World War Two: Capitulation outlines the definitive steps which led to the end of the war.
The film chiefly focuses on the battle to invade Berlin, which marked the final march of allied forces to defeat the Germans. As the Red Army made their advancements, Adolf Hitler was hidden away in a bunker. He was slow to accept the inevitability of defeat.
The war was a savage and costly one for U.S., Soviet and British soldiers. But the resolve of these troops was strengthened when they understood the depths of suffering caused by their enemy. The film spotlights one particular moment of epiphany as a British unit happens upon a concentration camp. Shocked by the sight of the camp prisoners – many of them far too emaciated and fragile to welcome their liberators with energetic glee – the soldiers quickly set up relief efforts.
Through a wealth of photographic and newsreel footage, the film offers an unprecedented look at the skirmishes that led to the overtaking of the German capital and the end of the Nazi regime. We learn of the tactics which might have backfired against the allied troops, including the use of floodlights to illuminate battle grounds at night. We hear the statistics of unimaginable losses suffered by both sides.
By early May, Berlin had surrendered to Soviet control. By that time, the major players of the Nazi regime had perished. Refusing capture, most committed suicide. Hitler retreated with his wife and both took their own lives. Reich Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels and his wife took similar measures, but not before they poisoned their six children. Some of the footage from these scenes – as well as the evidence of Nazi atrocities – are of an understandably graphic nature.
The second half of the film explores the political interplay that would truly bring an end to the conflict, including the tenuous relationship between Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin and U.S. President Harry Truman. The events portrayed in the film eventually culminate in the invention and deployment of the atomic bomb.
Handsomely produced and well presented by a panel of noted historians, World War Two: Capitulation presents an insightful snapshot that brings this crucial history to life.
Directed by: Nina Adler, Hendrik Behrendt