"Divide and Conquer," Chapter III of Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series, begins with Britain and France's declaration of war on Germany after Hitler's invasion of Poland. The film covers the Nazi capture of Denmark and Norway, steps necessary to mount a future attack on Britain, then describes in detail Hitler's strategy as he conquers Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands. Special attention is paid to Nazi atrocities. Dead and injured children are shown en masse and the film explains how the bombing of tterdam leads to "thirty thousand men, women and children killed in ninety minutes."
The narrator tells how the Luftwaffe bombs small villages so that refugees clog the highways, and how it uses precision machine gun fire to herd the survivors toward the allied armies, who find their progress severely constrained as a result. An American military officer details the Nazi plan for an invasion of France, which Hitler conquers in just over a month. The Germans bludgeon the French armies into surrender, then "enslave" much of the local population to service the German military regime.
Running Time: 57 Mintues.
MPAA Ratings: Passed
Throughout the late 1930's, Adolf Hitler continued his conquest of Europe, following up victorious invasions of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland with assaults to the West. In 1940, Hitler occupied Denmark on the way to Norway, followed by marches across Holland and Belgium. His air attacks on Rotterdam alone killed thirty thousand people. It was during this time that Hitler's military cunning hit a new low, using refugees as instruments of war. Bombing small towns in the Belgian countryside, citizens attempting to escape the advancing Nazis clogged the only access roads for advancing opposition forces.
France, in an attempt to secure it's border with Germany, built the Maginot Line, a series of underground tunnels and fortifications, but the will of the French people was weak. The Germans used thirty five thousand armored vehicles to advance through the Ardennes Forest, considered almost impossible to traverse, to descend upon France. With the defeat of France, Hitler obtained an armistice with the country under Marshal Petaine, effectively enslaving the French to the Nazi war machine.
What I haven't mentioned yet in my reviews of the prior two installments of the series, is the effective use of charts and maps detailing plans of the German offense. As crude as one might expect from nearly seventy years ago, the graphics are still capably done given the technology of the era. A common tactic deployed by Hitler's military consisted in a recurring use of the 'pincer' attack, performed by encircling an enemy target and closing in for the kill.
With the fall of continental Europe, Hitler was now ready to go after the next big prize - Great Britain. That is the subject of Chapter Four of the "Why We Fight" Series.
Frank Capra directed this propaganda film about how Germany struck against the French and brought the country down to nothing more than slaves of Hitler. Out of the three "Why We Fight" films from Capra I'd say I enjoyed this one the most. The generic animated sequences showing Hitler's battle plans might not look the greatest but the information they show makes it easy to see why Germany was such a strong force. Walter Huston narrates.
All of the Capra WW2 films are worth watching as are the John Ford directed ones.
CAST & CREW:
AWARDS: National Film Registry
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