When it comes to documentaries there are many different formats. Some hold your attention, some have you flicking between the programme and the daily paper and some have you running in fear of your sanity and or life! So what of Pen and Sword’s series Arika Korps 1941-1942 and 1942-1943 respectively? Well, the short answer is I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen.
Obviously, as the title suggests, it charts the success of Hitler’s Afrika Korps in the deserts of North Africa; though to be blunt it mentions the Fuhrer precious few times and focuses mainly on the German high command such as Gerneral Crüwell ,Walther Nehring and of course Rommel. The reason for this is quite simple. This wasn’t a war fought by the Nazis. No mention of Blitzkrieg or Lebensraum here. This was a war shrouded in mystique and honour and fought between the Germans and Italians and the British Commonwealth. It covers all the major conflicts and battles including the siege of Tobruk, the Battle of Gazala and, of course, the Battle of El Alamein.
It clearly shows the equipment used; borrowed, stolen, converted, won and in some cases lost again! The interesting views of uniforms and weapons really gives you an insight into the hardships faced by both sides in a war where flies and dust were often more of a hindrance than bullets and bombs. The terrain shown on both films proves this was a conflict where quick learners and experienced hands fared much better than raw parade ground recruits.
It’s written or rather, told, solely from the German perspective and with good reason.
The entire DVD series is made up from footage filmed by the German Propaganda Kompanien (PK) whose somewhat biased job it was to record the successes of the German armed forces. This was shown in cinemas throughout Germany and occupied Europe and indeed North Africa as the weekly newsreel Die Deutsche Wochenschau.
The films have as their original soundtrack, a mixture of both Germanic stiff upper lip dialogue (with subtitles) and mood changing and dramatic music. At just over fifty-five minutes long, each film has a retail price of £9.99. They are well worth a look. To put these two DVDs in a nutshell: Goebbels would have been proud!
Review by Phil Hodges for War History Online
AFRIKA KORPS 1941-1942 and AFRIKA KORPS 1942-1943
Pen and Sword DVDs.
In black and white – 45-55mins approx.