The Third Reich
With The Third Reich, the History Channel takes us on a unique and disturbing look at the rise and fall of Hitler’s Germany. Unique as it takes a look at it from a mostly German perspective. Don’t worry though, this isn’t a piece of pro-Nazi propaganda, it’s just a well made documentary that takes you inside the mindset of the German people during the rise (disc one) and fall (disc two) of The Third Reich.
Each disc begins with the cliched warning “Much of what you are about to see and here is graphic in nature, and may be disturbing to sensitive viewers,” and whilst there is some very graphic scenes, the warning I think goes beyond just the visual, because as you will soon learn from disc one, the German people didn’t elect an evil dictator, they voted for a saviour, a man who could pull Germany out the the mire and shame of the defeat they endured after World War 1. A man who would make Germans proud to be German again.
It’s akin to watching a train wreak, you can sees what’s going to happen, but you can’t do a thing to stop it. Through the build up of Hitler’s rise it’s easy to see why people liked him, and you do wonder what you would have done if you were in their place, with no foresight of what would happen. It’s scary to contemplate just how easily we can be swayed by a charismatic leader, and never know just how the truism “Power corrupts” will work itself out.
Disk two deals then with the downfall of Nazi Germany and the consequences the German people suffered for the actions of their government, and they on compliance. The scary thing is that the rebuilding of Germany wasn’t completed until the 1980s. Then of course there is the fact that the German people will never escape the dark shadow that blots their history.
Much of the film footage is taken from home movies, or shot on the front lines by German soldiers. The home movies open up a very personal side to the story, whereas the footage shot by the German soldiers earns the FVLB note of “Violence & content that may disturb” as we see the extermination of the Jews from the initial mass shootings early in the war to some very eery, almost destroyed footage of the concentration camps late in the war.
The History Channel have done a great job of compiling footage, stories and combining it with a historic timeline and facts to produce one of the most compelling and informative World War II documentaries ever made.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read