill these men. Back in the 1960's "Mengele" implanted DNA from "Adolf Hitler" in women in those countries and they have given birth to 94 clones of "Hitler". It is also "Josef Mengele's" dream of a revised "Third Reich". Murders are starting around the world of the adopted parents of these children.

There is one clone named "Bobby Wheelock", portrayed by Jeremy Black, that the story revolves around.



However, when "Mengele" meets him and tells "Bobby" about being a clone of "Adolph Hitler". The boy doesn't believe the doctor. The boy meets the Nazi Hunter and is told that "Josef Mengele" has killed his father. "Bobby" verifies this and lets loose two vicious doberman's on the doctor killing him. The film ends with the boy actually liking what he saw and did. Is he Hitler reborn?






The second movie about "Josef Mengele" is entitled "Rua Alguem 5555: My Father". This 2003 motion picture is a co-production of Brazil, Italy and Hungary. What is interesting as with Gregory Peck as "Josef Mengele" in this picture he's portrayed by Charlton Heston.



Above Charlton Heston as "The Father" and East German born actor Thomas Kretschmann as the "Son".

It is 1985 and the father of "Herman M." may, or may not be still alive. The young man is persuaded by New York Lawyer "Paul Minsky", portrayed by F. Murray Abraham, to tell the events of a meeting with "Herman's" father back in 1977. "Minsky" represents the cities Jewish community and specifically twins who were experimented upon by "Josef Mengele" in Auschwitz.

The film's title refers to the address the father was living at in Brazil. The film goes back and forth between the meeting with the father and the lawyer asking questions. "Herman" is being hounded by the World press as being complicit with his father's experiments.

At the time of his meeting in Brazil with his father. "Herman" couldn't get beyond the bond of father to son, but decides to rid the World of the monster that is his father and then kill himself.



The truth of his story to the lawyer is based upon the verification bones found at a cemetery as being Mengele's, but the young man, who couldn't kill himself, will be haunted by his deed the rest of his life.

Josef Mengele did have a son named "Rolf".

Then there was the true story of "Gisella Perl", portrayed by Christine Lahti, entitled "Out of the Ashes", released April 3, 2003.



There are only two other actual people in this picture. The first is "Dr. Josef Mengele", portrayed by Jonathan Cake, and vicious Auschwitz guard "Irma Grese" portrayed by Nine Young.

Below Young in the movie and the real "Grese".



Irma Grese.jpg


The story opens as gynecologist "Dr, Gisella Perl", a Jewish Hungarian from Sighetul Marmatei, Romania, testifies before "The Immigration and Naturalization Board". It consists of three fictitious members portrayed by actors Bruce Davidson, Richard Crenna and Beau Bridges.She is seeking United States citizenship after passing the New York State Licencing Board.

The flashbacks begin as "Dr. Perl" tells how as a young girl she dreamed of being a doctor. Then her time practicing as a gynecologist before the German Invasion and becoming Prisoner #25404 in Auschwitz. "Perl" tells the board how she treated and helped women prisoners and then her story goes to the most controversial aspect.



It was documented that "Gisella Perl" performed late term abortions on pregnant women. She claimed it was to save their lives from experimentation by the camp doctor "Josef Mengele". The board accuses "Dr, Perl" with "Colliding" with "Mengele" in his medical experiments.

The strain of several days of questioning starts to tell on her and she questions why she lived and other died? She states that despite her intentions to keep herself alive and others. That, yes, she became a part of the Nazi machine in Auschwitz.



However, she felt the lives of the women she saved helped to undermine the Nazi agenda there.

"Dr. Gesilla Perl" is granted citizenship and the real "Perl" started a successful practice in New York City.


NAZI MAD SCIENTIST HORROR MOVIES

"King of the Zombies" was a Monogram Pictures Chapter serial, released May 14, 1941, and one of the first American pictures about a mad Nazi scientist. Which predates the entry of the United States into the Second Word War. There is a subplot of creating Zombies and getting secret information from an American Admiral who crashed landed on an island.



During the 1940's the heroes of radio, newspaper comics strips and comic books took on Nazi Germany and Japan. The first on screen appearance of "Batman" was against an evil Japanese scientist. My article: "America's Super Heroes Vs the Axis Powers in World War 2 Cliff Hangers" can be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/02/americas-super-heroes-vs-axis-powers-in.html

The 1950's and 1960's found some fun with escaped Nazi scientists. The following are a few of those films.

One of favorites comes from an intelligent story by the aforementioned Curt Siodmak and starred Richard Denning. "The Creature with the Atom Brain", released in July 1955, has Los Angeles "Dr. Chet Walker", who works in the police lab, assisting in the investigations of a series of murders. The problem is their being carried out by dead men. Seeking his revenge against those who sent him to prison is gangster "Frank Buchanan", portrayed by Michael Granger, with the help of ex-Nazi scientist "Dr William Steigg", portrayed by Gregory Gaye. He has invented the title "Atom Brain".






This British motion picture doesn't mention the word Nazi, but it is obvious that those behind the experimentation in the United Kingdom's "The Gamma People", released January 30, 1956, are fugitive Nazi scientists. Who have found acceptance in a Central European country behind the Iron Curtain.



An American reporter, "Mike Wilson", portrayed by Paul Douglas, on a train lay over discovers the secret of a small town. A scientist is turning children into mutations by the use of Gamma Rays to take over the world.

The Gamma People (1956)


Paul Douglas and Eva Bartok in The Gamma People (1956)


In March 1958, Irish McCalla, who had been television's "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle" from 1956 through 1957, portrayed "Jerrie Turner". "Turner" and some others are ship wrecked during a fierce storm on a island. As with many films of the period, the island is ruled over by a mad escaped Nazi scientist experimenting on native women and castaways..




This movie was produced by Arthur A. Jacobs not be confused Arthur P. Jacobs. Who in 1968 became the producer of the original "Planet of the Apes".



The aforementioned Martin Kosleck is a Nazi scientist on a deserted island, of course, who has created "The Flesh Eaters", released March 18, 1964.

The Flesh Eaters


The Flesh Eaters (1964)



The United Kingdom came up with "The Frozen Dead" released in October of 1966.



Dana Andrews is ex-Nazi scientist "Dr. Norberg". Who is thought of as a respectable citizen living in the British countryside in his estate. What his neighbors don't know is that in the basement are rows of Nazi Soldiers in suspended animation, One of them is "Norberg's" own brother marked as "Prisoner #3" and played by Edward Fox.





Above is one of the heads of prominent Nazi's kept alive by "Dr. Norberg" until he can find appropriate bodies to attach these leaders too.

When "Norberg's" superiors arrive the doctor is told there are 1,500 frozen Nazi Soldiers awaiting their rival by the him. The "Third Reich" will live again.

Staying with the idea of a living Nazi head was "They Saved Hitler's Brain" released August 18, 1968. Actually, this is the re-titled motion picture "Madmen of Mandoras" that was originally released November 13, 1963.

Madmenofmandoras.jpg









I could go on with more motion picture examples of our fascination with Nazi Germany, but I believe I have illustrated my point. Except to close with the following lyrics from producer Mel Brooks' 1968 comedy "The Producers" released November 22, 1967

Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Deutschland is happy and gay
We're marching to a faster pace
Look out! Here comes the master race
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Reinland's a fine land once more
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Watch out, Europe, we're going on tour
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Winter for Poland and France
Springtime for Hitler and Germany

Come on Germans, go into your dance

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