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392 of 404 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Visceral Documentary
As a Historian I will add this to my personal collection of WWII Documentaries. I was impressed by the use of home movies shot by families that lived in Germany during the rise of the Nazi Party leading to WWII. The series effectively tied the experiences of the German citizenry in with how Hitler first came to power and then in leading the nation to war. The impact of...
Published on December 18, 2010 by Robert Carver

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95 of 112 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some problems here......
Ok, I'm going to have to pull rank on some people here at the beginning. I live in Krakow, Poland, where I work as a tour guide specializing in WWII, the Holocaust and Jewish ghettos. I also guide groups in Auschwitz from time to time as well. I mention this only to stress that this DVD was hardly my introduction to the topic. I ordered it from Amazon frankly because it...
Published on October 2, 2011 by MS


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392 of 404 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful Visceral Documentary, December 18, 2010
This review is from: Third Reich: Rise & Fall (DVD)
As a Historian I will add this to my personal collection of WWII Documentaries. I was impressed by the use of home movies shot by families that lived in Germany during the rise of the Nazi Party leading to WWII. The series effectively tied the experiences of the German citizenry in with how Hitler first came to power and then in leading the nation to war. The impact of Hitler's rise to power and how the Nazi Party ran the government was evolutionary rather than revolutionary for most Germans. We know how the Nazis marginalized the Jews before finally removing them from society. They along with the other "undesirables" were the focus of propaganda efforts to convince the German people that it was important to remove these people from society. The series shows how popular Hitler became as he led Germany out of the Great Depression and brought previously unattainable luxuries to the working class. Hitler and the Nazis restored German pride after the humiliation of the Versailles Treaty and other sanctions by the Allies after WWI. This series shows how happy Germans were as Hitler made one foreign policy triumph after another gaining new territory for the Reich up until the attack on Poland finally triggered WWII. Hitler was careful to keep domestic goods in production so the German people wouldn't have to sacrifice for the war effort which ironically led to Germany being the last nation to go to a full-time war economy. Hitler was fearful that the German people were too soft to bear the full measure of a war economy. So at the start of the war the German people were mostly unaffected by the war except for those men who went off to fight. The first episode of this series ends with Germany ascendant and flush with success in battle while at home most Germans were also doing well except for the Jews who were no longer a part of the Deutsches Volk.

The second part of this documentary (The Fall) starts with Nazi Germany realizing the vision of Hitler to conquer Europe for Lebensraum for the Deutsches Volk while coming to the conclusion on Die Endlösung sealing the fate of the Jews and other undesirables. This episode continues with the use of civilian home movies as well as using the movies shot by soldiers. This can be very disturbing as the atrocities committed on the Eastern Front are difficult to watch even for an experienced Historian like myself. This episode brings home the visceral impact of just how mundane the scene appeared to be as German soldiers herded Jews and other "enemies" into ditches and shot them en masse. The fall of the Third Reich was an excruciating process that involved a lot of suffering and death. The videos used by this episode illustrate the banality of evil as life went on as usual for those not fighting on the front. The Allied bombing did impact German cities and the civilian population. It is strange to see how humans struggle to continue their daily lives in the midst of rubble. After the Western Allies invaded Europe via Normandy the Americans took movies of what they saw as they advanced into Germany. They shot movies of the concentration camps they liberated bearing witness to the ugly reality of Die Endlösung. I believe it is the use of this excellent archive of movies shot by German civilians as well as Allied soldiers brings an emotional impact to this series that is fresh especially for those who have viewed the plethora of documentaries and films on this subject. The personal, individual and family perspective of this history is important to understand the immensity of this conflict on those who lived under Hitler and the Third Reich. This episode ends with the terrible repercussions experienced by the German people for the crimes of Hitler and the Nazis. The Soviets raped, pillaged and murdered on a scale that boggles the mind after they defeated the German Army. Millions of Germans fell under the control of the Soviet Union as Stalin set up a Communist East Germany. Western Germany was more fortunate but it took time for them to recover from the devastation of the war. Germany did not fully recover from the effects of the Third Reich until the reunification after the Fall of the Soviet Union. You cannot view this documentary and ever see the impact of the rise and fall of Nazi Germany in abstract and dispassionate terms ever again. My only real criticism of this series is that it was too short. I wonder what was left out due to time constraints as this series could easily have been twice as long and still been just as riveting and engrossing. I am hopeful that this DVD set will include extras and commentary.
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138 of 140 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome change in WWII documentary, December 16, 2010
This review is from: Third Reich: Rise & Fall (DVD)
After watching the 2 part series on the History Channel I was so impressed that I've been searching the internet to purchase this (of course, it's here but pre-release). Well, the presentation of this docu was very unique and something I haven't seen in WWII docu's before. It's difficult for me to explain but between the narritive and the images, it was a refreshing new view on something that I thought was covered many times. I learned much more than I expected- especially because this was offered as a view from the German people. I highly recommend this title. Did you know Hitler was Time's Person of the Year in 1938??
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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING UNPRECEDENTED DOCUMENTARY, January 22, 2011
This review is from: Third Reich: Rise & Fall (DVD)
I am watching the documentary on the History Channel as I write this, and I am just blown away by what I am watching!! My uncle and I are both historians of WWII, having traveled throughout Germany, Dachau Concentration Camp and the Ukraine, and I can say this is one of the best, if not THE best, compilations I have ever seen of actual footage shot by Germans at the time the events took place. My uncle and I have shelves of videos, DVDs, books, etc. delving in the rise of the Nazis, WWII and all related that would challenge the Smithsonian, and I thought I had seen everything there was to see... until now. I would love to know where The History Channel located all this footage as I am in awe of the level of footage that I have never-before seen. I would also like to emphasize the excellent narration by the History Channel. It is just so extremely well done I don't know what more I can say other than "Thank you" History Channel for reinventing the Nazi Documentary... this is some of the best, most informative footage compiled to date. What really sets it apart is the way in which the German people themselves narrate the footage via diary entries, letters, and so on. It is shocking to say the least. I can only wish that more of our schools would use this to inculcate our children in the ways of evil and subterfuge that arise during times of national difficulty and how easily people can be led astray by a provider of false hope. Amazing to see what people were willing to tolerate, and the level of personal freedom that was surrendered to the government, in exchange for the false hope of being taken care of by their government. This movie is a lesson for all nations and peoples who think they can get something for nothing... it all seemed so great until the lies began to fall apart, and then the German people ultimately paid the price for their actions. The lesson here is clear... be careful, and think very carefully of the consequences, before you begin to surrender your personal rights and freedoms away to growing government control and power... because you will ultimately pay a price if you are to ever get it back.
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98 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kudos to the History Channel: This show was awesome., December 16, 2010
This review is from: Third Reich: Rise & Fall (DVD)
I just saw the History Channel's broadcast of Third Reich: Rise & Fall and was very impressed. How they told this story, which has been told so many times in so many ways, using amazing film footage (some of it home movies), and truly interesting narration, blew me away.
I highly recommend buying and viewing this documentary to others. I'm definitely pre-ordering this gem.
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37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for everyone., January 18, 2011
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This review is from: Third Reich: Rise & Fall (DVD)
As a history teacher I am faced with the arduous task of finding historical movies and documentaries that will keep the attention of 130 students. With much of today's youth being exposed to war movies and violent video games at an early age, many of them feel like they have "seen it all". By seen it all, I mean movies like Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers, etc. Not to knock any of those movies (as they are excellent) but they do not create the same atmosphere that the "Third Reich" does. I showed this entire documentary to an Honors U.S. History class and the entire class was floored.

As mentioned before, many of these kids think war is "no big deal" but after seeing this film, their opinions quickly changed and it actually resulted in an extremely thoughtful and creative discussion. Whether you are a teacher, a historian, or just looking for something good to watch, "Third Reich" will keep you at the edge of your seat. The homemade footage, the pictures, and the historical narrative are nothing short of amazing. Highly recommended.
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95 of 112 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some problems here......, October 2, 2011
By 
MS "Jack" (Krakow, Poland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Third Reich: Rise & Fall (DVD)
Ok, I'm going to have to pull rank on some people here at the beginning. I live in Krakow, Poland, where I work as a tour guide specializing in WWII, the Holocaust and Jewish ghettos. I also guide groups in Auschwitz from time to time as well. I mention this only to stress that this DVD was hardly my introduction to the topic. I ordered it from Amazon frankly because it was cheap, I trust the A&E/History channel "brand" and I'm always on the lookout to learn something new about what I talk about all the time at work. This program wades into an already very crowded pool, with The Nazis: A Warning From History and The World at War (30th Anniversary Edition) being the gold standard. It tries to differentiate itself at the very beginning by saying that it's not a history of how the Nazis came to power but an examination of how the people of Germany let it happen. I'll let others argue how one is supposed to be separate from the other, but I think it's fair to say that there is no new ground broken here at all. In fairness, though, I must say that the one thing it has going for it is its use of rare and unseen footage. It's certainly interesting to get a look at everyday life away from the front as well as things like party rallies, camps for kids and typical street scenes. However, also in fairness, you have to remember that this kind of production with all home movies and voice actors reading bits of letters and newspapers is very cheap to produce & that's almost certainly what got the green light for this dvd to be made. Still, the content is informative even if it doesn't really improve on previous presentations of the same topic.

What I really don't like about "Rise & Fall" has more to do with the production than the content, though. Start with the fake "old-timey" newsreel effect used between every segment that scratches and skips contstantly. Why, oh, why???? The quick cuts and shadow flashes of every - and I mean every - graphic to make it look like a metal band music video is just absurd. In fact, the whole thing looks like it was put together by someone whose real aim is to make stuff for MTV. The narrator sounds like the guy who does all those movie previews that start with "In a world where.....". There are too many dramatic pauses - "They could only wait.........for death" - and he's trying way too hard to insert a sinister atmosphere into everything with his tone of voice. It's just generally overproduced. Is it really necessary to add the sound effect of a baby's wind-up mobile (or whatever it's called) everytime a kid is shown on screen just to try to make the whole thing more creepy? But what really had me rolling my eyes a hundred times - once for every time it happened - was the way the script is written to phrase everything in "If you were...." terms. I think it's obvious that one of the aims of "Rise & Fall" is to make the subject more accessible for a younger audience. As a part of that, there's an emphasis on how people "felt" in various situations & about every ninety seconds the narrator starts a sentence with "If you were there on that day, you would have felt..." or "If you had seen..." or "If you lived there..." or something like that. The first time it was forgivable. The second time was coincidence. The third time it was funny. The fourth time it was irritating and after that I started playing a game to see how many seconds passed before the next time came.

If you are really interested in this subject, there are lots of other things to read and watch before "Rise & Fall". It's not terrible, but I don't think it deserves the praise it's getting here.

And one more thing I forgot - I'm certain that the narrative was changed to accommodate random footage they found and the results are ridiculous. They try to weave it into the story line with comically bad results. For example, they have some footage of some teenagers playing around in a park or forrest - nothing lurid or suggestive, just kids having fun. They just appear out of nowhere and then, with pointlessly ominous music in the background, the narrator says something like "these teens found time to play and frolic in the woods......(dramatic pause to use up a few more seconds)......but.......(another pause)........six hundred miles away (wait, what?)......the allies were landing in Normandy". And then it cuts to the D-Day invasion with no further mention of the "teens". Seriously.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting footage, poor documentary, April 30, 2012
By 
L. Harris "skytag" (Winter Haven, FL USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Third Reich: Rise & Fall (DVD)
There's a lot of footage in this I hadn't seen before. Most of it was interesting, and the quality was often much better than I expected. There is more color footage than one normally sees in WWII documentaries. At several points they provided information I hadn't seen in other documentaries, which was good.

Unfortunately I found the overall style annoying. A big problem for me was a heavy-handed attempt to imbue the entire piece with a sense of foreboding and dread. The music was ominous throughout the program. The narration was slow and laced with long pauses to be dramatic. The chapter title segments even had effects applied to them at times to make them seem sinister. I watched this in one sitting, and three hours of ominous music and a sense of dread was a bit much to take. At the same time this was light on information. Although it presented some information I hadn't seen in other documentaries, the narration could have presented a lot more, but apparently the people who did it thought long pauses for dramatic effect were preferable to presenting more information.

Overall I'd say given the low price this is an interesting addition to your library of WWII documentaries, but I wouldn't recommended it to anyone looking to watch his first WWII documentary. For that I'd definitely go with The World at War [Blu-ray] or The World at War (30th Anniversary Edition) (non-Blu-ray), or The Nazis: A Warning From History. The latter is about the same price as this and much better in my opinion.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars word of warning, April 7, 2011
This review is from: Third Reich: Rise & Fall (DVD)
The nazi party went from a minority of 37 percent of the votes to having a dictatorship in something like 50 days. Once in power, they eliminated their political opposition, shut down any free press, imprisoned their opponents, and began their propaganda machine. It is an object lesson to see how a people who were in a severe economic downturn went from democracy to dictatorship in two months.And all without most of the German people objecting too much, particularly when those who did object could be imprisoned or worse. It makes me realize how fragile freedom is, and how easily a world can be drawn into war. This documentary, told via home movies of ordinary citizens, is one of the best I have seen on the subject.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!!, December 18, 2010
By 
Karla Varga (Clearwater, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Third Reich: Rise & Fall (DVD)
I watched the History Channel's presentation of "Third Reich: Rise & Fall" and found it very interesting. There have been many films and books dealing with the Third Reich but this film told it from the German citizen's perspective. And, while many books and films deal with how Hitler managed to rise to power, this two-part film explains why he was able to do it. The film is shown in both black and white and color and includes home movies taken by German citizens. It held my interest throughout it's entirety and even my husband, who is not really interested in that type of programing, watched it with me. I highly recommend it!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for high school, January 26, 2011
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This review is from: Third Reich: Rise & Fall (DVD)
I pre-ordered this program for my school as soon as I'd finished watching it. As others have noted, it is very difficult to find movies of *any* genre that will keep high-schoolers engaged, let alone an *educational* film. This one, however, is that rare gem that is both riveting and educational, in a way that will keep even the most jaded kid glued to the screen. As a high school librarian, I'm always on the lookout for high-quality material to enrich the curriculum, and I am pleased to add this amazing film to our already extensive WWII resources. The inclusion of never-before-seen private family home movies provide fascinating insight into the psyche of typical German citizens; their views of their country, their Führer, and the war. It should provide many discussion points regarding the use of propaganda and the notion that history is written by the winners. One caveat: there is a reason that "viewer discretion is advised;" the film sections that are in color add a dimension of dismay not conveyed by previous versions in black and white.
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Third Reich: Rise & Fall
Third Reich: Rise & Fall by the History Channel (DVD - 2011)
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