I just finished watching the movie “Downfall” for the second time. A powerful movie that trys to show the audience what the last moments of theThird Reich were like. I can not recommend this movie enough ...but be warned, it is not a happy movie.
What makes this movie so powerful to me are two books that I have read several times, “Soldering” by Siegfried Knappe and “The Last Battle” by Cornelius Ryan.
Siegfried Knappe’s book is a biography of his war years, very interesting, as he seems to attract shrapnel everywhere he went ( I think he was wounded three times). How the book intertwines with the movie is... Knappe was General Weidling’s ( Who Command the defense of Berlin) Chief of staff. That portion of the book is amazing, describing how Knappe and Weidling would have to run through the rubble of Berlin to attend meetings with Hitler and above all illustrated the almost Palpable curtain that existed between the realty of the Battle in the streets and the Illusionary world of the Bunker. Knappe was captured by the Russians and held for some years before he moved to the Untied States.
“The Last Battle” By Ryan, one of my Favorite authors, a man that in my opinion wrote three of
the best and easiest to read books on WWII ( “The Longest Day” and “A Bridge To Far” were the other two) is a amazing work, not only covering the Battle of Berlin itself but the run up , The decision of Eisenhower not to go after Berlin because it had no Military importance and Stalin’s game of assigning not one, but two commanders to attack Berlin and pitting them against each other. The sheer weight of
the soviet forces, the numbers and equipment, astounds you as you read about Division’s of artillery hammering German lines. The price the soviets are willing to pay to take the city amazes you as they take their vengeance on Germany. Ryan’s books are’nt thin, but they are so captivating that they seem shorter then they are.
Still watching Downfall, all the madness of the bunker (Weidling himself was ordered to be shot at one point), The one moment that always gets me is the death of the Goebbels Children... I pray for someone to prevent it each time I see it... how could they.
If your a history nerd, and haven't seen “Downfall”, do so, its has high production value and magnificent performances that, even though it is in german, have you sitting on the edge of your seat.