Pathfinder // 2006 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dylan Charles (Retired) // March 20th, 2008
"Warner Goldberg, the ideal German soldier, was a Jew."
Hitler's Jewish Soldiers exposes a minority population of the German army during World War II; a group of men who are were only part Jewish and were so drafted into the German army in spite of their Jewish heritage. Larry Price interviewed four of these former soldiers to get at the heart of what he calls a paradox.
As a broad and generalized overview of this historical oddity, Hitler's Jewish Soldiers succeeds. It's an hour filled with bizarre little moments, like the fact that one of these part-Jewish soldiers was used as a literal poster boy, his picture gracing recruitment posters all over Germany showing him as the ideal German soldier.
Each of the men is more than willing to talk about his part in the Wehrmacht and how he ended up in such a position, and they all have anecdotes to tell about their days in the army and afterwards.
Still, there's a lot missing here. As I stated before, this documentary is only an hour long. The whole moral question of what these men did is not really touched on at all. They talk to one of two scholars and a family member of one of the former soldiers, but that's it for sources. Was there no one who was unhappy that people with Jewish ancestry fought in the German army? The matter isn't even really addressed, just quickly passed over.
One of the features is an interview the director had with an Israeli news anchor, who seems to be having the same questions that I was having, but there, too, Mr. Price was glossing over those issues. He seems more concerned with displaying the paradox of a Jewish German soldier and is fine with leaving it at that.
It's also a fairly low-budget documentary, which has lead to some pretty shoddy production values. The music can get a little quirky at times, which is a trifle disconcerting given the subject matter.
All in all, Hitler's Jewish Soldiers is guilty of taking a compelling, multi-faceted, and interesting subject and then doesn't really go anywhere with it. The most hard-hitting aspect of the documentary is the title; from there, it's all pulled punches.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Still Gallery
* Director's TV Interview