Der Untergang (Downfall - 2004)

Downfall (German: Der Untergang) is a 2004 German film depicting the final days of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in 1945. The movie was written by Bernd Eichinger and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel. The film is based on the book Inside Hitler's Bunker by historian Joachim Fest about Hitler's final days, pieces of Albert Speer's memoirs, and the memoirs of Traudl Junge, secretary of Adolf Hitler; in addition, it loosely conveys events described in the memoirs of Siegfried Knappe. Downfall is set almost entirely in the bunker.

It is the last days of World War II, and the Red Army is fighting its way into Berlin. Deep within the Führerbunker underneath the Reich Chancellery, Adolf Hitler lives out his last birthday and his final ten days isolated from the world, desperately ordering counterattacks that will never happen. Played by Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, Hitler is presented as he was in the last months of World War II: a sick, exhausted man both dreaming still of a Greater Germany amid the ruins of war-ravaged Berlin and callously ranting against the 'weakness' and deserved destruction of the German citizenry. As the Red Army draws nearer and imminent defeat looms over the Third Reich Hitler is seen alone with his clique which consists of Joseph Goebbels (Ulrich Matthes), Albert Speer (Heino Ferch) and (briefly) SS leader Heinrich Himmler (Ulrich Noethen), along with his personal staff.
Most of the events are depicted from the perspective of Hitler's young personal secretary Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara). Events outside Hitler's bunker are mostly depicted from the perspective of SS doctor Ernst-Günther Schenck (Christian Berkel). On the day before his death Hitler marries his longtime mistress Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler) and they commit suicide together on April 30, 1945; ten days after Hitler's 56th birthday.

The film begins with a clip from a video interview with the real-life Traudl Junge, who wonders why she decided to work for Adolf Hitler and states her anger at her younger self for not realizing what kind of a monster she was dealing with. Then, the scene is set back to 1942, in Rastenburg, East Prussia, where Miss Traudl Humps and four other applicants vie for the position of secretary to Hitler. They are greeted by Hitler's valet, Heinz Linge, and later by Hitler himself. Upon hearing Traudl comes from Munich, Hitler takes an immediate liking to her and asks her to take dictation as a demonstration of her abilities. Hitler is portrayed as a kind, fatherly employer who loves his dog and overlooks Humps' nervous errors, and she is hired.

The movie flashes forward to Hitler's 56th birthday on April 20, 1945. Traudl Humps — by now Frau Traudl Junge — is living in the Führerbunker with Gerda Christian and Constanze Manziarly, another secretary and private cook, respectively, for Hitler. Artillery fire wakes the trio, and Generals Wilhelm Burgdorf and Karl Koller explain the Soviets are only 12 kilometres from the city center. Hitler is now depicted as visibly aged, shaking, and in poor humour.

Bruno Ganz as Adolf Hitler
Hitler's birthday reception introduces the characters of Heinrich Himmler and his adjutant Hermann Fegelein, as well as Party Leader Martin Bormann and Walther Hewel of the foreign ministry. Hitler's intention to stay in the city is revealed, as is Fegelein's intention to leave if possible. Hewel and Himmler urge Hitler to try a diplomatic solution, which Hitler rejects out of hand. Two scenes later, Albert Speer arrives, and is introduced alongside Eva Braun; both reject Fegelein's advice to decamp to Bavaria. Speer advises Hitler to "be on the stage when the curtain falls." Eva's character is revealed by the remark "He is the Führer," in other words, he knows what is best.

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