Downfall is a German movie about the last week of the Third Reich, told from the perspective of those closest to Hitler.
Hitler Youth: Growing Up In Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti (reviewed by me here) addresses the children who grew up in Nazi Germany and how they were manipulated. It includes looking at those affected by Hitler.
Downfall is about the adults: those who let it happen. Those who were part of it. It's all to easy to look at Hitler as some lunatic; by doing so, it lets us distance ourselves from those who were seduced and manipulated. Silly people, we would never do that! If HY cautions teens about who to trust, Downfall is the same message to adults.
One of the things that I liked about the movie was that even though I knew what had happened, there was a lot of new information and new perspectives. To read about the fall of Berlin, to see photos, is one thing; to watch it, as people struggle, is different. By giving a full picture of Hitler, those around him, the last days -- it doesn't create sympathy for Hitler. It makes him more horrifying.
Since this was in German, with English subtitles, and I had only 2 years of high school German, it took me a while to figure out who people were beyond the obvious. And I'm still not sure which people were real and which were not. (My big question: the family at the dinner table? Real or not real?)
Other links: Discovery Channel on Hitler's Bunker.
Women of the Third Reich.
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