With the box office success of "Valkyrie" cam a renewed interest in the schemes that came to light over the years, dealing with numerous assassination attempts on Adolf Hitler. Recently I caught a very intriguing documentary on the subject on the History Channel and I am glad to see that it is now available also on DVD – "Hunting Hitler."
As we all know, for some reason or another, Adolf Hitler managed to escape all attempts on his life unscathed during his reign of terror during World War II. "Hunting Hitler" takes a look at some of the cases that have been uncovered throughout the years of people who felt that in order to stop the horrors of the war, one has to stop Hitler first. The most infamous of all these cases, is, of course, Operation Valkyrie, in which Claus Von Stauffenberg set off a bomb in the middle of Hitler's secret headquarter, missing to kill the Führer by a mere few seconds.
This documentary takes a very close look at the case, how it came about within the historic context and the previous, failed assassination attempts. More importantly it shows what lead these officers that were so close to Hitler to change their mind and decide to kill their leader, despite the incredible risk and the prospect of potential failure. This, perhaps, is the most fascinating aspect of the entire documentary. Not the attempt itself, but the process these men went through, from first lingering doubts all the way to their willingness to sacrifice their own lives in order to change the world. None of them thought of it in historic terms, no of them thought their undertaking was heroic – they did it because they realized that the horrors the Nazi regime inflicted upon the world were intolerable and went against everything that was human.
"Hunting Hitler" glued me to the screen for its entire 50 minute running length. Filled with original photographs and archival footage, as well as documents, it is simply stunning to see these men come to life in front of your eyes. Adding incredible depth to the film are the interviews with family members, as well as some of the surviving officers, who she light on the events and the motivations behind the incidents. When you put it all together, you have a mesmerizing look into on of the world's darkest moments as well as the souls of the few men who were determined to put an end to it.
Although the Von Stauffenberg attempt is at the center of the documentary, the film also shines plenty of light onto earlier attempts on Hitler's life as well as another top secret plot that had been uncovered in recent years only.
When the documentary comes to a close one can't help but feel monumental awe for these few men who risked everything for the greater good of the world. Though sadly most of them have been forgotten by history and only few can actually recall their names, it becomes tremendously obvious that these people were heroes beyond compare that deserve more attention and gratitude. I know that I was deeply touched.
"Hunting Hitler" comes on a solid DVD here. Since a lot of the documentary consist of archival footage it is hardly surprising that the image quality of these segments is rough and rather poor. To be honest however there is nothing that compares to seeing the real Von Stauffenberg alive and about, no matter how grainy or faded the footage or photograph may be.
As a bonus the DVD also contains "Plotting To Kill Hitler," another documentary on the subject from the History Channel's Dead Men's Secrets series.
"Hunting Hitler" is a tour-de-force film. Gut-wrenching in its ugliness of the Nazi horrors, inspiring in its portrayal of the heroism of the rebels and ultimately deeply touching in its overall impact. If you're interested in seeing history come to life and pay tribute to these heroes, "Hunting Hitler" should go straight on your shopping list.