Hitler's S.S.: Portrait in Evil (1985)

TV Movie   |  Not Rated   |    |  Drama, War

Hitler's S.S.: Portrait in Evil (1985) Poster

The story of Helmut and Karl Hoffmann. Both come of age at the start of Hitler's power in Germany. Helmut joins the SS and eventually becomes a successful flag rank officer. Karl joins the ... See full summary »

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  • David Warner and Bill Nighy in Hitler's S.S.: Portrait in Evil (1985)
  • David Warner in Hitler's S.S.: Portrait in Evil (1985)
  • David Warner and Bill Nighy in Hitler's S.S.: Portrait in Evil (1985)
  • Bill Nighy in Hitler's S.S.: Portrait in Evil (1985)
  • David Warner and Bill Nighy in Hitler's S.S.: Portrait in Evil (1985)
  • Hitler's S.S.: Portrait in Evil (1985)

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Cast & Crew

Top Billed Cast


Jim Goddard


Lukas Heller

Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

15 October 1999 | Wolfram-4
Interesting, if overreaching summary of the rise of the SS
This was a rather good film. It artfully tells the story of the days just after the Nazi "Machtergreifung", and the power struggle between Himmler's SS (with Heydrich's SD an important part) and Ernst Röhm's SA, through the Hoffman family. Karl, a seeming true-blue National Socialist, joins the SA. His brother Helmut, an opportunist, joins the SS for career advancement, and deluding himself into believing that by being in the SS, he could "Do good on the inside".

This film does an excellent job in examining the motivations of Nazis, and of human feelings through Karl and Helmut's sibling rivalry. The acting was excellent, featuring Jose Ferrer as Helmut's old teacher, who is a Jew. However, I found the actress playing Mitzi to be repulsively vacuous. Tony Randall's cameo appearance was brilliant, among others.

Where this film fails is that it tries to do too much. Ity tries far too hard to address every issue involved in discussing the Third Reich, from Anti-Semitism, to the cause of the war, to the Hitler Youth, to propaganda, and so forth. This causes much superficiality, so that none of these topics is thoroughly addressed. The largest strength to this film, is that it so bravely and accurately portrays a historic episode, known as the Night of the Long Knives, in which Hitler has Röhm, and his SA leadership killed, presumably because they were planning a Putsch against Hitler. It re-examines an old issue, and it does it cunningly.

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Did You Know?


When Reinhard Heydrich leaves Berlin to take up a new posting as Nazi Governor of Bohemia and Moravia (Czechoslovakia), a scene follows where Helmut Hoffmann is told "You'd better hope Himmler has a job for you, or you'll find yourself fighting Russians." This is in reference to the practice of the SS where General-SS members, without active assignments, would transfer to the Waffen-SS as military reservists. Interestingly, in the subsequent scene set a year later after Heydrich's assassination, Helmut is shown wearing a Waffen-SS tunic complete with combat and service awards from the Eastern Front, thus implying that he *did* find himself fighting Russians.


Karl Hoffmann: Just think if we were asked to observe a minute of silence for all the people we've slaughtered and all the people our friends in the SS have slaughtered. Why, we'd be spending the rest of our lives in total silence!


The character of SS-Captain Becker is shown in 1938 to be wearing the World War II Iron Cross Second Class. This decoration was not introduced in the German military until the end of 1939.

Alternate Versions

In the version of the film shown on the History Channel's "Movies in Time" series, about 30-45 minutes of dialogue is cut from various scenes and conversations. This was necessary to have the running time under three and a half hours to allow for the Movies in Time commentary and interviews at the beginning and end of the feature.


Wenn die Soldaten,
sung on train to the Night of the Long Knives


Plot Summary


Drama | War


Release Date:

17 February 1985



Country of Origin


Filming Locations


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