The Unknown Soldier

2006, Documentary, 1h 37m

10 Reviews 100+ Ratings

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Movie Info

In the late 1990s, the traveling Wehrmacht exhibition indicated that ordinary German soldiers were in fact culpable for widespread atrocities. This documentary catalogs the German people's reactions to the exhibit, including Wehrmacht veterans, neo-Nazis, historians, sociologists, writers and many others. Hundreds of voices weave together to discuss and debate the country's collective guilt about what its population allowed during some of modern history's darkest hours.

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Critic Reviews for The Unknown Soldier

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (6) | Rotten (4)

  • Once the film gets mired in specifics, it begins to seem like any other Holocaust documentary and loses the sense of relevance and engagement with the now that at first makes it so intriguing.

    October 19, 2007 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • The film eventually becomes one long therapy session for the German nation as it struggles to understand how its brave and good soldiers could have done such bad, bad things.

    September 18, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Structurally, the film itself is a pristine example of levelheaded journalism.

    September 6, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • As Verhoeven's film makes clear, many thousands of surviving German veterans, along with a disturbing quotient of their children and grandchildren, are much too eager to make excuses.

    September 6, 2007 | Full Review…
  • It is a painful but important subject, to be certain, but the film dilutes its own effectiveness by devolving into a collection of talking heads who often seem to be repeating each other.

    September 13, 2007 | Rating: 2.5/5
  • Is such footage appropriate to the big-screen environment of the cinema?

    September 10, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Once the film gets mired in specifics, it begins to seem like any other Holocaust documentary and loses the sense of relevance and engagement with the now that at first makes it so intriguing.

    October 19, 2007 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…
  • The film eventually becomes one long therapy session for the German nation as it struggles to understand how its brave and good soldiers could have done such bad, bad things.

    September 18, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Structurally, the film itself is a pristine example of levelheaded journalism.

    September 6, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • As Verhoeven's film makes clear, many thousands of surviving German veterans, along with a disturbing quotient of their children and grandchildren, are much too eager to make excuses.

    September 6, 2007 | Full Review…
  • It is a painful but important subject, to be certain, but the film dilutes its own effectiveness by devolving into a collection of talking heads who often seem to be repeating each other.

    September 13, 2007 | Rating: 2.5/5
  • Is such footage appropriate to the big-screen environment of the cinema?

    September 10, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Unknown Soldier

  • Mar 04, 2011
    At first, "The Unknown Soldier" may seem like just yet another Holocaust documentary. But director Michael Verhoeven finds a fresh angle in confronting Germany's odd relationship with its past, in not only exploring how the Nazis exploited anti-Semitism for genocide, but also focusing on two exhibitions in Munich and Berlin called the "War of Annihilation Exhibition" that examine the role of the average German soldier in the Holocaust which caused a great deal of controversy.(At the same time, there is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum(which you should check out if you get the chance) in Washington, DC, and Minsk is littered with memorials to the dead.) And the results are damning with evidence that includes archival footage and testimony from historians, victims and former soldiers. According to the film, the soldier's role could be passive or aggressive in aiding atrocities such as shooting prisoners of war or Jews(40% of Holocaust victims were shot) and perhaps also as logistical support for the SS. On the other hand, there are mentions made of soldiers and officers who disregarded such orders, sometimes with no punishment. Even with the evidence on hand, many people cannot comprehend how their fathers and grandfathers could be capable of such atrocities.(The documentary is subtitled, "What did you do in the war, dad?") It is no coincidence that none of the death camps were in Germany proper to keep the mass killings out of sight and mind of German citizens. The effects of these actions are felt in Germany down to the current day, allowing for the rise of right wing nationalist parties and anti-Semitism, leading to the bombing of a proposed Jewish center in Munich.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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