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Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler’s Soldiers
Air date: 05/01/2013

Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler’s Soldiers

Wednesday, May 1, 10-11 pm ET on PBS

Spied upon by MI19 in a bugging operation of unprecedented scale and cunning, 4,000 German POW’s revealed their inner thoughts about the Third Reich and let slip military secrets that helped the Allies win WWII. Based on groundbreaking research conducted by a German historian, the film tells the story of how those conversations were recorded and how they can now reveal, in more shocking detail than ever before, the hearts and minds of the German fighter. In total, more than 100,000 hours of these secret recordings were made. Only now have they all been declassified, researched and cross referenced. They represent a startling new body of evidence with which to revisit events of the war and they show the political divisions between those top generals who supported the Nazi ideology and those that did not. They also demonstrate the complicity of the rank-and-file soldiers in taking part in Nazi war crimes. Now, 60 years later the chilling and totally uncensored thoughts of the Nazi elite will be heard. The documentary includes intense, full-dialogue dramatic reconstructions that use the verbatim transcripts of these bugged conversations to reveal the dark heart of the Nazi regime as never before. Hearing these shocking conversations will be like taking a time machine back into psyche of Hitler’s Germany.

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Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler's Soldiers

Re-enactment. WS General von Felbert and General Kittel. Photo Credit: © October Films

Re-enactment. CU Listener from behind with headset. Text "That's why everyone hates us…" Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi Germany during and at the start of the war were recruited by MI19 to serve as listeners and translators. Their job was to listen in to the POWs conversations and when something of interest occurred to start recording. Women were also employed to work as typists and translators.   Photo Credit: © October Films

RECON: CU Listener from behind with headset. Text "That's why everyone hates us…" Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi Germany during and at the start of the war were recruited by MI19 to serve as listeners and translators. Their job was to listen in to the POWs conversations and when something of interest occurred to start recording. Women were also employed to work as typists and translators.

Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler's Soldiers

Re-enactment. CU Listener from behind with headset. Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi Germany during and at the start of the war were recruited by MI19 to serve as listeners and translators. Their job was to listen in to the POWs conversations and when something of interest occurred to start recording. Women were also employed to work as typists and translators. Photo Credit: © October Films

Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler's Soldiers

Re-enactment. MS Listeners Room. The 'M' Room. Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi Germany during and at the start of the war were recruited by MI19 to serve as listeners and translators. Their job was to listen in to the POWs conversations and when something of interest occurred to start recording. Women were also employed to work as typists and translators. Photo Credit: © October Films

Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler's Soldiers

Re-enactment. MS Listeners working at desks. Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi Germany during and at the start of the war were recruited by MI19 to serve as listeners and translators. Their job was to listen in to the POWs conversations and when something of interest occurred to start recording. Women were also employed to work as typists and translators. Photo Credit: © October Films

Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler's Soldiers

MS: Professor Sönke Nietzel historian who first discovered the documents after they had been declassified in 1996. His extensive research is available in two books 'Bugging Hitler's Generals' and 'Soldaten'. Photo Credit: © October Films

Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler's Soldiers

Re-enactment. WS POV of vehicle arriving at Trent Park (Drama Location: Wolterton Hall). Photo Credit: © October Films

Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler's Soldiers

Re-enactment. HS The generals are seen relaxing below the microphone hidden in the chandelier. Photo Credit: © October Films

Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler's Soldiers

Re-enactment. WS von Choltitz arrives from France with news. The Generals listen. DOB: 09/11/1894 Served WWI & WWII: Captured in France 25/08/44 POW at Trent Park 29/08/44-10/04/45 German Superiors: ‘By disposition and ability an able soldier and officer. Has a good tactical grasp and can make rapid decisions…adept at socialising. Unfortunately owing to the war suffers from stomach complaint. The increased nervousness makes him very irritable at time and he then becomes very excitable as a consequence’. CSDIC (UK) opinion: ‘PoW is a cinema-type of a German officer, fat, coarse, bemonocled and inflated with a tremendous sense of his own importance.’ His fickle nature did not endear him to his colleagues who spoke of him unflatteringly.

Secrets of the Dead: Bugging Hitler's Soldiers

Re-enactment. Our Generals Cast. Photo Credit: © October Films