"To be a soldier means to be courageous under all circumstances."
World War II: Attack Without Warning is divided into two separate parts. The first:,Hitler: Savior or Satan, focuses on Adolph Hitler's rise to power and the subsequent war in Europe. The second part, Massacres Under the Rising Sun, focuses on the wars Japan fought with China, Manchuria, and Russia before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The DVD also contains a gallery of photos from Hitler's regime.
Hitler: Savior or Satan
The documentary starts well, setting up Hitler's early life. We see destitute postwar Germany in the roaring 1920s. We also see how easy it is for Hitler to set himself up as a fairy-tale white knight figure, instituting self-help programs, labor programs, and soup kitchens as the democratic government fails to better life for its citizens. The film then glosses over the Rhineland re-occupation and the "War of Flowers" for Sudeten land. It then turns to an introduction of the axis party, the blitzkrieg, the war with England, the campaign in northern Africa, the assassination attempts, and Hitler's eventual death. The documentary mentions all of the important events in Hitler's regime and places them in perspective to look at the regime as a whole. But it spends more time discussing the psychology behind Hitler and the SS: their egoism, megalomania, insecurities, interest in Satanism, and possible homosexual tendencies than the historical ramifications of many of the important events. The film does leave us with the concise thought though—the people bear the responsibility. The quest for guidance and leadership and the promise of stability for a destitute society will cultivate a monster if he promises salvation.
This is not the best World War II documentary I have seen. It presents almost ten years of complex history in an hour. It does, however, do a decent job of placing the regime of a monster into a historical perspective with the lessons to be learned from it. This documentary was made up almost entirely of original pictures and footage. The transfer is as good as any footage I have seen from that time frame: images are for the most part sharp though there is noticeable graininess present. The sound quality is excellent. The accompanying voiceover was clear and original footage in German was well subtitled.
Massacres Under the Rising Sun
This documentary contained some original footage, but was predominantly composed of color movies that were made after the fact. The transfer in both cases was good, however since color movies were used, the documentary could have been improved immensely had more modern footage been created. The sound on the film was of good quality. The narration was clear, and where it was required, the film was well subtitled.
As a whole, I would not recommend World War II: Attack Without Warning to anyone with an avid interest in World War II history. There are much better documentaries available that cover less subject matter in much better detail in a similar amount of time. The DVD is a much better introduction to World War II history for a more casual and broader audience.
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