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Hilter’s Assault: A Groundbreaking German-Polish Documentary on the Beginning of World War Two

Deutsche Welle and TVP Polonia present the film “Hitler’s Assault – How World War Two Began” with a premiere at the Polish Institute in Berlin.

Deutsche Welle and TVP Polonia premiered “Hitler’s Attack: How World War Two Began” at the Polish Institute in Berlin on Wednesday, August 26. Seventy years after the invasion of Poland, this documentary was developed by filmmakers from both countries to shed light on this dark chapter in German-Polish history and relay the events from different perspectives.

The premiere event was attended by the Polish Ambassador to Germany, Marek Prawda, and other prominent guests from politics, culture and the media. Christoph Lanz, Director of Television at Deutsche Welle, and Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy from TVP-Polonia, officially presented the German-Polish co-production.

“We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to work with TVP Polonia and produce this documentary,” said Lanz. “After 70 years, it was definitely time for us to form this journalistic link. I am glad that the collaboration with our Polish colleagues went so well.”

“70 years after the outbreak of the war that led to one of the greatest tragedies in our country’s history, we must once again examine this period – but by way of facts and knowledge rather than prejudices and myths,” stated Romaszewska-Guzy, who also stressed that Polish and Germans should take a shared approach in considering the war’s terrible events. She added that this period of history should not be allowed to fade from memory. “We must be in a position to understand the war’s consequences and thanks to our friends at Deutsche Welle, this has proven to be possible.”

The documentary shows that even before Germany opened fire on the Westerplatte with its Schleswig-Holstein ship – an event which is commonly viewed as the official beginning of the war – a series of German air force bombings had already laid the Polish town of Wielun in ruin.

The directors – Peter Bardehle and Nadine Klemens from Germany, and Michal Nekanda-Trepka and Jan Strekowski from Poland – use the film to put individuals in the foreground. The bombing of Wielun forms the dramatic frame of the film, which is then narrated by both German soldiers and Polish civilians. Seventy years after the war’s beginning, these individuals share their personal recollections.

“Today’s German-Polish relationship is practically a miracle”

Renowned historians discuss the personal accounts and events of August and September 1939 through the lens of global politics: the director of the German-Polish Institute in Darmstadt, Dr. Dieter Bingen, and the historian Norman Davies, who lives in Oxford and Warsaw. Davies wrote the well-known study, “Europe at War 1939-1945: No Simple Victory” and focuses in particular on Eastern European perceptions of World War Two, together with the former KGB agent Viktor Suworow, who has researched the Hitler-Stalin Pact for many years.

“Even in 2009, we must stress what really happened for the sake of German-Polish discourse,” says Bingen. In light of how the Nazis handled Poland, it is practically a miracle that Germany and Poland “have a relatively friendly relationship today,” according to Bingen.

Broadcast times

DW-TV will broadcast the two-part documentary worldwide in German, English, Spanish and Arabic. The 26-minute segments will be broadcast in English on Tuesday, September 1 and Tuesday, September 8 at 19:00 UTC. DW-TV is available in Europe via Hotbird 8 und Astra 1L as well as a live stream on the Internet (www.dw-world.de). TVP Polonia will be broadcasting the Polish version on Tuesday, September 1 at 21:45.