Political opportunism is a common human trait. In World War II, many Europeans hitched their wagon the evil caravan that was Nazism. This series exposes shocking details about people who cooperated with Adolph Hitler to exploit, dominate and murder in their own countries.
Movie Grade: B+
DVD Grade: C+
As we zoom through more modern history, it is convenient to ignore the true or to forget, write off or cover up stories that are too embarrassing or too inconvenient for some. Nazi Collaborators sheds light on the individuals and organizations outside of the Third Reich that assisted - knowingly or unknowingly - Adolph Hitler and the Nazis in their evil quest to conquer Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Other series have explored American who assisted the Nazi both in financial ways and political, this series exposes many of the truths behind the often overlooked stories of European Nazism World War II.
The segments variously explore the stories of Jewish political leaders who helped manage the relocation of Jewish ghettos in Poland to concentration camps; puppet "fuehrers" who ruled in the image of Hitler in occupied countries like Croatia, Holland and Belgium; as well as the surprising alliance between Germany and the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which believed that their against Britain justified conspiring with their enemy's enemy. Even today historians debate the rationales of these collaborators, which ranged from self-preservation to twisted reasoning of faith to seizing a chance for power, but all of them definitely contributed to the Nazi plans for domination of Europe and elimination of undesirables. In many cases these collaborators participated directly in Hitler's horrifying plan to murder the Jews of Europe. The epsiodes feature rare footage with disturbing images and many surprising tidbits of information from that terrifying era including contemporary interviews with eyewitnesses and historians, and historical reconstructions to illustrate some events.
Many of the events depicted in this series directly contribute to the way events in our modern world unfold. The breakups of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia both had roots in events from the Nazi era. Croation cooperation with the Nazi was a large issue in dealing with their Servian and Bosnia neighbors. Some people like Quisling have had their actions enter our language as metaphors, a "quisling" equal to a "collaborator." The Grand Mufti of the Palestinians acknowledge in his memoirs that he was aware of the genocide of the European Jews and still threw in his lot with Hitler because of his hatred of the British. Many in our modern world toss around "Hitler" and "Nazi" in their political discourse without really understanding what depths of depravity these terms really represent. One can only hope that some day these people learn what they are saying.
The shows are typical History/Military Channel fare in the usage of the interviews and footage. The show is mostly black-and-white archival footage with interviews and visits to the actual locations in color. Typical in execution but also typical in effective presentation.
1. Chaim Rumkowski - The Polish Jewish Ghetto - Was Chaim Rumkowski a traitor after he was handpicked to lead the Jewish council governing the Lodz ghetto and assisted the Nazis with the sinister logistics of the Final Solution?
2. Pierre Laval - The French Vichy Government - Pierre Laval was the French Prime Minister who turned on his nation, pledged his allegiance to the Nazis, and ultimately paid the price for his treachery. This segment also speaks to a larger issue of French collaboration that haunts the country to this day. Coco Chanel is mentioned briefly as a war-time collaborator, for example.
3. The Arajs Kommandos - The Latvian Holocaust - The awful truth is that some of the worst offenders responsible for the Holocaust were not German, and few were worse than the Latvian Viktor Arajs, who formed his own unit known as Arajs Kommando and assisted with the genocide of over 30,000 Latvian Jews.
4. The Belgian Collaborator - Degrelle and his SS - Belgian Leon Degrelle was a strong supporter of fascist idealogy and later a fervent supporter of Hitler. He gained notoriety as a national leader who actually served as a common soldier.
5. The Croatian Collaborator - Sakic's Concentration Camps - The Croatian fascist movement was established by the Nazis as the puppet regime controlling the "independent" state of Croatia and devoted members like Dinko Sakic oversaw brutal concentration camps.
6. Vidkun Quisling - His Puppet Norwegian Nazis - Vidkun Quisling was the self-proclaimed Norweigan Fuehrer, whose loyalty paved the way for a quick political rise, but whose incompetence led to a hard and much faster fall.
7. The IRA - Sean Russell and his Group's Aid to the Nazis - The Irish Republican Army's stepped up from a bombing campaign to collaborate with the Nazis on a plan to bring down the British government.
8. The Grand Mufti - The Collaborator Of Jerusalem - Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, met with Hitler to discuss how Germany might help with the creation of a Palestinian homeland free of British rule.
9. Jews in Germany Who Fought for Hitler and Supported Him - Facing discrimination or worse, many Germans with Jewish ancestry risked their own lives for the Nazis and Adolf Hitler.
10. The Dutch Collaboration - Mussert, The Shadow Fueher - Anton Adriaan Mussert was leader of the Dutch Nazi Party and used by Hitler's appointed Reichskommisar to rally support for the Nazi cause in Holland.
11. The Greek Collaborator - Rallis and His Puppet Government - The Greek government was completely subordinate to the Nazi occupation authorities and, while the country's resistance movement was legendary, many assisted in the Nazis' efforts to perpetuate the Holocaust.
12. The Good Collaborators? - Finland's Nevalinna - After Finland defended itself from Stalin and did not receive support from Britain and France, the Finnish leaders had to turn to Nazi Germany for assistance as "co-belligerents" against Russia.
13. Hitler's Killer Police - The Schutzmannschaft Squad - When the Nazis entered Ukraine and Lithuania, they were often greeted as liberators from Soviet occupation, and these countries proved to be fertile grounds to recruit militia units for some of Adolf Hilter's atrocities.
The four-disc set is fairly low budget with nothing include beyond the 13 potent episodes of the Nazi Collaborators series.