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Sink the Bismarck (1996)

| Documentary | TV Movie
Detailed and fascinating documentary telling the history of the famous German battleship of World War II. The urgent British hunt and the German ship's efforts to escape are described ... See full summary »


Robert Kirk


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Credited cast:
John Hillerman ... Narrator
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Willie Armstrong Willie Armstrong ... Himself
Paul Beaver Paul Beaver ... Himself
George Bell George Bell ... Himself
Ted Briggs Ted Briggs ... Himself
Thomas Kelly Thomas Kelly ... Himself
Ludovic Kennedy Ludovic Kennedy ... Himself
Norman Polmar Norman Polmar ... Himself
Les Sayer Les Sayer ... Himself
Karl-August Schuldt Karl-August Schuldt ... Himself
L.B. 'Tuck' Smith L.B. 'Tuck' Smith ... Himself
Josef Statz Josef Statz ... Himself
Burkard Von Müllenheim-Rechberg Burkard Von Müllenheim-Rechberg ... Himself (as Baron Von Mullenheim-Rechburg)
Hugh Wilson Hugh Wilson ... Himself
Johannes Zimmerman Johannes Zimmerman ... Himself


Detailed and fascinating documentary telling the history of the famous German battleship of World War II. The urgent British hunt and the German ship's efforts to escape are described through vintage film and recollections of both British and German veterans of the battles. Written by Bruce Wheelock <wbn1@qwest.net>

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1.33 : 1
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More propaganda than heroism
12 August 2007 | by Roman-NiesSee all my reviews

The meanwhile approved theory that the Bismarck sank because the Germans did the sinking themselves would only be one more mosaic piece to the phenomenon that the Germans astonishingly knew how to build war-ships. But the British? Apparently not sufficiently. I say astonishingly because the Germans did not start with it long before WW I, having no experience like the other sea nations. The British Navy had a long tradition of being the supreme Sea-Power for more than 3 centuries. This made them perhaps believe that there was no real threat from the "hun" land-rats. But the British ignorance is too apparently one reason for the sinking of the Hood. The Hood was a WWI built ship. If the British would have learned their lesson in the Battle of Jutland and other naval battles of WW 1 with the German "Hochseeflotte" they would have never send the Hood and the not so much stronger Prince of Wales against the two brand new German ships /the other the cruiser Prinz Eugen). Naval experts and all who study the matter know well why British warships had extreme difficulties to stand against comparable German warships. I mention here only two facts: 1. the German ships were better armoured, this meant constructed to give a most perfect protection (the British ships being build lighter for more speed could be the winner for the battle with the big Spanish armada, but that was some hundred years ago). I quote a British Admiral at the Battle of Jutland, after two or three of their battleships exploded in a similar way the Hood did 25 years later: "Something must be wrong today with our ships!" How right he was. The mistake in construction of the British ships were apparent, but no decisions were made. The Hood got a better armour after WW 1, but the Germans got a better artillery and munition as well! 2. the German had the superior artillery. They were able to hit the target in short time of execution. The German artillery was already superior in WW 1. This was a question of development. The German war industry in the first half of the 20. century took advantage of the highly developed German capabilities of engineering - by the way, not to the benefit of the Germans.

Luckily or not, the Germans laid more stress on their land armies, otherwise they could have build more of those dreadful ships. One commenter put it right: from a strategic view point it would have made more sense to build on the Submarines. But the Germans of those times were not blessed with intelligent leaders . Maybe the British pride could not confess that in their domain - the Navy - they had rivals who were even more capable in certain fields. But it is a fact that wrong decisions, even underestimation of the enemies capabilities cost many lives in WW 1 and WW2 - on both sides. We do not have to speak about the Nazis. They were silly criminals that had to be opposed by all means. I regret that many films do not conclude that Germans were also the victims of the Nazis in the sense that they were misused. The sailors of the Bismarck became victims of being ordered from a criminal regime to serve on the ship. What would You have expected? That they desert? The ordinairy people had not the same informations we have today. There was propaganda. Ironically Germany seems to be today the country with least propaganda, whereas in the USA and Britain it is getting difficult to filter the propaganda and "writing history" in the sense of "we are always the good boys" even from movies made in older days. But the longer history goes, the more the approach is realistic. In the historical "Sinking of the Bismarck" there was no heroism at all. It was tragedy and waste of lives. But that is always the case in wars. Germany was the oppressor and had to be defeated. But the fate of the single people was everywhere the same. This is what should be shown on films like this to develop a sense for mutual understanding and respect and rejection for any aggression and propaganda. To participate German historians in the making of documentary films is recommended since the Germans have proved since their nazi-"propaganda age" as self-critical and balanced. They are rather anti-propagandists.

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