Series 2012 - Nazi Titanic: Revealed

Nazi Titanic

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The bizarre story of a forgotten propaganda film made by the Nazis about the sinking of the Titanic.

Made at the height of World War II, this film was conceived as the ultimate propaganda movie with the famous disaster recast as a story of Allied weakness and German courage. At the time it was one of the most expensive and ambitious movies ever filmed. The story of its creation rivals a Hollywood movie script with tales of betrayal, murder and massacre. It featured military personnel moved from the front to act as extras, the director was arrested and possibly executed on the orders of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels and, in the last days of the war, the ship used for the filming was sank, as the Nazis tried to cover up the horrors of the Holocaust.

For 60 years, the film was shrouded in secrecy. Now, using Goebbels’s private diaries, unseen home-movies shot behind-the-scenes during the production and the original production design book, we reveal for the first time the extraordinary story of the Nazi Titanic.

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Comments (28)

  • Gary. U.K.

    1 year ago

    Gary. U.K.

    The premise of this film is both laughable & insulting to modern eyes, but bearing in mind the odious regime who commisioned & filmed it..it's a wonder the Nazi fiction wasn't even more outrageous! I've spent years researching all 3 Olympic class liners, & there is as much inaccurate fiction to be found in Cameron's 1997 fairy tale as can be found in this offensive Nazi propaganda piece! The 1958 film "A Night To Remember" is the least misleading account of the "Titanic" disaster

  • John Van Stijn

    over 1 year ago

    John Van Stijn

    They should also know better to state that the Russians started to fight back after the US came into World War 2. They started to push the Germans away from the gates of Moscow 2 days before Pearl Harbour. Also, they intimated that the majority of Russian tanks were US and UK provided. The number of Russian manufactured T34 tanks alone vastly outnumbered those provided by the west.

  • Bandit Queen

    over 1 year ago

    Bandit Queen

    Terrible that first the Nazi should use this as a propaganda and lies and such a budget in the first place during wartime that Geobbels, but that they should then interrogate and murder the director shows how paranoid and evil the Nazis were. There are many things that I could comment on such as the ridiculous portrayal of Ismay in the film and the fiction that the Titanic was going to make a world record of 26 knots, but the ship could not do this; 21-24 top speed. However, many comments on the contents of the film have already been said, so I will not comment further on that. The ironic thing about the making of this film is that by the time it is finished, things have changed so much in Germany that Goebbels himself thinks that it would be wrong to show it as it portrays mass panic, something else that did not happen, and it is only shown in censored form in occupied cities. The saddest thing of all is that the passenger liner used the Cap Arcona was sank by the RAF, who believed it was a war ship, and she was rigged to explode throughout, killing over 5000 prisoners in an attempt to hide the truth of the Concentration Camps. The evidence of the explosions comes from a few people who did survive. (An even worse disaster the Willheim was sunk with 9000 dead and 980 lived in 1945).

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  • ALEXIS FOTIADIS

    2 years ago

    ALEXIS FOTIADIS

    Very interesting documentary. I'd never heard of either the Nazi film or the Cap Arcona, so can't comment on the accuracy of the facts given, but a brief search (yes, including Wiki...) seems to match. However, being a little pedantic about this sort of thing, I'd like to point out that as is often the case, incorrect archive footage was used. When describing the German blitzkrieg of 1940-41, footage of RAF Typhoons (@1:59) and a German Panther tank (@2:07) was shown, neither of which were in service yet at that stage of the war. American GIs (@2:11) were shown in the same sequence. Also, when describing the RAF attack on the ships, the footage is of Mosquitoes, not Typhoons, and when the SS machine-gunned survivors after the sinking, the footage is of Allied beach landings (@41:32). They're small errors, and don't detract from the overall good quality of the documentary, but they're also sloppy and unnecessary. Steve Fairweather & Seamus - the RAF fighter-bombers were Typhoons, not Mosquitos.

  • Steve Hoyland

    2 years ago

    Steve Hoyland

    Anyone who believes that the captain of the Titanic was personally responsible for the disaster are naive In the extreme - he was made the scapegoat by the owners who must have been delighted that he went down with his ship! He was ordered to ensure that the worlds largest and most luxurious ship was also the fastest - hence his reluctance to heed the iceberg warnings.Remember - his masters were the same people who murdered all those passengers by ensuring that there weren't enough lifeboats, purely to allow plenty of room for the 1st class passengers to stroll the decks! Download and watch the 1943 version of Titanic - the suggestion that every single piece of Nazi film was inherently evil or perverse Is ludicrous - Look up the meaning of Propaganda - It can be good as well as bad, true as well as false. The Nazis would never have got to power If every single thing they did or said was untrue and it's idiotic to suggest as much. Just because they were a set of murdering racists doesn't mean that everything the allied Nations do Is always true and fair! ALL governments tell lies and spread false propaganda. GREED sank the Titanic.

  • Adil

    2 years ago

    Adil

    This titanic film was okay, this sinkin of the titanic was a disaster although some people made it out alive but remember they would have died this atlantic ocean is unreliable In the middle latitudes, the area of maximum temperature variations, values may vary by 7-8 to degrees (12-15 farenhiet

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  • Alan Stevens

    2 years ago

    Alan Stevens

    Alex Collinge – First of all, thank you for taking time to post a response to the various comments made concerning this documentary. However, personally, I really don't buy historian Wilhelm Lance's elaborate conspiracy theory over the sinking of the Cap Arcona. You state, “the fuel tanks were left containing a small amount of fuel so that when the ship burned the tanks would be full of a diesel-air mix over its flash-point, the ignition of which the incendiary devices were there to ensure.” However, this is what is said in the documentary, “the SS had filled the fuel tanks full of gas and topped them with incendiary devices,” which is somewhat different, wouldn't you say? The documentary then goes on to state that all of this was part of a “plan to allow allied bombers to eliminate witnesses to Nazi war crimes.” Don't you think a more likely explanation for the lack of fuel aboard the Cap Arcona was simply that the Germans had run out of diesel? As for the SS setting “incendiary devices,” please tell me what evidence you have to back this up? Photographic? Written orders? A diary entry, or perhaps an eyewitness statement? You maintain that these claims have “been researched to a thoroughly exhaustive degree,” so why wasn't this crucial and groundbreaking evidence presented in your documentary? Also how were these “incendiary devices” detonated? Were there special personal assigned to set off these charges as soon as an RAF bomb hit the Cap Arcona? It doesn't seem very likely, does it? Moving on. I accept your point that the “RAF pilots did not know those ships were full of concentration camp victims,” and also that it was probably believed that these were German troops heading for the “rumoured northern redoubt.” I also agree that the pilots may well have been stirred up by the “horrors uncovered at the recently liberated camp of Bergen Belsen.” However, doesn't your last point rather invalidate the documentary's assertion that the reason the SS allegedly rigged the Cap Arcona to explode in the first place, was to “eliminate witnesses to Nazi war crimes”? Indeed, plenty of witnesses to Nazi atrocities had already been found as far back as July 23, 1944, when the Red Army liberated Majdanek. By 3rd May 1945, the Holocaust was an open and shut case, and the Nazis would have known that. Finally, you say that “there was an absolutely minimal skeleton crew aboard the Cap Arcona when it was attacked. The military personnel aboard the ship were made up mostly of what was effectively local militia – and described by our Cap Arcona expert as being rather closer to Dad’s Army in military bearing than the crack troops that are more often associated with the SS in the popular imagination.” And yet the German trawlers sent to rescue the surviving crew and guards from the stricken Cap Arconas managed to save 16 sailors, 400 SS men, and 20 SS women. So what happened to this Dad's Army militia? Did they all drown? And what about the Thielbek and its cargo of 2,800 prisoners? Why didn't Himmler instruct that ship to be rigged to explode as well? Did he just forget? In the final analysis, there have been many claims made as to why these concentration camp prisoners were transported onto these ships. It has been equally suggested that the vessels were to be scuttled by U-boat, or bombed by the Luftwaffe, equally it has been stated that the intention was to transport the prisoners to Sweden. Personally, in view of the fact that the Third Reich, at this point, was in a chaotic mess, I doubt there were any clear instructions one way, or the other. What is know to be fact, however, is that these ships were strafed and bombed by the RAF, with many of the surviving prisoners then being shot by the SS, or left to die in the freezing waters of the Baltic. Everything else, I'm afraid, is pure conjecture.

  • OD Smith

    2 years ago

    OD Smith

    It's bizarre that the documentary picks up on the false allegations in the Nazi Titanic film that Bruce Ismay ordered the ship to run at full speed forsaking the passengers' safety - yet James Cameron did the same thing and gets a dump truck full of Oscars for it.

  • Alex Collinge

    2 years ago

    Alex Collinge

    Adam – I appreciate your stance on the issue of the maps, but we made the editorial decision to use those country borders as we wanted to give contemporary audiences the clearest idea of the locations to which we were referring. We also chose to stick with the place name Gotenhafen, as the invading German forces christened it, rather than Gdynia as it is known today, to avoid any confusion in what is a very limited amount of time to relate the story. Boycott the Olympics! Stuff the Government – your argument is one of semantics, and your analogy is a weak one. Perhaps if you had been using your radio to play unlawful material, had then had your radio legally repossessed by the thief and had then changed your name in an attempt to completely disassociate yourself from your original radio... and then the thief kept your radio but used parts of its design to make a much better radio... you can see how this starts to break down. You can have no real argument with the use of the word ‘recycled’ in its literal sense. David Isherwood – I don’t believe we ever said that the Cap Arcona could move under its own steam. The fuel tanks were left containing a small amount of fuel so that when the ship burned the tanks would be full of a diesel-air mix over its flash-point, the ignition of which the incendiary devices were there to ensure. These points have all been researched to a thoroughly exhaustive degree by the historian we interviewed in the programme. Your issue over the times and durations seems borne of frustration that we didn’t have the space to play out the events in real time. On this point you have my sympathy; stories such as this are fascinating in their detail, and we would like to have been able to expound on every small twist and occurrence in this gripping episode of history, but as I have already stated, we do the best we can with the limited screen time available. As for your remarks about Himmler, you seem to be accusing the programme of conjecture before going on to submit your own. I understand from your website that you undertook a great deal of research in Germany, Poland and Norfolk for your book expounding your hypothesis of Himmler having a doppelganger, but nevertheless you surely can’t claim your assumed understanding of the man’s character as being a rebuttal in itself. The RAF squadron did not know those ships were full of concentration camp victims. To the best of their knowledge the ships were full of fleeing Nazis headed for a rumoured northern redoubt somewhere in Scandinavia – thought to be Norway, and with fresh reports coming in from the horrors uncovered at the recently liberated camp of Bergen Belsen, there was little equivocating by the pilots as they undertook their sortie. This isn’t conjecture but was related to me first hand by one of the Typhoon pilots who bombed the ships. Seamus – there was an absolutely minimal skeleton crew aboard the Cap Arcona when it was attacked. The military personnel aboard the ship were made up mostly of what was effectively local militia – and described by our Cap Arcona expert as being rather closer to Dad’s Army in military bearing than the crack troops that are more often associated with the SS in the popular imagination. Furthermore, first-hand accounts from the survivors of the attack that day relate stories of small boats picking up SS members from the water but deliberately ignoring or holding back the concentration camp victims who had also jumped ship. Steve Fairweather – you make repeated and increasingly vague claims about us not getting our facts right, yet your biggest problem was one which (to anyone with more than a passing knowledge of the subject area) was itself wildly inaccurate; Barry Jones – thank you for your contribution. As stated above, the sources of our information regarding the bombing of the Cap Arcona and other boats in the Bay of Lübeck that day were the Cap Arcona expert you saw interviewed on camera – author of quite a few well-researched and seminal academic papers on this particular incident – two survivors of the Cap Arcona attack, and a pilot in one of the Typhoon squadrons that carried out the attack.

  • Steve Fairweather

    2 years ago

    Steve Fairweather

    Cherryblck Are we supposed to ignore blatant lies in a documentary just because the subject is Nazi Germany? What lesson of history does that teach us? History is about discovering what really happened warts and all, not about promoting a particular angle or side in a conflict, just because we believe they are right. Barry Jones My mistake, Wilhelm Gustloff was the worst disaster. Is there any chance that a member of the research team involved in the production could give a statement to explain themselves?

  • Barry Jones

    2 years ago

    Barry Jones

    Steve Fairweather The worst maritime disaster was not the sinking of the Cap Arkona but the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff by a soviet submarine with an estimated death toll of over 7000

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  • Boycott the Olympics! Stuff the Government

    2 years ago

    Boycott the Olympics! Stuff the Government

    The British ''Recycled'' some footage...Thats an interesting word to use. A thief broke into my car 2 weeks ago and ''Recycled'' it for his own use too.... Doesn't quite work when you know the truth does it...

  • Cherryblck

    2 years ago

    Cherryblck

    Steve Fairweather I thought the war against Nazi Germany ended over 60 years ago but we seem to be still fighting a propaganda war..'' History has a habit of repeating itself, and the Nazi were an evil regime and that is all that we need to know, I suspect that you lost your way on the way to Stormfront.

  • Seamus

    2 years ago

    Seamus

    The Mosquito pilots' orders can be explained by the assertion (see Wikipedia SS Cap Arkona entry) that they had been briefed that the ship was carrying escaping SS. Wikipedia says 400 SS were rescued by trawlers. This rather undermines the documentary's theory that the ship was bait. It rather suggests that the ship was to be sunk by the Germans after disembarking the crew and SS.

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  • Steve Fairweather

    2 years ago

    Steve Fairweather

    One fact of note to people interested in the fate of the Cap Arcona sunk by the British is the fact that British documents relating to the sinking are being withheld by the Government for a full 100 years. Clearly they know there is something to hide. The fact that Mosquito pilots admitted that their orders included shooting of casualties in the water has something to do with it. This also begs the question, where did the documentary makers get their clearly erroneous information from? This is the worst maritime disaster in history, it is not well known because of the circumstances and was sadly, completely avoidable.

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  • David Isherwood

    2 years ago

    David Isherwood

    Having conducted a great deal of research into Himmler for a book, I do not believe having relaeased female prisoners from Ravensbruck to Sweden that Himmler would still wish to kill 8000 concentration camp prisoners on the ships at that stage. He believed he could still negotiate with the allies. Cap Arkona DID carry lifeboats. British Intelligence DID know those ships were full of camp prisoners. The Cap Arkona could NOT move under its own power. Apart from small arms, both Cap Arkona and Thielbek were unarmed. Cap Arkona took 3 hours to roll on its side on fire (gas filled fuel tanks?) The Thielbeck wasattacked one hour AFTER Cap Arkona AND was flying a white flag. Approx 2700 prisoners died on Thielbeck and 4500 on Cap Arkona . War has mishaps -this was a big one and the RAF pilots must have thought it was their lucky day with no opposition. There may still be British Army veterans who arrived on land the same day as the air attacks who had to bury the thousands of bodies on the beaches.

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  • Cherryblck

    2 years ago

    Cherryblck

    OMG!!! I can't believe that a programme is actually being shown on Demand 5 thirty minutes after it has been shown on channel five

  • Steve Fairweather

    2 years ago

    Steve Fairweather

    I thought the war against Nazi Germany ended over 60 years ago but we seem to be still fighting a propaganda war. The special effects footage from Titanic (1943) was not recycled for A Night to Remember as stated by your film, it was stolen by the British. As for your terrible lies as to the fate of the Cap Arcona. The charge that the ship was rigged with explosives or incendiaries is nothing more than a fairy story. There were over 600 SS troops on board the vessel but your film neither mentions this nor explains it. Your ridiculous "documentary" seeks to cover up one of the worst British crimes of the war. It is a shame that many people watching your "entertainment" will take it at face value with no further research. Propaganda of which, I'm sure even Geobbels would be proud. Shame on you.

  • Adam

    2 years ago

    Adam

    Hi, why the producers of this film use the map with after WWII borders when showing events happened during the war? They should know better. I find it really unprofessional. How can I trust all the other statements?

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