Film Info: Panzer gegen Polen

Tanks Against Poland (Panzer gegen Polen)

Tanks Against Poland
Scene from "Tanks Against Poland" (photo © Denise Járnovics/ariane-film)

Summer 1980. Poland is in the midst of a serious political and economic crisis. Prior to this, the country has experienced a boom thanks to foreign loans, but now the People’s Republic is heavily in debt to the West and the real income of the population has dropped. Everyday provisions are becoming scarcer, and strikes and workers’ protests eventually culminate in the foundation of Solidarnosc.
The events in Poland are particularly significant for Germany. Relations between the German Democratic Republic and the People’s Republic of Poland are now beginning to get very tense: the impact of Polish opposition means the existence of the GDR, including the Berlin Wall and the rule of the SED, may be thrown into question. Indeed, the GDR head of state Erich Honecker immediately perceives the strikes in Poland as a domestic threat and fears that Poland will become a “gateway” into the GDR for the Federal Republic of Germany. Honecker explains: “We are not in favor of bloodshed. That is the last resort. But it will be necessary to use this last resort if the rule of the workers and peasants needs defending.”

The documentary Tanks Against Poland recounts the circumstances behind the threatened invasion of Poland by East German military troops in 1980/1981: 35 years after the end of the Second World War, the intention is for German troops to march into Poland again...! Does the initiative even come from East Berlin rather than Moscow? Autumn 1980 is the start of a political thriller that almost leads the world to the brink of another war.


Henry Köhler was born in 1964 in Leipzig. He studied Directing at the University of Film & Television "Konrad Wolf" in Postdam-Babelsberg from 1986-1991. Since then, he has been active as a freelance writer and director for the public broadcasters ARD and ZDF. From 1999-2004 he worked as an editor for SPIEGEL TV. His films include: Der Krieg war aus und niemand kam (1992), Beutekunst - vernichtet, verschollen, vermarktet (1993), Die Bombe (1995), Nürnberg - Die Nachfolgeprozesse (1997), Hitlers Helfer - Freisler - Der Hinrichter (1998), Der Tunnel - Die wahre Geschichte (2000), Die Frauen der Nazis (2001), Stalingrad - ein deutsches Drama (2003), Life Behind the Wall (2005), Ermordet in Afrika (2006), Operation Skorpion - Eine Frau im Visier des KGB (2008), and Panzer gegen Polen (2010), among others.
Genre History
Category Documentary
Year of Production 2010
Director Henry Köhler
Screenplay Henry Köhler
Cinematography Wolfgang Lindig
Steffen Hegner
Cast Helmut Schmidt, Wojciech Jaruzelski, Christoph Dieckmann, Horst Neubauer, Helmut Müller, Hans-Joachim Jentzsch, Klaus Wiegand, Torsten Meier
Producer Christian Schulzki
Production Company Ariane-Film/Leipzig, in co-production with MDR/Leipzig, ARTE
Length 52 min
Format HDCAM, color
Dubbed Versions French
Original Version
 German
Sound Technology Stereo

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