This Nazi propaganda film details the exploits of a group of German Luftwaffe pilots flying Stukas--fighter-bombers--in the Battle of France in the early days of World War II.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Carl Raddatz ...
Hauptmann Heinz Bork
...
Oberleutnant Hans Wilde
Ernst von Klipstein ...
Oberleutnant "Patzer" von Bomberg
Albert Hehn ...
Oberleutnant Hesse
Herbert Wilk ...
Oberleutnant Günter Schwarz
...
Oberarzt Dr. Gregorius
...
Oberleutnant Lothar Loos
Else Knott ...
Krankenschwester Ursula
Marina von Ditmar ...
Junge Französin
Egon Müller-Franken ...
Oberleutnant Jordan
Günther Markert ...
Oberleutnant Hellmers
Josef Dahmen ...
Feldwebel Traugott
Erich Stelmecke ...
Feldwebel Rochus
Georg Thomalla ...
Unteroffizier Matz
Heinz Wemper ...
Oberwerkmeister Heinze
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Storyline

This Nazi propaganda film details the exploits of a group of German Luftwaffe pilots flying Stukas--fighter-bombers--in the Battle of France in the early days of World War II.

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Drama | War

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Release Date:

27 June 1941 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Aquile d'acciaio  »

Filming Locations:

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Connections

Referenced in Das Leben geht weiter (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Stukalied
(Wir sind die schwarzen Husaren der Luft)
Words by Geno Ohlischläger (as Geno Ohlischlaeger)
Music by Herbert Windt
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User Reviews

To Fly and Die for Germany
30 November 2001 | by (Falls Church, Virginia) – See all my reviews

In his diary entry for June 2, 1941, German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels recorded his opinion of "Stukas" after attending a preview:

"New Ritter film, 'Stukas.' Quite good, with some wonderful air footage, but a typical Ritter production. He cannot lead people. Rather too noisy."

The American perspective was decidedly more negative. The broadcast journalist Howard K. Smith offered this scathing description in "Last Train From Berlin:"

"It was a monotonous film about a bunch of obstreperous adolescents who dived bombed things and people. The bombed anything and anybody. That's all the film was - just one bombing after another. Finally the hero got bored with bombing and lost interest in life - so they took him off to the Bayreuth music festival where he listened to a few lines of Wagner's music; his soul began to breathe again, he got visions of the Fuhrer and of guns blazing away, so he impolitely left right in the middle of the first act and dashed back and started bombing things again with the old gusto."

Smith was understandably horrified, but 60 years later the real horror is not in the films depiction of bombing, but in its death-worshiping dialogue.

"Stukas" is the story of a dive bomber squadron during the Battle of France in May-June 1940. The primary characters are the commander, played by Carl Raddatz, who here and in "Wunschkonzert" is the epitome of a Luftwaffe officer, and the flight surgeon, played by O.E. Hasse, best known as the confessed killer in Hitchcock's "I Confess." The pilot Smith described as "bored" is played by Hannes Stelzer, who ironically was killed later in the war.

Although the action focuses on dive bombing, the real theme of the film is the willingness, indeed the necessity, to risk death in the service of Germany. In the moral universe of "Stukas", there is no finer death in the world. Hauptmann Bork (Raddatz) salutes the fallen: "Yes, one does not think about their death, but instead about what they have died for, and remembers them like the young gods that they are." Deeply moved, Doctor Gregorius (Hasse) recites lines from a poem titled ""Death for the Fatherland." The verse reads in part:

"O take me, let me join that circle, so that I will not die a common death! I do not want to die in vain; but I would love to perish on a hill of sacrifice"

"for the Fatherland, to bleed the blood of my heart, for the Fatherland - and soon it is done! To you, dear ones! I come , to join those who taught me to live and to die!"

This ode to death must rank as one of the most chilling speeches in any film, especially given the nature of the cause that it honors.

For further insights into "Stukas" and other films of the period, I highly recommend Jay W. Baird's "To Die for Germany" from which the above quotations were drawn. This is perhaps the best book ever written on Nazi aesthetics and their integral cult of death.


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