Subsequent to the successful documentary series "Hitler - A Profile" and "Hitler's Henchmen", Guido Knopp and his team continue this significant television analysis of the Nazi period with a new series on the six most important German generals. Profiling these men, the series continues the pose the question as to why it all happened. Rommel, Keitel, Paulus, Udet, Canaris and Manstein - six careers caught in the tangle between obedience and crime. What led all these officers to put their military talents at the service of a murderous dictator? To what depth was their involvement in Hitler´s crimes? To what limits did their obedience lead them?
S01:E01 - Keitel the Lackey
With archival footage never previously shown, the film draws the psychological profile of aman whose moral failings had fatal consequences. Former officers of the general staff andfellow travellers describe his path from joining the imperial army to the gallows of Nuremberg. Keitel's key role in the secret rearmament of the Reichswehr to theapocalyptic plans for massive use of nerve gas during the last weeks of the war arepresented as stages in a military career caught under the spell of the dictator.
S01:E02 - Rommel the Hero
The Nazi-propaganda fashioned a legend out of him which was longer lasting than the Reich to whose service he intended to devote his entire life. The legend of the "Desert Fox", of the brilliant commander of the Afrika Korps, to this day finds admirers among friend and foe. As a reward, the dictator promoted him to the rank of field marshal, the youngest of the Wehrmacht. Only a very few perceived that Rommel with open eyes favor rextended his lines of supply and, as a result, he himself set the stage for the fall of the "Afrika Korps".
S01:E03 - Canaris the Master Spy
His spy apparatus was considered Hitler's miracle weapon at the invisible front of the Secret Services. In view of his contacts with the July 20th conspirators close to von Stauffenberg and his subsequent murder in a concentration camp he personified the myth of military resistance against the dictator. Wilhelm Canaris, Head of the office Ausland - Abwehr, the counterintelligence department of the High Command of the armed forces, was a master of camouflage and double-dealing. His spies and agents discretely and efficiently prepared the way for Hitler's offensive war campaigns while he himself had long since been striving for the elimination of his highest superior. He facilitated the way for the escape of victims of political persecution and at the same time urged his subordinates to cooperate closely with the Gestapo.
S01:E04 - Manstein the Strategist
He was considered Hitler's most capable strategist, to the allies the most dangerousopponent. His career is typical for most of the conservative Prussian generals who took areserved view of National Socialism and, nevertheless, as willing tools, executed Hitler'smerciless war. Erich von Manstein developed the plan of operations for the Frenchcampaign in 1940 and thus established his reputation as an operations genius.
S01:E05 - Paulus the Defector
Friedrich Paulus - a general fighting a losing battle. His name is inextricably linked to the devastating defeat at Stalingrad. As commander of the Sixth Army he had no chance in the encircled Volga city area against the superior strength of the Red Army. The situation of his more than 250,000 soldiers was hopeless. But all attempts failed to wring out from Hitler the order finally to evacuate the encircled area and break out with his troops westward. The dictator was firmly convinced to sacrifice rather the Sixth Army than to willingly surrender Stalingrad. To the entrapped he radioed a cynical thanks for their "contribution to save the Western World". Paulus knew that his appointment to field marshal shortly before the encirclement was the order for suicide. But he did not fulfill the wish of his commander-in-chief. Paulus went into captivity. Only in the hour of defeat did he refuse to obey.
S01:E06 - Udet the Flyer
As the model for Carl Zuckmayer's character Harras in the famous novel "The Devil'sGeneral", the fate of Ernst Udet lingered on in Germany's postwar memory. But thewriter's license also obstructed the view of the "real" Udet. His fame as a fighter pilot ace during World War I served the regime well as welcome propaganda material for the build-up of the National Socialist Air Force. He himself was promoted by Goring from the cockpit to the desk of "Chief Air Inspector General" where he coordinated the build-up of Hitler's plans of aggression. The successes of the German Air Force in the "Blitzkrieg" would lead Udet to believe in the invincibility of German bombers and fighter planes. The nimbus of the "flying ace" gave him access to the "higher" society in Berlin. At lavish parties and receptions of the party he fully savored his fame. Only with the defeat of the Air Force against the British Royal Air Force and the setbacks of German pilots on the Eastern front did his illusion of invincibility shatter. Commander-in-Chief of the Air Force Goring branded Udet the scapegoat. Offended and disillusioned in view of the hopelessness of the Russian campaign he took his own life on November 17, 1941. The regime covered up the suicide, announced the cause of Udet's death in a crash during a test flight and staged a pompous State funeral.
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