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Film / Downfall (2004)
aka: Downfall

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A mass murderer's final days.

"Tomorrow millions of people will curse me, but fate has taken its course."
Adolf Hitler

Downfall (German: Der Untergang) is a dramatic film from 2004 recounting the last days of Nazi Germany as the Red Army closes in on Berlin, when Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz) and the senior Nazi leadership that remained at his side waited around to die.

It is primarily based on the memoirs of Gertraud "Traudl" Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara), one of Hitler's secretaries, and is one of the most accurate portrayals of the last, desperate days of the Third Reich and its effects on the Führer, his closest aides, and ordinary Germans. Other POV characters in the film include Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck, an SS doctor struggling to help the massive German casualties piling up as the Russians storm the city, and Peter Kranz, a small boy who has been turned into a Child Soldier with the Hitler Youth and sent to the front line.


The film is also known as the source of all those Hitler Rants videos, wherein the subtitles are edited to satirize all kinds of usually trivial topics. The scene that is used for most of the Hitler Rants is actually a Hitler freakout that occurs after he learns that neither Wenck's 12th Army nor Felix Steiner's Army Group will be coming to the defense of Berlin. In Real Life, both forces were trying only to get West so they could surrender to the Western Allies, with Wenck's forces in particular trying to evacuate as many civilians as they could from the vengeful Red Army while slowing down the latter as much as they could. Other commonly used scenes include Hitler planning Steiner's counter-attack (the aforementioned Freak Out happens when he's told this can't be done), Hitler taking a phone call, Hitler eating dinner and learning that Heinrich Himmler attempted to have Germany surrender, and Otto Gunsche informing Hitler that Fegelein has gone AWOL.


This film provides examples of:

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  • Actor Allusion: Oliver Stritzel plays Johannes Hentschel, the mechanic who was responsible for the power generators in the bunker. In Das Boot, he played a member of U-96's engine crew.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, who left the bunker on April 23, does not appear in the film.
    • Other prominent Nazi officials who were in the bunker, including German Labour Front leader Robert Ley, Hitler's lead physician Theodor Morell, Hitler's chief adjutant Julius Schaub, Hitler's pilot Hans Baur, Martin Bormann's brother Albert, RSD head Johann Rattenhuber, and Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller, do not appear.
    • Gotthard Heinrici and Ferdinand Schörner, who commanded significant units outside Berlin, are not mentioned.
    • Blondi is depicted as being the only dog in the bunker, when there were actually several. Eva Braun had two Scottish Terriers and Blondi had given birth to a litter of puppies in March or early April. On top of that, the bunker's dog handler, Fritz Tornow, also had his own pet dog. All of these other dogs were shot.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Astonishingly enough, while not downplaying or ignoring a single one of his crimes, the film - with the assistance of Bruno Ganz' incredible performance - manages to make Hitler himself, the ultimate symbol of human evil in Western civilization, into an oddly pitiable if not sympathetic figure, as the sheer folly and cruelty of his worldview crashes down around him. This was highlighted by many critics and reviewers, several of whom questioned whether it was even morally acceptable to make a movie that depicted him in such a light.
    Roger Ebert, in his review: Admiration I did not feel. Sympathy I felt in the sense that I would feel it for a rabid dog, while accepting that it must be destroyed.
  • Angrish: Even German speakers have trouble keeping up with Hitler's infamous rants without subtitles. Note that anyone who's watched actual historical footage of the man's speeches will tell you that is completely accurate to how he talked when he got worked up.
  • Anti-Climax: Hitler's suicide is staged in decidedly undramatic fashion, happening offscreen shortly into a random dinner scene. This was a deliberate choice by the director, who felt that such an evil man didn't deserve to be memorialized with a dramatic onscreen death.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: Numerous soldiers that are far enough from the ever closing frontline gleefully abandon their positions and get drunk and party away with disconnected civilians while shells blast buildings into rubble and small arms fires echo through the streets. Another scene shows a couple slicing a piece of meat from a dead horse while the battle rages around them.
  • Armchair Military:
    • Hitler, whose isolation in the bunker and the presence of many yes men enables him to entertain the delusion that his intellect and willpower can save Germany from the brink of defeat. When discussing his plans he has totally unrealistic notions of what his units in the field are still capable of.
    • In the extended cut, a Nazi brownshirt berates Peter's father for not joining the fight for Berlin. One of the hardened veterans takes a look at the brownshirt, laughs at him for not following his own beliefs, and forcibly takes him outside to join the battle.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Near the end of the film Magda Goebbels drugs her children and then poisons them with cyanide capsules, which are shown to have a very quick effect; the children whimper and go limp practically a second after the capsule is cracked. In reality, death by cyanide - or really any poison administered orally - takes rather longer than a second or two, and as mentioned below, the children would have thrashed around before dying.note 
  • Artistic License – Geography: Before the infamous Hitler Rant, Krebs announces that the enemy has advanced to the East as far as the line Lichtenberg-Mahlsdorf-Karlshorst. Lichtenberg is between Mahlsdorf and Karlshorst.
  • Artistic License – History: As well-researched as the film is, this trope occurs enough to warrant its own page.
  • Asshole Victim: Though the film plays itself as a tragedy, it doesn't offer much sympathy towards Hitler and his cronies as they are driven into despair by their impeding doom. If they die, it is often unceremonious and the dead Nazis are then promptly forgotten. Most notably, when Hitler finally kills himself, his death is heard offscreen and is immediately followed by an innocent gun joke from one of the Goebbels' children.
  • Ate His Gun: Many Nazis lose their will to live when faced with the end of the Nazi Reich... and the arrival of the Soviets, who cannot be expected to go easy on them after everything they've done. There are quite a few suicides using this and other means.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Eva admits to repeatedly kicking Blondi for no real reason, and later, Hitler has a cyanide capsule tested on her as well.
  • Bait the Dog: Very carefully and deliberately done with Der Fuhrer himself. The clear-eyed, un-slanted depiction of his personality, combined with Bruno Ganz's brilliant performance and just enough small, sympathetic touches for him to come across like a believable human being instead of a cartoonish supervillain - before yanking back the veil to remind us why he's frequently called the most evil human who ever lived, a narcissistic, self-absorbed unsportsmanlike racist who would rather burn the entire world than see it ruled by people he considered inferior.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: One recurring question for the cast is how they plan to deal with the Reich's downfall: will they choose to flee, be taken prisoner by the Soviets, or will they commit suicide to save face and avoid imprisonment or trial and execution?
  • Big Sleep: Magda Goebbels drugs her children into unconsciousness, then forces them to ingest cyanide by placing a vial in their mouths and forcing their jaws shut. The only sign of their death is a shudder. Unrealistic (even the most heavily drugged cyanide victim will usually thrash violently, if only for a few seconds) but enforced for dramatic purposes.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Traudl and Peter taking a bicycle and riding off into the great unknown. Cue the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue. This was added because the director felt the audience needed something upbeat.
  • Black Comedy: Goebbels's young son, Helmut, remarks that he likes the sound of the Russian artillery because nothing can hurt them in the bunker. Then he hears the sound of Hitler and his wife shooting themselves and cries "Volltreffer!" ("Bullseye!")
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Right before the Red Army's assault on Berlin, we briefly see a homemade barricade on which someone had painted "Wir siegen!" (We are winning!) in big white letters.
    • Dr. Stumpfegger says that the "medicine" will prevent the Goebbels children from getting sick in the damp bunker. One of the kids then remarks that the bunker is not damp.
  • Book Ends: The movie begins and ends with excerpts from a video interview with the real-life Traudl Junge, taken a matter of months before she died in 2002 (two years before Der Untergang was released).
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Fegelein denounces Hitler's high ranking generals' cowardice for not telling the Führer the truth about the situation in Berlin, but while Hitler's generals know they are fighting a hopeless battle, they also know that telling him what's really going on will only get them dismissed at best and make the situation worse at worst.
  • Braids of Action: The female Child Soldier operating the flak gun has long, blonde, twin braids.
  • But Not Too Evil: The film gives a balanced portrayal of Hitler as a human being, capable of displaying kindness and charm when around people and things he likes, but also cruel, petty, ineffectual and genocidally paranoid. Lest you get too much Sympathy for the Devil, one scene in particular has Hitler giving a speech expressing pride in the fact that he's killed so many millions of people and hopes that all of Germany perishes for failing him.
  • Capital Offensive: Berlin is completely surrounded and besieged by the Red Army, with all of the nearby German armies encircled.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Hitler goes completely apeshit when he learns that his army literally cannot stop the Soviets.
  • Child Soldiers: The Germans are so short of troops that they're using children. One particular scene has Hitler inspecting a line of kids and giving them medals. This scene is a recreation of well-known newsreel footage of Hitler doing just that on his birthday on the 20th of April 1945.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: On display throughout the storyline, with the members of Hitler's inner circle jockeying for power, position, and favor, even as the Third Reich is disintegrating around them. Just to name one example, Hermann Göring sends Hitler a telegram offering to take control of the Reich — an act with clearly selfish motives, but one that makes a certain amount of sense considering the rapidly deteriorating situation in Berlin — only for Goebbels and Bormann to instead persuade Hitler that Göring intends to mount a coup, causing Hitler to order him arrested and removed from office.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Anyone who isn’t drinking is actually smoking (sometimes both). Once Hitler's suicide is announced, every soldier in the bunker immediately lights up a cigarette. Truth in Television, as Hitler ran very aggressive anti-smoking campaigns in Germany (German doctors were among the first to find a link between smoking and lung cancer), and after he killed himself, everyone in the bunker felt it was safe enough to finally smoke.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: After days of fighting the Russians, most of the Berlin defenders treat the death and chaos around them as rote. As Koller and a group of soldiers and staff leave the bunker for good, a man eating his gun in front of everyone gets nothing more than mild exasperation in response.
  • Contrast Montage: Eva Braun's inner monologue narrates a letter she is typing to her family, calmly asking family members to redeem items and pay off debts at shops that have long since been destroyed, and that she hopes to send a care package with chocolate as well as some tobacco for her father. The almost cheerful narration of her letter is played over a montage of death and destruction as Berlin is blown to pieces, and under-equipped doctors perform amputations in overcrowded bomb shelters, and the Soviet Army overruns the German defences. Particularly harrowing is that during the part where she's absent-mindedly talking about sending some chocolate, a squad of child soldiers who are being overrun start turning their guns on their squadmates to save them from a more grisly death at the hands of the vengeful Soviets.
  • Cope by Pretending: Eva Braun tries to pretend everything's fine as Berlin is being shelled. When one hits above the bunker hard enough to cause the whole place to start shaking like an earthquake is going on, even she can't deny it anymore.
  • Crapsack World: Berlin is being bombed and shelled into a smoking ruin by a ruthless enemy determined to make Germany pay for the war of annihilation they started on them and there is no escape from the top to the bottom for its inhabitants.
  • Crisis Point Hospital: The film shows several scenes where wounded German soldiers and civilians alike are crowded into cramped field hospitals set up inside overcrowded bomb shelters while the Battle of Berlin rages all around them, complete with desperate officers calling up anyone who can provide morphine and other critically limited supplies.
  • Cyanide Pill: They're handed out like candy throughout the film. Most affectingly, Frau Goebbels forces her (sedated) children to take cyanide.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Roving execution squads are going around hanging anyone found guilty of desertion (a lot of people, as what was left of the Heer and Volkssturm was falling apart) and leaving the bodies up, with placards of warning hung from the bodies. ("I supported the Bolsheviks.")
  • Deadly Distant Finale: The end explains how each of the characters lived their lives after the events of the movie, and how they died, if they did die.
  • Death of a Child: Around a dozen children die on-screen over the course of the film.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Essentially, to the typical cultural depiction of Hitler on film as an almost mythic figure of pure evil - first it shows us a Hitler who loves his family and is beloved by his people, before reminding us that just because he was a real person with sympathetic traits didn't make his genocidal views any less evil, and that he was ultimately a cowardly, incompetent, egotistical, and selfish racist who got not only the "undesirables" but millions of his own people killed because he's too proud and too unhinged to realize his goals were impossible in the first place.
  • Demoted to Extra: Goering, despite being a major historical figure, does not factor into the events portrayed, so he's reduced to a single, non-speaking appearance and a telegram. Truth in Television, since Goering left Berlin for good after Hitler's last birthday party.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • The film is basically one long chain of these. Watching how individual people deal with their inevitable, total, and deserved (or undeserved) defeats is a major theme. Every major character has at least one scene where they finally break. Hitler has about half a dozen.
    • Hitler's biggest one is most likely when he receives news that Himmler is attempting to negotiate a surrender of Germany. Hitler, who always believed Himmler to be his most loyal follower, regarded this as the ultimate form of betrayal. While previously he would see-saw between fits of rage and moments of delusional optimism, Himmler's betrayal marks the final point when he begins actively planning to commit suicide.
  • Destroy the Evidence: Schenck is introduced as SS personnel are throwing out and destroying all documents. During Eva and Frau Goebbels' letter montage, Hitler makes his last trip to the surface to watch Linge and Günsche burning documents by the folder.
  • The Determinator: The German soldiers, and several of the higher ranking officers in Hitler's circle. They genuinely believe that the final victory is coming, and when people tell them that it's hopeless, they practically accuse them of treason.
  • Dishonored Dead: Well, not on purpose, but it's not exactly very dignified - Hitler and Braun's bodies are shoved in sacks, tossed in an unmarked ditch, and burned in a "memorial" ceremony that barely lasts five seconds before it's interrupted by Red Army artillery fire and Goebbels and a couple of random Nazi goons hastily return to the bunker.
  • Dramatic Sit-Down: Hitler has a massive Villainous Breakdown in this infamous scene. He reacted like this after he was told Felix Steiner couldn't hold back the Allies (the Soviets get there first of course) with the forces he has. After his breakdown, he is permanently hunched over and he is usually the only one sitting while everyone else has to stand.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Truth in Television, as many hardcore Nazis killed themselves rather than face justice or revenge, or a world without National Socialism, or even a world where Jews, Roma and other minorities are considered anything but subhuman.
    • Subverted in one scene where a unit filled with supposedly hardcore die-hards make a big deal about the fact that they're all either going to die fighting or kill themselves to avoid dishonour. Moments later, a messenger soberly brings the news that the German High Command has surrendered and the war is over... and only two of them actually go through with it, the others just left stunned but with no apparent intention of killing themselves.
  • Due to the Dead: Subverted with Der Fuhrer himself. Once he and Eva Braun kill themselves, the bodies are hastily bundled up in burlap sacks, dragged out of the bunker, thrown in a ditch, doused in petrol and set on fire, while the "mourners" are too busy dodging Red Army artillery fire to actually pay their respects. In the ultimate insult to injury, the solemn Nazi salute that Goebbels leads lasts for about five seconds before it's interrupted by shells and they all scramble back inside the bunker.
  • Dwindling Party: At the start of the film, the Third Reich in Berlin is at its highest (relatively-speaking) peak, with hundreds of Nazi officials gathered to celebrate Hitler's birthday, including members of Hitler's inner circle such as Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler and Albert Speer. But as the Battle of Berlin progresses, that number begins to dwindle as more and more Nazi officials disappear from the film, either by leaving Berlin or dying in battlegrounds. This symbolizes the downfall of Hitler himself, as his range of control goes from the Reich Chancellery to the claustrophobic Führerbunker.

  • Empathy Doll Shot: When Ernst-Robert Grawitz (an SS doctor who helped in the development of death camp gas chambers) kills himself, his wife, and his three children with grenades, we see a doll landing in the street after the explosion.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: A good chunk of the characters are the leaders and senior members of the Nazi party; they're also people with spouses and families.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Burgdorf mentions early in the film that Nazi party bosses "make him sick". Later, he stands up to Hitler when Hitler insults the Germans soldiers during a rant.
    • German field commanders and generals in the Battle of Berlin are willing to fight to the bitter end for Hitler's fanatical vision. But most, if not all, are not willing to send civilians to their deaths in a futile hope for victory. Weidling in particular calls for a ceasefire surrender shortly after Hitler dies, and doesn't hesitate to portray Hitler as a cowardly backstabber to his own people.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Is You-Know-Who ever. You half-wonder in the infamous breakdown scene whether he's going to have a heart attack from exertion before he kills himself.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Speer tries to convince Traudl to leave at once. She replies that things can't be that bad; after all, Goebbels and his children are staying in the bunker. Speer gives her a knowing look, and she soon realizes that the children will not be leaving the bunker alive.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Ernst-Robert Grawitz dresses in his Sunday uniform before joining his family and killing himself with them.
    • Fegelein, dragged out of a woman's bed to be summarily executed by the SS, takes a moment to button up his tunic and give the Nazi salute before being shot. This is the opposite of what the Real Life Fegelein, a bastard who betrayed his brother in law (the Führer) and tried to escape with a suitcase of stolen money and jewellery, did when caught. He was shot on the spot because he was too drunk to be court-martialed.
  • Fan Disservice: Several topless women appear in the brothel where Fegelein hides out, but the overall movie rather nullifies any potential sexiness.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • General Helmuth Weidling got a pint of this: Hitler orders his execution on the assumption that he moved his command post to the west. After his attempt to solve the misunderstanding, Hitler was impressed and appointed him as commander of the defense of Berlin.
      Weidling: "I'd have preferred to be shot!"
    • In one scene, the young blonde female soldier begs the young German officer to kill her as their position is being overrun.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • Subverted with Hitler. Many ordinary German soldiers and civilians still look up to him as a father figure, but it turns out he has no qualms about sacrificing them all for his own selfish/crazy reasons (he thought the entire German people had "failed" him).
    • Weidling, who surrenders after Hitler's death and tells German soldiers to lay down their weapons because Hitler has abandoned them, is a more straightforward example of this trope.
    • Burgdorf would not tolerate Hitler insulting or condemning the soldiers (who are dying) as cowards, traitors and failures. For all the good it does. This is later subverted as Burgdorf is such a fanatical Nazi that he tries to kill anyone daring to surrender to the Soviets, preferring Germany to fight to the death than surrendering for the sake of the surviving soldiers.
  • Faux Affably Evil:
    • In the film, Hitler is polite and affectionate to those who remain with him in the Führerbunker as well as those who continue to fight for his doomed ambitions. However, as the film progresses, it increasingly becomes apparent that his demeanor is a carefully calculated ruse designed to seduce his subordinates into joining him in death out of guilt and/or a tragically misplaced sense of loyalty. It did backfire somewhat as some Moral Guardians did criticise the film for depicting Hitler as "too sympathetic".
    • Several Nazi officials are shown to be polite and respectful, especially in the presence of their Führer. Some of them would even bring up their families. But as the film goes on, these affably Nazis show themselves to be selfish, opportunistic, fanatical, or just plain sadistic. A common theme among these Nazis is the disregard for their people's suffering.
  • Folk Hero: The picture Hitler looks at in one scene is King Frederick II of Prussia, who was an idol to him. King Frederick was saved twice from utter defeat, including a Russian seizure of Berlin, by last-minute turns of events (the "Miracles of the House of Brandenburg"). Hitler hoped for something similar for himself (especially after FDR died).
  • Foregone Conclusion: And they know it. Some are more willing to face reality than others, however.
  • Foreshadowing: After Göring sends a telegram asking for permission to take control of the Reich — while adding that if he doesn't hear back before the end of the day, he'll assume Hitler is incapacitated — Hitler angrily shouts "How dare he declare me unable to act? Tomorrow, he might declare me dead!" before ordering Göring removed from office. The following day, Hitler actually does find himself being declared as "possibly dead", but this time by Himmler, in order for him to claim authority to negotiate with the Allies.
  • Freak Out: The one that launched a thousand memes, when the Fuhrer learns that Felix Steiner didn't attempt to carry out his assault because he realised it would fail. You can practically feel the spittle flying.
  • Friend to All Children: Hitler, of all people, appears as this: The Goebbels' children are obviously fond of him. At the same time, he's also sending Child Soldiers en masse to their deaths.
  • Frontline General: While Hitler and his military advisors hide in the bunker, General Helmuth Weidling and Brigadier General Wilhelm Mohnke risk their lives organizing the defense of Berlin and minimizing the civilian casualties. There's also Felix Steiner and Walther Wenck of the Army Group and 12th Army respectively, but they're only mentioned.
  • Gallows Humour: Knowing that all hope is lost as the Soviet army's artillery steadily reduces Berlin to rubble, the German generals tell each other jokes such as "Have you heard? Berlin's a city of warehouses. Where's my house, where's my house?"note 
  • General Failure: Hitler attempts to micro-manage his troops to increasingly greater degrees, revoking control from his far more capable (and sane) commanders for perceived failures. In the war room scene prior to his infamous breakdown, he shows a very weak grasp of tactics by declaring that battalions and divisions on the verge of being overrun will hold their ground no matter what and grossly overestimating the fighting capacity of groups that exist only on his map. Even the other members of his inner circle give each other nervous looks as he makes these costly decisions. After the last offensive ordered by his generals, Unternehmen Zitadelle/The Battle of Kursk of July 1943, failed and led to a spectacular reversal which cost them the Ukraine and all the (experienced) panzer forces, this became Truth in Television for the remainder of the war.
  • Get Out!: When informed that Steiner's reinforcements aren't coming, Hitler quietly tells everyone but a select few people to leave. As if realising what's about to happen, they leave very quickly - and the instant the door closes behind them, Hitler explodes.
  • The Ghost:
    • Steiner, Wenck, and Admiral Dönitz, all of whom Hitler believes capable of saving Berlin.
    • With the notable exception of a few scenes, the Red Army is this for most of the film. Outside of those, the most we see of Soviet soldiers in the battle sequences are fleeting glimpses of figures advancing from cover to cover or quickly popping up to fire their weapons before ducking back down again.
  • Glasses Pull: A very slow and very shaky one precedes Hitler's infamous rant. When Hitler learns that Steiner's attack isn't happening, Hitler puts a shaky hand to his face to remove his specs before asking all but a select few to leave before tearing said select few a collective new one for failing him. The actor behind Hitler was aware of rumors that Hitler developed Parkinson's and integrated that into his performance.
  • A Glass in the Hand: When Speer confesses to Hitler that he has on numerous occasions ignored or even acted contrary to his orders, Hitler snaps a pencil in half in his hand to avoid yet another outburst of rage. It's one of the few instances in the film where a reveal of disloyalty does not result in Hitler bursting into a near-incoherent rage filled rant, instead producing a Single Tear.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Hitler himself, along with Goebbels and his wife. Two generals, too. Oddly enough, we see a random mook suddenly shoot himself, yet then the camera stayed right on him. The director states in commentary that there's a specific reason for cutting away from the suicides of Hitler, Goebbels and his wife, as well as the two generals; they didn't deserve to have their final moment immortalized in film, even if it is just a recreation.
  • Gratuitous English: Burgdorf's Drunken Song has a couple of lines in English.
  • Hate Sink: While Adolf Hitler himself is portrayed as a pitiful shell of a man, Reich Minister of Propaganda Jospeh Goebbels embodies all of Hitler's evil with none of his delusional madness. A fanatical Nazi loyalist, Goebbels encourages Hitler's worst impulses and attacks anyone who dares question their Führer. He knowingly sends civilians to die in a futile attempt to stop the Soviets, and then admits he doesn't care because he blames them for losing the war (by following the Nazis in the first place). And rather than accept surrender, Goebbels and his wife Magda murder their children before killing themselves in one of the darkest scenes of the film.
  • Heel Realization: In the real Traudl Junge's interview at the end of the film, she confesses that she had this moment when she finally learned that the great German resistance heroine, Sophie Scholl, was younger than herself and she knew what was going on in the Third Reich and had the conscience and backbone to do something while Junge did nothing.
  • Hell Is That Noise: Katyusha rocket launchers, also known as "Stalin's organ pipes," are a constant sound during the battle scenes.
  • Herr Doktor:
    • Even though you're liable to get shivers the moment you see a Nazi in a lab coat, Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck turns out to be the most heroic character in the film, putting his concern for civilians above his orders from the SS. The real Schenck bordered on being little more than a Punch-Clock Villain, but he engaged in human experimentation (though his experiments were on nutrition and vitamins).
    • Grawitz, the head of the German Red Cross who was simultaneously one of the leading planners of the Nazi human experimentation program (directly responsible for wounding prisoners and intentionally infecting them with gangrene to test treatments on them), appears in the film, but as opposed to a menacing hands-on surgeon, he's portrayed (much as he arguably was) as a cowardly fat bureaucrat, begging Hitler to allow him to flee Berlin rather than face justice at the hands of the Red Army. He takes the coward's way out by killing himself and his entire family with grenades while they're eating dinner.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Alexandra Maria Lara is certainly more eye-catching than the real Traudl Junge.
  • Historical Domain Character: All of the principal players except for Peter Kranz, the little boy pressed into combat with the Hitler Youth. He is shown as one of the child soldiers that Hitler comes out to greet on his birthday, but the real little boy that Hitler rather creepily caressed, one Alfred Czech, has no connection with the film character.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade:
    • Dr. Ernst-Günther Schenck was involved in human experimentation upon concentration camp victims and was barred from practicing medicine in post-war West Germany. (Although in fairness his experiments were on vitamins and nutrition, and were less cruel than the experiments of other Nazi doctors.)
    • The Red Army's seizure of Berlin is sanitized. The one instance of pillage in the movie is comical, consisting of a platoon of female Soviet soldiers going through Magda Goebbels' dresses. Constance Manziarly is merely stated to have "disappeared" after leaving the bunker, when in real life she was last seen being taken into an underground station by two Soviet soldiers and was never heard of again - it is commonly speculated that she was raped and murdered.
    • May or not be the case with Wilhelm Mohnke. There were several allegations of him being involved in the massacre of prisoners during the war, however not enough evidence was found to prosecute.
  • Historical Ugliness Update: While the film portrays the Nazis as human beings (albeit terrible human beings), some of the Nazi officials' looks are less glamorous than their real life counterparts:
  • Historical Villain Downgrade: Fegelein was responsible for several atrocities fighting partisans in Yugoslavia and was an unrepentant Nazi. He was also extremely corrupt, even by the standards of the SS. Here he is still not a nice man, with his infamous reputation being implied by generals' disgust of him, but portrayed slightly sympathetically.
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: Averted. Hitler does a lot of fairly common human things while he holds out as long as he can, despite the horrifying and richly deserved circumstances.
  • Home Guard: The Volkssturm are this on paper. In practice they're under-trained conscripts who know next to nothing and die in droves doing things like running out in the open with no regard to cover.
  • Honor Before Reason: The movie's entire premise can be summed up as this, with Hitler's decision to stay in Berlin to face his victory or downfall being the central piece.
  • Hookers and Blow: When Fegelein is tracked down, he's found in a room, above an abandoned building used for a wild party by soldiers and civilians, with a nude woman, booze bottles, and several lines of cocaine on a nearby dresser.
  • Hopeless War: That is the situation, with Nazi Germany with its capital under direct siege with the Soviets relentlessly advancing through the city and Hitler's forces have no hope of stopping them.
  • Hypocrite: Averted - Hitler's Master Race Social Darwinism wins out over his German nationalism in the end, as he concludes that not only are the Russians superior to the Germans, but that the Russians will ultimately prevail in the inevitable conflict between them and the Western democracies.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: THE MOVIE. Pretty much everyone at some point needs to get drunk.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Hitler's level of delusion varies from scene to scene, but in general he'll resort to blaming anyone and anything he can for the mess they're in, basically claiming it's they who failed him by following the orders he gave.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Non-comical example. During Hitler's infamous rant, his generals are too afraid to say anything contradicting Hitler's furious rebukes against everyone. The most that Burgdorf can muster up is that he cannot permit the Fuhrer to call the troops cowards.
  • It's All About Me: Guess who feels this way in response to the impending Soviet invasion? Go on, guess.
  • I've Come Too Far: Spoken by Hitler himself during the infamous rant.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Should Bruno Ganz' powerful, deeply sincere performance evoke even the slightest bit of sympathy during the infamous breakdown scene, the movie quickly reminds you who you're watching moments later when he starts screaming about how the German people have betrayed him and how he hopes that his entire country drowns in their own blood for failing him.
  • Kick the Dog: Blondi is forced to test Hitler's cyanide pills, to see if they worked. Eva Braun admits to kicking Blondi on occasion, because she doesn't like her, which ironically serves as a Pet the Dog moment for her as she bonds with Traudl.
  • Lack of Empathy: Not just Hitler, almost everyone in his inner circle has little empathy for the German people, even those who seem to care about their soldiers. Goebbels in particular spells it out to Mohnke after the latter confronts him over citizens being used as Cannon Fodder.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Hitler is dining and elaborates about being The Social Darwinist, how compassion is an evil sin, to feel empathy for the weak is treason to nature, and how Hitler had always chosen the most reasonable path: to destroy the weak inside and outside Germany. Just then, he gets a report about Himmler surrendering to the allies. Himmler just went Screw This, I'm Outta Here and, reasonably, is abandoning the weak (Hitler) to join the strong. Of course Hitler fails to see the irony and begins yet another Villainous Breakdown.
  • Large Ham: Guess who. Bruno Ganz practically uses the scenery as his own all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • Last Stand: By the scattered and disorganized remnants of the Heer, SS, and Volkssturm.
  • Law of Conservation of Detail : Historically, Traudl Humps married Hitler's servant Hans Hermann Junge in 1943; he later volunteered to go to the front and died, so that by the time the film takes place Traudl Junge was already a widow at 25. It may seem strange not to mention such a major life event that happened during the initial timeskip, which would have explained why her last name changes in the film, but in a movie packed with characters who take turns in the spotlight, the filmmakers seemingly judged her dead husband nonessential to the narrative.
  • Lonely Piano Piece: In The Courtyard of the Reich Chancellery by Stephan Zacharias. Part of the film's Awesome Music.

  • Mama Bear/Papa Wolf: Subverted. Many parents in this film kill themselves and their own children.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Adolf Hitler. Throughout the film, he shamelessly exploits the unwavering loyalty of his subordinates to make them feel compelled to join him in death during the final hours of the Nazi regime.
  • Match Cut: Hitler's flunkies pour gasoline over his and Eva Braun's corpses; cut to Traudl Junge pouring vodka into a glass for her own I Need a Freaking Drink moment.
  • A Million is a Statistic: Averted. While the child Peter represents a lot of youths caught up in the nightmare, a lot of civilians, conscripted Volkssturm, and soldiers are shown throughout the film being blown to pieces or otherwise suffering.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: At the end, Hitler believes this, explaining in his Last Testament that a Soviet victory means that they are a more deserving race than the German one and their strong leader will complete world conquest after destroying the "decadent democracies of the west." It's somewhat at odds with the accepted wisdom of the time that one of the USSR's greatest threats was its status as a highly mixed "mongrel race", and the common sense that there wasn't actually a Soviet race in the first place (presumably he meant the Slavs?).
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Goebbels has a private moment where he breaks down and sobs to Traudl, telling her that Hitler has asked him and his family to leave Berlin (and how this is the only order from Hitler he'll not obey). Traudl can only look at him, wide-eyed and shocked.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Traudl Junge, painfully so.
  • The Napoleon: Hitler, especially when he's next to his towering adjutant Günsche (played by 198cm/6'6" Gotz Otto). It doesn't help that Hitler is permanently hunched over as a result of his Villainous Breakdown, and that often he's the only one sitting down while everyone else has to stand.
  • Nazi Protagonist: The events are told from the point of view of the Germans during the last days of the Third Reich. Hitler's secretary Traudl Junge, SS medical officer Ernst-Gunther Schenk, and Peter, a young German boy inducted into the Hitler Youth to defend Berlin, are the three main protagonists.
  • Never My Fault: As it becomes more and more obvious Germany is about to lose the war, Hitler blames just about everyone for it: first his generals, then the SS, then his inner circle, until finally he declares the entire German people lost because they were weak and deserved it. He never, ever blames himself. During his most famous rant, he claims that he personally conquered all of Europe, yet all his generals keep failing and betraying him. In short, he takes sole credit for all of Nazi Germany's successes, and blames all its failures on everyone but him.
  • New Meat: Most of the Volkssturm are barely shown how to fire their weapons before being sent straight into the front lines. It's not pretty.
  • No Indoor Voice: Hitler, whenever he's ranting. In two particular scenes, he's easily audible from behind a reinforced steel door!
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: In their last meeting together, Hitler calls Himmler his "loyal Heinrich" when in fact Himmler is already making moves to betray him by attempting to broker a peace with the Allies behind the back of his leader.
  • Offing the Offspring:
    • Magda Goebbels kills her own children because of a political ideology. The film's portrayal differs from Real Life; a Soviet autopsy performed on Helga's body showed numerous large black and blue bruises, indicating that she may have woken up and struggled with her killer.
    • Ernst-Robert Grawitz commits suicide in his apartment during dinner with his wife and three children—by detonating a grenade and killing his family along with him. Also an example of Pater Familicide.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The reaction of the German officers when they learn Hitler has committed suicide.
    • The look on Jodl, Keitel, Krebs, and Burgdorf's faces after Hitler is told Steiner couldn't get enough men, and Hitler excuses everyone but them. This comes before the iconic rant.
  • Oktoberfest: Eva Braun and at least one extra wearing a traditional Bavarian costume in Prussian Berlin.
  • Only Sane Man: Filled by several of the viewpoint characters, usually by Traudl Junge throughout most of the movie (particularly when she realizes how absurd Eva's partying is while shells are falling on buildings around them). Albert Speer is one during his brief stay in the bunker, desperately trying to insist to Hitler that his scorched-earth orders are insane, ultimately revealing that he couldn't bring himself to implement such a suicidal order. At this point, even Traudl still vaguely hopes that the war is not lost, because she spends so much time with Hitler who rants that it is not. Speer has to one-up Traudl's "Last Sane Man" delivery at this point, making her finally realize that even Hitler knows the war is lost, or is flat-out delusional. Finally, the trope is subverted by Hitler himself, who sees himself as the Only Sane Man in all of Germany—and, up to that point, many Germans had agreed he was.
  • The Paranoiac: Refusing to accept that defeat was his fault, Hitler starts seeing Starscreams all around him. He removes Göring out of the chain of command believing in Bormann and Goebbels' lies that he's planning a coup, and he's convinced that Himmler, chief architect of the Final Solution, is an agent of a Jewish conspiracy against him.
  • Pet the Dog:
  • Photoflood Lighting: The Fuhrerbunker is lit entirely with photo floods.
  • Please Spare Him, My Liege!: Eva Braun begs Hitler to spare her brother-in-law Fegelein after he's ordered to be executed for treason.
  • The Pollyanna: Eva Braun to a pathological degree. Seeming to live in total delusion, she's completely carefree as the Nazi Reich crumbles around her. Like Hitler ordering counterattacks from non-existent units, she asks people to visit stores that have been bombed out. However, in a private moment with Traudl, she admits that she realizes that there is no hope left for the Nazis, but insists that she doesn't care. She's still happy.
  • Pretty Little Headshots:
  • Rape as Drama: Pretty much every female is worried about being raped by Red Army soldiers.
  • Real Footage Re-creation: The film recreates the last known footage of Hitler from a March 1945 newsreel when he went out of his bunker to award Hitler Youth Child Soldiers.
  • Realpolitik: After failing to convince Hitler to negotiate with the Allies, Heinrich Himmler unilaterally reaches out to the British Army to offer his surrender. He seems to be operating under the assumption that the Allies would still prefer propping up the Nazi regime so they could use Germany as a counterweight to the communist Soviets. Subverted because Himmler Cannot Comprehend Good - despite the rest of the Allies having ideological differences with the Soviets (and recognizing that conflict with the Soviet Union is more or less inevitable after the war), nobody with a normal moral code would consider siding with the Nazis for a second. This is especially true as the war is nearly over and there is ample evidence for Nazi atrocities all across Europe.
  • Re-Cut: An extended version aired on German television, which includes 23 minutes of extra footage. This includes an alternate version of the first briefing, additional scenes with the Goebbels children, and Mohnke giving a speech prior to the attempted breakout. So far, this version is only available in Germany without English subtitles.
  • Record Scratch: During Eva Braun's party, an artillery shell explodes nearby causing the record player to stop with an audible scratching noise. Eva Braun encourages the revelers to continue partying to a jazzy piano tune, but the party finally ends when another shell explodes right outside the building, covering everyone with dust and rubble.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Many Nazis, including Hitler, believe the party line that Germany is just one good counterattack away from turning the tide and winning the war. Nazi propaganda was built around the concept of the "Big Lie", that people would be suspicious of small promises and lies, but would more easily believe huge, sweeping lies.
    • Additionally, if it weren't a historical memoir, half the stuff that happens wouldn't be believable. Hitler gets married to Eva Braun in his bunker, while Berlin is being shelled, civilians are starving and dying, he's swinging between losing his mind and fanatical delusion that he'll be saved, and everything is falling apart. The priest then asks Hitler one of the questions that led to this total madness: "Are you of pure Aryan descent?"

  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!
    • In the extended cut, after taking a walk outside, Eva asks Hitler if he will buy the figure in the Chancellery garden once they've won. Hitler responds that he has no idea who actually owns it, and if it is state property, then it cannot be in a private garden. Eva then says that, as the man who managed to defeat the Soviets in Berlin, he will be able to amend the law to however he wishes. Hitler then smiles and rolls his eyes at this "Logik der Frauen."
    • During Hitler's wedding.
      Marriage officiant: Mein Führer, according to the racial law, I'm obliged to ask you: Mein Führer, are you of Aryan descent? Can I see your identity card?
      Goebbels: You're talking to the Führer here.
    • This has the added real-life subtext of Hitler being unable to identify his biological grandfather due to his Tangled Family Tree, ergo he would not actually pass the Aryan test.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying: Eva Braun engineers vast parties to distract Hitler and their friends from the reality of Germany's impending defeat.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Fegelein, Speer, Himmler, among others.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Mohnke tries to reason with Goebbels about the under-trained Volkssturm he was being supplied with, saying that they have little hope of actually making a difference and it's just wasting German lives. Goebbels, who of course knows that he isn't coming out of this alive, replies that he doesn't really care.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • This movie was heavily researched. Much of the framing is taken from contemporary photographs and newsreels—one of the movie posters is basically a staged version of the very last picture ever taken of Adolf Hitler. The Hitler rant that became an infamous Internet meme is presented in this movie as it basically happened, with Hitler screaming at his subordinates, telling them he should have purged them like Stalin did to the Soviet general staff, and finally admitting that the war was lost and that he would kill himself in Berlin.
    • Bruno Ganz (who is Swiss) went through a lot of effort and study to accurately imitate Hitler's mannerisms and speech patterns, including his distinct Austrian accent that is slightly difficult for native Germans to pull off convincingly. Ask any German-speaker, he nails it.
    • Among the tools Ganz used to prepare for the role was a ten-minute tape recording of a dinner between Hitler and Field Marshal Gustaf Mannerheim of Finland, which is the only known recording of Hitler speaking in a calm and relaxed tone of voice.
    • In the extended cut, during the wedding reception, Eva Braun says that, when signing the marriage certificate, she started to write her maiden name, then crossed out the B and wrote "Hitler." She actually did make this mistake in real life.
    • While walking through the ruined streets of Berlin, Peter and some other kids see a dead woman in an APC. It's based on this photograph.
    • While writing to her sister, Eva says that she is confident Fegelein will head south and continue the fight in Bavaria. The Alpine Fortress was a proposed plan to form a national redoubt in the Alps to continue fighting, though it was never fully endorsed by Hitler.
    • A man wearing a Bavarian hat is seen leading a death squad that is executing "deserters" from the Volkssturm. Just such a man was seen doing this in real life; his identity remains unknown.
  • Sidelong Glance Biopic: The film looks at the final days of the life of Adolf Hitler from the perspective of his personal secretary, Traudl Junge, as well as other key witnesses such as Ernst-Günther Schenck and Helmuth Weidling.
  • Single Tear: Hitler cries one when his close friend, Albert Speer, reveals that he has not always been loyal to him and has at times disobeyed his orders. You get the sense that he has realised that he has no friends left.
  • Simple Score of Sadness: The entire music score is all done in a somber tone to remind the audience that from the German perspective, there was no joy or celebration in Hitler's downfall.
  • Sound-Only Death: The suicides of Hitler and Eva Braun, the Goebbels couple and some other Nazi bigwigs.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Eva plays lively swing music during her party, even after it's interrupted by an artillery shell. Later, when the SS storm a hotel looking for Fegelein, the drunken partygoers are dancing to the song "Davon geht die Welt nicht unter," which literally means "it's not the end of the world."
  • The Starscream: Hitler's refusal to leave Berlin, despite clear signs that the city is lost before the Soviets even invade, opens the door for many Nazi officials to claim power for themselves at the expense of their Führer.
    • Göring sends a telegram stating that if Hitler doesn't reply soon, he will assume that the leadership in Berlin has been incapacitated and thus shall take command of the Third Reich. Hitler, prodded by Bormann and Goebbels, sees this as a naked coup and, after ranting and raving about Göring's incompetence, expels his former Number Two from the chain of command.
    • Himmler has been negotiating with the Western Allies in hopes of ensuring that he'll rule some form of Nazi Germany after the war. He even claims that Hitler was either sick or dead and thus authority of the Third Reich would pass down to him. Like with Göring, Hitler flies into a tantrum, expels Himmler from his inner circle, and then orders his capture and immediate execution.
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • Eva continues smiling even when things are at their bleakest. It might be a bit of a subversion in that she insists that she really is happy, in spite of it all, with no regrets and unafraid to die. She was, after all, dying as Mrs. Hitler after being hidden away from public view for years.
    • The party scene in the Reich Chancellery just above the bunker, where there's a palpable sense of dread and forced merriment, with people forcing smiles and continuing to dance and trying to act happy as the shelling gets louder and louder.
  • Stupid Jetpack Hitler:
    • The Nazi Wunderwaffen are briefly mentioned, with Hitler promising Ritter von Greim a thousand jet fighters within short notice. Greim replies that he had no idea they had so many reserves available.note 
    • In the uncut version, one of the bunker staff eagerly asks Keitel when Hitler is going to use those wonder weapons, including the V2 rockets. Keitel, clearly aware there are no such weapons anymore, says that all details are classified.
  • Supervillain Lair: The genuine article, the Führerbunker. We also get a glimpse of the Wolf's Lair at the beginning of the film, a much larger and heavily fortified secret base in East Prussia that fits the trope more.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Discussed by Hitler. It's half-true, in the sense that no-one is doing what he tells them, but that's because they all know it has no chance of turning the war around. So, in a sense, it's inverted - an unhinged, broken failure surrounded by sane men.
    Hitler: Unbelievable! Unbelievable! The Russians are 12 kilometres from the city center and no-one told me. I had to ask!
  • Sweet Tooth: In the extended cut, Eva Braun is preparing a chocolate cake for Hitler's birthday. Constanze Manziarly then laments what she's doing because cake is all Hitler will eat these days.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: It's often easy to sympathize with Hitler as a human being, watching him almost literally break apart from the enormity of his failure, but then you get scenes where he reminds the audience what a cold-blooded, paranoid mass-murderer he is.
  • Taking You with Me: Hitler's final plan basically amounted to scorched earth, destroying Germany's infrastructure and abandoning its people to the caprices of the Red Army. He felt they "failed him".
  • Tanks, But No Tanks: Despite the generally high levels of historical accuracy in uniforms and equipment, there is a scene that includes one very poor mock-up of a Tiger tank, which is quite jarring. Averted in the use of actual T-34/85s by the Soviets.
  • Tempting Fate: Hitler does this several times in the film. When fate does respond, he becomes enraged and goes on a rant.
    • In 1942, he assures Traudl that everyone makes mistakes, including himself, and one shouldn't be pressured by them. Fast-forward to 1945, Hitler breaks under pressure by numerous (and often fatal) mistakes, mistakes that are caused by his leadership (yet he refuses to take responsibility for them).
    • Hitler brushes off Himmler's plea to engage negotiations with the Western Allies, saying that Himmler will "have plenty of politics to do" when he's dead. Later, Himmler is negotiating a peace treaty with the Allies and claims that Hitler is now dead.
    • When the generals discuss how much territory was lost to the Red Army during a war room meeting, Hitler assures them that Steiner's assault will bring the situation under control. This forces the generals to deliver the news that Steiner never carried out the attack, leading to Hitler's infamous Villainous Breakdown.
    • Hitler boasts of how natural it is for the strong to eliminate the weak during a dinner talk. Then he receives a report of Himmler betraying him to the Allies, reminding him that he is the weak one in question.
  • That Russian Squat Dance: At the end of the film, Traudl and Peter walk through a group of Russians celebrating their victory, which includes a few soldiers doing this to "The Russian Sailor Dance" from The Red Poppy.
  • That Was Not a Dream: When Eva Braun is leading the party in the Reichschancellary, the sight of so many drunken revelers having a good time while the sound of gunfire and exploding ordnance emanates from a few blocks away causes Traudl to have a severe anxiety attack. When Gerda asks what's wrong, Traudl answers: "Oh God. It's all so surreal, like a dream, but I can't wake up."
  • This Cannot Be!: Hitler's bombastic rant is fueled by his utter disbelief that there is no way the Germans can hold the Soviets off. Everyone else saw this coming long before he did.
  • This Is Gonna Suck:
    • Hitler's inner staff share looks of concern and dread right before they're forced to tell him about Steiner's inability to counterattack. They share further looks of dread as everyone else, on Hitler's orders, evacuates the room. Hitler then launches into his longest, most vitriolic rant of the entire film.
    • The look on Heinz Linge's (Hitler's valet) face when he approaches with a report indicating that Himmler has attempted to surrender. It's clear he's read the report and knows it will send Hitler into another rage.
  • This Is What the Building Will Look Like: Hitler has a model of his planned new Berlin that will, of course, never exist.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: As Villain Protagonists.
  • Time Skip: The film opens in November 1942 when Traudl Junge first meets Hitler. It then immediately skips forward to April 1945 as the Nazi regime is nearing total collapse.
  • Title Drop: At Hitler's birthday reception, when he's obsessing over his Welthauptstadt Germania model with Speer while the others plead that he evacuate.
    Hitler: I will defeat them in Berlin, or face my downfall.
  • Truth in Television: Mostly. The points where it fails to live up to history are usually the brightest parts of the film.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Both Hitler and Goebbels, in every sense of the word "ugly". Truth in Television for both of them.
  • Undying Loyalty: Unlike many other members of Hitler's inner circle, Goebbels and his wife remain loyal to Hitler to the end.
  • Urban Warfare: While most of the film takes place in the safety and comfort of Hitler's bunker, there are brief scenes of the German defenders fighting a losing battle for their capital in the streets and buildings.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Some characters/moments occur without any exposition to help a viewer know what they mean. An SS doctor shows up in the bunker and begs Hitler's permission to leave, which is denied, and he later commits suicide with a pair of grenades. All we learn of him is his panicky words "If the Russians find me...", and Hitler's answer that "You did nothing wrong." That's Dr. Ernst-Robert Grawitz, one of the worst of the worst of the Nazi doctors, who organized both the experimentation on human beings and the T-4 "euthanasia" program (the murder of the disabled and mentally ill).
  • Vigilante Execution:
    • Several Volkssturm members are executed for cowardice by a man wearing a Bavarian hat (with a feather), who leads a goon squad.
    • Near the end of the film, Peter sees the Bavarian hat man coming out of his apartment building, and when he enters his home, his mother was shot in the head, and his father was hung from the middle of the living room.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Pretty much Villainous Breakdown: The Movie. It's basically a feature-length study of the Nazi leadership's collective breakdown when faced with the hard reality of their upcoming total loss.
    • The infamous scene that birthed the Hitler Rants internet meme. By all accounts, the staging in the film is quite accurate. Hitler really did freak out upon hearing that neither Wenck nor Steiner would attack, and he really did have a screaming wild-eyed breakdown in which he said that the war was over and he should have had all his generals shot.
      Krebs: The enemy has broken through along a wide front. They've taken Zossen to the south, and are advancing to Stahnsdorf. They're now on the northern outskirts between Frohnau and Pankow. They've reached Lichtenberg, Mahlsdorf and Karlshorst to the east.
      Hitler: Steiner's assault... will bring it under control.
      [Burgdorf gives Krebs a worried look as if to say, "We can't hide it any longer."]
      Krebs: Mein Führer... Steiner...
      Jodl: Steiner couldn't mobilise enough men. He wasn't able to carry out his assault.
      [Hitler is stunned; after a few seconds, he removes his glasses slowly, his hand trembling from Parkinson's Disease]note 
      Hitler: [quietly] These men will stay here: Keitel, Jodl, Krebs, and Burgdorf.
      [everyone files out except the four named officers, Goebbels, and Bormann; the four officers have the look of condemned men]
      Hitler: [apoplectic with rage] THAT WAS AN ORDER! Steiner's attack was an ORDER! Who do you think you are to dare disobey an order I give!? [outside the office, Gerda Christian begins sobbing] So this is what it has come to... the military has been lying to me! Everyone has been lying to me - even the SS! Our generals are just a bunch of contemptible, disloyal cowards!
      Burgdorf: [outraged] Mein Führer, I cannot permit you to insult the soldiers—
      Hitler: They are cowards, traitors, and failures!
      Burgdorf: Mein Führer, this is outrageous!
      Hitler: Our generals are the scum of the German people! [he hurls the pencils in his hand against the map on the desk] Not a shred of honour! They call themselves "generals"! Years at military academy just to learn how to hold a knife and fork! [outside the office, Eva Braun makes her way through the crowd] For years, the military has hindered my plans! They've put every kind of obstacle in my way! What I should have done is liquidate all the high-ranking officers, as Stalin did! [he sinks into his chair] I never attended an academy... and yet I have conquered Europe all by myself! [Beat] Traitors... I've been betrayed and deceived from the very beginning! What a monstrous betrayal of the German people... but all those traitors will pay. They'll pay with their own blood. They'll drown in their own blood!
    • At one point, Burgdorf also has a screaming fit, refusing to consider the possibility of surrender because he remembers the shame and humiliation of the German surrender at the end of World War I. It's a sobering reminder of just how much suffering and misery was caused by what can be essentially chalked up as wounded pride and arrogance gone mad.
  • Villain Protagonist: It's a film centered on the last ten days of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi inner hierarchy. Technically, almost every character in the film is either a Nazi or supporter of their regime. Some of the characters are treated sympathetically, such as Hitler's secretaries, Albert Speer, Dr. Schenck, General Mohnke, and General Weidling. This is largely because their remaining capacity for rational thought and human emotion stands in stark contrast to how far off the deep end Hitler went. Mohnke and Weidling are the only generals that outright express concern to Hitler about the fate of the German civilians in Berlin. Mohnke is on the front lines alongside his troops, pointing out to Goebbels that the "Volkssturm" conscripts are being slaughtered. Weidling outright pleads with Hitler to abandon Berlin. After most of the other Nazi leaders commit suicide or flee, more or less on his own initiative Weidling crosses the lines to unconditionally surrender Berlin to the Soviets, rather than let the pointless fighting continue.
  • Virtue Is Weakness: Hitler goes on a rant where he says that morality is a human flaw and compassion is a weakness.
  • Visible Boom Mic: The shadow of one can be seen in one instance during the 'Hitler rant' scene.
  • The Voiceless: Rochus Misch. Heinrich Schmeidler delivers an impressive performance despite having no dialogue beyond an incredulous "Marshal Zhukov!?" late in the film. He gets a couple more lines in the extended cut.
  • War Comes Home: Applies to the Germans in Berlin as they are besieged by the Red Army that is invading the capital city and conquering the German resistance. Justified in that this is about World War II and how the warmongering started by Adolf Hitler and his generals backfired with the Soviets ravaging their homeland in retaliation. Though Hitler is hoping for a Last Stand to deliver Germany from defeat, he and his fanatical supporters are forced to recognize that this will never happen.
  • War Is Hell: The Battle of Berlin is seen from the German perspective (aka the losing side) and it's an apocalyptic nightmare. The Red Army is relentless, continuously shelling the buildings into fiery ruins and pushing deeper into the center of Berlin with every passing hour. The German defenses has been reduced to young children and old men with poor equipments, dying senselessly against the enemy in already lost battle. And if that's not bad enough, fanatical Nazis are prowling on the streets, killing any German who doesn't fight the Soviets. And all of this is due to Hitler's refusal to retreat or surrender.
  • We Didn't Start the Führer: A meta example of an aversion was invoked by the director, in response to some of the film's detractors: as he said, if Germans continue to treat Hitler like some kind of demon or evil alien, then they are just never going to learn anything from history, as awful a chapter as it was.
  • We Have Reserves:
    • Subverted. Hitler certainly thinks they have reserves, but they don't, and everyone else knows it. Most of the scenes regarding strategy, including the infamous rant scene, discuss troops and soldiers that no longer exist.
      Weidling: In the fight for Berlin, we've already lost fifteen to twenty thousand of the younger officers!
      Hitler: But that's what young men are for.
    • Goebbels tries to use the Volkssturm this way, but the "national militia" is actually just a pathetic, last-ditch attempt to put outdated weapons in the hands of untrained civilians, a lot of them old men and children barely in their teens, and herd them into the meatgrinder against a battle-hardened Soviet army under threat of execution by the SS. Their commander, General Wilhelm Mohnke, pleads with Goebbels to realize that the Volkssturm have no effect on the Soviets and simply waste German lives. Goebbels finally admits that he really doesn't care. It's their fault for following him.
  • Weapons Understudies: Peter's Hitler Youth group man a Soviet-made 85mm M1939 (52-K) anti-air cannon. It is likely meant to represent the German 88mm Flak, but can be justified as them using captured equipment because they are so short on weapons, which is a rarity for this trope.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: General Karl Koller is present at Hitler's birthday reception and at the following strategy conference, but disappears when Mohnke arrives. In a filmed but unused scene, Hitler orders him to organize fighter defense for Northern Germany and he leaves. In reality, upon hearing that Hitler said Göring would be better suited for peace negotiations, Koller left to inform Göring personally, leading to the telegram he sends later.
  • What You Are in the Dark:
    • As the Nazi regime collapses, and Hitler's power wanes, the Nazis begin to express their true inner thoughts regarding the situation. Some, like Traudl and Weidling, are shown to be decent people who care about the plight of their people. Others, like Mohnke and Günsche, want to live to see another day in spite of their promise to kill themselves for Hitler. Speer, meanwhile, accepts that the regime is over and believes that Germany should still have a future. Still others, like Himmler and Göring, are selfish bastards who eagerly take advantage of the situation. And the rest, like Goebbels and Hewel, are fanatically loyal to Hitler to the bitter end, committing suicide rather than face the humiliation of defeat.
    • After his Villainous Breakdown, Hitler gives his generals permission to do whatever they want as he sulks over his impeding defeat. Although they criticize Hitler's plans behind his back, the generals do nothing with this rare opportunity. Instead, they just wait until their dear leader recovers from his breakdown and starts giving them impossible orders again, not willing to take responsibility for the fate of the Germans. It's such a cowardice moment that Fegelein calls them out for being stupid and spineless.
    • As for Hitler himself, Traudl gets a brief glimpse of him sitting alone in his room looking at the painting of Frederick the Great. Frederick the Great was known to be on the verge of defeat until the empress of Russia died, causing the enemy coalition to fall into disarray and giving the Prussian king the edge for victory. It shows that Hitler really is delusional of his chances of winning the war.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The ultimate fates of the people we weren't shown are detailed at the very end.
    • Christian escapes all forms of capture and dies in 1997.
    • Dr. Schenck is released from captivity by the Soviets in 1953, and dies in 1998.
    • Monkhe is also released from Soviet captivity in 1955, and dies in 2001.
    • Weidling dies in captivity in 1955.
    • Haase is arrested in the bunker by the Soviets and dies in 1950 (the movie incorrectly claims he dies in 1945.)
    • Günsche is also arrested by the Soviets. He is released in 1956 and dies in 2003.
    • Reitsch survives the war and goes on to break many records in aviation. She dies in 1979.
    • Ritter von Greim commits suicide on May 24, 1945.
    • Linge and Hentschel are also arrested by the Soviets. Linge is released in 1955 and dies in 1980, while Hentschel is released in 1949 and dies in 1982.
    • Manzairly escapes all capture and is never seen or heard from again.
    • Speer is arrested in Flensburg after Germany surrenders. At the Nuremberg trials, he is sentenced to 20 years in prison. He is released in 1966 and dies in 1981.
    • Keitel and Jodl are both sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials and executed.
    • Göring is also sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials. He commits suicide with a cyanide pill shortly before he is to be executed.
    • Himmler attempts to escape from Germany using a false name, but is caught by former Soviet prisoners of war and commits suicide with a cyanide pill.
    • Bormann and Stumpfegger commit suicide after Germany surrenders.
    • Misch is released from Soviet captivity in 1955. He lived in Berlin at the time of the film's release, and he dies in 2013.
    • Junge continues to work as a secretary, lives a long and full life, and dies in 2002, two years before the film was released.
  • While Rome Burns: Invoked and defied in the same scene, no less. There are a few desperate attempts to have fun, at Eva's insistence - for example, when everyone is forcing themselves to act happy and dance with the shelling in the background. Finally it gets so loud and so close, that they can't even fake it anymore and are clearly terrified. At this point, Eva jumps up on a table and starts dancing going "C’mon, play the music, I want to dance!" And then a shell hits directly outside the ballroom, filling the room with cloud of dust and sending everyone scurrying back into the bunker in a panic as the lights flicker.
  • Windmill Crusader: Hitler and some of his closest followers desperately tried to save the world from a global conspiracy they honestly believed to be real. As Berlin falls they face what they believe to be the twilight of mankind itself. Hitler himself is most likely insane, while his followers are rational except for their misguided belief that he is a legitimate leader. Their actions make total sense when one take this tragic belief into account.
  • Windmill Political: The film is one of many works that take this view on the then-widely-believed fear of a global Jewish conspiracy; it was ultimately a total crackpot hoax and delusion, but Hitler and his followers honestly believed it—making them Windmill Crusaders.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Hitler condemns the German people to death because, apparently, they failed him. He's convinced that the day will be saved at any moment by what one underling refers to as "phantom divisions". He goes about appointing people to key positions seemingly at random. He generally makes many errors; for example, he even orders one general to be executed as a traitor, only to later call him a hero and reassign him to Berlin's faltering defense — all in a span of roughly 40 seconds. (Then again, the execution order was due to a misunderstanding.) Generally, much of Hitler's breakdown seems to revolve around the fact that he utterly fails to recognize his own flaws, and turns his loathing of his own weaknesses at other people and their perceived (whether actual or imagined) weakness.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: In the extended cut, Peter takes his deceased teenage commander's pistol and hides as the Soviet troops storm in. After leaving his hiding place, he is found by a Soviet soldier who then says in Russian, "I won't fight a child". He is then shot and left for dead by Peter, who is quickly horrified by what he did.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: All of the Nazis in general but Hitler most of all. For the first half, he keeps delusionally insisting that a last-minute counter-attack (from units that no longer exist) is going to miraculously turn back the Soviets. He insists that it's going to be the biggest reversal in military history (more than Stalingrad was), and his secretaries actually believe him, not realizing he has lost touch with reality. In Hitler's mind, the Nazis are the plucky heroes on the side of good and righteousness who are always saved at the last minute by divine favor: he's wrong. After he finally admits that the war is lost, he thinks this is all a tragedy with the Nazi leadership as the poor victims of everything that happened.

    In real life, the OSS psychology report on Hitler made a very insightful observation about him: he mentally processed his entire life on the model of a Wagner play, with himself as the main character. He perceived himself as the star of his own movie — as if to say "this siege is a challenge but we're just at the climax of the movie, right before the hero yanks victory out of the jaws of defeat, damn the odds". When real life got in the way, Hitler just couldn't mentally process it (the psych report even accurately predicted that when the war stopped going according to Hitler's "narrative", he would withdraw into his bunker, unable to come to grips with it). The psych report also accurately predicted what Hitler attempts to do in the movie: order Speer to burn down all of German infrastructure, even though the war is ending and this would serve no point except to spite the winners. As the psych report said, Hitler would eventually shift from thinking he was in a Wagnerian epic to a Wagnerian tragedy, the kind where the hero loses at the end and his entire castle burns down around him like a funeral pyre to the gods. He then did everything he could to ensure that as many Germans went down with him as possible in a blaze of glory, as he perceived it - which ended up meaning sending child soldiers to their deaths, and to be a modern-day Nero.
  • Yes-Man:
    • This is truth in fiction, of course, but Hitler's generals are such "yes men" they will never disobey him (Wilhelm Keitel's nickname was "Lakeitel", a pun on the German word for lackey). At best, some implore him to see reason, but refuse to outright turn on him. The most any of them ever does is when (the unseen) Felix Steiner refuses to launch a counterattack against surrounding Soviets... only because Hitler insists he attack using imaginary units, and his remaining forces are (despite Hitler's crazed claims) in reality outnumbered ten to one.
    • In contrast to regular generals, SS members like Himmler and Fegelein know all too well that the war is lost and are secretly planning to negotiate with the Allies; not that they were more heroic, but they were smart enough to realize when to give up on a lost cause. Fegelein even criticizes the regular generals (Wilhelm Keitel, Alfred Jodl, Hans Krebs and Wilhelm Burgdorf) for continuing to go along with Hitler when they privately admit the war is lost. Himmler and Fegelein pay lip service to Hitler while in the same room, but they're simply buying time for their escape.
    • Even Joseph Goebbels — Yes Man among Hitler's Yes Men — has his fair share of private admissions of defeat, even as he seems to honestly believe everything Hitler says, knowing all too well that, as Hitler's right-hand man, getting out of Berlin alive is nigh-impossible.
    • Subverted with Albert Speer, one of the few people who tries to convince Hitler that the war is truly lost, even pointing out that most of his generals already think the same, even as they are too spineless to ever say it to his face.
  • You Are in Command Now: On several occassions Hitler randomly promotes officers to higher military positions. General Weidling is ordered to defend Berlin when he only came in to attest that he didn't move his command post and therefore shouldn't be executed. Ritter von Greim is an even better example: he is already a general, but when he makes it to the bunker he is put in command of the entire German air force (which is all but completely defunct by this point in time), and told that he has to rebuild it from the ground up. When Hitler starts claiming that he'll be able to give Greim a thousand jet aircraft on short notice, it becomes obvious that he and reality don't see eye to eye anymore.
  • You Have Failed Me: Hitler and some of his cohorts attempt to do this to an entire country.

"Of course the horrors, of which I heard in connection of the Nuremberg trials, the fate of the six million Jews, their killing and those of many others who represented different races and creeds, shocked me greatly, but at that time I could not see any connection between these things and my own past. I was only happy that I had not personally been guilty of these things and that I had not been aware of the scale of these things. However, one day I walked past a plaque that on the Franz-Joseph Straße (in Munich), on the wall in memory of Sophie Scholl. I could see that she had been born the same year as I, and that she had been executed the same year when I entered into Hitler's service. And at that moment I really realized that it was no excuse that I had been so young. I could perhaps have tried to find out about things."
Traudl Junge

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Alternative Title(s): Downfall


Hitler Rants on TV Tropes

Based on the gag dialogue on top of the Hitler Rants page. A typical example of how the 2004 German war drama film Downfall (Der Utergang) is given new subtitles that change the scene's tone from serious to outright comedy.

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