Monday, December 20, 2010

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich - A History of Nazi Germany by WILLIAM L. SHIRER



An indispensable book for those interested in Nazi Germany and WW2. Simple, gripping style of writing. Not like a history textbook. Wealth of information and facts.




What They say About The Book

Hugh Trevor-Roper The New York Times Book Review
A splendid work of scholarship, objective in method, sound in judgment, inescapable in its conclusions.

John Gunther
One of the most spectacular stories ever told.

Theodore H. White
A monumental work, a grisly and thrilling story.

Orville Prescott The New York Times
One of the most important works of history of our time.





More On The Book


Published in 1960 during the height of the Cold War, Rise and Fall represents one of the first and most comprehensive analyses of Hitler’s Germany. When reading the book, it is important to remember the subtitle. It is “a history” of Nazi Germany, not “the history.” Even in 1100 pages, Shirer gives the reader a summary of Hitler’s rise and the European theater of war.

William Shirer was a newspaper correspondent in Germany during Hitler’s ascent to absolute power. On occasion, he editorializes and lets his rage show through. In this case, just because he is angry does not mean he is inaccurate. One also has to remember it was written in 1960 with the wounds of the Second World War still fresh.

Shirer, as a newspaperman, makes his book an exciting read. It is a page-turner with forward narrative momentum like the best of thrillers.




Excerpts From The Book

NAZI GERMANY

Hitler began a long speech with a sop to the industrialists. "Private enterprise," he said, "cannot be maintained in the age of democracy; it is conceivable only if the people have a sound idea of authority and personality . . . All the worldly goods we possess we owe to the struggle of the chosen . . . We must not forget that all the benefits of culture must be introduced more or less with an iron fist." He promised the businessmen that he would "eliminate" the Marxists and restore the Wehrmacht (the latter was of special interest to such industries as Krupp, United Steel and I. G. Farben, which stood to gain the most from rearmament). "Now we stand before the last election," Hitler concluded, and he promised his listeners that "regardless of the outcome, there will be no retreat." If he did not win, he would stay in power "by other means . . . with other weapons." Goering, talking more to the immediate point, stressed the necessity of "financial sacrifices" which "surely would be much easier for industry to bear if it realized that the election of March fifth will surely be the last one for the next ten years, probably even for the next hundred years."

All this was made clear enough to the assembled industrialists and they responded with enthusiasm to the promise of the end of the infernal elections, of democracy and disarmament. Krupp, the munitions king, who, according to Thyssen, had urged Hindenburg on January 29 not to appoint Hitler, jumped up and expressed to the Chancellor the "gratitude" of the businessmen "for having given us such a clear picture." Dr. Schacht then passed the hat. "I collected three million marks," he recalled at Nuremberg.


REICHSTAG FIRE


The coincidence that the Nazis had found a demented Communist arsonist who was out to do exactly what they themselves had determined to do seems incredible but is nevertheless supported by the evidence. The idea for the fire almost certainly originated with Goebbels and Goering. Hans Gisevius, an official in the Prussian Ministry of the Interior at the time, testified at Nuremberg that "it was Goebbels who first thought of setting the Reichstag on fire," and Rudolf Diels, the Gestapo chief, added in an affidavit that "Goering knew exactly how the fire was to be started" and had ordered him "to prepare, prior to the fire, a list of people who were to be arrested immediately after it." General Franz Halder, Chief of the German General Staff during the early part of World War II, recalled at Nuremberg how on one occasion Goering had boasted of his deed.
At a luncheon on the birthday of the Fuehrer in 1942 the conversation turned to the topic of the Reichstag building and its artistic value. I heard with my own ears when Goering interrupted the conversation and shouted: "The only one who really knows about the Reichstag is I, because I set it on fire!" With that he slapped his thigh with the flat of his hand.*






*Both in his interrogations and at his trial at Nuremberg, Goering denied to the last that he had any part in setting fire to the Reichstag.

Van der Lubbe, it seems clear, was a dupe of the Nazis. He was encouraged to try to set the Reichstag on fire. But the main job was to be done—without his knowledge, of course—by the storm troopers. Indeed, it was established at the subsequent trial at Leipzig that the Dutch half-wit did not possess the means to set so vast a building on fire so quickly. Two and a half minutes after he entered, the great central hall was fiercely burning. He had only his shirt for tinder. The main fires, according to the testimony of experts at the trial, had been set with considerable quantities of chemicals and gasoline. It was obvious that one man could not have carried them into the building, nor would it have been possible for him to start so many fires in so many scattered places in so short a time.


SURRENDER OF FRANCE

(Hitler's face) "is afire with scorn, anger, hate, revenge, triumph."

William Shirer was a radio reporter for CBS News. We join his story as he stands in a clearing in the forest of Compiegne next to the railroad car where the ceremony will take place. Hitler and his entourage arrive just moments before the ceremony:

"The time is now three eighteen p.m. Hitler's personal flag is run up on a small standard in the centre of the opening.

Also in the centre is a great granite block which stands some three feet above the ground. Hitler, followed by the others, walks slowly over to it, steps up, and reads the inscription engraved in great high letters on that block. It says:

"HERE ON THE ELEVENTH OF NOVEMBER 1918 SUCCUMBED THE CRIMINAL PRIDE OF THE GERMAN EMPIRE... VANQUISHED BY THE FREE PEOPLES WHICH IT TRIED TO ENSLAVE."

Hitler reads it and Goring reads it. They all read it, standing there in the June sun and the silence. I look for the expression on Hitler's face. I am but fifty yards from him and see him through my glasses as though he were directly in front of me. I have seen that face many times at the great moments of his life. But today! It is afire with scorn, anger, hate, revenge, triumph. He steps off the monument and contrives to make even this gesture a masterpiece of contempt. He glances back at it, contemptuous, angry - angry, you almost feel, because he cannot wipe out the awful, provoking lettering with one sweep of his high Prussian boot. He glances slowly around the clearing, and now, as his eyes meet ours, you grasp the depth of his hatred. But there is triumph there too - revengeful, triumphant hate. Suddenly, as though his face were not giving quite complete expression to his feelings, he throws his whole body into harmony with his mood. He swiftly snaps his hands on his hips, arches his shoulders, plants his feet wide apart. It is a magnificent gesture of defiance, of burning contempt for this place now and all that it has stood for in the twenty-two years since it witnessed the humbling of the German Empire.

...It is now three twenty-three p.m. and the Germans stride over to the armistice car. For a moment or two they stand in the sunlight outside the car, chatting. Then Hitler steps up into the car, followed by the others. We can see nicely through the car windows. Hitler takes the place occupied by Marshal Foch when the 1918 armistice terms were signed. The others spread themselves around him. Four chairs on the opposite side of the table from Hitler remain empty. The French have not yet appeared. But we do not wait long. Exactly at three thirty p.m. they alight from a car. They have flown up from Bordeaux to a near-by landing field. ...Then they walk down the avenue flanked by three German officers. We see them now as they come into the sunlight of the clearing.

...It is a grave hour in the life of France. The Frenchmen keep their eyes straight ahead. Their faces are solemn, drawn. They are the picture of tragic dignity. They walk stiffly to the car, where they are met by two German officers, Lieutenant-General Tippelskirch, Quartermaster General, and Colonel Thomas, chief of the Fuhrer's headquarters. The Germans salute. The French salute. The atmosphere is what Europeans call "correct." There are salutes, but no handshakes.

Now we get our picture through the dusty windows of that old wagon-lit car. Hitler and the other German leaders rise as the French enter the drawing-room. Hitler gives the Nazi salute, the arm raised. Ribbentrop and Hess do the same. I cannot see M. Noel to notice whether he salutes or not.

Hitler, as far as we can see through the windows, does not say a word to the French or to anybody else. He nods to General Keitel at his side. We see General Keitel adjusting his papers. Then he starts to read. He is reading the preamble to the German armistice terms. The French sit there with marble-like faces and listen intently. Hitler and Goring glance at the green table-top.

The reading of the preamble lasts but a few minutes. Hitler, we soon observe, has no intention of remaining very long, of listening to the reading of the armistice terms themselves. At three forty-two p.m., twelve minutes after the French arrive, we see Hitler stand up, salute stiffly, and then stride out of the drawing-room, followed by Goring, Brauchitsch, Raeder, Hess, and Ribbentrop. The French, like figures of stone, remain at the green-topped table. General Keitel remains with them. He starts to read them the detailed conditions of the armistice.

Hitler and his aides stride down the avenue towards the Alsace-Lorraine monument, where their cars are waiting. As they pass the guard of honour, the German band strikes up the two national anthems, Deutschland, Deutschland uber Alles and the Horst Wessel song. The whole ceremony in which Hitler has reached a new pinnacle in his meteoric career and Germany avenged the 1918 defeat is over in a quarter of an hour."

FROM EYEWITNESS TO HISTORY




Friday, December 17, 2010

Best War Movies: 'LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA"


Clint Eastwood directs the untold story of Japanese soldiers defending their homeland against invading American forces during World War II. With little defense beyond sheer will and the terrain of Iwo Jima itself, the tactics of General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe of The Last Samurai) and his men transform what might have been swift defeat into nearly 40 days of heroic combat. Their sacrifices, struggles, courage and compassion live on in the taut, gripping film Rolling Stone calls “unique and unforgettable” and which won – among 4 Academy Award nominations* including Best Picture – the Oscar for Best Sound Editing (2006).

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Best War Films: "HURT LOCKER"


War is a drug. Nobody knows that better than Staff Sergeant James, head of an elite squad of soldiers tasked with disarming bombs in the heat of combat. To do this nerve-shredding job, it’s not enough to be the best: you have to thrive in a zone where the margin of error is zero, think as diabolically as a bomb-maker, and somehow survive with your body and soul intact. Powerfully realistic, action-packed, unrelenting and intense, The Hurt Locker has been hailed by critics as “an adrenaline-soaked tour de force” (A.O. Scott, The New York Times) and “one of the great war movies.” (Richard Corliss, Time)

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Best War Films: BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI"


Director David Lean's masterful 1957 realization of Pierre Boulle's novel remains a benchmark for war films, and a deeply absorbing movie by any standard--like most of Lean's canon, The Bridge on the River Kwai achieves a richness in theme, narrative, and characterization that transcends genre.

The story centers on a Japanese prison camp isolated deep in the jungles of Southeast Asia, where the remorseless Colonel Saito (Sessue Hayakawa) has been charged with building a vitally important railway bridge. His clash of wills with a British prisoner, the charismatic Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness), escalates into a duel of honor, Nicholson defying his captor's demands to win concessions for his troops. How the two officers reach a compromise, and Nicholson becomes obsessed with building that bridge, provides the story's thematic spine; the parallel movement of a team of commandos dispatched to stop the project, led by a British major (Jack Hawkins) and guided by an American escapee (William Holden), supplies the story's suspense and forward momentum.

Shot on location in Sri Lanka, Kwai moves with a careful, even deliberate pace that survivors of latter-day, high-concept blockbusters might find lulling--Lean doesn't pander to attention deficit disorders with an explosion every 15 minutes. Instead, he guides us toward the intersection of the two plots, accruing remarkable character details through extraordinary performances. Hayakawa's cruel camp commander is gradually revealed as a victim of his own sense of honor, Holden's callow opportunist proves heroic without softening his nihilistic edge, and Guinness (who won a Best Actor Oscar, one of the production's seven wins) disappears as only he can into Nicholson's brittle, duty-driven, delusional psychosis. His final glimpse of self-knowledge remains an astonishing moment--story, character, and image coalescing with explosive impact.

Like Lean's Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai has been beautifully restored and released in a highly recommended widescreen version that preserves its original aspect ratio.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Best War Films: "BRAVEHEART"


 Mel Gibson fights for the independence of Scotland form English rule

A stupendous historical saga, Braveheart won five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director for star Mel Gibson.

He plays William Wallace, a 13th-century Scottish commoner who unites the various clans against a cruel English King, Edward the Longshanks (Patrick McGoohan). The scenes of hand-to-hand combat are brutally violent, but they never glorify the bloodshed.

There is such enormous scope to this story that it works on a smaller, more personal scale as well, essaying love and loss, patriotism and passion. Extremely moving, it reveals Gibson as a multitalented performer and remarkable director with an eye for detail and an understanding of human emotion. (His first directorial effort was 1993's Man Without a Face.)

The film is nearly three hours long and includes several plot tangents, yet is never dull. This movie resonates long after you have seen it, both for its visual beauty and for its powerful story.

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Best War Films: "GLORY"


One of the very best films about the Civil War, this instant classic from 1989 is also one of the few films to depict the participation of African American soldiers in Civil War combat. 

Based in part on the books Lay This Laurel by Lincoln Kirstein and One Gallant Rush by Peter Burchard, the film also draws from the letters of Robert Gould Shaw (played by Matthew Broderick), the 25-year-old son of Boston abolitionists who volunteered to command the all-black 54th Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Their training and battle experience leads them to their final assault on Fort Wagner in South Carolina, where their heroic bravery turned bitter defeat into a symbolic victory that brought recognition to black soldiers and turned the tide of the war. 

With painstaking attention to historical detail and richness of character, the film boasts superior performances by Denzel Washington (who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), Morgan Freeman, Cary Elwes, and Andre Braugher. Directed by Edward Zwick (cocreator of the TV series thirtysomething), this unforgettable drama is as important as Schindler's List in its treatment of a noble yet little-known episode of history.

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Best War Films: "FULL METAL JACKET"


Stanley Kubrick's 1987, penultimate film seemed to a lot of people to be contrived and out of touch with the '80s vogue for such intensely realistic portrayals of the Vietnam War as Platoon and The Deer Hunter. Certainly, Kubrick gave audiences plenty of reason to wonder why he made the film at all: essentially a two-part drama that begins on a Parris Island boot camp for rookie Marines and abruptly switches to Vietnam (actually shot on sound stages and locations near London), Full Metal Jacket comes across as a series of self-contained chapters in a story whose logical and thematic development is oblique at best. 

Then again, much the same was said about Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, a masterwork both enthralled with and satiric about the future's role in the unfinished business of human evolution. In a way, Full Metal Jacket is the wholly grim counterpart of 2001. While the latter is a truly 1960s film, both wide-eyed and wary, about the intertwining of progress and isolation (ending in our redemption, finally, by death), Full Metal Jacket is a cynical, Reagan-era view of the 1960s' hunger for experience and consciousness that fulfilled itself in violence.

Lee Ermey made film history as the Marine drill instructor whose ritualized debasement of men in the name of tribal uniformity creates its darkest angel in a murderous half-wit (Vincent D'Onofrio). Matthew Modine gives a smart and savvy performance as Private Joker, the clowning, military journalist who yearns to get away from the propaganda machine and know firsthand the horrific revelation of the front line.

In Full Metal Jacket, depravity and fulfillment go hand in hand, and it's no wonder Kubrick kept his steely distance from the material to make the point.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Best War Films: 'SAVING PRIVATE RYAN'


Steven Spielberg's new picture, one of his best, is a sandwich. The meat of the tale concerns a bunch of U.S. Army Rangers, led by Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks), who are sent into Normandy to rescue Ryan (Matt Damon), the sole survivor of four brothers. On either side of this bold endeavor you get half an hour of unyielding combat: first, the D Day landings on Omaha Beach and, later, a consummate last stand in which too few Americans try to hold an inland bridge against too many Germans and too many tanks. Most viewers will be impressed but unsurprised by the central section; it feels wrought, and finely scripted (by Robert Rodat), and nudged by sentimentality. 

The reason that they will carry the movie lodged in their minds is the infernal, brain-shaking quality of the battle scenes; Spielberg obviously decided that blood and guts meant just that, and so he arranged his violence into a semblance of pure disorder. The illusion holds, complete with severed limbs and wellsprings of blood, and it feels honorable; Spielberg's preachy movies can be an awful grind, but, apart from a disposable coda, this new work is too swift (and often too inaudible) to weigh you down. It feels like an atonement for the sins of "Amistad."

NEW YORKER

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Best War Films: 'ENEMY AT THE GATES'


Like Saving Private Ryan, Enemy at the Gates opens with a pivotal event of World War II--the German invasion of Stalingrad--re-created in epic scale, as ill-trained Russian soldiers face German attack or punitive execution if they flee from the enemy's advance. Director Jean-Jacques Annaud captures this madness with urgent authenticity, creating a massive context for a more intimate battle waged amid the city's ruins. Embellished from its basis in fact, the story shifts to an intense cat-and-mouse game between a Russian shepherd raised to iconic fame and a German marksman whose skill is unmatched in its lethal precision. Vassily Zaitzev (Jude Law) has been sniping Nazis one bullet at a time, while the German Major Konig (Ed Harris) has been assigned to kill Vassily and spare Hitler from further embarrassment.

There's love in war as Vassily connects with a woman soldier (Rachel Weisz), but she is also loved by Danilov (Joseph Fiennes), the Soviet officer who promotes his friend Vassily as Russia's much-needed hero. This romantic rivalry lends marginal interest to the central plot, but it's not enough to make this a classic war film. Instead it's a taut, well-made suspense thriller isolated within an epic battle, and although Annaud and cowriter Alain Godard (drawing from William Craig's book and David L. Robbins's novel The War of the Rats) fail to connect the parallel plots with any lasting impact, the production is never less than impressive. Highly conventional but handled with intelligence and superior craftsmanship, this is warfare as strategic entertainment, without compromising warfare as a manmade hell on Earth.

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Best War Films: 'BLACK HAWK DOWN'


Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down conveys the raw, chaotic urgency of ground-force battle in a worst-case scenario. With exacting detail, the film re-creates the American siege of the Somalian city of Mogadishu in October 1993, when a 45-minute mission turned into a 16-hour ordeal of bloody urban warfare. Helicopter-borne U.S. Rangers were assigned to capture key lieutenants of Somali warlord Muhammad Farrah Aidid, but when two Black Hawk choppers were felled by rocket-propelled grenades, the U.S. soldiers were forced to fend for themselves in the battle-torn streets of Mogadishu, attacked from all sides by armed Aidid supporters.

Based on author Mark Bowden's bestselling account of the battle, Scott's riveting, action-packed film follows a sharp ensemble cast in some of the most authentic battle sequences ever filmed. The loss of 18 soldiers turned American opinion against further involvement in Somalia, but Black Hawk Down makes it clear that the men involved were undeniably heroic.

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Best War Films: DEFIANCE


Daniel Craig (James Bond: Quantum of Solace) stars as Tuvia Bielski, an ordinary citizen turned hero, in this action-packed epic of family, honor, vengeance and salvation. Defiance is a riveting adventure that showcases the extraordinary true story of the Bielski brothers, simple farmers –outnumbered and outgunned- who turned a group of war refugees into powerful freedom fighters. Tuvia, along with his unyielding brother, Zus (Liev Schreiber, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), motivate hundreds of civilians to join their ranks against the Nazi regime. Their “Inspirational story”* is a true testament to the human spirit. - David Densby, The New Yorker

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Best War Movies: 'VALKYRIE

 

 Tom Cruise plays von Stauffenberg, the Wehrmacht officer who almost assassinated Hitler


 Unpretentious and dramatically straightforward, Valkyrie is a suspenseful yet ennobling story about the last attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler prior to the end of World War II. Tom Cruise is effective if a little opaque as hero Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, who channels his anger at Hitler's atrocities and mismanagement of the war by joining a secret organization bent on killing the F├╝hrer. When the outspoken Stauffenberg hits on the idea of linking Hitler's death with an official policy to safeguard Berlin during a government crisis--a contingency plan called "Valkyrie"--the group realizes a post-assassination coup could be covered by rapidly implementing the plan. History tells us the plot failed, of course, and Hitler killed himself months later. But that doesn't stop Cruise or director Bryan Singer from approaching the film as a thinking person's thriller, told from inside the conspirators' camp, where the outcome of their deeds were uncertain for several tense hours.


In the tradition of The Great Escape, Valkyrie is a war movie full of famous faces, including Kenneth Branagh, Terence Stamp, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy and Eddie Izzard. (The lesser-known David Bamber is very good as Hitler, hunched and cracking under pressure.) The film's gravity is offset a bit by the fun of seeing all these actors in a factually-based slice of history, and by a few, interesting stylistic flourishes on Singer's part, including the peculiarly unsettling image of a mosquito sizzled to death in close-up.


As a history buff, I was compelled to see this film from the get go. The fact that critics were particularly brutal led me to believe this was indeed an excellent film. I was very pleased to see it stuck to the facts even if some of the details are rather mundane. The cinematography does an excellent job at placing you in the era as if you were a bystander to the events before you.


The acting was simply top notch. Tom Cruise elevated himself with his performance. He was quite believable and true to the accounts of Colonel Stauffenberg. I reject the accounts by critics that this was a Gerry McGuire performance in uniform. The supporting cast is award worthy. it is rare to find a cast that works so seamlessly together. I believe the director deserves particular credit for this achievement.

Bottom line, Valkyrie is a top quality film worthy of your time. Forget what all those bitter, envious critics says, see it for yourself and then judge the film in it's merits.



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Best War Movies: THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS


The innocence of childhood savagely collides with the Holocaust in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Bruno (Asa Butterfield) knows that his father is a soldier and that they have to move to a new house in the country... a house near what he thinks is a farm. But his father isn't just a soldier; he's a high-ranking officer in Hitler's elite SS troops who's just been placed in command of Auschwitz. As Bruno explores the woods around the house, he discovers the concentration camp's perimeter fence. On the other side sits a boy his own age, with whom Bruno strikes up a friendship--a friendship that will have tragic consequences.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is most powerful in the details: The casual brutality of a Nazi lieutenant; the uncomfortable juxtaposition of the family's domestic life with glimpses of the treatment of the imprisoned Jews; a ghastly propaganda film suggesting that life at Auschwitz was like a holiday. But more than anything else, Butterfield's performance makes this film compelling. The young actor perfectly conveys Bruno's limited perspective even as the film carefully unveils the larger, darker reality. The movie's ending will undoubtedly spark arguments, but only because of the emotional complexity of what happens--The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is made with great skill and compassion. Also featuring David Thewlis (Naked) and Vera Farmiga (The Departed) as Bruno's parents.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Most Popular War Movies: SCHINDLER'S LIST


Although he will forever be identified with pop culture classics such as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, Steven Spielberg has never made a film greater than this searing drama about a Nazi industrialist who saved more than 1,000 Jews from certain death in concentration camps during World War II. Broadly based on the book by Australian writer Thomas Keneally, Schindler's List gets underway in 1939 after Hitler's army conquers Poland. Nazi supporter Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson, delivering the standout performance of his career) arranges to staff a major company with unpaid Jews ultimately destined for extermination, among them accountant Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley), who becomes his right-hand man. The initially mercenary Schindler gradually becomes attuned to the plight of his workers and arranges to employ nearly 1,000 Jews in his crockery plant -- an effort that requires his careful handling of ghastly Commandant Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), who runs the forced-labor camp housing the doomed people. 

For this film Spielberg eschews his customary storytelling techniques, using black-and-white film for a gritty look and shooting much of the footage with handheld cameras, documentary style. Period detail is replicated with astonishing accuracy, and you'll get the sense of being right there alongside the characters. 

The film is extremely long -- well over three hours -- but it unfolds with such urgency that you're never conscious of its length. Neeson is absolutely sensational as the towering industrialist whose innate humanity eventually comes to the fore, and Fiennes, then a virtual newcomer, is sublimely odious as the amoral labor-camp commander. Crafted to perfection and absolutely seamless in its presentation, Schindler's List is a truly unforgettable movie, and the crowning achievement of this generation's most successful filmmaker.

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BEST SELLING WW2 DVDS: 'NAZIS: Warning From History'


How could a political party as fundamentally evil and overtly racist as the Nazis come to power? This remains one of the most enigmatic questions of the last century. Acclaimed historian Laurence Rees examines what led a cultured nation at the heart of Europe to commit the atrocities it did. In so doing, he exposes popular myths and encourages understanding of the real forces that led to one of the darkest chapters in modern history. Was it simply the hypnotic power of Hitler's rhetoric? Did the Gestapo really impose themselves by terror on an unwilling population? Through interviews with witnesses and perpetrators, along with archive film and records, this six-part series unveils a more chilling reality.
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BEST SELLING WW2 DVDS: 'The World At War'


More than 30 years after its initial broadcast, THE WORLD AT WAR remains the definitive visual history of World War II. Narrated by Academy Award winner Laurence Olivier and digitally re-mastered for DVD, this is epic history at its absolute best.

Unsurpassed in depth and scope, its 26 hour-long programs feature an extraordinary collection of newsreel, propaganda, and home-movie footage drawn from the archives of 18 nations, including color close-ups of Adolf Hitler taken by his mistress, that present an unvarnished perspective of the war's pivotal events. Penetrating interviews with eyewitness participants--from Hitler's secretary to Alger Hiss to ordinary citizens who stood outside the battle lines--add spine-tingling, first-hand accounts to an already unforgettable viewing experience.

Informative and unbiased, THE WORLD AT WAR is the recipient of numerous accolades, including an International Emmy Award, The National Television Critic's Award for Best Documentary, and knighthood for its creator, Sir Jeremy Isaacs. 

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