Hitler -- The Last Ten Days (1973)

 

 

 

Director:    Ennio de Concini.

Starring:     Alec Guinness (Adolf Hitler),  Simon Ward (Capt. Hoffman),  Adolfo Celi (Gen. Krebs),  Diane Cilento (Hanna Reitsch),  Gabriele Ferzetti (Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel),  Eric Porter (Gen. von Greim),  Doris Kunstmann (Eva Braun),  Joss Ackland (Gen. Burgdorf),  John Bennett (Josef Goebbels),  John Barron (Dr. Stumpfegger),  Barbara Jefford (Magda Goebbels),  Sheila Gish (Frau Christian),  Julian Glover (Fegelein),  Michael Goodliffe (Gen. Weidling),  Mark Kingston (Martin Bormann).

Country:    British-Italian film.

the last ten days of the life of Hitler in his bunker in Berlin

 

 

 

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

The film starts with a short documentary about the rise of Adolf Hitler and his domination of most of Europe.  Then the switch is to his bunker in Berlin.  Hitler screams at his staff that without any military training he conquered Europe and half of Russia.  This is followed by scenes of the devastation of Berlin.

It is April 20, Hitler's 56th birthday.  Minister of Propaganda Goebbels announces this over the loud speakers.  Captain Hoffman approaches the guards watching the entrance to the bunker.  The area around the bunker has been badly damaged by explosions.  He has to go through another check point at the bottom of the stairs.  He must go through still another check point where they ask him the reasons for his visit.  The captain is to report on the condition of the 3rd Panzer Army to Gen. Krebs.  Hoffman will have to wait as Krebs is with the others honoring Hitler on his birthday.  They are all lined up against the wall.  He shakes each one's hand as they say something nice to Hitler. 

In the kitchen Eva Braun sneaks a drink of liquor and asks about Goebbels coming to the party. 

Hitler gets a briefing.  In Italy Gen. Alexander's army has entered Bologna.  The English have reached the outskirts of Bremen and Hamburg.  The Americans have crossed the Elbe River.  In the south the French have penetrated to the banks of the upper Danube.  Hoffman finally gets to report on the 3rd Panzer Army.  Steiner is trying to hold his positions.  Gen. Krebs asks if they can pull the 9th Army back or else it will be completely encircled.  Hitler says emphatically no. 

The generals speak of the linking up of the Russian and Allied forces in Germany.  Hitler assures them that there will be no such hook-up of forces.  He says that when Stalin attacked Berlin he made a colossal mistake.  The Russians will suffer the world's greatest defeat. 

Hitler blows out the candles on his cake.  He eats some of the cake while receiving presents.  Later he makes fun of Winston Churchill and FDR.  He also talks about stopping people from smoking in his presence. 

Eva and the staff dance to music.  Eva's brother-in-law, Fegelein, asks her to use her influence on Hitler to transfer to another area.    She tells him that he overestimates her influence, that Hitler makes up his own mind.  She has never tried to influence his decisions and she has no desire to.  In other parts of the bunker men drink and talk.  In still another area, soldiers dance with the nurses and some other women. 

Eva watches over Hitler as he worries about the way he wants an entrance to an opera house to look. There are more scenes of the destruction of Berlin.  

21st April, 1945.  Russians are now only 23 km from the bunker.  And the Germans have no reserves in that area.  Hitler asks Krebs about his headquarters company.  Yes, they are available but there are only 250 of them.  Hitler says numbers has nothing to do with it.  He says mankind is ruled by will and determination.  Hitler switches subjects to say he wants the women and children to dig anti-tank ditches around Berlin.  Goebbels says that the man in charge, Gen. Riemann, isn't determined enough.  Hitler relieves Riemann of command, against the protests of some of the generals present in the room. 

News arrives that the 9th Army is now encircled.  The general in command asks permission to break out from the encirclement, but Hitler just shouts:  "The Ninth Army stops where it is!"  He relieves the commander of his command.  He says that Steiner's army corps must attack at once.  Steiner in twenty-four hours will have the Russians cut off from their bases.

When the generals are alone, Krebs says that Steiner has no forces with which to mount a counterattack.  He wants to tell the truth to Hitler, but he and everyone else fear his reaction.  Yodel and some others say they should do it now.  They go in and start to tell Hitler about Steiner's weak position.  Hitler says:  "I will not listen to defeatist talk.  Steiner must attack now."  

Hitler telephones about the search lights he ordered sent from Prague to Berlin for the Luftwaffe.  He gets his answer and then says after Steiner's attack, he will have all the command of the Luftwaffe liquidated. 

Eva Braun is finishing up with her applied facial.  She tells her helper that the traitor Stauffenberg had tried to kill Hitler by placing a bomb near him. 

Steiner's army has begun its attack.  Hitler talks about making Linz, where he first discovered his artistic abilities, the cultural center of the world.  He also talks about having thought one time about putting all the European Jews on Madagascar, but he thinks it's best to exterminate them on the spot wherever they are found. 

23rd April, 1945.  Russians now 56 km for the bunker.  The Russians are encircling Berlin.  Krebs says that the encirclement may be completed in one day, at the most two.  Hitler demands to know of the news from Steiner.  The generals don't want to tell him, but Yodel speaks up and says Steiner had to grab men, many unfit for combat, from anywhere he could to thrust them at the Soviets who have some 50 divisions.  He advanced 3 km and then stopped the attack.  Hitler tells everyone to leave except a few of the top generals. 

Hitler locks the door and says:  "An order of mine has not been executed."  He says they lied to him, that he has been betrayed.  Going on with his rant he says they know nothing of the German soldier and are a bunch of cowards.  In fact, they have all failed him, even the SS.  In absolute silence, people sit and stand in the next room and can hear him ranting and raving.  He tells the generals he will have them hanged, shot and quartered.  He sits down and tells them all to get out.  But then he stands up and the generals have to stop from leaving.  And now Hitler says he will do all the fighting for himself alone. 

Finally a flash of some sanity comes over him.  He admits the war is lost and says he must kill himself.  He cries over the fate of his Third Reich. 

Hitler now talks about Germany rising again after the war.  Captain Hoffman comes rushing in saying that the Americans and the Russians hooked up, but violent arguments occurred between the Russian and American commanders and there has been some shooting.  Hitler is gleeful saying he knew it would happen. 

April 24th 1945, Russians now 3-6 km from the bunker.  Hitler has more enthusiasm and orders two different armies to hook up. The generals just play along with him.  

With Eva and Magda Goebbels and others, Hitler says his main concern has always been for the German people.  That's why he never married, he says.  Because he would have to tell his wife that she comes second to the German people. 

Goering has sent a telegram to Hitler:  "Mein fuehrer.  In view of your decision to remain at your post in the fortress of Berlin, do you agree that I take over total leadership of the Reich, with full freedom of action at home and abroad as your deputy in accordance with your decree of 29th June, 1941.  If I should receive no reply by 10 pm this evening, I shall infer that you have been deprived of your freedom of action. . . ."   He has sent similar telegrams to all the high command.  Hitler removes Goering from all his offices and the right to succession. 

Magda has her six children sing to Hitler. 

Krebs says that the Russian are now attacking the city from all sides. 

25th April 1945.  Russians now 3-2 km from the bunker.  Berlin is completely surrounded.  Hitler has only one telephone line left to link with the outside world.  He asks his generals about his couple of armies.  Even though he should know the 9th army is out of it, he tells his generals to have the 9th army attack.  The commander of the 12th army wants to surrender to the English and Americans in order to prevent a double devastation of Germany.  Hitler says he does not seek to avoid devastation and that the German people have proved too feeble.  Now they are only fit to be destroyed.  "Let them go down in a sea of flame  - a Viking funeral for the Reich."   

The famous pilot Hanna Reitsch has flown into Berlin.  The men shout bravo to her.  She has flown Gen. von Greim into Berlin so he can meet with Hitler, at the fuhrer's request.  Hitler congratulates Hanna and even kisses her right hand.  He says he asked them to come here because Goering has betrayed him.  He now makes von Greim the commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe.  And von Greim must go back to take up his command.  Greim looks like he is thinking the fuehrer is crazy.  After Hitler leaves the room von Greim bemoans the loss of 43 planes while flying to Berlin. 

Von Greim and Reitsch have tea with the fuehrer.  Hanna is a bit jealous of the show of affection between Hitler and Eva.  In private Magda tells Hanna that Eva and Hitler have been together for ten years and supposes that they are lovers.  Hanna says she though the fuehrer was above those things. 

Hitler orders the Hitler Youth to guard the bridges in Berlin and to fight to the death.  He wants Fegelein to present the bravest fighting boys with iron crosses.  Where is Fegelein?  None of them have seen him for two days.  The commander of the forces of Berlin comes in looking very battle weary and tries to put a pleasant spin on the willingness of the men to continue fighting so that the center of Berlin will be saved from becoming a battlefield.  Hitler says nothing to him.  He just tells Krebs to put his Hitler Youth order into motion. 

Fegelein is arrested and brought to Hitler.  Hitler has him stripped of his rank.  News arrives that Himmler has been trying to negotiate a peace with Sweden as a mediator.  No one wants to be the one who has to tell Hitler of this betrayal.  So they send a messenger in with the note on a silver tray.  Eva comes running out crying to Magda and Hanna that they have all abandoned the fuehrer.  Hitler rails about Himmler, Goering, Fegelein, Rommel and the others betraying him.  He says:  "The Germans are a nation of whores.  None of them deserves me."   

He thinks that Fegelein was in on the plot with Himmler.  He tells Eva this.  Eva cries but tells Hitler that as fuehrer he decides.  Fegelein is taken out and shot dead by a firing squad. 

A boy from the Hitler Youth who blew up a Russian tank is given a medal by Hitler who asks the boy how is it going.  He says the losses are heavy:  5,000 in three days.  Hitler says good boy -- go back and fight. 

Hitler walks with his dog Blondie.  Hitler talks about suicide.  Goebbels approves of the idea.  Hitler asks Magda about her children.  She says:  "We can't abandon them at a time like this.  To leave them in a world without you, mein fuhrer, would be like forcing them to live in hell, on an earth without sunshine."  Hitler says:  "You're right!  It's the right thing to do."  Hanna says that she and von Greim will go holding onto each other.  They will simply pull the pin from a grenade stuck between them.  Hitler claps thinking that a swell idea.  Hitler says for himself he will use cyanide and his pistol.  He will then be cremated. 

Hanna and von Greim are going to fly out.  The area, however, is under bombardment and can't be held for long.  City Councilor Herr Wagner arrives.  He will marry Hitler and Eva.  Goebbels and Boorman are the witnesses. Krebs is also present.  It's a very simple wedding ceremony.  Eva Hitler and Magda Goebbels cry.  Hitler talks a lot after the ceremony.  He says he prefers dogs to humans because they are more loyal.  He is just sad that Blondie has to die because of all the treacherous humans.  He hands out two cyanide pills in tiny boxes to all the people in the room, except Magda receives seven boxes for her and her children.  Eva sings for the people in the room. 

Some people try to leave the bunker and are shot down by the SS guards at the entrance/exit.   Eva puts on black face and sings an Al Jolson song. 

The Russians are only a few hundred meters away.  Hitler has made his last statement and has several copies of it.  Hoffman volunteers to take one of them. 

Hitler has the water locks opened.  This will flood the subways and kill thousands of Germans.  Hitler only says that at a time like this, there can be only one thought:  of National Socialism!  Outside and away from Hitler, Hoffman tears up the envelope he carries.  Hitler smashes one of his architectural models.  

Eva asks him if they couldn't wait a little longer before they commit suicide.  She asks if there is still hope?  No.  The Russians are too close.  And he says he knew there was no hope two years ago.  Eva asks him then why did he continue the war?   He says because they would have killed him.  They want him paraded around naked in a cage.  Eva says maybe she never really knew Hitler.  He says, of course not.  How could she?  She is just a stupid woman with limited intelligence.  She got to live close to him, isn't that enough for her?  This upsets her and she takes a pill and dies.  He is still yelling at her when her turns to find her dead.  He says:  "You have betrayed me!"  When the gun shot is heard, the door is opened.  Goebbels and Boorman rush in.  Goebbels tells the staff:  "The heart of Germany has ceased to beat.  The fuehrer is dead." 

One woman lights a cigarette.  Others start smoking too.  They just stand there talking to each other. 

 

Good movie.  It's a little like gloating over Hitler's end and the end of National Socialism.  But that's okay.  You're the fly on the wall watching Hitler crash and burn.  From the way he acted you might say the guy had gone crazy.  He was convinced that virtually everyone important had turned their backs on him.  He was definitely paranoid.  And he loved going off on rants against those who he felt had even failed him.  It was really quite childish.  He blamed everyone except himself for his current position. 

He "humbly" says he is not the second Messiah.  But he considers himself up there with the great men of history like Jesus.  And now he wants the whole nation of Germany to suffer and die for failing him and the dream of the Aryan race and the Third Reich.  They say you never see the real you, until you are under great stress.  Under great stress, Hitler was selfish, egoistic, punitive, cruel, paranoid and vengeful.  Not a very pretty picture, but then again it was never pretty.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

1945  

April  --  Hitler moves into his bunker in Berlin as the Soviet troops descend on the capital city.  His girlfriend Eva Braun, age 33, was with him, along with several high-ranking Nazi ministers: top aide Martin Bormann and Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels had his wife and six children with him in the bunker.

April 23  --  Hitler had designated Herman Goering as his successor back in 1941.  This day Hitler is infuriated when he receives a telegram from Goering safe for now in the south at Berchtesgaden, saying that if Hitler did not respond by 10pm, he (Goering) would become the Reich's leader.

April 25 --  Goering arrested by the SS.

April 28th  --  Hitler learns Reichsfuhrer SS Heinrich Himmler was negotiating with the Allies and discussing German surrender. Hitler orders Himmler's arrest and that Himmler's personal representative in the bunker (Eva Braun's brother-in-law) be shot.

April 29th  --  Hitler marries Eva Braun in a civil ceremony in the bunker.

April 30  --  Hitler and Eva say goodbye to the remaining bunker staff.  In their private room Eva swallows poison and Hitler takes a cyanide pill while shooting himself in the right temple. Goebbels and Bormann found the bodies.  The bodies were cremated.

April 31  --  Goebbels and his wife poison their six children and then have the SS orderly shoot them in the back of the head.

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