Saturday May 5, 2012 AT 8:00 PM ET on CBC News Network
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Surviving Hitler: A Love Story is a remarkable documentary with a plot straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster. A German soldier falls in love with a Jewish teenager in Nazi-ruled Berlin. When war breaks out, he sends love letters from the Russian front while her family hides resistance fighters in their home. The young sweethearts become co-conspirators in a plot to assassinate Hitler. When the plot fails, they face almost certain death. Unbelievably, both survive the Gestapo’s wrath and they become the first couple to marry in the ruins of post-war Berlin.
It all sounds too good to be true, yet it is. Surviving Hitler is a love story for the ages -- and a harrowing tale of wartime courage, resistance and survival. At its center is Jutta, now in her late 80s and the film’s riveting narrator. She paints a detailed picture of life on the run as her parents are taken away by the Nazis and her beloved Helmuth is arrested. Jutta herself winds up in prison, escaping only when the Russian soldiers reach Berlin. She has no idea if Helmuth is still alive.
As Jutta narrates, the film unfolds through never-before-seen original 8 mm footage shot by Helmuth, his voice recordings and the letters he wrote from the frontlines. Reenactments bring to life his role in Operation Valkyrie, the failed 1944 plot to kill Hitler (immortalized in the Tom Cruise thriller, Valkyrie).
Surviving Hitler: A Love Story offers a rare perspective on World War II, a first-person account of the German resistance.
Directed and produced by John-Keith Watson for the BBC.