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DVD Review: Hitler’s Bodyguard

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Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the totalitarian leader of Germany from 1933 until 1945. He joined the Nazi Party in 1919 and became its leader in 1921. After a short time in jail due to a failed coup in 1923, he gained support because he was a charismatic speaker and through the use of propaganda as well as by extolling German nationalism, anti-Semitism, anti-capitalism, and anti-communism.

During the time from 1920 through 1945, Hitler managed to survive more than 40 assassination attempts, including some by his own generals. How did he do it? The British team of Phillip Nugus and Jonathan Martin have put together a 13-episode documentary that includes captured documents, carefully assembled archive footage, and eyewitness interviews to take you behind the scene and reveal the secrets of Hitler's elite bodyguards. Originally aired as a series on the Military Channel, the 13 episodes are contained on four DVDs that and run 611 minutes.

Disc one begins with a look into how Hitler's bodyguard worked. You will see how his squad grew from a few loyal ruffians into a complicated structure. Next you will see how, through beer hall brawls and street fights, some of the early attempts on Hitler's life began. Then in his first year as Chancellor, he faced a dozen attempts on his life, and in one well planned purge, he eliminated many of his political rivals.

Disc two examines how Jewish, Communist, and Black groups all tried to target Hitler for elimination when the Nazis amped up their anti-Semitic activities. By the time the war was beginning in 1938, there were even more efforts to remove the Führer. Then, when a bomb plot failed, Hitler began to engineer a sting to capture British Agents whom he blamed for the attacks.

Disc three shows that when Hitler wanted to tour in front of cheering crowds in a customized open-top car, his bodyguards had their hands full in the effort to try to protect him. As one of the first politicians to use campaign flights, Hitler further exposed himself to assassination attempts while touring his captured lands. Even when traveling on the rails the British targeted Hitler's special train despite its heavy armor and tight security.

Disc four looks at the assassination attempts made at Wolf's Lair, his heavily camouflaged and fortified military headquarters, including the one that came closest to succeeding. His Alpine retreat in Bavaria even offered opportunities for a pistol-packing German officer, a sniper, a long range bomb raid, and an aerial assault by the allies. This volume finishes up with a poison gas plot in the bunker where Hitler finally died.

Hitler's Bodyguard is a very complete, very detailed, and for the most part very entertaining documentary. The amount of information that is contained here makes this incredibly educational as well.

The video is full-screen, a very sharp 1:33:1 video transfer that appears to be flawless with sharp pictures and no compression problems. Keep in mind that the original source has some flaws and anomalies, but the transfer itself is clean. The audio is Dolby Digital English 2.0 stereo that contains some occasional separation, but the tracks themselves are very clear with no hiss.

The set contains some extras, such as a 20-page viewer's guide with illustrations. This gives some refresher details for each episode along with questions to consider. There is additional information such as additional reading, a who's who among Hitler's bodyguard, and a guide to Hitler's security units. There is also a bonus feature called "Killing Hitler in the Movies," a text filmography, and a photo gallery.

Hitler's Bodyguard is one of the most detailed documentaries on Hitler that I have examined. With all of the information that is presented in this video, this is a must own for anyone with a strong interest in World War II, Hitler, tyrannical rulers, or historians of any kind. If you want to know more about Hitler and how he stayed alive during his 25 years of terror, then I very highly recommend Hitler's Bodyguard.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.