Lost Home Movies of Nazi Germany

(Rochester, NY) – Brought to light for the first time, the two-part series Lost Home Movies of Nazi Germany, produced for the BBC, delves into the private collections of Germans, both civilian and military, who recorded the dawn of an empire that they thought would last a thousand years. These rolls of film reveal a different side of Hitler’s Third Reich— both at home during peacetime and on the front lines of the war. Lost Home Movies of Nazi Germany airs Tuesdays, August 24 and August 31 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

Episode 1: Recently discovered home movie footage from 1936 offers a unique insight into what people in pre-war Germany were thinking and experiencing. The country was on a high and the Hitler Youth seemed like fun and games, but Nazi control and the rise of anti-Semitism was soon to become an all-pervading force across the nation. This episode follows an infantry division during the invasion of France, fighting their way to Dunkirk, revealing a new perspective on what the evacuation meant for the average German soldier. On the Eastern Front, a far darker and more visceral journey across the endless Russian steppe and the unimaginable horrors unleashed during Operation Barbarossa are captured by a soldier.

In addition to amateur movie footage, the progress of the war is charted through the diaries of ordinary Germans, some dizzy with excitement at what Hitler had achieved, others horrified by the effect on their friends and families.

Episode 2: Christmas in Germany 1941 is an unsettling time. Scarce provisions, freezing weather and news from the Russian front causes Germans to realize the war is a very long way from over. The stage is set for the second half of the conflict.

Through the home movies and diaries of ordinary Germans, Hitler’s dreams are crumbling and the German people must now face a moral reckoning. Stories of people battling to save their families from deportation to the death camps or enduring the horrors of ever more deadly bombing raids are revealed, all set against a backdrop of propaganda and false hope pouring forth from Nazi high command.

We also meet some of those forced to live under German rule, including extraordinary footage of a group of Jews living in hiding just a mile from Anne Frank in Amsterdam, and a family in Normandy enjoying a bucolic summer until they find themselves on the front line as the Allies take on German troops on the Atlantic Wall.

Photo credit: Provided by APT


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