Hitler’s War Machine: Stalingrad 1942-1943

Posted: July 29, 2014 in DVD, World War II

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The German Propaganda Kompanien (PK) captured the events of Hitler’s war on every front. Their footage was used to produce Die Deutsche Wochenschau, a weekly cinema newsreel detailing the events of World War II on land, sea and air. Now, these unique primary source films have been collated, edited and translated into English in order to produce a complete military history of the Third Reich drawn exclusively from German primary sources. This range of films captures the events of World War II exactly as they were presented to contemporary cinema audiences while the actions on the battlefield were still unfolding. This volume – featuring translated Wochenschau newsreels – records the titanic Battle of Stalingrad which led to the destruction of the Sixth Army. The heavy losses sustained by the German army make it arguably the turning point of World War II.

Primary sources are always thrilling to be presented with, as for most of us, it’s the closest we’ll ever come to that ever elusive feeling of “touching history”, that “time slip” moment we all crave.

What’s strange about seeing this is witnessing a major German defeat, presented by the German media, as they use all their powers of misdirection to draw attention away from the fact that they’re suffering heavy defeats. They focus on minor victories and skirmishes and limited “retreats”. Hell, if you didn’t know any better you’d be forgiven for thinking that Stalingrad was a major Nazi victory!

The remastering on the video footage is great. It’s far from flawless, but it’s certainly as good as the source material allows. The aerial footage in particular is very engaging. The urban fighting is eerily tense and draws you right in.

The only mark against it is the DVD packaging, which is very limited. The film auto-plays, and there is only a bare bones menu, with not even trailers for other related features in sight, which is a bit of a shame. If you can over look this minor flaw, however, this is a very interesting DVD indeed.

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