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John M. Kelly Library

Documentaries: German Studies

The Kelly Library collects resources to support the University of Toronto Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures

See also the list of German cinema. For items on the Holocaust, see the list of documentaries on Jewish Studies and World War II movies


Architektur des Untergangs = The Architecture of Doom

N6868.5 .N37 A73 1991 DVD
119 minutes
Looks at the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany from the perspective of Hitler's use of the arts in Nazi policy and propaganda. Audio-track in German with optional English subtitles.

Berlin, Die Sinfonie der Großstadt = Berlin, Symphony of a Great City

PN1997 .B378 1999 DVD
62 minutes; released 1927.
Beginning with a train entering Berlin at 5 in the morning, this film focuses on one day's bustle in 1920s Berlin from dawn till dusk. Directed by Walter Ruttmann.


BX4827 .B57 B56 2003 DVD
90 minutes; released 2003.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a young German theologian and pacifist who opposed Hitler, was hanged two weeks before the war was over. Using archival footage, extensive research, and interviews with people who knew him, this documentary brings to life the theologian's story. Bonhoeffer's words read aloud by Klaus Maria Brandauer. Directed by Martin Doblmeier. See also: Hanged on a Twisted Cross and Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace.

Burden of Dreams

PN1998.3 .H47B87 2005 DVD
95 minutes; released 1982.
Goes behind the scenes in the making of Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo, the story of one man's attempt to build an opera house deep in the Amazon jungle. Filmmaker Les Blank captured the production, made perilous by Herzog's determination not to use models or special effects. In English, German, Spanish and indigenous Peruvian languages with optional English subtitles.

Degenerate Art

N6868 .D33 1995 VHS
60 minutes
Describes Nazi attacks on the avant garde and the destruction of modernist art culminating in the 1937 exhibition of "Entartete Kunst" (degenerate art) in Munich.

The Farewell = Abschied aus Buckow

PT2603 .R397 Z52 2005
91 minutes; released 2000.
This film is a character study of German playwright Bertolt Brecht. Taking place during a single day in the late summer of 1956, The Farewell follows Brecht as he prepares to return to Berlin for the fall theatre season while maintaining relationships with three mistresses. Directed by Jan Schutte.


DS146 .G4 G4 2004 DVD
83 minutes; released 1981.
This documentary about the Holocaust, narrated by Elizabeth Taylor and Orson Welles, received an Oscar for best documentary in 1982. Directed by Arnold Schwartzman.

Grizzly Man

QL737 .C27 G75 2005 DVD
104 minutes; released 2005.
Using interviews and archival footage, acclaimed German director Werner Herzog explores the life and death of amateur grizzly bear expert and wildlife preservationist Timothy Treadwell, who lived unarmed among grizzlies for 13 summers.

Hanged on a Twisted Cross: The Life, Convictions and Martyrdom of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

BX4827 .B57 H36 1996 DVD
120 minutes; released 1996.
Using rare archival footage, documents and visits to original locations, this documentary provides an intimate portrait of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian and minister who resisted the Nazis when the Roman Catholic Church would not. Hanged on a Twisted Cross introduces viewers to the life, times and thought of Bonhoeffer, whom the Nazis executed in 1945. Narrated by Ed Asner. Directed by T.N. Mohan.

Into the Arms of Strangers

DS135 .E6 I58 2001 DVD
122 minutes; released 2000.
A documentary about the Kindertransport, the successful rescue of 10,000 German, Austrian, and Czechoslovakian Jewish children just prior to the outbreak of World War II. Narrated by Judi Dench. Directed by Mark Jonathan Harris.

A Jew among the Germans

D804.17 .M3 2005 DVD
60 minutes; released 2005.
Marian Marzynski, a Polish Holocaust survivor, sets out on a personal quest to find out how Germans are going to design a memorial to the murder of six million Jews. Over three years, he encounters many Germans who struggle with guilt, responsibility and memory. Directed by Marian Marzynski.

Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation

BR333.3 .C37 2004 DVD
4 discs; 24 (30 minute) lectures
Course description.

Memory of the Camps

D804 .G4 M46 2005 DVD
60 minutes; released 1985.
In 1945, British and American film crews accompanyed Allied troops as they liberated Nazi death camps. These crews witnessed and captured Nazi atrocities firsthand. The resulting film, directed in part by Alfred Hitchcock but left unfinished, was discovered by PBS Frontline in 1984 and rebroadcast.

A Newsreel History of the Third Reich

D810 .P7 G47 2006 DVD v.1-5
each disk 85-89 minutes
Newsreels created in Germany under the influence of the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda, which allow unique insight into how the period leading up to and including World War II was presented to the German people.


GV722 196 .053 2006 DVD
2 discs; 204 minutes; released 1936-38.
Leni Riefenstahl's visually stunning potrait of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.

Operation Valkyrie: the Stauffenberg Plot to Kill Hitler

DD256.35 .O647 2008 DVD
2 discs; 76 minutes; released 2008.
Using rare color footage, painstakingly created dramatizations, detailed computer graphic reconstructions, and exclusive interviews with leading historians, this documentary presents the definitive record of what happened before, during, and after these pivotal events.
Produced by William A. Schwartz.

Prisoner of Paradise

PN1998.3 .G477 P7 2005 DVD
100 minutes; released 2002.
Narrated by Ian Holm, this documentary tells the true story of Kurt Gerron, a well-known German-Jewish actor, director and cabaret star in 1920s and '30s Berlin who was captured by the Nazis, sent to a concentration camp, and ordered to write and direct a pro-Nazi propaganda film. Directed by Malcolm Clarke and Stuart Sender.

The Renaissance, the Reformation and the Rise of Nations

D210 .F59 2005 DVD
8 discs; 48 (30 minute) lectures
Course description.

Theater Music of Brecht and Weill

PT2603 .R397 A655 2005 DVD
77 minutes
German and English interpretations of various Brecht/Weill musical numbers by Lotte Lenya (1958), Gisela May (1972), and Martha Schlamme (1970/1963).

Triumph of the Will = Triumph des Willens

DD253.28 1934 .T7 2001 DVD
120 minutes; released 1935.
Commissioned by Adolf Hitler, this film records the 1934 Nazi party rally in Nuremberg. Gatherings, marches, parades, and speeches by Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, and Hess are included as well as samples of monumental architecture designed by Albert Speer. In German with optional English subtitles.

Utopia and Terror in the 20th Century

JC328.6 .L58 2003 DVD
4 discs; 24 (30 minute) lectures
Course description.