James T. Wheeler | TUCSON, AZ United States | 06/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
" "How Hitler Lost the War" is one of the outstanding documentaries I've seen on World War II. I originally taped this show off PBS when it first appeared in 1989, and have watched it several times since then. Produced by David Hoffman and narrated by Norman Rose, the program has a weighty and authoritative flare. Once you start watching you can't stop until you see the conclusion.
Recently, I copied my old VHS tape onto DVD so I'd have a better and more permanent record. This included Titles at various points in the program so I could more easily find parts of the show I wanted to review. Sadly, though, my tape quality was not the highest which makes this new production such a welcome find. Its audio and video are topnotch, as you might expect from DVD.
The central theme of the show is how Hitler lost a war that the Germans may have already won through his vacillation and stubbornness. He dallied and delayed as key points in the war were reached on both the Eastern and Western fronts. Hitler issued orders that resulted in the loss of whole armies in defiance of advice he received from his military experts. And finally, to our deliverance, he refused to use properly the wonder weapons he yearned for when they were right in front of him.
Among the other most memorable features of this program are the interviews done with soldiers and airmen from both the German and Allied sides. All of these men are surely dead now, but their words live on describing the most terrible conflict in history. Their accounts are available to us and future generations in this indelible form. Especially vivid are pictures drawn of the Eastern Front and the suffering and loss of human life on both sides. Today's problems seem small by comparison, and yet, the sacrifices made to rid the world of Nazism must not be forgotten, lest they might have to be repeated.
Unfortunately, the new DVD does not carry titles or chapters as most DVD's do these days. Rather, it runs the full 67 minutes without interruption. Too bad, but what do you expect for the super bargain price of $6.99? If it weren't for this flaw I would have rated the production 5 stars, rather than 4. Still, the content is the most important thing and someone who doesn't have this video in his World War II collection should run, not walk, to order a copy.
An amazing documentary about Hitler's mistakes that probably
Dr. Metal | 04/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I got this DVD by chance, and that was real luck. It can be seen as a type of missing link that explains why the initial rapid success of Nazi Germany turned into defeat. While virtually all explanations given of why Hitler lost the war are usually unconvincing or to superficial, this one can actually explain what really caused him to lose the war.
The brilliant thing about this DVD is that it includes interviews not with some historians that go on propagating their theories and assumptions, rather it includes rare intereviews of those at the highest levels of combat back in the actual 2nd World War.
What is really astonishing is that Hitler himself was the main cause of why the 2nd World War was lost by Germany. It was more than anything else his personality that prevented what in retrospect would most likely have been a quick victory for Nazi Germany. The 1st major mistake that Hitler made was that he believed that his invasion of Poland would not have any consequences. Hitler relied, as described by fighter ace Gallant, most of all on his foreign minister Ribbentrop who claimed that G.B. & France would not declare war on Germany over a German attack on Poland, especially since Germany had just 1 week before concluded the important Nazi-Soviet Neutrality Pact which meant that Germany was thus officially allied to Stalin's Soviet Union. When Hitler did attack Poland in Sept. 1939, while Stalin attacked Poland from the East, Hitler was totally surprised that G.B. & France would declare war on Germany only 2 days later, on the 3rd of September. This was the first big mistake that Hitler made. He had firmly believed that the allies (G.B. & France) would stay out of his war with Poland. As one of the interviewer's stated, Hitler had counted on a little private war with Poland! This changed the course of history and of course started the 2nd World War that would result in the deaths of more than 50 million people. The 2nd big mistake that Hitler made was at Dunkirk where some 300 000 British and French troopes were stuck due to Hitler's immensly successful tank invasion through the Ardenne's forst that seperated France from Germany. By using this strategy he actually cut off the British and French armies that were supposed to fight the German's in Belgium and Holland, as they expected the Germans to conduct their main tank assault in those neighboring countries. Once these armies were stuck in Dunkirk the German army and airforce had the chance of finishing them off. Realizing this danger the British sent in all their ships and boats that they could assemble to rescue those troops and move them out of harms way back into G.B. Hitler and the high German command now had the untold chance of a lifetime to destroy the entire British Expeditionary force holed up in Dunkirk. But to virtually everyone's surprise on the German side Hitler actually halted the attack on the British and French troops in Dunkirk. He delays and wastes precious time, until he makes the somewhat strange decision to use his airforce to bomb the forces at Dunkirk. But this decision was clearly a terrible one, since the British immediately send in their Royal Airforce to protect their troops at Dunkirk. This first airforce battle between Germany and Great Britain was clearly won by the British as they destroyed many German aircraft, so that the British troops could be successfully evacuated from Dunkirk. This was a huge mistake by Hitler, had he sent in his army it would have been very likely that it would have smashed the British and French forces in Dunkirk by itself, as it had done before by smashing through the French defenses when Germany quickly invaded France in May 10th 1940, without encountering much resistance! The next big mistake that Hitler made was not to attack G.B. with a simultaneous amphibious invasion. Had he used his airforce in combination with his ground forces a successful invasion would have been quite likely. This is also what a commander of the Royal Airforce said in an interview in this DVD. He actually claimed that G.B. didn't really win the "Battle of Britain" in 1940 it was rather that the Germany airforce (Luftwaffe) had lost it. Again it was Hitler, who against the advice of some of his best officers, decided to delay and deferr this invasion of Britain that could have changed the outcome of the war completely. As Adolf Gallant the renowned fighter ace said in the DVD, when he met Hitler and Gallant advised him to quickly seize the oppertunity to bomb and invade Britain, Hitler literally said that he didn't want to hear any of this. He was an Anglophile and believed that the English were to be compared to the Germans in terms of their ranking in his mind, he didn't want a war with G.B. and thus he crucially delayed the invasion of Britain. When he finally decided (probably also because the high command was pressuring him to invade) to attack he used the airforce inadequately. Often the German pilots were ordered to attack rather useless targets such as civilian cities, which were of no strategic value in the war. And even worse for the Nazi's: when the Luftwaffe was actually on the verge of finally defeating the Royal Airforce Hitler again halted their attacks! A retired Royal Airfore commander is actually quoted in this DVD with the words: "we were virtually defeated, and then the Attack was stopped". Even before when right after the British evacuation of their 300 000 troops in Dunkirk, he said that had Hitler attacked then, it would most likely have been the end of G.B. since they had hardly had any weapons to fight the Nazi's at that point in time. Again Hitler made the crucially wrong decisions to halt a very successful attack on Britain, with the result that Germany could not complete the war by defeating G.B. and thus probably ending the war in its favor. The next blunder that Hitler made is well known and its his invasion of the Soviet Union (22nd June 1941). Here the authors of the DVD contend that his or rather the German plans for the invasion were not well developed because it wasen't clear where to strike first and what targets to take first. For example, there was much debate during the invasion by the German high command whether to take Moscow first or whether to move South or North. Actually Hitler changed his views: first it seemed that he wanted to gain territory in the Ukrain, and then he moved his troops toward the north, then changed the plan again by trying to take Moscow. The big mistake was not going towards Moscow with full force from the beginning as all the communication went through this city, and having conquered Moscow would have been a political as well as strategic victory for the Germans. Also in the Ukrain Hitler quickely lost this big region because he came down harsh on the local population there that was opposed to Stalin! Had Hitler been wiser and used this resentment of the Ukrainians who despised Stalin and the Communists the chances for a victory against Stalin would have been a lot better. One would think that these would have been all the grave mistakes that Hitler would make during the war, but there were even more to follow as this DVD shows. For example, when the US & British bomber fleets (usually 1000 strong) were raiding Germany and causing heavy destruction by raining down their lethal bombs on German cities, Hitler could have seriously disrupted and perhaps even virtually stopped this onslaught! Gallant claims that the German airforce had gotten an amazing air superiority fighter by the end of 1943: the Messerschmidt 262, usually known as the ME 262. This was the first ever produced jet fight aircraft, capable for outflying all allied fighters by about 150 Miles per hour in terms of speed. According to Gallant, who flew this increadible fighter, it was like an angel in the sky and made the other allied planes seem like they were literally standing like balloons in the sky! The Me 262 was part of the new "wonder" weapons that Hitler had ordered. It was capable, according to Gallant, of regaining the initiate in the air war over Germany. Gallant says in the DVD that with 100 of these fighters the German airforce could have shot down 200 allied aircraft (mainly bombers) A DAY !!! Anyone who knows even the slightest bit about airwar would have known that this would have meant the rapid end of the allied bombing campaign over Germany. It would have turned the airwar around and made it possible for Germany to at least get a better deal when it came to ending the war. But again it was Hitler who objected to such a sensible plan! He wanted, as he claimed, a bomber capable of bombing the allies! But this dosen't make any military sense at all! A bomber fleet of ME 262's (they could carry 2 bombs, not much) would have been senseless without the ability to destroy the US and British fighters & bombers that continually bombed German cities. And where was this ME 262 bomber fleet supposed to attack, in G.B., if that was the plan then again some other fighters would have to clear the sky of US & British fighters that would surely have prevented any bomber fleet from getting past them to G.B. ! Again, it was Hitler that prevented a very effective attack on US & British bombers & fighters by not allowing the ME 262's to be produced in the numbers needed for such a mission, and by keeping the few ME 262's mostly away from the US & British bomber fleets that were pounding Germany day and night since 1944. Gallant says that he seriously considered first escaping Germany but that the only escape possible was to the East, meaning the Soviet war zone, and that was clearly undesirable, then he considered to committ suicide. Ultimately he was put back in charge of the Me 262 attack squads, but the war was lost, once again due to Hitler's terrible decisions.
In all of this it is amazing that Hitler wasen't some kind of double agent who prevented Nazi Germany from achieving a fast and glorious victory in the 2nd World War. But as the DVD makes clear it was his incompetence more than anything else that made Germany lost the war! IN that sense the world was lucky that Germany had Adolf Hitler & Germany was equally unlucky that they had him as their leader.
Short But Effective!
Vince F | 04/21/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"How Hitler Lost The War is a short but effective documentary which tries to describe some of the ways Hitler may have lost WW2. It uses REAL war footage and interviews with participants from both sides - German and British.
My impression after watching this is that the problems with the war from the German side describes a usual outcome when most decisions are only made by one person. Hitler may have micro-managed his way to Germany's defeat.
The war footage shown is well presented with full sound, and this short documentary could be a nice addition to your library of films."
Interesting elaborations on various possible fatal miscalcul
DF McCleland | Johannesburg, South Africa | 07/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The implications of the title are obviously that the DVD would deal with the various missteps & miscalculations that ultimately resulted in Germany's demise during WW2. Of course it would but it is how these events are handled to avoid the mere recital or regurgitation of the events which is novel.
The DVD features a number of German participants such as Adolph Galland, the well known fighter ace & other not so well known veterans. In addition Dr RV Jones, Churchill's Scientific Advisor, is also interviewed. All of these interviewees provide a point of interest with their own commentaries on the events.
Most of the reasons advances are probably known by anybody reasonably au fait with the events of WW2 but some are not or were at least not known by the reviewer. One such event was a comment by Adolph Galland that Hitler refused to push the issue of the defeat of England due to his admiration of the British people!
Another little known fact was that Hitler, emboldened by the lack of negative reaction to his previous "misdemeanors" such as the occupation of Czechoslovakia despite the agreement to the contrary with Neville Chamberlin, had under-estimated the response by the Allied powers in declaring war against Poland. For the most part, their previous attitudes & actions had in effect "rewarded bad behaviour" & hence the German surprise. Adolph Galland maintains that Ribbentrop, the German Foreign Minister, was culpable in this regard in misleading Hitler!
The reasons for the German lack of direction & indecision in the direction of the war on Russia become obvious when it is mentioned that Hitler's goal of obtaining Lebensraum had been attained when the Ukraine & Belorussia had been overrun.
Other more obvious ones are dealt with such as the decision by Hitler not to let Von Paulus break out at Stalingrad & the almost gratuitous decision to declare war on the USA when it was never necessary to do so.
One reason not dealt with was Hitler's decision to maintain the 21st Army at the Pas de la Calais in spite of the Allied invasion at Normandy but the lesser important factor that Hitler slept late & hence only authorized the release of the Panzer Divisions adjacent to Normandy after his awakening late on the 6th June 1944!!
Overall this is an excellent production with little to fault it apart from the lack of chapters or episodes.
Rise and Fall of a Hubristic Dictator
Serge J. Van Steenkiste | Atlanta, GA | 04/27/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The DVD "How Hitler Lost the War" narrates succinctly the key mistakes that Adolf Hitler made in leading and micro-managing the conduct of WWII. To their credit, producer David Hoffman and his team clearly articulate the miscalculations and blunders for which Hitler was responsible in waging war on the Eastern and Western fronts. Unfortunately, this production takes big shortcuts in covering the second half of WWII. This production will appeal the most to whoever already has an in-depth knowledge of this period. To appreciate the documentary under review, less knowledgeable viewers will be better served by first watching other documentaries such as "The World at War" by A&E, "World War II" by the BBC, "The Century of Warfare" by the History Channel, or "Apocalypse La 2ème Guerre Mondiale" by France Télévision Distribution. In summary, the DVD "How Hitler Lost the War" is a nice addition for whoever has already acquired an advanced knowledge of WWII."