Remarkably, some soldiers took their amateur film cameras to the front lines and filmed the everyday life of the soldier and airman in battle. In Britain the practice was discouraged, but German soldiers were encouraged to film the impending triumphs of the Third Reich.
This programme features the home movies of four fighting men: Britons Derek Brown and Leslie Fowler, and Germans Paul Kellermann and Klaus Eismann. Brown took his camera into the Burma campaign while Fowler filmed from the ship he was commanding on the morning of D-Day.
Eismann, a member of the Luftwaffe, filmed as the Germans overran Poland in the first days of war. Kellermann used his camera as the Wehrmacht occupied Paris and later in the drive across Russia and into Stalingrad, where, though he died, his films survived.
Others recorded the reality of war. Luftwaffe member Karl Plote filmed the preparation and execution of bombing raids on south-west England and in Naumburg; fireman Hans Brunswig filmed the aerial bombardment on his city.
Through these films the experiences of men in the heart of war are relived. Kellermann filmed both his domestic life and his experiences as a soldier in a reconnaissance unit on the Western and Eastern fronts. He had a sharp eye for detail and the ability to get in close, and provides a detailed look at the life of his family before and during the war. His niece is still alive and remembers many of the people that feature.
The picture that he portrays of soldiers' lives is stunning. Somehow he managed to capture the humanity of the people he filmed - comrades as well as POWs - in situations of extreme inhumanity. He was killed on the Eastern front in February 1942 but he left behind vivid letters describing his experiences, written to his family.