In 1943, the Nazi Germany is suffering heavy losses at the Eastern Front and an order for all-out retreat is eventually issued. The 27th Penal Panzer Regiment, consisting solely of people convicted of various real or political crimes ranging from incest to dissidence, has just returned from Stalingrad where German forces were decimated by the Soviets after a year-long bloody fight. They are a motley tank crew that consists of Sergeant Willie Beier (aka Old Man), a family man who fears for the safety of his wife and child if he disobeys the Nazis, Corporal Joseph Porta, the team's fixer and a self-proclaimed communist who always tries to keep his spirits up whether through gambling, drinking or simple tomfoolery, Corporal Hugo Stege, Porta's "partner in crime", young Sven Hassel, a character based on real Sven Hassel, the writer of the novel that the movie was based on, Wolfgang Creutzfeldt (aka Tiny), a dimwitted and often violent giant of a man and Bauer, a silent but friendly ...
This group of last round draft picks ... wouldn't take orders ... didn't dress in uniform ... couldn't win a battle ! But they were the biggest bunch of lunatics ever to roll into war !
Did You Know?
The film is based on Danish writer Sven Hassel's 1979 war novel Wheels of Terror. Hassel was actually part of the German Panzerkorp during the war and most of his novels are based on his experiences or stories he heard during the war, although some dispute the veracity of his work. He always puts himself in the novels, sometimes as a major participant and sometimes as a minor observer. The character of Sven Hassel also appears in this novel and is played in the movie adaptation by Slavko Stimac. See more
Towards the end of the film, the German general (Oliver Reed) orders "Get some flak up." No German would say this. Although to the western allies "Flak" meant aerial shrapnel, to the Germans it meant the gun that fired the shrapnel. It is an acronym of FLiegeAbwehrKanone, which simply means anti-aircraft gun. See more
[walking along the bombed out street with her cat that the soldiers just saved out of the ruins of a house
Damned soldiers! When are you going to stop your senseless war?