Time: 60 minutes each. 8 episodes. National Geographic Channel.
This interesting, well-wrought new series doesn’t limit its notion of Nazi hunters to postwar pursuers of fugitives. Of course, it includes episodes on infamous escaped Nazis. Among them: Adolf Eichmann, the nuts-and-bolts organizer of the Holocaust who ignored Heinrich Himmler’s orders and continued slaughtering tens of thousands of Jews until the Reich’s last weeks, then vanished from the postwar wreckage without a trace for years; Josef Mengele, the infamous human experimenter who evaded the Israeli Mossad team that seized Eichmann in Argentina by moving to Nazi-friendly Paraguay, then Brazil, where he died unmolested; and John “Ivan the Terrible” Demjanjuk, one of hundreds of Ukrainian concentration camp guards who, after distinguishing himself from his brutal peers by his grotesque levels of inhumanity, managed to live undetected in America for decades.
Other episodes, however, tackle more offbeat topics. One showcases the postwar Jewish Avengers, a band of Holocaust survivors who scoured the world searching for unpunished Nazis. In 1946 the group attempted to poison 3,000 Nazi prisoners by lacing their bread with arsenic, only to have their victims saved by swift U.S. Army ambulances and stomach pumps. Another recreates how the British SOE and Czech resistance plotted to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the SS golden boy who spearheaded the Holocaust and ruthlessly oppressed Czechoslovakia. Exemplifying the series’ attention to detail, we see Heydrich’s car coming around the fateful bend at Prague’s suburban edge, then watch him order his driver to stop so he can return fire after one assassin shoots at his car and misses; that characteristic bravado lets the second assassin toss a grenade into the vehicle, mortally wounding the Nazi icon with pieces of shrapnel and bits of auto metal and upholstery; septicemia would kill him eight days later. Stellar footage, good commentary, solid recreated scenes.
Originally published in the April 2014 issue of World War II. To subscribe, click here.