The story of the German film 13 Minutes (original title: Elser – Er hätte die Welt verändert, literal translation: Elser – He would have changed the world) is just one out of 42 (!) attempted Hitler assassinations carried out by Germans. Yep, that's right! It's hardly known to the rest of the world, but the astonishing number of around 42 assassination attempts is true.
Mostly, these assassination attempts were carried out by high-ranking Nazi officials who realized the true intentions of Adolf Hilter. Sadly, they all failed. In most cases due to a spontaneous change of plan such as Hitler leaving 13 Minutes earlier than he had originally planned to stay at a speech he gave in the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich. This is where the carpenter Georg Elser had hidden a bomb in a wooden panel on 8th of November 1939.
Georg Elser was a loner. He had planned, built the bomb and worked it into the wood all by himself. He didn't have any other conspirators that worked with or helped him in any way. He just wanted to do "the right thing" and he wanted to "avoid an even bigger bloodshed".
"That Hitler is bad for Germany"
13 Minutes brings his story to life in a great way. It starts with Elser finishing off his bomb planting work in Munich. He then attempts to cross the border to Switzerland, but is stopped, arrested and consequently tortured because at first he won't admit his "crime" or reveal the names of his conspirators.
As we learn during the film, this is because there were, in fact, no conspirators. But the Nazi officials naturally do not believe this. The film then tells Elser's life story through various flashbacks taking place in his rural home village. This shows him as a bit of a womanizer. Originally illegitimate himself, he knocks up a girl and leaves her, then gets friendly with a married woman. She appears to have been the love of his life and makes the film about Georg Elser even more emotional.
The film was not shot at original sites such as the Bürgerbräukeller in Munich, but at Weidenberg, Lindau, the town hall of Schöneberg in Berlin as well as in South Tyrol.
The film is personal for me, too. In my family, there is a saying that my great-grandfather refused to do the Hitler greeting, pretending that he couldn't lift his arm. This alone was reason enough for the Nazi terror régime to send two of his daughters to work in a dangerous mine as teenagers. A trauma which my great-aunt had not forgotten for the rest of her life. On top of that, his two only sons (one of them called Georg as well) were forced to go to war as soldiers and died in their early twenties – one in Normandy, one in Stalingrad.
All the horrors that actually happened in WW2 are bad enough. All the more important therefore to remember those brave Germans fighting for the resistance. Georg Elser was brought to the Dachau concentration camp and shot on 9th of April 1945 – just 20 days before the camp was liberated… It's important not to forget him and therefore this film is absolutely brilliant!
My verdict: We will never know. But perhaps, if all had worked out, Elser would have changed the world… back then in 1939.
**** 4 out of 5 stars