- Dec 9, 2001
- Fishkill, NY
- Real Name
- Rich Gallagher
Hitler's Children (1943) is a fascinating low-budget programmer from RKO about Nazi Germany during the years leading up to World War II. Leonard Maltin says that the film was "quite sensational in its day," in large part because of its frank depiction of the Nazi practice of forced sterilization of women who were deemed unfit to bear children. Hitler's Children now comes to DVD for the first time courtesy of the Warner Archive.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Distributed By: Warner Archive
Video Resolution and Encode: 480I/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 22 Min.
Package Includes: DVDStandard DVD Keep Case
Disc Type: DVD-R
Release Date: 12/01/2015
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
All these patients are women. Women who are unfit to have children. They are being sterilized. - Colonel Henkel (Gestapo)
The film opens at a Hitler Youth rally, where boys are ordered to consecrate their lives to the Führer. It then flashes back to 1933 at the American Colony School, a school for American children who are living in Germany. The school is run by Professor Nichols (Kent Smith), who is taken aback when he sees his students brawling with Nazi Youth whose school is located next to the American school. One of Nichols' students is Anna Miller (Bonita Granville), who was born in Germany but who was raised as an American citizen in the United States. She was sent to Germany to live with her grandparents for a time.
When the fighting breaks up, Anna catches the eye of one of the German Youth, a boy named Karl Bruner (Tim Holt). At first Anna rebuffs him, but he is persistent and in time they begin spending Saturdays together. One day, while on a picnic with Professor Nichols, Anna is being playfully chased by Karl through the woods when she comes across a very young member of the Hitler Youth who has been tied and bound. Anna begins to release him, but both Karl and the boy protest. The boy is being punished for a minor infraction, and it is important that he serve his punishment without complaining. Anna is shocked when she realizes that Karl agrees that the boy should be tied up again, and she breaks off their friendship.
Flash forward to 1939, before the war has begun. Anna is now 20 years old and has become Professor Nichols' assistant. It is Memorial Day, and the students at the American school are assembled outdoors when members of the Gestapo show up. Nichols is told that "The Ministry of Education requires the instant dismissal from your school of all Poles, all Jews, all Lithuanians, and all persons of German blood." That includes Anna, who is regarded as a German citizen because she was born in Germany to German parents. She is taken away, in spite of the fact - or perhaps because of the fact - that the Gestapo officer in charge of the detail is Lieutenant Karl Bruner.
Anna disappears and Nichols is determined to find her, but the American Embassy cannot help and even her grandparents are too afraid to speak with him. He then visits an old friend, Franz Erhart (Lloyd Corrigan), who confides that many young children have been taken to a labor camp. Nichols then visits the Minister of Education, Dr. Graf (Hans Conreid), to ask for permission to visit the Nazi camps under the pretext of studying their education methods. The professor is then introduced to Colonel Henkel (Otto Kruger), a Gestapo officer whose aide happens to be Karl Bruner. The young Lieutenant personally takes Nichols to visit Anna's camp, where she is pretending to be on her way to becoming a compliant Nazi. Nichols is shocked to learn that the women in the camp are expected to "entertain" German soldiers and bear their Aryan children to help purify Germany's population.
Hitler's Children benefits greatly from the direction of Edward Dmytryk, who had been making "B" movies for several years but was about the break into the big time with films such as Murder, My Sweet, Back to Bataan, and Cornered. Bonita Granville, who was well-known for portraying the title character in the Nancy Drew films, is attractive and bouncy as the young Anna and sturdily defiant later in the film. Tim Holt turns in an adequate but uncharismatic performance as Karl, a thoroughly indoctrinated Nazi who nevertheless is affected by the atrocities that he witnesses. Kent Smith is engaging as an American educator who loves Germany but is appalled by what the Nazis are doing to the country. The best performance is done by Otto Kruger, who is chilling as the amoral Gestapo officer.
Hitler's Children is an intriguing film about the horrors of Nazi Germany which holds up surprisingly well. Never before released on DVD, it is recommended for fans of the many anti-Hitler films which Hollywood produced during World War II. It also was a very successful film, reportedly grossing more than $3 million at the box office.
The film is based upon the book "Education for Death: The Making of the Nazi" by Gregor Ziemer. Interestingly, the book also was adapted into an animated short film of the same name by Walt Disney, and it was released on the now out-of-print Disney DVD set On the Front Lines.
Video Rating: 3/5 3D Rating: NA
The 1.37:1 black and white image is mostly pleasing, marred only by minor speckling and one momentary instance of film damage. The picture is reasonably sharp, with strong contrast and decent black levels. Film grain is present and there is no evidence of excessive digital manipulation. Stock footage is effectively integrated into parts of the film.
Audio Rating: 3.5/5
The mono Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is surprisingly strong. Every word of dialogue is clear and understandable, and the score by composer Roy Webb is presented without distortion.
There are no subtitles.
Special Features Rating: 0/5
There are no extras on this made on demand disc.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Hitler's Children is a surprisingly frank and effective film about some of the horrific acts perpetrated in Nazi Germany. It is estimated that the Nazis sterilized more than 400,000 people against their will, pursuant to orders handed down by a "Genetic Health Court." Readers interested in purchasing Hitler's Children can find it at the Warner Archive website.
Reviewed By: Richard Gallagher
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