30 April 2015

30 April 1945: Der Untergang

or Downfall.

This very dark 2004 film depicting the final days in the Fuhrerbunker is nothing less than powerful. In my opinion it exceeds all the previous attempts at portraying these events. Bruno Ganz as Hitler is amazing.

This moving, even haunting film shows that Nazis were real people, though some certainly come across as something less. The darkness, Nihilism and apocalyptic feel of the collapse of the Third Reich comes through powerfully. A total utter collapse of a regime and society is something that's hard to even grasp.

I've watched the film several times and I cannot recommend it enough. A lot of Americans stumble over subtitles but personally I appreciate hearing the language and I think it provides a great authenticity.

I think one of the most fascinating moments is when Traudl Junge stumbles on a dazed Hitler just staring at a portrait of Frederick the Great and desperately wishing for another miracle for Brandenburg.

Goebbels tried to give comfort to his master by suggesting the death of FDR might be such an event but it was not to be. The final events regarding his family are of course chilling.

At the end of the film the real life characters of the Fuhrerbunker are listed with brief biographical notes and dates of death. It's surprising to see how long many of them lived. For some reason I find that moving to consider they lived so long and were able to witness the course of events and the legacy of Hitler. They had many years to reflect. Traudl Junge died in 2002. The clip of her at the end was also moving, sort of a last testimony of that generation speaking to today. I hadn't really seen a video of her since her appearances on the World at War series from the 1970's.

I always watch the news for Nazi-era survivors and I was immediately aware of the death of Rochus Misch, the very last survivor. He died in 2013.