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Downfall: Apologia?


Does anyone out there interpret Downfall in the same way as Ron Rosenbaum?

This has always been my problem with films like the German-made Downfall, which while initially being taken seriously by many, many film critics has found its true level as a YouTube camp joke. Downfall purports to offer the “inside story” of the last days of Hitler in his Berlin bunker and implicitly makes the case that the Holocaust wasn’t the fault of the German people—no, they were victims, too!—but rather of one man, Hitler, and the small coterie of madmen and evil women surrounding him. Nothing to do with Germany’s eager reception of exterminationist anti-Semitism.

Hmm. I’ve seen the movie probably half a dozen times, and I guess I just don’t get it. Some ordinary Germans in the film are depicted as tired of the Nazis. Other ordinary Germans are depicted as enthusiastic about Hitler till the end (including, it bears noting, the main character). It had never occurred to me to think about Downfall as an effort to apologize for ordinary German anti-semitism. It’s perhaps a bit too kind to Albert Speer, but that’s about it. Did I miss something?

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