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The Unknown Soldier

3.5 out of 5 stars 190 customer reviews

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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.

Review

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

None.

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
  • Studio: FIRST RUN FEATURES
  • DVD Release Date: March 25, 2008
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0010YSDB8
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #116,688 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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First,
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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Really well done. Showed the amazing scope of the atrocities that occurred during WWII perpetrated by the Nazi war machine. I think they made a good case that the myth of the "good, common soldier" existing was just that, mostly a myth. I believe after watching this that it could have been the exception rather than the norm. Very well thought out reasoning of how they wore the citizens and common folk down to numb them to the purge of the jews, and opened my eyes to the scope of how they killed them. My understanding was that they mostly went to work camps and were gassed. Hardly the norm, in fact probably the most common way was to round them up, take them out of the town/city etc, march them to a big hole in the ground or some naturally formed site where they could make them strip, then shoot them in the neck, making them lay on top of the last person they just shot.
I think this film is important, and I think it puts a lot of events in perspective. We should all be vigilant for any government sliding this direction even if it is just marginalizing a group of people who disagree in a government ideology. It's a slippery slope.
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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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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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It seems to me after viewing this documentary that it holds more regional significance than it does to explain the common German mind-set during WWII. The everyday grunt did what he or she was told. The 3rd Reich was evil incarnate. While the atrocities committed by them all are as unimaginable, barbaric as any we have known since... My impression regarding this controversy over the honoring of fallen German soldiers begs this question... Who in their right mind can justify the actions of Nazi Germany and feel good about their sacrifice? Unmarked graves and accurate historic presentation drawing attention to the horrific nature of the Germany in WWII seems fitting. Frankly, there is no comparison that supports this warring nation as its intention was to commit heinous acts of genocide to advance its notion of a superior race whose sole intention was for world domination. How can anyone be proud of such a mindset?
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