Tag: World War II

Movie Review: Sobibor

The largest successful escape from a Nazi death camp

Sobibor is a 2018 Russian war drama film co-written, directed by and starring Konstantin Khabensky. The movie, also starring Christopher Lambert, was released in Russia in May of 2018. This film was selected as the Russian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards but was not nominated.

The film is based on the true story of a 1943 uprising in the Sobibor extermination camp in German-occupied Poland. The main character of the movie is the Soviet-Jewish soldier Alexander Pechersky, a lieutenant in the Soviet army. In October 1943, Pechersky was captured by the Nazis and deported to the Sobibor death camp, where Jews were being exterminated in gas chambers. In less than a month, Alexander was able to plan an international uprising of prisoners from Poland and Western Europe. This uprising resulted in the only successful large-scale escape of prisoners from a Nazi death camp during the war.

Approximately four hundred prisoners escaped the death camp, while about one hundred died in the attempt. Of the four hundred who escaped, about one hundred and fifty were rounded up by the locals and turned back over to the Nazis. The prisoners who remained in the camp as well as those returned to the camp were shortly “liquidated” because of the advancing Soviet army. The Nazis needed to get rid of the evidence.

My thoughts …

This is not the sort of movie you really want to say, “I enjoyed.” However, it was fascinating, and it was very well done. I have seen a few Russian films in the past, including Alexander Nevsky (1938) and Ivan the Terrible (1944), and they do have a knack for creating gritty, depressing films that seem to highlight the centuries of struggle and deprivation that is life in Russia. In that regard, this film does not disappoint.

This film is in Russian with English subtitles. Not a problem for me. I’d rather that than have the movie dubbed over in English and actor’s lip movements not match the words. Just a pet peeve of mine …

I have also read a lot of non-fiction about Hitler’s Third Reich, its treatment of “non-Aryans” and other non-desirables, as well as the atrocities of the SS. I think this film very accurately portrays the callous indifference of the SS, their lack of any moral conscience, and penchant for sadistic brutality. The fact that the SS (as well as Hitler himself) was fed a diet of methamphetamine, which kept them energetic, oblivious to all but the most severe injuries or pain, and erased any sense of humanity they may have had is clearly shown.

I also liked how the film portrayed the differences in strategies of the camp’s inmates in trying to survive. Of course, you had the kapos, the inmates who turned on their own and served their Nazi masters by helping them run the camp. Then you had those who, despite all the evidence, refused to accept what was going on, clinging to the false hope that compliance would lead to survival. And finally, you had those who saw clearly what was happening, and that, short of the war ending and Germany losing, the only way to survive was to escape.

If you would not, or could not, watch Schindler’s List, this is not a movie for you. It is also not a movie for young children. However, if World War II history, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, heroic efforts, and the fact that real evil does exist in the world are topics that intrigue you, this may be a film for you. I tend to be one of the latter because I truly believe that people who forget history tend to repeat it.

I give this film 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Blue Ring Assassins

Berlin 1939 – 1943
From the smoking ruins of a bombed Berlin brothel, three shocked and injured female survivors are taken to a secluded training facility by Nazi officer, Gruppenführer Watler Schellenberg. They’re not there for official business but for medical treatment.

Trained by the SS officer in all aspects of espionage, the women are desperate to survive. They turn the tables on their armed captors and kill them. After covering their tracks, the women return to ply the only trade they know… with an added twist. Somehow these ‘sisters in arms’ escape the attention of the Nazis, despite the high rank of their victim, and their lucrative business thrives.

They haven’t escaped everyone’s notice, though. British Intelligence was monitoring Schellenberg’s operations for some time, and their attention has zeroed in on the three women. They dispatch one of their top male agents to make contact…

My thoughts …

I enjoyed the story very much. And I like how the story was told through the eyes of the three main characters; Hannah, Heidi, and Petra. You really get to know these characters well and can feel their fear, anger, frustration, despair, and desire for justice. You are quickly caught up in their lives.

This novel is also a fascinating blend of fact and fiction, with a unique plot. There are exciting twists and turns around every corner. Readers also get a real look inside Germany, and the suffering of the German people brought about by Hitler’s ambitious plans for Aryan “Lebensraum.”

Check out my book reviews page by clicking here.

WWII Documentaries Available On-Line for Free

It might be fun to learn a little WWII history while staying at home and helping control the spread if Covid-19! John Purvis provides some great links to documentaries on the subject that are free to view.

John's Notes

If you or your students, kids, adults are looking for things to do to stay occupied, please know ALL our World War II films are available to watch for free on your computer, tablet or smart phone @WWIIFoundation 2020-03-20 at 9.32.34 AM

I saw a tweet from @WWIIFoundation a short time ago that I thought was worth sharing. It said:

If you or your students, kids, adults are looking for things to do to stay occupied, please know ALL our World War II films are available to watch for free on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

If you visit their website (https://wwiifoundation.org/) you will find nearly 30 documentary videos covering WWII. This website offers something to fill some of the time while we are confined at home and to learn more about WWII.


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

  • The “World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 360 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II-era in history.
  • The “

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Rosie the Riveter, RIP

Rosalind P. Walter, the first “Rosie the Riveter,” died at the age of 95 on Wednesday in New York City.

Rosalind Walter was born in Brooklyn on June 24, 1924, and is survived by her son Henry S. Thompson, two grandchildren, four step-grandchildren, and several step-great-grandchildren.

Rosalind P. Walter in an undated photo. The original inspiration for “Rosie the Riveter” during World War II. Credit…Joseph Sinnott

Walter grew up privileged in a wealthy Long Island home. However, when the United States entered World War II, Rosalind joined millions of other women in the home-front crusade to arm the troops with munitions, warships, and aircraft.

Rosalind rose to fame when a newspaper column which celebrated her outstanding work ethic, inspired a 1942 patriotic song that boosted the morale of the entire nation.

“Rosie” worked the night shift driving rivets into the metal bodies of Corsair fighter planes at a plant in Connecticut, a job that had been previously reserved for men.

An American icon is created …

It was this song that got the attention of the public and inspired the series of famous posters depicting Rosie in the workforce during World War II. While different models were used for several versions of “Rosie the Riveter,” and Rosalind P. Walter may not be “the” Rosie the Riveter in the paintings, she was undoubtedly the first!

This painting became “Rosie the Riveter” to most Americans.

In fact, we should remember that in America as well as other free countries, there were a great many other “Rosie the Riveters” who contributed to the effort to defeat the evil, oppressive Nazi regime during World War II.

To me, these are women to be recognized and admired. These women set the examples our daughters should follow. These women saw a job that needed to be done and decided, “We can do it!”

These are the kinds of women who helped make America great, and will keep America great in the future!

On an interesting side note, I had a Great Aunt Rosie, who worked at Remington Arms during the war, and was nicknamed “Rosie the Riveter” by her co-workers.

Leora’s Letters

The Story of Love and Loss For An Iowa Family During WW II

by Joy Neal Kidney … with Robin Grunder

The day the second atomic bomb was dropped, Clabe and Leora Wilson’s postman brought a telegram to their acreage near Perry, Iowa. One son was already in the U.S. Navy before Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Four more sons worked with their father, tenant farmers near Minburn until, one by one, all five sons were serving their country in the military. The oldest son re-enlisted in the Navy. The younger three became U.S. Army Air Force pilots. As the family optimist, Leora wrote hundreds of letters, among all her regular chores, dispensing news and keeping up the morale of the whole family, which included the brothers’ two sisters. Her fondest wishes were to have a home of her own and family nearby. Leora’s Letters is the compelling true account of a woman whose most tender hopes were disrupted by great losses. Yet she lived out four more decades with hope and resilience.

“Joy lets us see her grandmother’s personal family correspondence through letters. It is heart-tugging. Be ready to be moved by this true story.” –Van Harden, WHO-Radio Personality

Joy Neal Kidney, the oldest granddaughter of the book’s heroine, is the keeper of family stories, letters, photos, combat records, casualty reports, and telegrams. Active on her own website, she is also a writer and local historian. Married to a Vietnam Air Force veteran, Joy lives in central Iowa. Her nonfiction has been published in The Des Moines Register, other media, and broadcast over “Our American Stories.” She’s a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, and her essays have been collected by the Iowa Women’s Archives at the University of Iowa.

My thoughts …

In Leora’s Letters, Joy Neal Kidney provides her readers with a genuine and heartfelt glimpse into the life of an American family during one of our nation’s most trying times. Five Wilson brothers leave their family farm in Iowa to serve their country during WW II, two in the Navy, and three in the Army Air Corps.

Through a well-crafted combination of letters, photographs, and narratives, Joy Neal Kidney draws you in and makes you feel like a member of the family. I found myself caught up in the daily experiences of all five young men and hoping each of them made it home safely. Unfortunately, war is never that kind.

Leora’s Letters is more than a story about one family’s sacrifice. It is a story about America and the kind of people who helped to forge this great nation. Our nation owes Clabe and Leora Wilson and their family a debt it can never repay. However, in reading this incredible story, perhaps we can regain a sense of what kind of people Americans were, and hopefully again, will be.

Do yourself a favor and read this book!

Midway (2019)

The overview …

Monday night I went to see Midway at The Carolina Cinemark Asheville theater. I was slightly hesitant to do so since I have always enjoyed the 1976 Midway film staring Charleton Heston. However, it turned out to not be a problem for me. The movies are different enough that I enjoyed them both.

Like its predecessor, this new version of the centers on the historic Battle of Midway fought during World War II. This clash between the badly-mauled American fleet, which had just suffered horrific losses during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Imperial Japanese Navy marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater during WWII.

midway 2019

This film is based on the real-life events of this heroic American defeat of the Japanese fleet and Admiral Yamamoto’s grand plan to quickly destroy the U.S. Navy in the Pacific. The story tells the tale of the leaders sailors, and pilots who relied on their instincts, intestinal fortitude, bravery (and a good deal of luck) to overcome incredible odds and a Navy force that had them greatly outnumbered and was better equipped.

The Japanese attack on Midway involved four aircraft carriers, seven battleships, 150 support ships, 248 carrier aircraft and 15 submarines.

The U.S. Navy, meanwhile, was down to just three aircraft carriers, 50 support ships, 233 carrier aircraft, 127 land-based aircraft on Midway, and eight submarines after the Pearl Harbor attack.

The Critics

The Bad …

Many critics seem do dislike the film. I don’t know if it is because they really thought the film was that bad, or if it was because “belittling” American history has become popular with the elite crowd. Here are a few examples:

It’s hard to imagine, if you’ve already seen a film like Pearl Harbor, why you would need to see Midway.

Amy Nicholson, FilmWeek

The digitized combat looks like something traced and transplanted from another war, one that took place in a galaxy far, far away.

Scott Marks, San Diego Reader

It has the tone, mostly, of kids’ TV. Or a poor, very poor, supplementary video for a history.

Kevin Maher, TImes (UK)

The good …

The great appeal of the film are the aerial battles, strengthened by excellent digital effects.

Marcelo Stiletano, La Nacion (Argentina)

“Midway” tells a story that’s vividly and viscerally rendered, with all the entertainment value of a big, old-fashioned war movie, cutting back and forth between the home front and front line.

Micheal O’Sullivan, Washington Post

“Midway” is a rollicking war film. History buffs need not apply.

Adam Graham, Detroit News

My thoughts …

I enjoyed the movie. For me, it was a lot like 1965 movie, The Battle of the Bulge with Henry Fonda, which was also short on historical accuracy and plot, but long on entertainment value.

Despite its obvious drawbacks, Midway is a rip-roaring military saga and a testament to the men who fought and won this battle. The Americas are portrayed as being brave and heroic during the movie, and so are the Japanese. Both sides are depicted as fighting for a cause they believed in.

I also thought the mixture of real-life and CGI did a great job in the battle scenes. If anyone has seen tracers fired, especially at night, it can indeed look a bit like a scene out of a Star Wars movie.

I thought the end of the movie was also very well done. You are shown real photos of the real heroes of the battle, along with biographies of them and any citations they received. I was struck with the idea that some of the actors were chosen because they strongly resembled the actual characters they portrayed. Woody Harrelson, in his white hair, looked a great deal like Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. I thought Dennis Quaid also looked a lot like Admiral “Bull” Halsey.

This film really stirred the patriotic blood in me. And, not just for America’s victory at Battle of Midway, but for the sacrifices all our brave fighting men and women have made for our country throughout its history. Maybe that is why some of the critics didn’t care for it.


If you like military history, or military action adventures or action thrillers, check out Serpents Underfoot, available online at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million. Click here to read more interesting blog posts and reviews!

Diet Eman- WWII Hero posted on History of Sorts

There are so many brave souls you never read about in the history books. I enjoy a lot of the stories Dirk DeKlein post on his blog History of Sorts. Dirk is a Dutch man living in Ireland and he is passionate about music, movies, and history. His posts primarily concern the WWII era, but often include music, movies, and the occasional serial killer.

This story is about a young Christian couple engaged to be married, who join the Dutch resistance and help fight the Nazis. Both are eventually captured. While Diet finally gains her freedom and moves to the U.S., her fiance died in Dachau Concentration Camp. Diet also had a brother die in a Japanese prison camp.

Diet Eman eventually wrote her memoir with help from Dr. Jame Schaap. titled Things We Couldn’t Say. It is a dramatic account of Christian resistance in Holland during WWII. It has been added to my “Must Read” list and I just had to mention it here. Click the link below to read Dirk’s entire post.

Only the good die young, all the evil seem to live forever is a line from an Iron Maiden song, and there have been times where I thought this to be true, because I saw so many evil people living a long and prosperous lives. But thankfully ever now and then that theory is proven […]

Diet Eman- WWII Hero. — History of Sorts