Stephen Arnell

Ten films about the end of World War II

  • From Spectator Life
Image: Shutterstock

The 76th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe will take place on the 8 May; although in fact the conflict continued for days (if not weeks) after this date with heavy fighting in parts of the former Eastern Front and areas newly occupied by Soviet forces. Indeed, anti-communist resistance groups in the Baltic states, Poland and other satellite countries continued to launch guerrilla attacks well into the 1950s.

The final months of the war in Europe were amongst the bloodiest in the struggle, as Hitler resolved to pull the ruins of the Third Reich down around him in a faux-Wagnerian exit from history.

Here, I’ll be looking at films that deal with the final phase of the war, passing over familiar WWII classics such as A Bridge Too Far (1977), The Battle of the Bulge (1965), Cross of Iron (1977), and The Bridge at Remagen (1969) in favour of more recent, lesser known titles.

In order of release – the most recent first:

The Catcher was a Spy (2018) – Amazon Prime

I caught this true-life biopic earlier this year on Amazon Prime and was both pleasantly surprised and intrigued by its subject, the genius level baseball player turned US espionage agent Moe Berg (played by Paul Rudd).

In the final months of the war in Europe, Berg is tasked to discover how far the Germans have progressed with the development of an atom bomb and to decide whether he should assassinate physicist Werner Heisenberg when the scientist visits a conference in neutral Switzerland.

We know that the Nazis plans never came to fruition, but the picture nonetheless manages to ratchet up the tension.

TCWAS interested me enough to read more about Berg, a unique character if ever there was one, an enigma to many who encountered him, possibly an undiagnosed example of someone ‘on the spectrum’.

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