The Remagen Bridge

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German title The Remagen Bridge
Original title The Bridge at Remagen
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1969
length 112 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director John Guillermin
script Richard Yates ,
William Roberts
production David L. Wolper
music Elmer Bernstein
camera Stanley Cortez
cut William Cartwright

The Bridge at Remagen (original title The Bridge at Remagen ) is a war film from 1969 about the legendary first Rhine crossing by units of the United States Army . The film plot is based on the historical background , but does not describe the actual events in March 1945. The film should not be confused with the German television production of the same name from 1967.


In March 1945, Germany is on the brink of military collapse. While the Red Army is marching inexorably towards Berlin in the east, the Americans are standing in front of the Rhine in the west (north of Koblenz: Operation Lumberjack , south of it Operation Undertone ). By blowing up the Oberkassel Bridge near Bonn , the Germans prevented the Americans from taking the bridge at the last moment. This makes the Ludendorff Bridge near Remagen the last intact Rhine crossing. The bridge thus becomes a target for the Americans, the only remaining means of retreat for the dispersed units of the 15th Army , around 75,000 men trapped on the west side of the Rhine, and the last chance for civilians to escape from those on the West side contested areas.

General Shinner orders a quick advance via Meckenheim to Remagen to cut off the route of retreat for the 15th Army. He assumes that the bridge will either be blown up by the Germans or bombed by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF). Major Barnes and his battalion were at the forefront of this campaign, especially the A Company led by Captain Colt. When this takes a homestead occupied by Germans, Captain Colt is killed. Then Lieutenant Hartman has to continue the company, while Sergeant Angelo (nickname "Angel") takes over his platoon.

Since Hitler wants to prevent the Americans from crossing the Rhine by all means, General von Brock is ordered to have the bridge blown up as soon as possible. The same risk should not be taken again as with the Oberkasseler bridge. General von Brock wants to save the lives of as many 15th Army soldiers as possible. Since his protests are rejected, he appoints his old friend Major Krüger as combat commander of Remagen. He promises him to postpone the breaking of the bridge as long as possible.

When Major Krüger arrives in Remagen, he learns from Captain Schmidt, the head of the bridge security company, that instead of the 1,600 men on paper, only about 200 men are available for defense. Nor can he persuade the NSDAP district leader and city councilor Holzgang, whose only son died in Stalingrad, to resist the Americans and to round up men in Remagen to defend the city. The two tank detachments that General von Brock wanted to keep ready as reinforcements never reached Remagen. The explosives for the bridge demolition are delivered, but the material is inferior, which the attempt is made to compensate by only attaching explosives to the most important points of the bridge and always taking twice the amount.

After being bombed by the USAAF, Remagen is captured by US troops. Although white flags are hanging on the Holzgang family's hotel, the Americans are shot at from a window. After Sergeant Angelo shot the shooter down, he was shocked to discover that he was barely 16 years old. Holzgang claims to have forbidden the boy to offer resistance. However, his pin reveals him as a member of the NSDAP, which is why Lieutenant Hartman does not consider him trustworthy.

From a church tower, the soldiers can see the bridge and discover that it has not yet been blown up by the Germans. Thereupon Major Barnes has the bridge of tanks under heavy fire. But when General Shinner arrives in Remagen and realizes the strategic importance of the bridge, he orders to prevent the demolition and to take the bridge, since a quick Rhine crossing could shorten the war by weeks and save the lives of thousands of soldiers.

Lieutenant Hartman is ordered to storm the bridge and remove the explosive charges, resulting in significant losses. When the Americans are on the bridge, Major Krüger orders the detonation, which can only be triggered with a delay via an emergency fuse, as the ignition cables were interrupted by shell hits. Hartman and his men can only remove some of the charges and get to safety just in time. After the demolition, both sides are surprised to find that the bridge is still standing. With that, the bloody battle for the bridge continues.

Major Krüger has holed up with the rest of the men, only a handful and including numerous wounded, and civilians seeking protection in the railway tunnel. He wants to continue the fight for the bridge, but can no longer motivate anyone to continue fighting. When he also shoots two deserters, he is insulted as a murderer. Since telephone contact with the headquarters is no longer possible, he wants to go to it to explain the situation to General von Brock and to call for reinforcements. At headquarters he meets the SS officer Gerlach, who cites an order from Hitler and has relieved General von Brock of his command. Major Krüger tries in vain to demonstrate that the unsuccessful bridge demolition was due to insufficient explosives of the required quality. He is deposed and arrested by Gerlach as combat commander of Remagen, then he is shot dead.

At the bridge, Captain Schmidt and the rest of the men surrender to the Americans. Ten days after the events, the bridge collapsed; it had no longer withstood the stresses (in fact, within 24 hours of the capture, 8,000 Allied soldiers with vehicles and weapons crossed the bridge).



The accumulation of eight American-made tanks, several half-track vehicles and armored personnel carriers , military trucks and jeeps as well as almost 5000 mostly Czech extras in Wehrmacht and GI uniforms including rifles and machine weapons led to some irritation during the Prague Spring , in the run-up to the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops to Czechoslovakia, where the film was shot (see below).

The Soviets linked the shooting to a secret American arsenal and at times observed it by Russian helicopters. The Czechoslovak police temporarily confiscated the explosives for the special effects and GDR media declared the shooting to be a camouflage operation by the CIA .

After the invasion of the Warsaw Pact, the film crew was forced to leave Czechoslovakia as quickly as possible. The film diary therefore bears the laconic note for August 20, 1968: “No shooting today because of shooting.” (German: “No shooting today because of the shooting.”) At this point in time, the film was only about two-thirds finished.

The film achieves a high degree of realism not only by blowing up several streets in Most , the German military vehicles also saw original Sd.Kfz half-track vehicles for the first time . 251/1 and not in war movies usual, with beams Cross provided M3 Half Tracks . The " Hanomags ", like a host of other pieces of equipment, could be found in Czechoslovakia. After the liberation in 1945, numerous production lines installed by the Germans in confiscated armaments factories continued to be used. B. the Sd.Kfz. 251 continued to be built at Tatra as OT-810 .


The film bridge in Davle in 2008

The interior shots were taken in the Barrandov studios in Prague , the film bridge is in Davle on the Vltava River in the Czech Republic. For the recording of the spectacular destruction of Remagen by a bomb attack and the house fighting the historic downtown served wine in Czechoslovakia that a surface mining had to give way. The detonations were coordinated by the shooting team and prepared for film. There are also nocturnal scenes that were shot in the square of the nearby town of Jílové u Prahy .

After leaving what was then Czechoslovakia in a hurry, a replacement location was found in the vicinity of Castel Gandolfo , Italy , for missing further shots, in particular of the siege of the tunnel entrance . A replica of the interior of the tunnel and several interior fittings were created in Hamburg , and the film was also shot at the Old Harburg Elbe Bridge and in a small farm near Woltersdorf in Wendland .

Theatrical releases

United States August 13th and 27th, 1969
Sweden October 23, 1969
Federal Republic November 14, 1969
Denmark January 1, 1970
Finland May 8, 1970
Spain August 29, 1970

Deviations from the historical process

The plot deviates from the historical sequence in numerous points. On March 7, 1945, the Remagen Bridge was by no means the only remaining Rhine bridge in the West German area of ​​attack by the Allies. The Hindenburg Bridge near Rüdesheim / Bingen , which was damaged on January 13, 1945 (finally destroyed around March 15, 1945), the Kronprinz-Wilhelm-Bridge near Neuwied-Engers (blown up on March 9, 1945), the road bridge between Bonn and Bingen still existed Beuel (blown up on March 8, 1945) and the Wesel railway bridge (blown up on March 10, 1945). The railway bridge near Oberkassel that was destroyed in the opening scene of the film (blown up on March 3, 1945) was not located in the municipality of Oberkassel south of Bonn , but in the Düsseldorf district of the same name .

When taking the heights surrounding Remagen and the city itself, the Americans did not encounter any organized defense by German troops, so there was no house-to-house fighting and there were no victims among the GIs. There was also no bombing raid on Remagen that day because the weather was hazy; fine drizzle and the low-hanging clouds prevented Allied air missions.

The flak battery lying on the plateau above the Erpeler railway tunnel did not have the heavy barrel weapons shown. There were only a few light anti -aircraft guns that were not suitable for fighting tanks. In the Remagen area - including on the Erpeler Ley - an anti-aircraft unit with secret, innovative multiple anti-aircraft missile launchers known as the foehn device had taken up position. Some of them fell undamaged into the hands of the Allies.

The unit of Lieutenant Timmermann, who is called Lieutenant Hartman in the film, did not cross the bridge immediately before the attempt to detonate it, nor did it engage in a race against time to remove the explosives from the bridge structure, but took advantage of the confusion after the explosion Emergency cargo when the bridge fell back into its bearings. She did not suffer any losses. Unexploded explosive packages of the main cargo were later defused by American pioneers .

There was also no boat in the Rhine and consequently no ambush on the US troops lying in front of the tunnel entrance the night before. By this time the tunnel had long been in American hands.

The German officer responsible for the defense and the timely demolition, Major Hans Scheller (named Paul Krüger in the film), was arrested a few days after the American crossing of the Rhine by the Commander-in-Chief of Army Group B , Field Marshal Walter Model , in Altwied (district of Neuwied ) and one Stand trial transferred. The SS special commissioner Gerlach, who relieved Krüger of his command in the film, is supposed to represent the " Flying Standgericht West " set up by Hitler himself on March 9, 1945 .


The German synchronized editing was created in 1969.

role actor Voice actor
Lieutenant Phil Hartman George Segal Klaus Kindler
Major Paul Kruger Robert Vaughn Niels Clausnitzer
Sergeant "Angel" Angelo Ben Gazzara Thomas Bride
Major Barnes Bradford Dillman Manfred Schott
Brigadier General Shinner EG Marshall Leo Bardischewski
Colonel General von Brock Peter van Eyck Heinz Engelmann
Captain Carl Schmidt Hans Christian Blech Hans Christian Blech
City councilor Holzgang, NSDAP - district leader Heinz Reincke Heinz Reincke
Greta Holzgang Sonja Ziemann Sonja Ziemann
Young French woman Anna Gaël Gudrun Vaupel
Captain Otto Baumann Joachim Hansen Joachim Hansen
Corporal Grebs Bo Hopkins Gerhart Lippert
Corporal Jellicoe Matt Clark Werner Uschkurat
Colonel Dent Fritz Ford Manfred Andrae
Private Slavek Steve Sandor Norbert Gastell
SS General Gerlach Günter Meisner Reinhard Glemnitz
General von Stürmer Richard Münch Richard Münch
Lieutenant Eckert Jan Schánilec Til Kiwe
Driver Wilhelm Rolf Jahncke Willy Friedrichs


  • The film lexicon of TV Spielfilm describes the film as a "war drama with the usual ingredients."
  • Moviemaster becomes even clearer: “The title“ anti-war film ”really doesn't deserve“ Die Brücke von Remagen ”. The military strategies are described soberly and unfortunately there are too many battle scenes. With these, director Guillermin is obviously trying to cover up the weak script by Richard Yates and William Roberts at times. But unfortunately in vain, because in the end the film lacks stringency. "
  • The two thousand and one lexicon of international film treats the work in a more friendly way : “A staging that strives for historical accuracy and objectivity, cleverly fills familiar clichés and types with life of their own. The film, which works with immense effort, strives largely successfully to emphasize the mercilessness of war and to avoid heroism. "
  • Adolf Heinzlmeier and Berndt Schulz rate the film in their lexicon "Films on TV" with 2½ stars (= above average) and say: "[...]; precisely staged military sandpit game with an impressive star line-up. "

Web links

References and comments

  1. a b c d Then and Now - Crossing the Rhine . Battle of Britain Prints International, London 1985, German translation from the series After the Battle , pp. 42–45
  2. from Then and Now - The crossing of the Rhine , probably meant August 21, 1968
  3. Remagen: Hollywood's Cursed Bridge at, March 8, 2015, inserted February 7, 2016
  4. Wolfgang Gückelhorn: Archeology of World War II on the Middle Rhine , Part I. Helios Publishing and Book Distribution Company, Aachen 2007, ISBN 978-3-938208-58-8 , p. 39 ff.
  5. Manfred Michler: The darned bridge . Verlag Gerstmair, Würzburg 1981, pp. 38 and 46.
  6. Lothar Brüne, Jakob Weiler: Remagen in March 1945 - A documentation on the final phase of the Second World War . Peace Museum “Bridge of Remagen e. V. “, Remagen 1993, ISBN 3-9803385-9-2 .
  7. Die Bruecke von Remagen (1968) in the synchronous database of Arne Kaul; Retrieved November 1, 2008
  8. ^ Film lexicon from TV Spielfilm , accessed on March 15, 2007.
  9. ^ Moviemaster , accessed March 15, 2007.
  10. The Remagen Bridge. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  11. ^ Adolf Heinzlmeier , Berndt Schulz : Lexicon "Films on TV" . Extended new edition. Rasch and Röhring, Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-89136-392-3 , p. 112