If you thought the ending of ‘Das Boot’ was miserable, try the ending of the 1993 German movie, ‘Stalingrad’, which covers the critical world war two battle of the same name. I’ve long been fascinated by this diabolical military clash of the two socialisms of Von Mises – the German socialist pattern and the Russian socialist pattern – and how it affected history.
Essentially, the infamous Herr Hitler generated a series of colossal military mistakes via his obsession to humiliate his fellow moustachioed socialist dictator, Joseph Jughashvili, by capturing the city which bore Jughashvili’s fake name of ‘Stalin’. The Wehrmacht general staff then made the even more colossal mistake of rigidly obeying the ‘Bohemian Corporal’, rather than refusing to engage in his Napoleon-complex madness.
Getting back to the movie, in the summer of 1942 a large group of five hundred successful well-nurtured German stormtroopers are sunning themselves on the Italian Riviera before being ordered to move out by train to take part in Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
As part of General Paulus’s Sixth Army, we then witness their slow descent into a frozen hell as they’re gradually whittled down by the Battle for Stalingrad. This atrocious socialist meat grinder, where the German pattern met the Russian pattern, reduces the original five hundred men down to just two ultimate survivors.
Along the way, we get to see the madness of war, the evil of tyranny, and the banality of officious bureaucracy and the abuse of power. I’ll let you watch the movie to discover the ultimate fate of our two survivors.
Suffice it to say, that unlike General Paulus who made his own way back to Germany in 1953 after ten years of playing as a catspaw for Stalin, their own ending is less than either happy or glorious.
Yes, it is a tough watch, but it does paint a far more ‘realistic’ portrayal of what is must have been like in Stalingrad at that time, than the 2001 Jude Law movie, ‘Enemy at the Gates’, though there are clear echoes of the earlier German movie in that later American movie.
On both sides, around a million people died in the Stalingrad conflict. Of the 91,000 Germans who officially surrendered with Paulus, only about 6,000 ever stood once again on German or Austrian soil. Half died on forced marches to various prison camps in Siberia and the rest died while incarcerated there as slave labour, with a final surviving remnant eventually being released from captivity in 1956, fourteen years after they invaded Russia for the Bohemian Corporal.
Of course, this is just one of the many problems with socialism. Never get captured in a military conflict by other socialists serving a different pattern of this evil state-loving religion.
Just for fun, I’ll later be tackling the 2013 Russian-made movie, also entitled ‘Stalingrad’, to see if that film can be equally informative about this pivotal event in 20th century history.
Ooh, I think I’ll give that one a miss. Thanks for telling me about it.
“The Wehrmacht general staff then made the even more colossal mistake of rigidly obeying the ‘Bohemian Corporal’, rather than refusing to engage in his Napoleon-complex madness.”
It is very easy, with the beneft of hindsight, to mock the ‘Bohemian corporal’. But at the time, he must have seemed nothing less than a miracle-worker. I have often said that, had Hitler been run over by a bus in the late thirties, we would have statues of him all over Europe today.
My father was an ethnic German from Romania who got caught up in all this when Hitler started running short of troops. Most of my father’s relatives ended up (literally) on the Eastern Front. My father was lucky – he was chasing partisans round the mountains of Yuogslavia and Italy before being captured by the Yanks. By then Stalin had taken Romania, and the ethnic Germans – who had signed up to fight for their country – now found themselves branded as traitors, and those that returned to Romania tended to disappear in the middle of the night.
Great movie, particularly the scene where they duck into their foxholes and let T-34s roll over their position.