Search - In the Shadow of the Reich: Nazi Medicine/The Cross and the Star on DVD

In the Shadow of the Reich: Nazi Medicine/The Cross and the Star
In the Shadow of the Reich Nazi Medicine/The Cross and the Star
Actor: -
Director: John Michalczyk
Genres: Educational, Documentary
NR     2003     1hr 49min

This special two film DVD features NAZI MEDICINE: IN THE SHADOW OF THE REICH and THE CROSS AND THE STAR, two riveting documentaries by John Michalczyk that confront the horrors of Hitler's Third Reich. The DVD also include...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: -
Director: John Michalczyk
Genres: Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Educational, Military & War
Studio: First Run Features
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color
DVD Release Date: 06/03/2003
Theatrical Release Date: 04/22/2003
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 49min
Screens: Black and White,Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 5
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

This is a most disturbing video on the Nazi horror. | Wisconsin, USA | 06/24/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It is beyond all comprehension that many, many physicians, in one of the most highly educated countries in Europe, could ever have participated and collaborated in the Nazi horrors. A country which gave the world Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Einstein, etc. also produced Nazi "doctors;" this seems like a bad nightmare, something the world dreamed, but sadly, it wasn't."
Jeffrey Leach | Omaha, NE USA | 09/09/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Nazi Medicine/The Cross and the Star" looks like one of those documentaries that the History Channel plays on a perpetual loop. You know the type: World War II era grainy black and white footage coupled with modern day scholars providing historical context and a few meager details to assist the narrative flow. I tend to avoid historical documentaries because they often target viewers accustomed to MTV/modern media editing techniques. The emphasis on the bombastic and dramatic dominates every frame of these documentaries, and all of the shows must rely on historical events after the invention of photography because viewers can't seem to maintain interest in anything that doesn't move across their television screens. Sure, you'll see a few documentaries about Roman history or the Middle Ages from time to time, but even then the producers have to punch up the program with reenactments or voiceovers to keep people tuned in. As far as I can tell, about the only benefit of these shows is getting people interested enough in the subject matter to read books for further information.

Having complained about history programs, I do have to say that "Nazi Medicine" is an immensely intriguing introduction into a topic little discussed in the broader context of the Nuremberg trials. Created by Professor John Michalcyzk of Boston College's Department of Film Studies, "Nazi Medicine" focuses a spotlight on the Nazi doctor's trial of 1946. Most of us know about the first Nuremberg trial where Herman Goering, Julius Streicher, and others faced an international tribunal for war crimes, but the doctor's trial apparently fell through the cracks. Considering that these were the monsters responsible for the deaths of millions in research laboratories and concentration camps, it is surprising more hasn't been made of their activities. "Nazi Medicine" explores the historical antecedents that made the grotesque experimentations of the German physicians possible, looking back to the early days of the twentieth century and the intense interest in eugenics. According to the documentary, the United States led the charge in investigating the potential of realizing the dreams of Social Darwinism through hard science. The American variant of eugenics was inherently racist, but the results on this side of the pond rarely went beyond pen and paper.

Europeans were not so lucky. German doctors picked up on the foundations laid by American scientists and put into practice experimentations on the human body so sickening as to defy description. Physicians set up pressure chambers to test the effects of extreme pressure on the human body, or messed around with germ and viral injections. What the doctors hoped to achieve were answers that would help the German war effort. Instead, the results of these experiments were inconclusive or downright nonexistent. What intrigued me most about "Nazi Medicine" was not the laundry list of atrocities (most of which we have heard about countless times before) but how the doctors moved from practitioners and guardians of the public health to conscienceless monsters who made distinctions between "superior" and "inferior" human beings. One of the modern scholars interviewed for the film does an excellent job of explaining how this irrational belief system took on a perverse logic. The doctors could experiment on certain human beings--Jews, but others as well including criminals and the mentally infirm--because they believed these people were either not human or inferior humans. After all, do we not use animals to better the human race? Is this logic sociopathic? Probably, but once the physicians made the distinction the door was wide open for all sorts of horrific projects. The trial ultimately led to a statement about medical ethics still recognized today.

"The Cross and the Star," regrettably, is on shakier factual and interpretative ground than "Nazi Medicine." This second documentary attempts to establish concrete links between the Catholic Church and the holocaust. The program looks back through two thousand years of history, citing the Gospels and other tracts that promoted anti-Semitic views. There can be no doubt that the Church did subscribe to anti-Semitism during various stages of its history, as did Protestant Christianity. The Crusades, for example, occasionally targeted Jews even as they tried to liberate the Holy Land from Muslim influence. Martin Luther wrote a short book about the threat he thought the Jews posed to every good Christian. The reasons the Church often attacked Jews were many, from the old "they killed Christ" standby to the perception that Jews acted as lenders of money at usurious interest rates in the Middle Ages. These examples are contained in historical records. But to accuse the modern Church of anti-Semitism is a risky proposition at best. Did the Pope overtly or covertly support the Nazi regime's campaign to eradicate the Jews? Or was the Pope essentially powerless to stop the rampages of a brutal regime led by an unstable madman? The answers to these questions are far from certain despite what this documentary claims. One wonders if the filmmaker has an ulterior motive for defaming the Church.

The DVD of "Nazi Medicine/The Cross and the Star" contains several extras. You get a couple of trailers for "Fighter" and "The Trial of Henry Kissinger," a photographic gallery called "Inside the Reich," a director's biography and filmography, and some information on the concentration camps. Michalcyzk's "Nazi Medicine" documentary is as informative as it is shocking. And yes, the first program on this disc has inspired me to read more about the subject. Unfortunately, the shoddy claims made about the Catholic Church diminish, if only slightly, the overall impact of the DVD.

Interesting but?
Shane | Lynden, WA USA | 01/06/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This video is a two-part production concerning two related aspects of the Holocaust. The first is the part that the medical doctors of Germany played in the Holocaust and the second is about the measure of guilt that the church is responsible for.
The first part is titled: Nazi Medicine. I really enjoyed learning about this topic. The video conveys the slippery slope of morals that eugenics and euthanasia played in the degradation of human life. The video makes some interesting connections between social Darwinism and Nazi theology.
The second part is focused on the guilt of the church in not standing up to the Nazis in the 1930's and 40's. I did not enjoy this part of the video as much. Although there are some valid points made here the general spirit behind this is anti-Christian. I say this not to defend those who were apathetic to the Nazis, but to counter the humanistic rhetoric that is promoted as being responsible for the survival of Jews as well as the reason for why people helped Jews; not to mention that most studies of Holocaust survivors state that faith was the number on common denominator between those who survived.
All in all, I recomend the first video but not the second."
The horrors of Nazi eugenics and experimentation
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 05/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

""In the Shadow of the Reich: Nazi Medicine" is a 60-minute documentary by Professor John J. Michalczyk, Director of Film Studies at Boston College, made in 1997, which was the 50th anniversary of the Nuremberg Physicians Trial, which was held from December 1946 to August 1947. Michalczyk went to the Auschwitz and Majdanek concentration camps to interview both survivors of the Nazi experimentations and leader scholars who studied the practices of Nazi medicine such as Dr. Michael Grodin, Dr. Charles Roland, and Professor Michael Kater. There is also an interview done at Auschwitz in 1995 with Hans Munch, a former S.S. doctor in this video, which is narrated by Donald Winning.The film begins by examining how not only Germany but also the United States were interested at the start of the 20th century in eugenics as an example of a scientific Social Darwinism. In the U.S. eugenic studies were being funded by Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockerfeller and over half the states had sterilization laws on the books at one point. However, it was the Nazis in the 1930s who then put the theoretical work done by American scientist into practice in the Third Reich, beginning with the Nuremberg Laws excluded Jews from various professions, including the practice of medicine. It was doctors in Nazi Germany who pushed for the state-sponsored program of "racial hygiene," which meant the forced euthanasia of almost a half-million citizens with mental and physical defects. In the death camps these physicians engaged in many experiments with questionable scientific merit and clearly no moral accountability. This included studies of how much gas would be needed to kill a certain number of prisoners as quickly as possible and high-altitude testing that ruined the lungs of the "subjects."

"Nazi Medicine" chronicles the path of these scientists, who began providing justification for the Nuremberg sterilization laws, the practice of euthanasia, and eventually to genocide. What is both fascinating and horrifying about this documentary is that what the Nazis did was not simply follow orders from Hitler and his bureaucrats. These physicians were integrally involved in all of these decisions, from developing the Nazi race laws to the unethical experiments conducted in the death camps. Michalczyk also makes the point that after the Nuremberg Trial of those Nazi doctors, 10 international tenets of acceptable experimentation were established, including, most importantly, the informed consent of the subject. This is a graphic documentary, and even those who have seen footage of the Holocaust are going to find this video upsetting. But, as the quote from Allan A. Ryan, Director, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Special Investigations points out on the front cover: "The horror of Nazi eugenics and experimentation" make this documentary "a work of truth and timeliness.""