Bugging Hitler’s Soldiers

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See stills and images of individuals featured in Bugging Hitler’s Soldiers.

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Re-enactment. WS General von Felbert and General Kittel.

Re-enactment. WS General von Felbert and General Kittel.

Photo Credit: © October Films
Re-enactment. Our Generals Cast.

Re-enactment. Our Generals Cast.

Photo Credit: © October Films
Pfaffenberger, a catholic, had been an inmate in the Buchenwald concentration camp between 1938 and 1944 for insulting a party official. He talked about everyday life in Buchenwald, the hierarchy among the prisoners as well as the murders of prisoners by the SS.22 (“We had 74 or 80 deaths a day. At one time we hadn’t got a crematorium , because the vast majority of them only arrived after the outbreak of war.”) The British intelligence officers had this information confirmed by two German refugees, who had themselves been prisoners in Buchenwald and were now serving in the British Army. Interestingly, Pfaffenberger later served in a unit in which the Hauptmann was a former who “had helped to form Buchenwald in the beginning.” Pfaffenberger also talked about the use of crematoriums in the concentration camps Oranienburg and Auschwitz. He estimated the number of victims in Buchenwald at 30 000. Furthermore, he mentioned lamps made of human skin. Interestingly, the respective transcription carries the note: “Some of PW Pfaffenberger’s statements appear fantastic, but they are given for what they are worth.”

Re-enactment

Pfaffenberger, a catholic, had been an inmate in the Buchenwald concentration camp between 1938 and 1944 for insulting a party official. He talked about everyday life in Buchenwald, the hierarchy among the prisoners as well as the murders of prisoners by the SS.22 (“We had 74 or 80 deaths a day. At one time we hadn’t got a crematorium , because the vast majority of them only arrived after the outbreak of war.”) The British intelligence officers had this information confirmed by two German refugees, who had themselves been prisoners in Buchenwald and were now serving in the British Army. Interestingly, Pfaffenberger later served in a unit in which the Hauptmann was a former who “had helped to form Buchenwald in the beginning.” Pfaffenberger also talked about the use of crematoriums in the concentration camps Oranienburg and Auschwitz. He estimated the number of victims in Buchenwald at 30 000. Furthermore, he mentioned lamps made of human skin. Interestingly, the respective transcription carries the note: “Some of PW Pfaffenberger’s statements appear fantastic, but they are given for what they are worth.”
Photo Credit: © October Films
DOB: 09/11/1894 Served WWI & WWII: Captured in France 25/08/44 POW at Trent Park 29/08/44-10/04/45 German Superiors: ‘By disposition and ability an able soldier and officer. Has a good tactical grasp and can make rapid decisions…adept at socialising. Unfortunately owing to the war suffers from stomach complaint. The increased nervousness makes him very irritable at time and he then becomes very excitable as a consequence’. CSDIC (UK) opinion: ‘PoW is a cinema-type of a German officer, fat, coarse, bemonocled and inflated with a tremendous sense of his own importance.’ His fickle nature did not endear him to his colleagues who spoke of him unflatteringly.

Re-enactment. WS von Choltitz arrives from France with news. The Generals listen.

DOB: 09/11/1894 Served WWI & WWII: Captured in France 25/08/44 POW at Trent Park 29/08/44-10/04/45 German Superiors: ‘By disposition and ability an able soldier and officer. Has a good tactical grasp and can make rapid decisions…adept at socialising. Unfortunately owing to the war suffers from stomach complaint. The increased nervousness makes him very irritable at time and he then becomes very excitable as a consequence’. CSDIC (UK) opinion: ‘PoW is a cinema-type of a German officer, fat, coarse, bemonocled and inflated with a tremendous sense of his own importance.’ His fickle nature did not endear him to his colleagues who spoke of him unflatteringly.
Photo Credit: © October Films
DOB: 31/10/1892 Served WWI & WWII: Captured by the US 22.11.44, POW Trent Park 06/01/45-May 45 German Superiors: Open straight character, strong-willed, enjoys responsibility, ruthless towards himself, tirelessly active, gifted organiser. Convinced National Socialist. CSDIC (UK) opinion: ‘Kittel is a professional soldier of exceptional intelligence, who in the course of his career has been connected with most major political happenings in Germany. He is strongly opposed to the Nazi “State within the State” and he detests the Police, SS, SD and Army. However, because of his oath to Hitler and what he believes to be his duty towards, he will not do or say anything which might damage the war effort of the Reich. He has a sense of humour and takes a philosophical outlook on life.’Our notes: His testimony is very chilling, he witnesses women and children being killed on the eastern front and tries to stop it, not because they’re killing people but because it’s being done outside and there will be witnesses.

Re-enactment. CU Kittel. (Actor David Barrass)

DOB: 31/10/1892 Served WWI & WWII: Captured by the US 22.11.44, POW Trent Park 06/01/45-May 45 German Superiors: Open straight character, strong-willed, enjoys responsibility, ruthless towards himself, tirelessly active, gifted organiser. Convinced National Socialist. CSDIC (UK) opinion: ‘Kittel is a professional soldier of exceptional intelligence, who in the course of his career has been connected with most major political happenings in Germany. He is strongly opposed to the Nazi “State within the State” and he detests the Police, SS, SD and Army. However, because of his oath to Hitler and what he believes to be his duty towards, he will not do or say anything which might damage the war effort of the Reich. He has a sense of humour and takes a philosophical outlook on life.’Our notes: His testimony is very chilling, he witnesses women and children being killed on the eastern front and tries to stop it, not because they’re killing people but because it’s being done outside and there will be witnesses.
Photo Credit: © October Films
DOB: 09.11.1894 Served in WWI & WWII Captured 10/09/44 by French. At Trent Part 28/12/44-08/08/45 German Superiors: No real data in Sonke’s book but he was sentenced to death in absence by German army 03/01/45 for cowardice in the face of the enemy. CSDIC (UK) opinion: ‘A rather weak personality, a definite opponent of National Socialism who eyes had been opened since being taken prisoner and now believes that attempts should be made to convince German commanders at the front to lay down their weapons.’ Our notes: Felbert as a character comes into his own in the exchange with Kittel when he is horrified and outraged by the events described on the eastern front to the point that he starts shouting at Kittel. “It’s obvious; it’s such a scandal; it doesn’t need to be a Jew to accuse us – we ourselves must bring the charge; we must accuse the people who have done it.”

Re-enactment. MS General von Felbert (Actor Valentine Pelka)

DOB: 09.11.1894 Served in WWI & WWII Captured 10/09/44 by French. At Trent Part 28/12/44-08/08/45 German Superiors: No real data in Sonke’s book but he was sentenced to death in absence by German army 03/01/45 for cowardice in the face of the enemy. CSDIC (UK) opinion: ‘A rather weak personality, a definite opponent of National Socialism who eyes had been opened since being taken prisoner and now believes that attempts should be made to convince German commanders at the front to lay down their weapons.’ Our notes: Felbert as a character comes into his own in the exchange with Kittel when he is horrified and outraged by the events described on the eastern front to the point that he starts shouting at Kittel. “It’s obvious; it’s such a scandal; it doesn’t need to be a Jew to accuse us – we ourselves must bring the charge; we must accuse the people who have done it.”
Photo Credit: © October Films
Re-enactment. HS The gernals are seen relaxing below the microphone hidden in the chandelier.

Re-enactment. HS The gernals are seen relaxing below the microphone hidden in the chandelier.

Photo Credit: © October Films
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Re-enactment. HS Microphone concealed at Trent Park in chandalier. The microphones were secured in light fittings, the walls and even in trees at Trent Park. Photo Credit: © October Films
Re-enactment. WS POV of vehicle arriving at Trent Park (Drama Location: Wolterton Hall).

Re-enactment. WS POV of vehicle arriving at Trent Park (Drama Location: Wolterton Hall).

Photo Credit: © October Films
MS: Colonel Kevin Farrell, historian with specialism in the Wehrmacht

MS: Colonel Kevin Farrell, historian with specialism in the Wehrmacht

Photo Credit: © October Films
His extensive research is available in two books 'Bugging Hitler's Generals' and 'Soldaten.'

MS: Professor Sönke Nietzel historian who first discovered the documents after they had been declassified in 1996.

His extensive research is available in two books 'Bugging Hitler's Generals' and 'Soldaten.'
Photo Credit: © October Films
LS: Historian Sönke Nietzel looks through documents

LS: Historian Sönke Nietzel looks through documents

Photo Credit: © October Films
The microphones were highly sophisticated for the time being able to pick up soft whispers and attempts by the POWs to hide their conversation.

Re-enactment. Top shot of microphone with our POWs defocused in background.

The microphones were highly sophisticated for the time being able to pick up soft whispers and attempts by the POWs to hide their conversation.
Photo Credit: © October Films
Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi Germany during and at the start of the war were recruited by MI19 to serve as listeners and translators. Their job was to listen in to the POWs conversations and when something of interest occured to start recording. Women were also employed to work as typists and translators.

Re-enactment. MS Listeners Room. The 'M' Room.

Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi Germany during and at the start of the war were recruited by MI19 to serve as listeners and translators. Their job was to listen in to the POWs conversations and when something of interest occured to start recording. Women were also employed to work as typists and translators.
Photo Credit: © October Films
The original transcripts discovered by Historian Sönke Neitzel

LS Documents at National Archives

The original transcripts discovered by Historian Sönke Neitzel
Photo Credit: © October Films
Text "That's why everyone hates us…" Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi Germany during and at the start of the war were recruited by MI19 to serve as listeners and translators. There job was to listen in to the POWs conversations and when something of interest occured to start recording. Women were also employed to work as typists and translators.

Re-enactment. CU Listener from behind with headset.

Text "That's why everyone hates us…" Jewish refugees who had escaped Nazi Germany during and at the start of the war were recruited by MI19 to serve as listeners and translators. There job was to listen in to the POWs conversations and when something of interest occured to start recording. Women were also employed to work as typists and translators.
Photo Credit: © October Films