Tag Archives: Documentary

Twentieth Century Berlin on Film – The 1930s

Berlin in the 1930s (Man drinking beer - screenshot from Berlin Reichshauptstadt 1936)

Berlin in the 1930s was witness to Hitler’s rise to power as Chancellor of Germany and subsequently many shockingly destructive and despicable acts like the book burning of 1933 and the Kristallnacht in 1938.  Continuing my Twentieth Century Berlin on Film series here are a few short videos that show Berlin in the 1930s.

Summer Holidays in Berlin (1930)

Despite the political changes and the economic difficulties in the country it is important to remember that it wasn’t all doom and gloom in Berlin.  In this clip, Berliners head out to enjoy the sunshine at the Wannsee.

Büchverbrennung (Book Burning) 1933

This clip from a documentary by the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum) shows the book burning at the Opernplatz (now Bebelplatz) in Berlin.

Goebbels denounces the authors of ‘un-German’ books as soldiers and students throw thousands of volumes onto a large bonfire.  Today a simple monument of empty shelves commemorates the events of 10 May 1933.

Alt-Berlin: Berlin – Wie es war

Alt-Berlin: Berlin – Wie es war (Old Berlin:Berlin – How it was) follows a horse and cart tour around the city with lots of information about the buildings and statues and life in Berlin in German.

Jesse Owens – 1936 Olympics

Given Hitler’s conviction of the superiority of the Aryan Race it is ironic that Jesse Owens was the star of the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Berlin Reichshauptstadt 1936

A Nazi propaganda film, Berlin Reichshauptstadt 1936 showcases Berlin and it’s many landmark buildings in colour – some no longer stand like the Stadtschloss and others like the Berliner Dom and Reichstag have undergone changes.

Twentieth Century Berlin on Film – The 1920s

Berlin in 1929 (screenshot from People on Sunday)

The twentieth century was not kind to Berlin – war, economic depression, Nazism, division and re-unification all left their mark.

Twentieth Century Berlin on Film is a series of posts that, through YouTube videos, will show the changes the city has undergone.

We begin with the heady days of Berlin in the 1920s – in the Weimar era, the city had a reputation for decadence, hedonism and sexual freedom.  Despite, or perhaps as a result of, the effects of hyperinflation and political upheaval in the aftermath of the Great War, Berliners were determined to have a good time.

1920s – Berlin in der 20er Jahre (Berlin the 1920s)

A collection of clips showing everyday life in the German capital throughout the 1920s.

Tour Around Berlin in 1929

Taken from the Billy Wilder film People on Sunday (Menschen am Sonntag), which you can find in full on Mogli Oak.

Berlin – Die Sinfonie der Großstadt (1927) (Berlin – Symphony of a Great City)

If you have a little more time I would recommend watching Die Sinfonie der Großstadt, a full-length silent film by director Walther Ruttmann.  Filmed over the course of a year in Berlin, the footage has been assembled in five acts representing a typical day in the city.

Sunday Documentary: Cold War – Berlin 1948 – 1949

The Berlin Airlift (screenshot from the documentary Cold War - Berlin 1948-1949)

Part 4 of the fascinating and extensive Cold War documentary series by the Cold War International History Project, Berlin 1948 – 1949, deals with the response of the Western Allies to the Soviet Blockade of Berlin – the Berlin Airlift (Die Luftbrücke).

Surrounded as it was by East Germany, West Berlin was dependent on a corridor through the East with a single Autobahn and one railway line for its supplies.  Following a breakdown in the democratic process between the four conquering powers in June 1948, the Soviets exploited this weakness, blocking the road and rail routes in an attempt to force Britain, America and France out of Berlin.

Much to Stalin’s surprise, the Western Allies sustained the population of West Berlin by flying in the necessary supplies of food and coal.

At the height of the operation planes landed every 45 seconds at Tempelhof Airport and in the 11 months of the airlift more than 2.3 million tonnes of goods and fuel were flown in by almost 278,000 flights.

In May 1949, recognising the success of the Berlin Airlift, the Soviet blockade was lifted but of course the Cold War would escalate and continue for many years.

Cold War – Berlin 1948 – 1949

Bowie and Beyond: A Music Fan’s Guide to Berlin (BBC Radio 6 Music)

Brandenburger Tor - Brandenburg Gate at Night

Danny Robins’s programme for BBC Radio 6 Music’s Easter Weekend celebration of David Bowie is called Bowie and Beyond: A Music Fan’s Guide to Berlin but he goes all the way back to the Weimar era in his quest to understand why Berlin has made such a significant contribution to music.

This is about more than music though.  In this one hour radio documentary Robins also looks at the social and economic factors that shaped the city’s history.

Travelling to Berlin, through interviews with artists and producers, he tries to find out if Berlin attracts a certain kind of musician or if the city affects the music that those who are drawn to it create.

The usual suspects get airtime – David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode and U2 – but there is also an attempt to see beyond these artists to the contribution of seminal German bands like Die Toten Hosen and new artists such as Prinz Pi and Berlin-based Canadian, Peaches.

Click here to listen: Bowie and Beyond: A Music Fan’s Guide to Berlin

Sunday Documentary: Bomb It

Bomb It (screenshot from the Street Art and Graffiti documentary)

John Reiss’s Graffiti and Street Art documentary, Bomb It traces the development of the movement from the early writers in Philadelphia and New York to the adoption of Street Art imagery in mainstream advertising and exhibitions in galleries.

Berlin features along with other cities with an Urban Art heritage and by talking to artists active in these places the film examines the roots of the culture and different motivations of the players.

Reiss also speaks to the people who are trying to buff and arrest their way to ‘cleaner streets’.

Bomb it is a must see documentary for Street Art and Graffiti enthusiasts.

Bomb It

Sunday Documentary: Baader-Meinhof – In Love With Terror

Baader-Meinhof - In Love With Terror (screenshot from the BBC Documentary)

The BBC documentary Baader-Meinhof – In Love With Terror tells the story of the Red Army Faction (in the original German Rote Armee Fraktion), more commonly referred to as the Baader-Meinhof Gang, a terrorist organisation formed in West Germany in 1970.

The common name of the militant group comes from the names of two of the founder members Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof who were opposed to what they saw as the fascist and capitalist forces of the state.

The organisation outlived its founders, who died in prison in 1976 and 1977, but was formally dissolved in 1998.

I hope you will agree that the quality of the documentary and the intriguing story compensate for the poor picture quality.

Baader-Meinhof – In Love With Terror

Click on the links for subsequent parts: Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7.

Sunday Documentary: FL – Unpremeditated Movie

MTO - FAST Life (screenshot from FL: Unpremeditated Movie)

MTO is a French street artist who bases himself in Berlin and recently posted the documentary FL – Unpremeditated Movie on Vimeo.

Art has always had its detractors and modern art will always attract the most controversy. Street Art suffers doubly so because it is attacked from within as well as from the traditional opponents.

Over the past decade there has been increasingly intense interest in Street Art, an artform that owes much to graffiti and youth culture.

MTO, as I outlined in a recent post has brought photorealistic art to the streets and no more controversially so than in Sarasota, Florida.

His Fast Life mural, painted as part of the Sarasota Chalk Festival attracted much criticism for what was seen by some as a glorification of gang culture.

In this documentary, MTO presents his version of how events played out.

FL – Unpremeditated Movie

Sunday Documentary: Krautrock – The Rebirth of Germany

Kraftwerk (screenshot from Krautrock - The Rebirth of Germany)

The BBC documentary Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany charts the rise of a new musical movement in post war Germany and the importance of music to young people in their attempts to forge a new German identity.

Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany

Part 2: http://youtu.be/9LzFkszeoJ4

Part 3: http://youtu.be/x7gmBDLMXZ8

Part 4: http://youtu.be/MfeOGrSVBIk

Part 5: http://youtu.be/jKLSMOdFxoQ

Sunday Documentary: Stauffenberg – Operation Valkyrie

Stauffenberg - Operation Valkyrie (screenshot from the National Geographic documentary)

Photo: Still from Stauffenberg – Operation Valkyrie by National Geographic

The National Geographic documentary Stauffenberg: Operation Valkyrie tells the story of Claus von Stauffenberg and the attempt to kill Adolf Hitler on 20 July 1944.

A number of plots were hatched to assassinate Hitler but Operation Valkyrie, in which a bomb was planted during a meeting at the Wolf’s Lair (Wolfsschanze), came closest to succeeding.

For anyone interested in learning more about Operation Valkyrie I would recommend a visit to the German Resistance Memorial Centre, which is housed in the Bendlerblock in Berlin.  Unfortunately, only a few of the exhibits have descriptions in English but a free audio guide is available.  The displays on Claus von Stauffenberg are in his former office and a plaque in the courtyard marks the spot where he and his co-conspirators were murdered by a firing squad.

Stauffenberg – Operation Valkyrie

Sunday Documentary: Real Scenes – Berlin

Real Scenes - Berlin (screenshot from documentary by Resident Advisor)

Real Scenes – Berlin by Resident Advisor, like a previous Sunday Documentary post, Children of Berlin, explores the explosion of Techno in Berlin after the fall of the wall.

People who lived through and shaped the development of the Techno scene in Berlin discuss the factors that led to the city becoming the go-to destination for clubbers.

This is another documentary that I recommended on my Facebook page and Twitter feed before I started my Sunday Documentary series on the blog.

Real Scenes – Berlin