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ZDF Enterprises to co-produce groundbreaking history series 'Beyond the Myth: The SS Unveiled'

Mainz, January 14th, 2021

ZDF Enterprises has announced the production of Beyond the Myth: The SS Unveiled, a powerful, landmark documentary that explores the dark secrets of the Nazis’ elite forces and its key personalities. The six-part series is produced by the award-winning production company Cinecentrum for ZDF, and global distributor ZDF Enterprises.

Shedding new light on the objectives and methods of the SS, Beyond the Myth: The SS Unveiled (6 x 50’) uncovers a surprising, gripping and shocking portrait of the organisation. The series delves deep into the annals of the SS to find out where the truths end and the myths begin and investigates the men behind it from a different, personal perspective.

Ralf Rueckauer, Vice-President ZDFE.unscripted, ZDF Enterprises, said: “This series on the SS is like no other. It is hard-hitting and honest and doesn’t shy away from exposing the horrific reality of Hitler’s most infamous unit.”

Previously unpublished material, archive interviews, diaries, recordings, personal letters from perpetrators and victims offer a fascinating insight into the history of the SS. Over a dozen internationally renowned experts, such as Historians Moshe Zimmermann (Hebrew University, Jerusalem), Richard J Evans (Wolfson College, Cambridge) and Adam Tooze (Columbia University, NY) as well as Ben Ferencz, the last surviving co-prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, all contribute to the series.

Murderous and merciless, how could the extreme injustices of the SS become established and what was the ideology and where did it come from? Who were the perpetrators and how could apparently ‘normal’ people: loving fathers, husbands and friends turn into mass murderers and brutal executioners? The series starts off by looking at Hitler’s relationship with the SS and its role in supporting him, ultimately becoming one of the Reich’s primary power units. It sheds light on how the SS planned to secure a new generation of devotees from an early age. A meticulously planned and well-oiled machinery of power emerges.

The documentary goes on to examine Heinrich Himmler’s background and his defining role in the formation and development of the unit. Himmler carefully integrated his outlandish ideals of breeding ‘Aryan’ model citizens, into the organisational structure and was behind the SS’s darkest tasks. Episode 3 focuses on the ruthlessness of Reinhard Heydrich: a loving father, husband and talented musician who recruited a network of informers and was responsible for the burning of synagogues amongst many other atrocities.

By the end of the war the Waffen-SS, instigators of some of the worst massacres, encompassed 915,000 men. With the majority being foreign nationals, the 4th episode looks at this paradox. Men, deemed to be ‘racially acceptable’, were selected in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, France, Ukraine and Russia and in the Balkans, a unit of Bosnian Muslims.

Beyond the Myth: The SS Unveiled continues by examining how the SS became the enabler and enforcer of concentration camps. For the unit, which included women in their ranks, running the camps with all the associated death and brutality, became the normality. Ordinary people turned into murderers and abusers, how did they manage to bridge the gulf between horror and home-life?

The final episode tells the story of SS members on the run at the end of the war. Guilty of atrocious war crimes, some managed to flee and escape persecution while others were tracked down and brought to justice. Incredibly, a surprising number of SS-members managed to have impressive careers in politics, public life, even intelligence services, and were paid pensions by the German State. Undoubtedly, many a SS-perpetrator literally got away with murder.


About ZDF Enterprises
ZDF Enterprises was founded in 1993 as a commercial subsidiary of ZDF, one of the largest and most renowned TV broadcasters in Europe. Headquartered in Mainz, Germany, ZDF Enterprises is responsible for the worldwide sale of programs, the making of international coproductions, the acquisition of licenses as well as the merchandising of strong program brands in its own name, for the ZDF, and for third parties. ZDF Enterprises has successfully established itself as an independent market player on the German and international stage. Bound into a strong group, the company manages the largest German-language stock of programs in the world and, next to this, a continuously growing portfolio of international productions consisting of series and miniseries, TV movies, documentaries and children’s programs. In the course of the development and diversification process carried out up to now, many business fields in the television and media domains were made accessible in the ZDF Enterprises group. Thus ZDF Enterprises can provide a comprehensive, full-service offering today, and covers every step in the chain of origin and exploitation of successful TV programs, from development to production and up to the marketing of TV licenses, merchandising rights, online rights and much more.

Contact ZDF Enterprises
Christine Denilauler (Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications), ZDF Enterprises GmbH, Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1, D-55127 Mainz/Germany, Tel.: +49 6131-9911130, Fax: +49 6131-9912130, e-mail:,


Christine Denilauler

Christine Denilauler

Vice President Marketing and Corporate Communications

+49 (0) 6131 / 991–1130
+49 (0) 6131 / 991–2130
ZDF Enterprises GmbH
Erich-Dombrowski-Str. 1
55127 Mainz | Germany


KZ Birkenau