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German Wartime Newsreels
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DVD100 - Through Enemy Eyes vol.9A Newsreel History of the Third Reich at War:
Go behind enemy lines on a journey that traces the rise and fall of German military fortunes... the great battles, the desperate hours captured via authentic uncut newsreels, exactly as presented to German wartime cinema audiences.
Now see the Second World War as you've never seen it before: Through Enemy Eyes.
All newsreels have been transferred from original 35 millimeter and 16 millimeter German prints and have been accurately translated and electronically subtitled in English.
Through Enemy Eyes Vol. 9 (Two Disk DVD Set)
DISK 1: Jul 29, 1942 - Oct 7, 1942
NEWSREEL 621: Fall of Sevastopol; Crossing of the Don; Capture of the Rostov.
NEWSREEL 627: Afrika Korps Advance Into Egypt; Battle for Stalingrad; Seizure of Mount Elbrus Weather Station; Atlantic and Channel Coast Defenses.
NEWSREEL 629: Street Fighting in Stalingrad; Stalingrad in Flames; Failed British Landing Attempt in Tobruk.
NEWSREEL 630: Bombing of Alexandria; Stuka Attack of Murmansk Harbor; Battle Action on the Caucasus Front; Japanese Submarines at a German Atlantic Base.
NEWSREEL 631: Rommel's Report to Hitler; Tank and Infantry Battles South of Lake Ladoga; Soldiers' Lives on the Eastern Front.
DISK 2: Oct 14, 1942 - Dec 2, 1942
NEWSREEL 632: Battle Action in the Mount Elbrus Area; Soviet Tank Attack in Stalingrad; Waffen-SS Units Fighting in the Lake Ilmen Area.
NEWSREEL 633: Street Fighting in Stalingrad; Agricultural Achievements in the Third Reich.
NEWSREEL 635: Battle in Stalingrad; SS- Germanic Volunteers Attack on Caucasus Front; Defense of Alamein.
NEWSREEL 637: Battle Action in Leningrad; German Units Arrive in Marseilles.
NEWSREEL 638: English Torpedo Planes Attack Planes Convoy Headed for Africa.
NEWSREEL 639: Axis Buildup in Tunisia; Battles in Leningrad and Upper Don Area.
12 Original German Wartime Newsreels with English Subtitles.
232 Minutes - Nearly 4 Hours on Two DVD Disks.
July 29, 1942 - December 2, 1942
SPECIAL PRICE REDUCTION!
See and hear the entire war from the German perspective!
DVD100 - Through Enemy Eyes vol.9
Details: Germany, 1942, B&W, Total running time: 232 minutes, German with English subtitles.
Of the fifty-five hours of Third Reich newsreels (Die Deutsche Wochenschau) compiled in the “Through Enemy Eyes” series, Volume 9 brackets the Second World War’s most decisive battles. German audiences watching Disk I’s opening coverage for 29 July 1942 were bolstered in their already high morale by scenes of Sevastopol, Russia’s strongest fortified city, crushed by their armies. By then, the world’s most powerful citadels --- Holland’s Eben Emael, North Africa’s Tobruk, and Asia’s Singapore --- had all fallen to Axis forces. After their triumph at Sevastopol, German, Italian, Rumanian, Slovakian and Hungarian armies are shown sprinting after the demoralized enemy across the Don, where river and railroad contacts are severed, isolating Moscow from Stalingrad --- the first time this fateful name is mentioned by Die Deutsche Wochenschau narrator, Harry Giese.
Next to fall is Rostov, an industrial megalopolis larger by far than anything of its kind in Europe or America. Luftwaffe over-flights of this and other Soviet cities reveal their immense extent, thereby assisting viewers, then and now, to appreciate the huge task confronting their conquest. Among them was Leningrad, where General Munoz Grande commanding Spanish volunteers is showcased in Hitler’s headquarters. Victory at Rostov resulted in the capture of 100,000 Red Army troops, the destruction of 1,000 enemy tanks and 540 aircraft. No other nation on Earth could have absorbed such stupendous losses without collapsing long before, and they convinced the outside world that the USSR was doomed.
The Fuehrer’s successful strategy, as demonstrated in this newsreel, was to hold the northern sector of the Eastern Front, make steady advances in the middle, but concentrate the bulk of his campaign in depriving the Soviets of their most vital war production resources (particularly oil) and industries, most of which lay in the south.
A stout defense put up by the Russian defenders is repeatedly emphasized by the German newsreels. The courage of Red Air Force pilots is shown in very low-level raids carried out by some ancient double-deckers quickly brought down, and lumbering Stromovik ground-attackers, which Axis ack-ack rounds found almost impenetrable. Luftwaffe Stukas --- new D models --- join the lesser-seen Henschel-123, a biplane veteran of the Spanish Civil War, field-modified for East Front service with increased armor and 20-mm cannons. Some of the best footage ever taken of Soviet tanks being “brewed up” is featured here.
Disk I skips August to open on 8 September with the state funeral of Stephan von Horthy, son of the Hungarian regent, who died as a fighter pilot on the Eastern Front. The elaborate, solemn ceremonies seem to have belonged more to the Middle Ages than the 20th Century. The mood switches to an Italian convoy speeding across the Mediterranean Sea toward Libya. By this time, traitors in the German Army and particularly military intelligence (the Abwehr) were funneling the most sensitive, even crucial Wehrmacht data to the Allies, enabling them to break Axis codes with the so-called “Ultra secret”, now that their nemesis, Reinhard Heydrich, was dead (see “Through Enemy Eyes”, Volume 8).
Among the first to feel the effects of this code breaking was the lifeline of sea- and air-transports that supplied Italo-German forces in North Africa. Shown are unescorted Junkers -52 and Italian Savoia-Marchetti-82 tri-motors, easy pickings for RAF interceptors, who were nonetheless awestruck by the Campaign’s greatest pilot, Hans-Joachim Marseille. He appears landing his famous Messerschmitt, and emerging to receive personal congratulations from Rommel on the occasion of the airman’s 119th kill. The ace would go on to dispatch another thirty-three enemy aircraft in the next eighteen days to die undefeated in an accident, when he bailed out of his malfunctioning ME-109, striking his head on its tail. Rommel is later seen conferring with Ugo Cavallero, the incompetently optimistic and ultimately duplicitous commander of Italian forces in North Africa, and Ettore Bastico, a far better general, the governor of Libya, admired by the Desert Fox for his superior command performance.
The September 8th newsreel is singularly historic, because it documents the opening phase in the Battle of Stalingrad. The same kind of inexorable advance against dogged, house-to-house resistance that inevitably reduced Rostov moves toward a repetition of earlier Axis victories. The camera action here is remarkably realistic, with no emphasis on heroics of any kind. Instead, viewers will appreciate the grime, uncertainty and lurking danger encountered by the first German troops picking their way through the streets of already ruinous city.
The September 23rd Wochenschau highlights a serious defeat suffered ten days before by enemy forces in their overly ambitious Operation Agreement, aimed at killing or capturing Rommel and destroying Axis-held harbors and airfields. Italian defenders repulsed the attack, which the Deutsche Afrika Korps rolled up, depriving the Allies of any success. British losses in aircraft, prisoners and even ships at sea were staggering, as evidenced by a U.S. munitions ship blown sky high by an Italian torpedo-bomber.
September 30’s newsreel documents air combat on the Eastern Front, where the rear-gunner aboard a twin-engine Messerschmitt-110 scores some flaming hits on the belly of a Red Air Force Rata fighter that ventured too near. Particularly interesting is close-up coverage of a Focke-Wulf-189 operation, among the finest reconnaissance planes of the war, followed by the visit of an enormous Japanese submarine to occupied France, with fascinating inter-action between the Japanese and German crews.
The October 7th Wochenschau follows the fear but efficiency and ferocity of very young workers in a labor battalion surprised by a much larger Soviet force. A Red Army T-34 gets off one round before its turret gets blown off at point-blank range, part of the slaughter the enemy endures before collapsing in surrender. Back in Berlin, the Third Reich pulls out all the stops to welcome Rommel home on leave in the kind of pageantry associated with the era.
Disk-2 runs from 14 October to 2 December, a period when supplies to the Axis in North Africa were increasingly pinched off, as shown in remarkable footage of a very close-in attack on Italian freighters by RAF torpedo-bombers.
If turning-points were being reached on the Eastern Front and in North Africa, the Kriegsmarine was still winning the war in the Atlantic, even though the u-boat offensive along the U.S. coast had been the first to feel the harmful influences let loose by Heydrich’s assassination. The October 21st newsreel shows how submarine aces, such Reinhard "Teddy" Suhren, were enthusiastically welcomed home after their on-going victories at sea. He received the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords for sinking eighteen freighters, plus a destroyer, and damaging four other vessels, accounting for a total of 28,907 registered tons of enemy shipping. Suhren survived the war, unlike his mother, father and sister, who committed suicide as murdering, raping Red Army hordes were about to enter their Sudetenland home.
In sharp contrast to the type of u-boats he commanded, an Italian submarine is given extensive coverage. Its interior configuration, even the counter-rotating periscope, is entirely different from German designs. The showcased boat was the Regia Marina’s Barbarigo, the only Axis warship in the vicinity of the disabled battleship Bismarck, surrounded by the enemy. Although dangerously low on fuel, Captain Ghiglieri made a desperate attempt to intercept the British warships, but exceptionally high seas prevented his torpedoes from hitting their targets.
The Wochenschau narration incorrectly claims the Barbarino sank a pair of American battleships. In reality, her new commander, Enzo Grossi, misidentified a cruiser, the U.S.S. Milwaukee, and later, the British corvette, HMS Petunia, in wretched weather conditions. The Barbarino made up for these disappointments by sinking seven Allied merchant vessels, severely damaging another four, and escaping many encounters with the enemy, even shooting down a Sunderland flying-boat. On 16 June 1943, she sailed out of Bordeaux for reassignment in the Far East, but vanished without a trace; cause unknown.
Our November 2nd newsreel shows Rommel’s preparations for and early stages of the pivotal Battle of El Alamein, which German audiences knew had been lost by the time they saw this edition of the Wochenschau. November 4th shows how Italy celebrated her 20th anniversary of the March on Rome that brought Mussolini to power. The pomp and circumstance of 1942 coincidentally marked the high-water mark of his influence. Just five days later, the Duce’s North African armies would be in retreat from El Alamein.
The December 2nd Wochenschau concludes Volume 9 with a discernible air of desperation in some of the most furious artillery action and street fighting ever filmed amid the blazing ruins of Stalingrad.
Reviewer’s note: While purchasing all fourteen volumes of “Through Enemy Eyes” may be too sizeable an investment for most students of World War Two, they will find nowhere else --- in either the written or spoken word --- original source material that will provide them with a broader, more profound understanding of and appreciation for that seminal conflict. To watch it every day, from first to last newsreel, is a life-changing experience, comparable to seeing and hearing Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
Whatever viewers bring with them to this collection will be expanded a thousandfold. In short, the “Through Enemy Eyes” series is by far the most important, single document to have emerged from the Second World War, bar none.
- Marc Roland
Trouble with viewing all these Wochenschau newsreels, I get so excited, I always feel like looking for a recruitment office somewhere. - Marc Roland
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