This three-hour American-produced drama (with a mostly British cast) was first broadcast on US network television as a two-part miniseries and later released in edited form for the home video market.
It tells the (fictional) story of Helmut and Karl Hoffmann, two young brothers who come of age at the start of Hitler’s power in Germany.
The idealistic Karl (John Shea) enthusiastically joins the SA as a stormtrooper and experiences the darker side of Nazism. His intellectual and opportunistic brother Helmut (Bill Nighy) joins the SS and eventually becomes a successful officer under Reinhard Heydrich (David Warner).
After the SA is disbanded after the “night of the long knives”, Karl ends up in the Dachau concentration camp. Through the intercession of his brother, Karl is released and conscripted into the German army, serving on the ill-fated Russian front.
Ultimately, brother is pitted against brother until their relationship and the Third Reich stand in ruins. Karl and Helmut carry with them their parents, Albrecht and Gerda (Robert Urquhart and Carroll Baker), the woman both of them love, nightclub singer Mitzi Templer (Lucy Gutteridge) and a respected Jewish teacher (José Ferrer).
Tony Randall has a superb cameo as Putzi, a gay anti-Nazi cabaret comedian who is ultimately beaten to death by the SS.
Prof. Ludwig Rosenberg
Gen. Josef Biegler
Hans Hoffmann (age 2)
Hans Hoffmann (age 7)
Hans Hoffmann (age 11-13)