In the final months of World War II, a unique team of motion picture professionals loaded their cameras with color film, and fanned out across Europe to document the final struggle against Hitler’s Nazi Germany. From the air war over Germany, to the crossing of the Rhine, to the liberation of the concentration camps, to the Allied capture of Hitler’s mountain top retreat at Berchtesgaden, the officers and men of Special Film Project 186 far exceeded their orders to “photograph the impact of air power on the enemy.” They captured a continent in chaos, and the toll it took on victor and vanquished.
The Air Force wanted the footage for a feature length documentary it planned to release to the public, but by war’s end the $1 million price tag was just too much for a country weary of war. The 120,000 feet of exposed 16mm color film—a total of 55 hours--was labeled “Top Secret,” and shelved in government archives. The thirty cameramen who had risked their lives to capture it returned to civilian life, their story untold.
This is the story of the officers and men of Special Film Project 186, whose unique witness to history can now be shared through the documentary “Chasing Hitler: The Untold Story of Special Film Project 186.”