Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

If You’re Feeling Sinister

August 5th, 2010 · 10 Comments


Last night, I finally started working my way through The World at War, which I’ve long heard is the be-all and end-all of World War II documentaries. With only a single episode under my belt, I’m not yet equipped to verify the veracity of that statement. But there’s no disputing the filmmakers’ skills at digging up devastating footage. The series debut is chock full of haunting clips, depicting precisely choreographed Nazi youth festivals, a frolicking Eva Braun, and young girls screaming their lungs out as Adolf Hitler drones on about the injustice of Versailles. Given all we know about where that pageantry led, it’s tough to imagine more sinister images.

If you crave some small taste of what The World at War has to offer, check out this astonishing collection of full-color World War II clips, via the Romano Archives. It’s a hodge-podge of training films, amateur footage, and newsreels, some of which has been set to cheesy music. In the spirit of last night’s viewing, the ones I’ve been drawn to today are those that depict “normal” German life during wartime. The clip above, for example, shows Nazi soldiers and citizens enjoying a day at the circus, seemingly oblivious to the incalculable human suffering all around them. Though if you look closely, those smiles sure do seem wan and forced, as if there were men with guns on the edges of the scene forcing them to look content.

More banal-yet-tragic footage worth a look: Eva Braun on skis, the German hand-grenade championships, and, most depressing of all, Nazi sympathizers in New Jersey.

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • scottstev

    The most famous Nazi broadcast chicanery was the Christmas Message from “Fortress Stalingrad” which was faked soon after radio links to the Sixth Army were severed.

    It is an awesome series, btw. Check on the Burma-Campaign episode, “It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow.”

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @scottstev: Looking forward to doing a “World at War” marathon this weekend, while the missus and the kid are out of town. Well, a mini-marathon–I only have the first disc, which has another four episodes. Our other two Netflix rentals were allocated to kiddie fare for the plane: “The Muppet Movie” and some classic Donald Duck.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Brian Moore: Thanks for the link. Reminds me of that classic shot in “Fog of War” where Morris overlays bombing stats over modern-day Tokyo pedestrians. Pretty damn powerful.

  • scottstev

    Wow the young Khan has graduated to “The Muppet Movie”? It wasn’t so long ago you posted this tribute to the classic film.

    Enjoy the relaxing weekend. I find solitary pursuits absolute heaven during my rare breaks alone.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @scottstev: Jury’s still out on whether M. Jr. will dig “The Muppet Movie.” But seeing as how he’s about to be stuck on a plane for five-plus hours, he may have no other choice.

    A multitude of plans for the solo weekend, none of them particularly notable. Work. Gym. Sleeping in. “The World at War.” Dragon Stout.

  • Brian Moore

    You know, if you want to still do “research” on AA, that beer festival in Akron at the birthplace of AA is this weekend!

    Might be a bit of a trip on short notice though. :)

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Brian Moore: Believe me, very tempting. Looked up the festival–definitely a whole bunch of breweries I’ve never heard of, which undoubtedly make excellent beer. Alas, my personal helicopter is in the shop…

  • Brian Moore

    Ah, unfortunate. You just can’t get good chopper repairmen any more…

  • John Frum

    All of World at War is on youtube. No need for DVDs. Laurence Olivier is terrific as a narrator….

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