The Bunker (1981)



Director:    George Schaefer

Starring:    Anthony Hopkins (Adolf Hitler), Richard Jordan (Albert Speer), Cliff Gorman (Joseph Goebbels), James Naughton (James O'Donnell), Michael Lonsdale (Martin Bormann), Piper Laurie (Magda Goebbels), Susan Blakely (Eva Braun), Martin Jarvis (Johannes Hentschel), Michael Kitchen (Rochus Misch), Robert Austin (Wagner), Andrew Ray (Guenter), Yves Brainville (Gen. Hans Guderian), Michael Culver (Gen. Mohnke), Julian Fellowes (Col. von Below), Frank Gatliff (Dr. Schenck).

Made for TV movie.

Awards: Hopkins won an Emmy

Anthony Hopkins plays the role of Adolph Hitler, Susan Blakely the role of Hitler's girl friend, and Piper Laurie as Magda Goebbels (for which she was nominated for an Emmy).  



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie.

An American captain wants to see the infamous bunker of Hitler.  The Russian guard lets him head into the bunker.  Water covers a good deal of the floors.  Here is where Hitler lived his last 105 days. 

Flashback.  January 16, 1945.  The Americans are at the Rhine River in Germany.  Hitler goes to his bunker in Berlin.  Borman checks the place out  and comments:  "What have we come to?"  Reports come in that the Russians are raping all German women.  Goebbels arrives.  Reichsminister Albert Speer, Hitler's architect and industrial production man, arrives.  Speer wants to try to talk Hitler out of his plan to destroy all Germany. Speer gets his private audience, but Hitler is absolutely committed to his plan of utter annihilation of Germany as a punishment for betraying him. 

Speer talks with Dieter Stahl, Chief of the Munitions Division, about the possibility of assassinating Hitler by introducing into the bunker a new poison gas that is said to be able to penetrate any air filter.  Stahl tells him that it is too risky of a gas and that mustard gas would be better.  Speer asks Stahl to get him some of the gas and Stahl agrees. 

Hitler is in conference with his generals.  He is furious with them saying that the generals have let him down.  One of the generals strenuously objects and the only thing that Hitler does to him is to tell him to go on six weeks of sick leave. 

Borman speaks with Speer and asks him why he has not carried out Hitler's plan for total annihilation of German towns and villages.  Speer says that there have been administrative problems.  He then has to speak with Hitler about the subject.  Hitler tells him that he has read Speer's long memorandum on the subject but says there will be no reconsideration of his policy.  He becomes extremely mad at Speer when the architect dares sits down:  "How dare you sit in my presence?"  Speer is then dismissed.  He later learns that he has been replaced with Borman as head of the annihilation plan. 

The next time Hitler speaks to Speer he tells him that he must believe that the war is not lost.  But Speer says the war is lost.  Then Hitler retreats a bit and says "If you could just hope we will win" that would be enough to satisfy me.  Speer feeds Hitler some other lines and Hitler announces his victory with "I knew I could rely on you". 

Goebbels reports to Hitler that the American president FDR has died.  The minister of propaganda is absolutely ecstatic.  That happiness, however, is offset by the message that Vienna has fallen.   

Eva Braun, Hitler's so-called mistress, arrives.  The head of the German Air Force, Goering, arrives followed by head of the secret police Himmler.  Himmler is secretly negotiating with Count Bernadotte of Sweden about peace.

Berlin is now closed on three sides.  Hitler tells his generals to send General Steiner in with his Panzer corps, but Steiner only has 11,000 men.  Hitler demands to know who was responsible for not stopping the Russians in their latest move.  It's the 56th Panzer of General Wilding.  Hitler tells his staff to have the general executed.  Hitler goes outside and praises the kids who are now serving as German soldiers. 

Goebbels calls his wife and tells her that the time has come.  That is code for the situation is so bad that it is time to bring the children to the bunker to commit suicide with Hitler and Eva.  The Goebbels believe that a world without Hitler would be simply unbearable. 

Borman asks Hitler to move to greater safety in Bavaria, but Hitler answers with a definite no.  Two of Hitler's secretaries come in to tell Hitler that they want to stay with him through the bombardments.  Hitler nods in agreement.  Magda Goebbels and her six children arrive. 

Conferring again with his generals, Hitler learns that General Steiner has been captured.  Hitler goes into a rant saying that the army has betrayed him, that his orders have not been carried out.  He finally admits:  "I'll die in Berlin. The war is lost."

Eva Braun's brother-in-law Colonel Fetterline is brought by force  into the bunker.   The man has been absent for three days and was about to leave Berlin.  Hitler chooses to be lenient and tells his staff to release him.   But then Hitler is told that Himmler has offered to surrender the western German armies to Eisenhower.  Hitler then even gets madder when he learns that Goering in a message to von Ribbentroff said that he will take over in Germany after Hitler's death.  Speer has come to say good-bye to Hitler because he is leaving, but Hitler is too angry to give him much notice.  But Hitler has time enough to tell Borman to execute Fetterline. 

Hitler and Eva Braun have afternoon tea and crumpets.  Hitler is distracted with his worries, so Eva asks him if they can tell the secretaries the good news.  She gets the o.k. and she tells the women that they will be married.  There is only about 48 hours left until the arrival of the Russians at the bunker. 

Hitler asks General Mohnke, who is in charge of the defense of Berlin, if he can hold out until May 5, the anniversary of Napoleon's defeat.  The general tells him that he can give no assurances as to any particular date.  

There is a farewell dinner for Dr. Goebbels.  Hitler learns that Mussolini and his mistress have been executed and their bodies hung upside down in the public square. 

The end has come.  Hitler and Eva Braun say good-bye to their staff.  They then retire to their private chamber where they both bite down on cyanide capsules.  Almost simultaneously Hitler shoots himself in the head with his revolver.  Their bodies are taken outside the bunker and burned. Now it is the turn of the Goebbels.  In their beds, Magda makes all six children bite down on cyanide capsules.  They are quickly dead.  Magda and Joseph go outside and repeat the actions of Hitler and Eva Braun. 

The staff now leaves the bunker with the exception of the engineer in charge of operating the electrical generator.  Only six of the staff that left were able to avoid capture by the Russians.  Two of Hitler's secretaries were captured by the British.  Borman's body was finally discovered in 1972, a suicide committed at the time of the fall of Berlin.  Albert Speer was captured and served 20 years in prison. 


Pretty good movie.  It gives you a good idea of the last days of Hitler as promised in the title.  By this time Hitler was almost completely delusional, at least until the very end when he killed himself.  And what a complete ego-maniac he was, condemning all of Germany to the torch for "failing" him.  

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


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