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Breakthrough (1979)

Steiner - Das Eiserne Kreuz, 2. Teil (original title)
PG | | Drama, War | February 1979 (Austria)
In 1944 a German sergeant gets involved in an anti-Hitler conspiracy, and saves the life of an American colonel.


Andrew V. McLaglen


Peter Berneis (screenplay), Tony Williamson (screenplay)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Burton ... Sgt. Rolf Steiner
Rod Steiger ... Gen. Webster
Helmut Griem ... Maj. von Stransky
Klaus Löwitsch ... Uffz. Krüger
Michael Parks ... Sgt. Anderson
Werner Pochath ... Schütze Keppel
Véronique Vendell ... Yvette (as Veronique Vendell)
Horst Janson ... Capt. Berger
Joachim Hansen ... Capt. Kistner
Walter Ullrich Walter Ullrich ... Schütze Hauser
Dieter Schidor Dieter Schidor ... Cpl. Paul Anselm
Bruno Dietrich ... Schütze Nissen
Sonja Jeannine Sonja Jeannine ... Jeanette
Günter Clemens Günter Clemens ... Cpl. Dorfmann
Michael Büttner Michael Büttner ... Schütze Junghans (as Wolfgang Büttner)


In 1944 German sergeant Rolf Steiner is on the Russian Front where out of frustration he hits an officer. Steiner is sent on leave to Paris to avoid further incidents. In Paris news of the Allied Invasion of Normandy arrive and Steiner meets up with his unit there being recently transferred from Russia. Steiner finds out that his old company commander from the Russian Front, Major Von Stransky, is his new commander. Steiner and Von Stransky hate one another. The German general in charge of the area is General Hofmann who's a member of the conspiracy to kill Hitler. Hofmann hopes to surrender his troops to the Americans. He reveals his plans to Sergeant Steiner and asks Steiner to meet the Americans to negotiate a possible surrender if Hitler is eliminated. When the plot to kill Hitler fails, the surrender plan is in jeopardy. Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Burton...Mitchum...Steiger...Enemies...Yet Allies In Combat With Destiny!


Drama | War


PG | See all certifications »



West Germany


German | English | French

Release Date:

February 1979 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

Breakthrough See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Military plots against Adolf Hitler frequently failed because most German officers only wanted to end the war in the West against the democracies, not the war in the East against the Soviet Union. See more »


American tanks shown are not WW II-era tanks. See more »


Sgt. Rolf Steiner: NCOs cannot resign.
See more »

Alternate Versions

A longer German language version runs at 126 minutes, extra scenes includes:
  • An opening scene that starts at the railway station, Rolf Steiner and Paul Anselm meet again and discuss their current predicament. Captain Stransky appears out of the station building and sends Steiner and Anselm to check out a railway tunnel down the line. Steiner and Anselm meet up with Corporal Kruger before returning to the station. (8mins approx)
  • When Steiner returns to German lines, the scene where he meets his new platoon is longer and includes introductions to new comrades Rothe, Dorfmann and Keppel.
  • An extended scene between Yvette and Steiner at her apartment.
  • Steiner is mocked by an old woman as he leaves Yvette's apartment.
  • The two orphaned children Steiner looks at, at the end turn up earlier and throw rocks at Steiner.
  • The final battle is extended, there is more footage of the American GIs attacking the town, the American tanks cause greater damage to the town. Steiner shoots GIs whilst trying to defend the townspeople.
See more »


Features Cross of Iron (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting war story with distinguished cast but mediocre result
5 December 2010 | by robert-temple-1See all my reviews

This film is a sequel to Sam Peckinpah's CROSS OF IRON (1977) which I have not seen. The lead character, Sergeant Steiner of the Wehrmacht, is played by an aging Richard Burton who, despite only being 54 at the time, looks more like 74 because of his dissolute private life. He only had five more years to live. The story of the rebellious German sergeant who does not support the Nazis, has twice refused promotion as an officer and wishes to assist an anti-Hitler general make peace with the Allies in Normandy against the wishes of Berlin is intriguing. The fact that Burton looks so old and 'past it', and is so wooden and stiff in the role, actually makes it more believable. After all, such a man could convincingly be at the limit of what he is prepared to put up with, and might really rebel against his own side in this way. In contrast to the comatose Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum, aged 62, seems twenty years younger than Burton and has all the energy and verve of a twenty-something as he big-shoulders his way through his scenes with all of his usual aplomb and confidence, as an American colonel who meets up with Burton and tries to facilitate a 'deal on the side' to break peace early. Unlike Burton, he had another 18 years to live. Curd (or Curt) Juergens is superb as General Hoffmann, who is part of the plot to kill Hitler and asks Burton to carry a secret message to a senior officer on the other side of the lines. Rod Steiger is also only 54 like Burton, but he looks, let us say 70, not quite as ravaged as Burton but still pretty ropey. He plays an American Brigadier General, but is getting too fat for it, and has lost most of his fire by this stage of his career. There is not much 'young blood' visible in this wartime tale. There are the usual nasty Nazis and gum-chewing Yanks. The result is a mediocre film which has never been issued on DVD, so that I watched an ancient video of it. It's just interesting enough not to switch it off, but not interesting enough to seek out and watch.

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