Amazon’s hit series Hunters has brought about lots of discussions and controversy regarding the factual evidence within the story of a group of Nazi-Hunters in 1977 New York City. So what is real and what is pure fiction? Whether you’ve seen the series or not, this list will give a definitive separation of what’s fact and what’s fiction, which is always good to know. After doing some research you’ll see below that the majority of ideas or concepts are true, but many of the specific details and events within those ideas were untrue and created solely for the show, but you may find there are plenty of details you never knew about post-WWII, I certainly learned a lot!
1. Hunters’ Truth: Operation Paperclip
Yes, very very true. Operation Paperclip was designed so that the US could gain an advantage over Russia during the Cold War. They figured that if they didn’t get to the Nazis then Russia would, obtaining important information in the process. More than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians, such as Wernher von Braun, were taken from Germany to the United States, for U.S. government employment, primarily between 1945 and 1959. Many were former members, and some were former leaders, of the Nazi Party. President Truman officially approved Operation Paperclip on September 3, 1946, expanding it to include one thousand German scientists under “temporary, limited military custody.” Ironically, the USSR was able to bring in over 2,000 German scientists, engineers, and technicians despite the US’s efforts.
2. Truth and Untruth: The Hunters
Yes, there were hunters looking for Nazis, whether they be violent ones or more justice-seeking hunters by becoming lawyers and such. But there wasn’t a known group at all resembling the team presented in the show – or not one we know of.
Groups such as Mossad and Nakam hunted down Nazi war criminals who had escaped justice, many having left Europe altogether to countries like Argentina. Mossad was the group who brought Adolph Eichmann to trial in Israel while Nakam, the more violent group, tried to kill as many Nazis as possible, going out of their way to poison bread sent into a detention center for German SS members (though they were unsuccessful).
3. Untruth: The Wolf
Though there were especially inhumane Nazis torturing Jews at Auschwitz, “The Wolf” as described by Meyer Offerman (Al Pacino) is the worst of the worst and was a Doctor who brought Offerman the most pain during his time at the concentration camp. The only thing is, “The Wolf” never existed in real life. There were awful and infamous doctors there, but this particular antagonist was created for Offerman’s character alone.
4. Truth: Swiss Banks
Switzerland has been known for its “neutralness,” standing as a safe haven of sorts for many. Yet they couldn’t help themselves from dealing with the Nazi regime on a financial basis. Switzerland laundered hundreds of millions in money and assets that Nazi officials had plundered from their Jewish victims, and though many Jews went out to deposit their goods at Swiss banks for safekeeping, Switzerland was unwilling to let runaway Jews come into their items.
Video: Rendezvous At The Premiere of ‘Hunters’
Years later, thanks to their laws, “Swiss banks managed to attract and retain the assets that Jews managed to smuggle out, and much of what they did not.”
5. Untruth – Underground Hoard of Valuables
As mentioned, the Swiss Banks and their actions caused major pain for many people, especially the Jews. But a fictional aspect is the underground hoard of valuables underneath a Swiss Bank in NYC. There were plenty of goods and art found around the world, though not in America.
6. Truth and Untruth: Werner Von Braun
Fact: Werner was the Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center for many years, and yes, was a beneficiary of Operation Paperclip, since being a former member of both the SS and the Nazi Party. He helped design many spacecrafts during his time in America but before that created similar rockets in Germany using concentration camps as his laborers.
Did he fake his own death? No. That is very much made up for the series.
Related article: Video: ‘The Irishman’ – Rendezvous At The Premiere of Netflix’s Oscar Buzzed & Golden Globes Nominated Film With Reactions From Martin Scorsese, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci & Team
7. Untruth – Singing Competition & Nazi Chess Match
Simply put, the Nazis never did this to prisoners. They did awful things to those locked away, some even quite strange, but a singing competition where only the winner survives was not one of them.
Ah. The chess match. Yes, there has been much controversy over the show’s use of a Nazi official setting up a man-sized chessboard and using prisoners to play the game, forcing them to actually kill each other.
This was most definitely a false presentation. And I most certainly understand the backlash the show has faced. However, the show clearly wasn’t trying to be a biopic or a historical accurate take from the get-go, but as the creator said, “a love letter” to his grandmother who was a Holocaust survivor.
8. Truth – Simon Wiesenthal
Simon Wiesenthal was very much a real person and did just what the show portrayed him to do by creating the Simon Wiesenthal Center with the belief that the center could help track nazi crimes and bring justice to the escaped criminals. The center is still alive and well today studying past events with the Holocaust while fighting anti-semitism and hate among other things.
Hunters is a dramatic historical-fiction that was clearly created as a tense action series and not a true re-telling of famed hunters in any way, but there are nuggets to be learned and as a television series, deserves a positive review. That said unless you do your research, it could be hard to tell the difference between fact and fiction, so I advise all who watch to see those changes of what happened and what was created to boost a fictional story.
This show excellently brings to light the fact that the horrors of Nazi actions happened in the recent past. We must never forget the darkness that extremists can bring. We must stay vigilant and be against all forms of extremism.
Created by David Weil
Starring Al Pacino, Logan Lerman, Kate Mulvany, Tiffany Boone, Carol Kane, Saul Rubinek, Josh Radnor, Louis Ozawa Changchien, Jerrika Hinton, Greg Austin, Dylan Baker, Lena Olin
Composer(s) Cristobal Tapia de Veer
Executive producer(s) Jordan Peele, David Weil, Tom Lesinski, Jenna Santoianni, Win Rosenfeld, Nikki Toscano
By Merrick Sinclair
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Merrick Sinclair is a film journalist with a passion for cinema, Hollywood and filmmaking since a young age. Merrick focuses on reviews and features here at Hollywood Insider, and takes careful thought as to the impact cinema has on culture and what that means for us. Whether they be old or new, blockbuster or independent, Merrick understands the role movies have on society and how each individual has their own unique experience with movies. Merrick hopes to unpack his observations with clarity for readers while allowing them to walk away with their own opinions on any given topic.