The Green Devils of Monte Cassino

The Green Devils of Monte Cassino (German: Die grünen Teufel von Monte Cassino) is a 1958 French–German war film directed by Harald Reinl and starring Dieter Eppler, Joachim Fuchsberger, Antje Geerk and Ewald Balser.[1] The film is a fictional love story framed by actual historic events surrounding the Battle of Monte Cassino and the evacuation of its stores of art treasures. The title refers to the "Green Devils", Germany's World War II paratroopers.

The Green Devils of Monte Cassino
The Green Devils of Monte Cassino.jpg
Directed byHarald Reinl
Produced byFranz Seitz
Written by
Music byRolf A. Wilhelm
CinematographyErnst W. Kalinke
Edited by
Franz Seitz Filmproduktion
Distributed byConstantin Film
Release date
  • 23 April 1958 (1958-04-23)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryWest Germany

Plot summaryEdit

Summer, 1943. After long and arduous duty at the Eastern Front, the 1. Fallschirmjägerdivision is dropped off by parachute at Avignon for recuperation. Several paratroopers are injured during the jump, including Oberjäger Karl Christiansen, a former infantry Fähnrich who detests the war and was demoted for refusing to execute a captured enemy soldier. At the hospital he meets Inge, a nurse, and the two fall in love. However, Reiter, an Oberleutnant of the division, has taken a fancy on Inge as well.

Right after their arrival, the paratroopers and Inge's hospital corps are re-assigned to combat duty in Italy. They receive the order to occupy and secure the area of Monte Cassino, including the nearby town, but not the monastery at the top of the hill, which is meant to shelter the evacuated townspeople and historical art treasures from the surrounding communities. Soon the Allies mount an attack campaign on their position. Upon learning about the art treasures stored in the abbey, Oberstleutnant Julius Schlegel, about to be sent back home for heart issues, decides on his own initiative to save the priceless artefacts, and after much arguing convinces the abbot to permit their evacuation to Rome into the custody of the Vatican. However, Allied radio propaganda claims that the Germans are in fact plundering the treasures, and the news quickly spreads among the Cassino townspeople and German command. Still, despite the threat of arrest and execution, Schlegel's division commander officially grants him permission and support for the operation.

In the meantime, Karl and Reiter reunite with Inge, of whose presence they have just learned, which sparks jealously in the Oberleutnant. Additionally, partisan activity has increased against the alleged plundering. The final transport is to commence the following night, with Karl assigned as an escort and Inge going along to request medical supplies. For intercepting the convoy, local resistance member Fausto asks his friend Gina to retrieve a submachine gun from its hiding place in her house, which is occupied by Reiter. Reiter catches her in the act, and in order to avoid suspicion, Gina sleeps with him, but then Reiter finds the gun and forces Gina to confess. Then he and the rest of the division arrive to thwart a resistance attack on the convoy, and Fausto is captured. Reiter orders Karl to execute him, but Karl only pretends to do so, letting Fausto go. In return for this gesture, Fausto stops the resistance from conducting further attacks, and the convoy safely delivers its precious cargo to the Vatican.

In February the next year, a major Allied attack commences, in whose course the abbey is hit and destroyed by Allied bombs. Most of the civilian survivors - excluding Inge, Gina (forcibly made Reiter's mistress) and several wounded and children - evacuate the ruins, which are then used by the German paratroopers as a fortified position. Gina loses her life in an artillery barrage, and the next night Reiter is killed while on his way to a remotedly stationed battalion. The German defenders are eventually overwhelmed and Monte Cassino captured by the Allies. Karl and Inge both survive the war and, after its conclusion, visit the graves of the fallen at the foot of the fully restored monastery.



The film was shot at the Bavaria Studios in Munich. The film's sets were designed by Arne Flekstad and Bruno Monden.


  1. ^ Bock & Bergfelder p. 389


  • Bock, Hans-Michael; Bergfelder, Tim, eds. (2009). The Concise Cinegraph: Encyclopaedia of German Cinema. New York: Berghahn Books. ISBN 978-1-57181-655-9.

External linksEdit