Film Memoir Offers Rare German Perspective of WWII

Joseph Cahn's picture


The Unimaginable Journey of Peter Ertel


Eight years ago, I set out to film an interview with a 95 year old man who, I was told, had a very interesting personal history. My goal at the time was to capture his story for archiving in the Veterans History Project. The result of over 20 hours of interviews instead became The Unimaginable Journey of Peter Ertel, an award-winning documentary about the extraordinary odyssey of a reluctant German soldier during World War II who defied overwhelming odds against his survival and became a U.S. Government agent. 

Throughout the film, Peter Ertel recounts his remarkable life story with unflinching honesty and raw emotion - from his days as a "very unsoldierlike" draftee whose open disdain of fhe Nazis lands him on the Gestapo's blacklist, through the history-shaping battles he survives, most notably the Battle of Moscow and the Battle of Normandy where he is fatefully captured by American troops. Sent to a POW camp in Alabama, he is one of a select few recruited to assist in rebuilding Germany as a functioning democracy.  After serving as a Special Advisor to the U.S. Military Government in postwar Germany, he immigrates to the U.S. and begins a 25-year career at a small Ohio company owned by Orthodox Jews.  Featuring rare archival footage, much of which has never been shown before, "The Unimaginable Journey of Peter Ertel" presents a rare, first-person German perspective of the war with unprecedented intimacy and candor. 

If you teach a course in Oral History, we offer a free preview of the film for you to evaluate for use in your curriculum. Just request the preview using our Contact form (or e-mail us), making sure to identify your institution, and we will promptly send you the link and password to watch the full movie online.
Watch the trailer and read some testimonials about the film. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Joe Cahn



"Remarkable...A must see for anyone interested in World War II"    - Library Journal       

"A provocative and emotionally enriching life story.  Highly Recommended"   - Video Librarian

"Beautifully done"   - Military Times

Winner - Best of the Fest Award, 2017 Chagrin Documentary Film Festival
Winner - Founders' Choice Award (top honors), 2016 G.I. Film Festival
Winner - Local Heroes Competition, 2017 Cleveland International Film Festival


The Unimaginable Journey of Peter Ertel (2017)  / 104 min. / English w/English subtitles 

Produced & Directed by Joseph Cahn  


Victory Films