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a Polish television series about a Polish spy deep in the ranks of Abwehr
More than Life at Stake (Stawka wieksza niz zycie) is a Polish television series about a Polish spy deep in the ranks of Abwehr (German military intelligence) during World War II. The first episode sets the stage for this 18 episode series. After the Russians capture a German spy by the name of Hans Kloss, they spend a great deal of time interrogating him about the smallest details of his life. The German spy is replaced with a Polish look-a-like named Janek (Stanislaw Mikulski), and his "escape" is staged to have several German witnesses that will confirm his identity as a German officer. Hans Kloss provides intelligence and assistance to other spies he is aligned with and, more significantly, creates an environment in which the Germans are all suspecting each other of being a traitor, thus crushing their morale.
Hans Kloss gets himself into countless sticky situations, which nearly take a miracle to untangle from. Each episode has mystery and keeps one guessing how it will turn out until the very end. Although there is no major carryover in the storyline between each episode, there are more than a number of small details that find their way into the next installments.
The entire story takes place from 1943 to 1945, and we see Germany at its height of power to its gradual fall. The part that I found especially interesting are the final days of the war, when the tables were turned and the days of the Germany's power where numbered. The fear they inspired in others is now something they had to deal with themselves. I also found it interesting that it showed some of the German officers were positioning themselves to look favorable with the Americans hoping to find a haven with them (which has been confirmed a number of times with declassified information but isn't widely known).
More than Life at Stake is a classic Polish television show that has remained popular since its creation in 1967-1968 (and probably will for many years in the future). The episodes are alternately directed by Andrzej Konic or Janusz Morgenstern. Hans Kloss is a cultural icon that is probably just as popular as Czterej pancerni i pies, which was also made in the late 1960s. Furthermore, even though Stawka wieksza niz zycie was made during the period of Soviet occupation of Poland, there is less pro-communist sentiment than Czterej pancerni i pies and even portrays the AK favorably. More than Life at Stake is an exceptional WWII serial, particularly for those who like the espionage side to the story.
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