Cross of Iron
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Men on the front lines of Hell
Cross of Iron is a 1977 film about conflicts that arise within the leadership of a Wehrmacht regiment during the German withdrawal from the Taman Peninsula on the Soviet Crimea in 1943 on the Eastern Front of World War II.
- Directed by Sam Peckinpah. Written by Julius J. Epstein, James Hamilton, Willi Heinrich and Walter Kelley.
- Steiner is a myth. Men like him are our last hope and in that sense, he is a truly dangerous man.
- (When asked by Captain Stransky to describe who Steiner is)
- I feel he thinks he is on some kind of special mission, that is, to achieve spiritual domination of his battalion, thereby symbolising the purity of the great German Wehrmacht itself, even when going down in defeat. If they're the last of us, Stransky and Steiner, then God help us!
- (Regarding Captain Stransky)
- It's all an accident, an accident of hands. Mine, others, all without mind, from one extreme to another, but neither works nor will ever. Yet we stand here in the middle of no man's land. Me and you.
- (As he is releasing a captured young Russian soldier)
- Captain Stransky, you are the rest of my platoon.
- (To Captain Stransky, after being asked about the whereabouts of Steiner's platoon)
- And I will show you, where the Iron Crosses grow.
- (To Captain Stransky, after Stransky says "I'll show you how a Prussian officer can fight" )
- YOU!!! STOP!
- (To Leutnant Triebig who had just gunned down most of Steiner's platoon)
- For many of us Germans, the exterminator is long overdue. But I have decided that you are worth saving. [...] You're a brave man. Braver than you think you are. One of these days there will be a need for brave civilians, had you thought of that? In the new Germany, if such a thing is allowed to exist, there will be a need for builders, for thinkers, for poets. I begin to see now what your job is to be. I will make this my final order to you. You will search out and contact all of these... "better people", you call them? And together you'll take on the responsibility that goes with survival.
- (As he orders Kiesel to evacute)
- We're pulling back from the bridgehead in Kuban. No rear guards, not even Steiner's platoon. We're not retreating anywhere; we're running.
- (To Kiesel after being contacted by a general)
- Colonel Brandt: The cattle cars or whatever they're sending are due to arrive at 1200 hours, provided, of course, that the Russian sappers have not blown up the track. Any questions?
- German Officers: No, sir.
- Colonel Brandt: Dismissed. [the officers leave] Carry on probing and aggressive actions all along the front! [the officers ignore him]
- Colonel Brandt: What will we do when we lose the war?
- Captain Kiesel: Prepare for the next one.
- [As Steiner cradles the young and naive Private Dietz, who had just been stabbed by a female Russian prisoner of war]
- Ansel: Do you believe in God Sergeant?
- Steiner: I believe that God is a sadist, but probably doesn't even know it.
- [After Steiner has recovered and returns to his platoon, Brandt contacts Stransky via telephone]
- Colonel Brandt: Why the Hell wasn't I told of Steiner's return to the battalion?
- Captain Stransky: My apologies for that, sir. There were more important things to do.
- Colonel Brandt: I want him here at once, about a predicament of which I am sure you don't need to be reminded. Clear, Stransky?
- Captain Stransky: Quite clear, sir. [Brandt hangs up the phone; Stransky approaches Lt. Triebig] I don't like the tone of his voice. I'm fed up with the whole situation. Well, it doesn't matter anymore. I know from reliable sources that headquarters have already written off the Kuban bridgehead. And soon the whole Crimea will be a cul-de-sac. Report to Brandt. If you have the choice, Triebig, between Biarritz and Siberia, what would you choose? [Triebig leaves]
- Unteroffizier Schnurrbart: Rolf, what are we doing here?
- Sgt. Steiner: We are spreading the German culture throughout a desperate world.
- Sergeant Steiner: Why do you want it so badly? [shows Stransky his Iron Cross] It's just a piece of worthless metal.
- Captain Stransky: It's not worthless to me. Sergeant, if I do not return with the Iron Cross, I couldn't face my family.
- Sergeant Steiner: Personally, sir, I don't feel you deserve the Iron Cross.
- Men on the front lines of Hell
- The power of Peckinpah has never been so real... or so brilliant!
- On the Eastern Front in 1943 the German soldiers no longer had any ideals, they were not fighting for the stinking Party-but for their stinking lives!