WWII in 3D (2011) - full transcript

A new documentary shows 3D footage of Nazi soldiers for the first time.

The Second World War's
violent, disturbing images

have been constantly replayed
for decades.

Sometimes it seems there is little

we can see
that we haven't seen before.

But buried in archives and tucked away
in private collections,

an astonishing set
of 3D films and photographs

with the power to erase time
and transcend space

will now be seen for the first time
in nearly 70 years.

Leading historians of the war
put on their 3D glasses

and view the great conflict in a way
even they have never seen it.

I'm looking at Hitler,
and he's looking at me.

It's fantastic.

I've been looking at images
of this conflict my entire life.

Over 30 years
of seriously studying this conflict,

and I've not seen images
from World War II look like this.

Unknown to most people today,

Adolph Hitler used
the clarity and depth of 3D

to glorify his 1,000-year Reich.

And as you will see,
in the only known footage of its kind,

restored and shown here
for the first time,

the Nazis used 3D
to film their soldiers in live action.

The Allies successfully exploited 3D
in aerial reconnaissance

to lay the groundwork for D-Day

and ultimately,
to lay waste to Germany.

A brave Frenchman,
still active today at age 97,

even used 3D to document

one of the most thrilling moments
of the 20th century,

the liberation of Paris.

Now, for the first time ever,
you are about to experience

the Second World War
as it has not been seen by anyone,

except those who actually lived it.

World War II in 3D.

Adolph Hitler stands in an open car
as troops thunder past.

The photograph seems somehow familiar,
yet somehow startlingly new.

Every detail, from the Fuhrer's
reflections in the foreground

to his swastika armband
and commanding posture,

has been carefully composed
in three dimensions

to enhance his God-like stature.

Such images were made
at the behest of a man

who, despite his
almost unimaginable cruelty,

had a profound understanding
of the power

of visual imagery to mold history.

The Nazi ideology
that led to World War II

has been called
a vast eruption of evil into history.

The author of that evil,
Adolph Hitler,

began life as an artist,

and used art, sculpture, symbolism,
and photography

to mesmerize his nation.

I remember in school
in every classroom,

we had a picture of the Fuhrer
and the flags.

You saw his picture everywhere.

Even today at a Munich art museum,

traces of Hitler's
eerie symbolism survive.

He consistently involved himself
in the process

of developing the artistic look
of the National Socialist Third Reich.

I don't think there's ever been

anybody in history
that's used mass communications

and propaganda
as successfully as Hitler,

and he chose and promoted
the most talented people, he thought,

to carry out that propaganda mission.

One of those people was
photographer Heinrich Hoffmann.

Here in this Munich square, on the day
the First World War broke out in 1914,

Hoffmann photographed
a cheering crowd.

In the 1920s, after Hoffman
met Hitler and joined the Nazis,

he discovered that a young Hitler
himself was in that photograph.

They became fast friends.

He actually introduced
Eva Braun to Hitler,

so he was probably about
as close as you could get to Hitler.

To further Hitler's propaganda goals,

Hoffmann turned to Germany's leading
publisher of 3D photography,

Otto Schönstein.

He had a publishing company

and they wanted to order books
and use his facilities.

Schönstein had begun innocently enough
publishing the types of 3D photos

that had been a popular form
of entertainment for decades.

But after the Nazis
seized power in 1933,

Heinrich Hoffmann took over
Otto Schönstein's publishing company,

and together they took the concept
of 3D photography

to a sinister new level.

This is a typical Raumbild book

of the type that the
Otto Schönstein publishing company

finally came up with
for their product,

and inside the very thick covers,

you have a pocket
which has a folding 3D viewer,

and each pocket has
25 photographic prints

and they called it the Raumbild,

which is a German word that translates
literally as "spatial image."

So it's a space image book,
or a 3D book.

Hoffmann and Schönstein
launched their new publishing endeavor

with the Berlin Olympics of 1936.

Well, the 1936 Berlin Olympics
were the ideal God-given opportunity

to showcase the new Third Reich, and
to do so in front of the entire world.

Hitler was enraged when
African-American Jesse Owens

emerged as the star of the games.

In a sense, the games backfired,

at that moment at least,
in terms of showing that

the white superman
wasn't the best athlete in the world.

In fact, it was a black guy
from America.

Within months of the Olympics,
Schönstein and Hoffmann were

issuing lavish books that glorified
the Nazi stranglehold on Germany.

And nothing illustrated
that stranglehold more

than the annual events
that happened here.

On this weed-strewn field,
a parking lot today,

vast spectacles once dazzled Germany
and chilled the world.

The Nuremberg Rallies were
huge mass rallies

which were organized
to celebrate the new Germany,

the Third Reich,
and Hitler in particular.

Mass rallies of over 400,000 people,

fantastically elaborate,
brilliantly staged mass spectacles.

I saw one news reel with the rally,

with thousands of people,
the swastika flags,

and everybody, you can see the faces.

They loved this man.
We knew damn well

that something's going to happen
very soon.

Today, children play near bleachers
where top Nazi anti-Semite

Julius Stretcher, on the right,
once sat.

Men who murdered millions.

The 3D imagery brings something
very powerful to this experience.

Few people alive have seen more
imagery from the Second World War

than research historian Martin Morgan.

But even he has never seen
the war in 3D until now.

Faces that are in
the background of the shot

that I would probably
not really pay attention to in 2D,

I lock on to them in 3D.
It's not really just faces, either.

World War II historians, we love
to inspect photographs for detail,

everything from the airplane
in the background

to the details on the uniforms.
The details, it tells you so much.

This is clearly
the Reichsparteitagsgelände,

or the Nazi party rally grounds
in Nuremberg in Germany.

And each day of the Nazi party rally

celebrated a different aspect
of German culture,

the worker, the soldier, the youth.

Here we have Adolph Hitler

receiving the salute
and about to shake hands

with a representative
of the German labor force.

Because if you'll notice,
he's not armed aside from his dagger.

Even down to the level of game wardens
had a dagger.

Everyone had a dagger,
that's who this is.

A rebuilt city today,

Nuremberg was once decked out
with the Nazi's triumphant insignia.

In Nuremberg's Market Square, Sunday
strollers browse for vegetables.

But the Nazi's 3D cameras
captured a starkly different scene.

And if you look, the gentlemen
that are in these wheelchairs

that look like bicycles
and wheelchairs,

these are World War I veterans,

and that they've been brought
to the forefront of this crowd

for Adolph Hitler,
who was also a World War I veteran.

In 1938,
at the height of his popularity,

Hitler staged an extravagant
seven-day visit

to fellow dictator Benito Mussolini
in Italy.

With his 3D photographers in tow,
Hitler sought to link

the glories of ancient Rome
with his own 1,000-year Reich.

This is fascinating, this is
Hitler the artist visiting Italy.

And when a tourist goes to Italy,
what is it that you do?

You go and you visit the museums

that hold all the fantastic examples
of Greek and Roman art.

Hitler was a great admirer
of Italian art,

and particularly the Romans
and the Roman culture.

And it's simple things like,

for example, the German salute
where you raise the right arm.

That was actually taken
from the ancient Romans.

Back home,
Hitler instructed his artists to craft

a new German art inspired by Rome
but glorifying the Aryan ideal.

Here, one of his favorite sculptors,
Josef Thorak,

labors on an image
of the Nazi superman.

Until 1938, the 3D photography

of Heinrich Hoffmann
and Otto Schönstein

had glossed over the dark side
of Hitler's meteoric rise.

But the megalomania
lurking in these photos

would soon erupt across Europe,

and Nazi 3D photography
would go along for the ride.

By 1938,
Adolph Hitler's 3D photographers

were celebrating the almost
unimaginable success of their Fuhrer.

He was riding a wave of popularity

that could be likened
to no one else in German history.

Adolph Hitler had presided over

the rearmament
and remilitarization of Germany.

He had reoccupied the Rhineland.

Otto Schönstein
and Heinrich Hoffmann's 3D propaganda

had celebrated
each of the Fuhrer's triumphs.

But nothing cemented Hitler's hold
on Germans more than

the audacious seizure of neighboring
Austria, known as the Anschluss.

Everyone thinks that Hitler was
German. Hitler actually was Austrian.

It was obviously very
important for Hitler

that those Austrian Germans
belong to the Third Reich.

Austria had belonged
to the Austro-Hungarian Empire,

and after the First World War
it was dismembered

and really lost its power
and its glory.

Many Austrians yearned
for that great past,

and Hitler offered that
in terms of the future.

In 1938, Austrians cheered

as Hitler marched unopposed
into his native land.

Things like the Nazi salute,
greeting people with "Heil"

and signing letters
with "Heil Hitler,"

it's interesting to see
how quickly these things

then were taken over in Austria.

Today, Salzburg, Austria
is a quiet cultural center,

home of a famous Mozart festival.

But in this square in 1938,

thousands erupted with delirious joy
at Hitler's arrival.

Squares were quickly renamed
for the conquering hero,

as Hitler and his henchmen
launched a triumphant tour.

At historic cemeteries like this,

joyous Austrians heaped flowers on
the graves of the Fuhrer's ancestors.

But not all Austrians cheered.

The homes of Jews and leftists
were ransacked.

They met an extremely unhappy
experience in the Anschluss in 1938,

and many of them were
the first inmates

at the concentration camp
at Mauthausen.

Mauthausen, which lies just 12 miles
from Hitler's boyhood home of Linz,

was legendary for its cruelty.

It was where people were
not gassed in the millions

but where they were worked to death
more often,

and there was a famous quarry
where mostly Jewish inmates

would have to carry rocks up what
were called The Stairs of Death.

In an orgy of sadism, prisoners
who could not carry the stones

were hurled to their death
from these steps

and from this cliff known as
The Parachute Jump.

Hellish sights like Mauthausen

were omitted from Schönstein
and Hoffmann's

sanitized 3D celebration
of the Anschluss.

But they managed to find room for
a sinister photo of an ancient lie.

The notorious Jews' Stone of Rinn
depicted the supposed ritual murder

of an Austrian boy by Jews
in the Middle Ages.

It became a sight of pilgrimage
for the conquering Nazis.

German soldiers and officers
would go to visit the village of Rinn

and go and look at the Judenstein,
the rock upon which

this 3-year-old child
was supposed to have been killed.

By now, Germany had created the
most formidable military on Earth.

Nazi propaganda was eager
to impress this fact on everyone,

and 3D was a powerful way to do it.

As of 1938, the German army was

one of the most well-equipped
and modern armies of the entire world.

Within roughly four years,
an army of just over 100,000 men

rose to a standing army
of several hundred thousand.

A series of 3D images showed off
Germany's military hardware.

This is a Dornier Do-18 float plane.

It's an amazing aircraft.

It could be catapult-launched
off of a ship,

and then it could be
recovered by winch

and placed back on that catapult.

This is such a great photograph
for anybody

that's interested in the technology
associated with World War II,

because what you're seeing are
Panzerkampfwagen II.

This is an earlier version
of the Mark II Panzer.

You can see
it looks like white crosses.

The Germans marked their armored
vehicles with the Balkenkreuz,

and this is an earlier version of it
than what you're used to seeing.

These tanks would appear puny

in comparison to tanks
from later in the war.

With this vast arsenal in hand

and having marched into Austria and
Czechoslovakia without firing a shot,

Hitler was about to launch
his fateful invasion of Poland.

It would lead to initial success
in a new kind of war

and give Schönstein and Hoffmann
remarkable opportunities

to show the power of 3D
as it had never been shown before.

In September 1939,
as Hitler invaded Poland

and Europe descended into
the Second World War,

Otto Schönstein and Heinrich Hoffmann
faced a unique challenge,

documenting the Nazis' rapid onslaught
with cumbersome 3D cameras.

It's a little trickier.

On the roll film, you're getting
six stereos on one roll,

so you're changing film a lot
if you're gonna be using it,

because you only got
six stereo pairs on a roll.

They overcame these drawbacks
by training

the Wehrmacht propaganda troops
to shoot in 3D.

The result is a visceral record
of the rape of a nation.

You can clearly tell
that this is 1939 Poland.

This is not summer '40 in the
low countries. This is Poland in '39.

And what I'm triggering off of
is these are German army.

They're wearing what we typically call
the jack boots, the high leather boot.

That's an item of footwear
that was issued in the German army,

more in the early part of the war
than in the late part.

And you can see
they've all been allowed

to remove their helmets
and put on their soft cap.

The 3D photographers documented

the tragic destruction
of the Polish air force and navy

and the ruin of Poland's cities
and infrastructure.

It was a case of total war.

No one in history had ever seen
such merciless attacks on civilians,

such concentrated bombings,
such use of terror.

The Polish military was no match for
the world's most mechanized army.

We were powerless
against Hitler's mechanized forces,

and Poland had great casualties,
especially half of the country was

finally overrun by the Russians
who invaded from the east.

So, Poland didn't have any chance.

Hundreds of thousands of prisoners
were marched off to oblivion.

This photo is clearly 1939.

You can tell
by the German officer's tunic,

and he is interrogating
Polish prisoners.

I would imagine that those prisoners
on the left side of the photograph

were a little bit concerned about
what the future had in store for them.

It was a sad moment. People cried,

and we saw them going
to the prison camps.

It was a really horrible thing.

On a wall that still held
a mobilization poster

for the Polish army,
civilians now peered

at ominous pronouncements
from their new masters.

This is the first time Polish
resistance veteran Andre Ulankiewics

has seen 3D photos
of a moment burned into his memory.

You could not have a radio,
you could not have weapons.

You could not buy illegal food.
Everything was punishable by death.

You give refuge for a Jew,
you were killed right on the spot.

Not you,
the entire family was wiped out.

Hitler staged a triumphal parade
in Warsaw,

ecstatic in part because he now held
captive three million Polish Jews.

Schönstein and Hoffmann
captioned this photo,

"Lice-infected Jewish beds
being burned,"

a caption fraught
with ominous meaning.

In Nazi ideology, the Jew was often
compared to some sort of pest.

Another caption sneered,
"Jews doing unfamiliar work."

That statement obviously
plays with the prejudice

that Jews were
not used to manual labor

and that all they did was
rip off the population.

Almost as soon as
the Germans moved into Poland

and occupied the country,
they began to round up Jews.

90% of the Jews in Poland

would end up being killed
during the Holocaust.

Then, on May 10th, 1940,
German armies and their 3D cameras

swept across the borders of neutral
Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg.

It's problematic terrain because it's
criss-crossed by rivers and canals.

It can be extremely difficult
for the movement

of a modern, mechanized army.

However, the German military
was ready for it.

The leading descriptive word

that characterizes
the 1940 campaign, fluidity.

They did that by bringing in
engineering units,

by bringing in units
that were capable of fording rivers

and building bridges on the fly,

and it allowed the Germans
to move swiftly.

Never had a European army
moved so fast

and so quickly
and with such devastating effect.

After failing to stem
the Nazi onslaught,

the British pushed back
to the French town of Dunkirk,

which was devastated by German fire.

But despite being surrounded,
the Allies were miraculously

ferried back to England
on anything that could float.

Three hundred and fifty thousand men

were pulled off at Dunkirk,
but they left

all their armament and their machinery
and their tanks behind.

This photograph is definitely
showing Germans

on the beach at Dunkirk in France.

Look at that.
I have to say, as an Englishman,

I love the Union Jack
up to the right here, fluttering.

That's fantastic.
It's a great picture.

Now, the road to Paris was wide open.

Paris was declared an open city
by the French government,

because they didn't want to see
the destruction of the capital.

So the Germans actually
marched into Paris

without any real resistance
by the French forces.

Today, Paris's Arc de Triomphe

and Place de la Concorde
hum with traffic.

But on June 14th, 1940,

the only sounds were
the echoes of German jack boots.

In nine blood-drenched months,

the Nazis had subjugated
the greater part of Europe

and documented their rampage in 3D.

But their interest in 3D would soon
reach beyond still photographs.

Newly discovered
motion picture footage

not seen since World War II

reveals Nazi soldiers in live action
3D for the very first time.

In 1941, as Germany attacked
the Soviet Union

and ramped up its war machine,
the Luftwaffe responded

with perhaps the most
remarkable 3D imagery

that has survived
the fall of the Third Reich.

This film,
never before seen by the public,

and newly restored for this program,

is the only known 3D footage
showing German soldiers in action.

A hundred thousand meters
of such 3D footage was shot.

For safekeeping, it was moved

to a Dresden church
in the war's waning days.

When Dresden was firebombed in 1945,
most of it was destroyed.

But this unique footage
somehow survived.

Filmed outside a German city,
it shows how to aim and fire

Germany's most effective flak gun,
the dreaded 88 millimeter,

which also doubled as one of its top
all-purpose artillery weapons.

This is the legendary
and infamous 88 millimeter gun.

This is a weapon that could project
a 30-pound projectile

to an altitude of 20,000 feet
against bombers flying in formation.

An extremely lethal, and a very, very
dangerous anti-aircraft weapon.

A well-trained crew could fire
15 to 20 rounds per minute

with devastating results.

Here, a Luftwaffe
artillery lieutenant,

clearly identifiable by his
silver wreath and seagull collar tabs,

demonstrates how to aim
and fire the 88

against the relentless
Allied air fleets decimating Germany.

Height and distance are calculated.
Orders are repeated down the line.

When the 88 fires a shell, it explodes

into a lethal cloud of flak
in the path of the target aircraft.

This device is actually
a stereoscopic range finder.

These soldiers being filmed in 3D

were using 3D technology themselves
to track their targets.

Flak crews themselves
took heavy casualties.

So a film like this was likely part

of the Luftwaffe's desperate race
to train replacements.

The film also shows a soldier
learning to aim and fire a Mauser,

the most important rifle
in the German arsenal.

Always efficient,
Germans even produced a film

showing precisely how
to project this footage

and view it with
the Nazi's 3D glasses.

The Nazis had used 3D
mainly for propaganda.

Now, with the Allies
struggling to take the offensive,

the British and Americans
would use 3D to fight back.

The key lay in its ability to
revolutionize aerial reconnaissance.

photo reconnaissance images

provide the ability to reveal
structures on the ground,

how big they were, how tall they were,
and then more importantly,

they were able to reveal topography.

How high a ridge was,
or how deep a ravine cut.

Aerial 3D was used
to its most devastating effect

on the effort to bring the war home
to the German people.

For three or four years, the Allies

could not land troops
in occupied Europe.

They had to use war from the air,
what was called strategic bombing.

So aerial reconnaissance
and photography

was absolutely paramount
to the defeat of the Third Reich.

German cities began to be incinerated
in the fiercest maelstrom in history.

In June of 1944,

the Allies prepared to storm
these beaches in Normandy,

and 3D came into play again,
this time in support

of the largest amphibious assault
mankind has ever attempted.

We were photographing those beaches
a year before we landed on them.

As the sun peeked through
the gray dawn of June 6th, 1944,

Germans stared in disbelief
from these bunkers

as a quarter of a million men
in over 5,000 ships

blanketed the English Channel.

The Allies faced an inferno,
especially here at Omaha Beach.

Casualties were extremely high.
The Germans were capable of laying

withering fire
on the beaches themselves.

After the war,

the American company, View-Master,
released a set of 3D images

showing the toll
Normandy paid for liberation.

3D photography had given
the Allies an important edge

in the bombing campaign over Germany
and the victory on D-Day.

Now, as the war
raced to its conclusion,

3D would record, in color,

one of the most exhilarating moments
of the 20th century

and ultimately preserve
a haunting 3D record

of the tragic consequences of war.

As Germany collapsed around him,

Nazi 3D publisher Otto Schönstein
stopped publishing

and started racing to save
his archive from the bombs.

But as the Allies sped across France,

one dapper young Frenchman was
in the right place at the right time

to create a remarkable record
of the liberation of Paris,

the only 3D photos in color
known to have survived the war.

Today, in an airy house
in the Parisian suburb of Boissy,

97-year-old orchid grower
Marcel Lecoufle

photographs one of his
prize specimens in 3D.

He's been taking such pictures
for over 80 years.

I started photographing orchids
in 1928.

My family's been involved
in cultivating orchids

for five generations.

The German occupation
had made his hobby

not only difficult
but potentially dangerous.

The Germans totally prohibited
any photographs,

but the other problem was
finding the film.

There were some stores that had it,
but it was difficult to find.

Still, on his daily bike rides
to the Paris flower market,

Lecoufle couldn't resist defying
the Nazi ban.

His photos portray
a deceptively lovely Paris

that hasn't changed much today,

but was groaning
under a brutal occupation.

Then, in August 1944, American bombs
and even some planes

began crashing around
Lecoufle's suburban doorstep.

We heard that the Americans were
landing at Normandy on the radio,

on radios that were
jammed by the Germans

who didn't want us to find out
what might be happening.

With the Germans fleeing
and the Allies approaching,

destruction rained from the skies
around Boissy.

The photograph of the big fire
was taken after a bombing attack,

and that was gasoline burning,
so the smoke was horrendous.

Then Boissy erupted with joy
as the Yanks poured in.

Locals were curious to see
black American soldiers

billeted in the woods nearby.

I have taken this photo
in the Bois de la Grange

three kilometers from here.

One morning,
these Americans were washing up

and I just so happened
to take that photo.

But while Boissy rejoiced,

Paris was roiled in a desperate
insurrection just a few miles away.

The barricades were up
and French partisans struggled

to defend their headquarters here,
the police prefecture.

Then, on August 24th, Paris went wild

as French and American troops
roared into the city,

and the Germans threw down their arms.

Sam Dimas recalls what has been called

"the greatest party
of the 20th century."

When we paraded down
the Champs-Elysées,

you don't go through the opening of
the Arc ole Triomphe, you go around it.

So we had to double time
to go around it.

The French girls were
all over their liberators.

I think we had four or five guys
that went AWOL.

Determined not to miss the party,

Lecoufle grabbed his 3D camera,
jumped on his bike and raced to Paris.

There was general elation,

and the Americans arrived
over by the police station,

and someone said
there was a tank approaching.

So the Americans put on their helmets,
but the people didn't want to leave.

They stayed there, and luckily,
the tank turned around.

But amid the joy,
Lecoufle also photographed

the deadly cost of liberation.

You have an American truck
at the entrance

to the Luxembourg Gardens,
and you can see on the wall

all the bullet holes
which are white dots.

Marcel Lecoufle shot the last known

3D photographs taken
during the war itself.

But they're not the final story of 3D
in World War II.

Nine months later,
with Germany defeated

and Nazi photo chief
Heinrich Hoffmann in prison,

a nearly bankrupt Otto Schönstein
found a new subject

for his 3D cameras,
the ruins of his country.

Returning to historic sites
he had shot before the war,

Schönstein recorded
the devastating results

of Germany's blind obedience
to Adolph Hitler.

Today, Germans have rebuilt
many of their cultural treasures,

like Munich's Residenz Theater,

its Renaissance Antiquarium,

and Nuremberg's Heiden Tower.

But the scars these pictures
represent for Europe

and for civilization
are not so easily healed.

I spend my life attempting
to understand that conflict,

why it was necessary for humankind
to go down the road

of being involved in a conflict
that ultimately cost,

although people argue about it,
I believe it's over 100 million lives.

Otto Schönstein died
a broken man in 1958,

leaving behind an eerie,
disturbing 3D record

of the darkest days of modern times.

Monsieur Lecoufle
still photographs in 3D

and anticipates great days ahead
for his hobby of 83 years.

Television would be perfect
if it were in three dimensions.

The proof of that is when
photography first arrived,

3D was already around,
and now it's making a comeback.

That comeback now gives
a new dimension

to the villainy of the Nazis,
the heroism of their opponents,

and the crucial ways that 3D itself
helped to build up

and then tear down
the 1,000-year Reich.