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The Unknown Soldier

136 customer reviews

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(Mar 25, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The crimes against humanity committed by the Nazi regime are often thought of as the work of the Waffen SS and Gestapo, under the direction of leaders like Himmler, Eichmann, and, ultimately, Hitler. The ordinary German soldier is usually seen as a noble pawn. Until now. In this astonishing, searing and vitallly important documentary, Michael Verhoeven director of the Oscar-nomintad Nasty Girl, unearths the long-buried truth - while simultaneously showing modern Germany in the thores of an identity crisis. The Unknown Soldier documents Germany's controversial Wehrmacht Exhibition, which for the first time ever revealed the personal letters, photographs and film footage implicating the common foot soldier in horrific acts. While nationalists and far right groups led street protests against it, saying the evidence damning their fathers and grandfathers had been falsified, Verhoeven iterviewed historians and experts, soliders and eyewitnesses, and traveled to the killing fields of the Eastern Front. The result is both an invaluable document and a revealing look at an insecure nation, still reconciling ist proud history with a unique and horrible wartime legacy.


Searingly thorough.....the line between wishful denial and nationalist pathology evaporates with terrifying ease. --Time Out NY

Provocative.....intriguing.....punctures the closely held belief that everyday citizens and low-ranking soldiers were blameless for the crimes of the Third Reich. Very few want to think of Grandpa as a Nazi. --Los Angeles Times

Both chilling and fascinating. Impressive. --The New York Times

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Verhoeven
  • Directors: Michael Verhoeven
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • DVD Release Date: March 25, 2008
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0010YSDB8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,662 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Scholar&Gentleman on July 14, 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a well-done documentary on the subject of the German Army and its participation in the Nazi genocidal project. Focusing on the 1995 Wehrmacht exhibition which first brought the crimes to public attention, it is an important introduction for those interested in the deep complicity of the Third Reich.

I must disagree with the top-rated reviewer. From a scholarly perspective, there is little doubt that the Wehrmacht was involved, AS AN ORGANIZATION in the Holocaust. MJG in his/her review simply focuses on a small attribution error in the exhibit that misidentified one Ukrainian perpetrator as a German soldier. The documentary does NOT focus on "isolated cases" nor should the crimes of the Wehrmacht be categorized as such.

Dear Amazon reader,
Beware many of the reviews here seem to be apologetic or unwilling to see the larger point which is that the German Army as an organization was a willing player in the crimes of the Third Reich.
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31 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Vickers on January 27, 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I found this to be refreshing because over the years many speak as though it was only the S.S. einsatzgruppen who did the bulk of the atrocities. I am an Army veteran who spent time in Germany and I am also a serious collector of vintage wworld war 2 medals and my collection is vast containing very rare decorations from the Germans and Russians. Veterans of the Army who I spoke to back in 1993 when I was in Germany told me of the killings that men in their unit took part in. They also showed me black and white photo's of Army troops executing civilians and also posing with the bodies. They sometimes also assisted the S.S. in getting Jews or slave laborers on the trains. The subject was very hush hush when I was in Germany but it has since come to light. There were too many soldiers from too many units who got involved. I became friends with a former member of the S.S, mountain infantry regiment Nord who fought the Russians near the artic circle. Read the book Black Edelweiss by former S.S. Nord mountain trooper who speaks about both combat and conscience and that even though they had fierce fights with the Russians in northern Karelia and the Vosges Mountains, he never witnessed one instance of atrocity between the German and the Russians, I am well versed in the S.S. units and Nord has not be put in the category such as Das Reich or totenkof. It's time for people to accept the truths that the Army was also responsible for killings. I make a point to acknowledge the soldier who fought hard for his comrades even when he knew the war was lost, but was no a part of any atrocities. The subject matter is delicate but must be told.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Charlie Siefert on April 12, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I thought that this documentary about the "Unknown Soldier" exhibit tied in with testimony, pictures, film, and reports from historians et al - was a very good introduction to the Holocaust of WWII, and would be excellent for younger viewers, esp. gradeschool or middleschool age kids to spark discussions with parents or teachers. Unfortunarely the show is German with English subtitles, but it is still a great programme.
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86 of 117 people found the following review helpful By MJG on April 7, 2008
Format: DVD
The subject of this documentary is the opening of the Wehrmachtaustellung (Wehrmacht Exhibition) in 1995, the now famous collection of photographs and documents that provided graphic evidence of German atrocities throughout the Second World War. What distinguished the exhibition from past scholarship on the 3rd Reich, was its depiction of the German Army, or Wehrmacht, as one of the main perpetrators of .the Holocaust - essentially no different from the SS, SD, or other Nazi organizations commonly associated with the brutality and mass murder of Hitler's regime. Although a full rehash of the Wehrmacht Exhibit isn't appropriate here, in short, the controversy that persists to this day is whether the photographs show individual acts of barbarism committed by German troops or, as the Exhibit maintains, irrefutable evidence of the German Army's complicity in Nazi crimes. In other words, are these photos proof that ordinary, rank-and-file German soldiers willingly, even enthusiastically, participated in mass murder? Or are these merely isolated cases that should not (or cannot) be distorted to represent the behavior of the over eleven million men who passed through the army's ranks?

Now to the documentary:

Scope: The film purports to provide an objective, balanced account of the Wehrmacht Exhibition, in particular the controversies over the exhibition itself, the public attention it aroused throughout Germany, and the circumstances of its premature closing due to inaccuracies among its photographs. In addition, the documentary attempts to further investigate the complicity of the Wehrmacht in Hitler's crimes and refute the notion that German Army had been a mere spectator, or pawn, during the Holocaust.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By flev on January 4, 2015
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Compelling examination of the contemporary movement in Germany to expose and discuss publicly the role played by the soldiers of the Wehrmacht, and of regular citizens during WW II The person-on-the-street interviews are revealing, showing the ambivalence, the denial, and the guilt expressed by survivors in the military, and of the Jewish victims, and those who narrowly escaped persecution. Brings to mind forcefully Hannah Arendt's thoughts on "the banality of Evil"
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