Last Days of the Nazis

| August 11, 2015

At the end of WWII, Allied forces arrested thousands of Nazis, as well as German citizens suspected of being complacent in Nazi crimes.  These people were interrogated to determine their activities during the war.  This mini-series from the History Channel tells the story of these interrogations, getting a history of the third reich from an unusual perspective: the Nazis themselves.

The series is about 5 hours long and has a fairly repetitive structure of moving from key Nazi soldier to the next, giving their story and experience during the war before moving on smoothly to the next interesting interrogation.  The series utilizes archival footage, tape recordings of the actual interrogations, interviews with WWII scholars, and reenactments of the interrogations to tell this interesting story.

As we move from person to person in the story, our perspective of WWII shifts dramatically.  One minute we’ll be talking to a man who worked in a concentration camp by day and was a devoted family man at night.  The next minute we’ll be talking to a woman recounting the night Hitler came to power, and being hypnotized by everyone’s passion for the future of Germany.  A minute later, we’ll be learning about Nazi propagandists and newspapermen.  The chaos of the series’ structure reflects the chaos of the war perfectly, and the variety of stories we get throughout keep the audience captivated throughout.

My one big criticism of the story is its length.  It seems like the producers could have cut this into one 2 hour documentary special that focuses only on the most interesting interrogations conducted.  However, it’s become the great joke of the History Channel that everything they broadcast is either about aliens or Hitler.  When you’re trying to draw viewers and viewers prove again and again to only care about WWII and reality TV, then that’s what you give them.  Which forces you then to fill as much time as possible because you need 24 hours worth of history related programming every day, so it’s natural for a story like this to be dragged out for as long as possible.  Given that, I’m actually a little surprised that this didn’t become a long-running half hour series where each episode focuses on one of the thousands of interrogations conducted at the end of the war and the historical perspective of that individual’s experience during the war.

No special features on the DVD.  Available now on DVD from Lionsgate.

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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