As the Third Reich prepares for war, ruthless infighting divides the leadership of the Nazi-party, Rudolph Hess, Herman Goering and Joseph Goebbels are all vying to be the Fuhrer's favorite. But then...
This meticulously assembled film dissects the Third Reich with an analytical blade, charting Hitler's improbable rise, his mastery of crowd psychology and his consummate skill in exploiting others' weaknesses.
When Hitler committed suicide in his bunker in Berlin, he managed to do what many others had tried to do for 20 years. This film explores how the fate of Europe and countless lives may have... See full summary »
Johannes Oliver Hamm,
At the end of the 1930s, Hitler ordered the construction of a special train that could transport him around safely and appease his growing paranoia. A veritable fortress on rails, this ... See full summary »
I find the suggestions in some of the reviews that the Nazis were NOT irrational disturbing. There is one major argument to be made *for* their rationality: that the objectives of WWII were the same as WWI, and no one calls Kaiser and his crew irrational or nuts. On the other hand the military campaigns, in spite of the success against Poland and France, were nuts, as was the huge diversion of resources to the holocaust. Hitler's chief engineer Fritz Todt told him the Germans were going to lose in October 1941 and that he should negotiate a German withdrawal with Stalin. (whoops! sorry bout that!) But, even so, the series is explicit about the talents of some of these men: Goebbels was a capable orator, Goring seemed to have a better appreciation of grand strategy than most of the other party luminaries, Himmler had strong bureaucratic and organizational skills. They are really depicted as rational agents in thrall to an irrational ideology.
But what about the series? It is one of many possible ways to get into the vast and complicated topic that is WWII. The focus on domestic politics leaves out some important issues, such as the Soviet-German pact to divide Poland, but this series is not really about "total context." This series is about the personalities of the Nazi party. It helps you distinguish who was who, Goring from Goebbels, Himmler from Heydrich, Hesse, and so on. You don't get the generals. Just the major Nazi party figures.
If you watch this series with an extra resource, and every now and then pause the presentation to look up this or that, you will find it a useful way to get the feel of the Third Reich's major politicians. If you want a printed resource try the Oxford (single volume) encyclopedia of WWII. Or alternatively, take the time to use your tablet or phone to look up some of the topics that interest you on Wikipedia.
Almost any one of the WWII documentaries is *better*. For example, the famous "World at War" series from the 1970s. However, in that series, as you zip around battles and generals and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic and in Asia, you lose sight of the inner circle. The narrow focus of this series, in spite of its repetitive reality-show-ish format, is a very good first step into learning about the war and why these guys were hanged at Nuremberg (those that they could round up). As is often the case for such a complicated topic, every now and then something drops that I hadn't thought of, even though I have read a lot about WWII. For example, the series' argument that the plan to deport the Jews to Madagascar had to be shelved because the Germans lost the Battle of Britain (thus leaving the British with supremacy on the seas) was interesting. Very likely the Nazis would have gone ahead with extermination anyhow, but there are interconnections that I haven't made before. That Heydrich chaired the Wannsee conference was something else that had slipped my attention, even though I knew about the Wannsee conference. Goring's control of Prussia and its police/domestic espionage operation were news to me. The role of Martin Borman as a puppet master is also highlighted by the series, even though many treatments of the war tend to keep him in the background.
So all in all there's some good material in here. If this were the Michelin Guide I would give it a one star meaning "worth the trip." So I think this offers something to the WWII buff and it is also an interesting side trip if you find your regular viewing derailed by erratic shooting schedules. My main current series (such as Expanse, Babylon Berlin, and Game of Thrones) are all in suspension. If you like history and want to stream something that has a relatively short span from beginning to end this is a good option. The Germans lose WWII. Is that a spoiler?
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