Documentary Retroview: THE END OF AMERICA (2008)

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The End Of America presents the ten step blueprint that Hitler and other dictators used to subvert democratic process and put an end to personal freedoms. It compares, step by step, events leading up to establishment of the Third Reich with what has happened in the United States in recent years. Very convincing. Very scary. Should be required viewing for anyone old enough to vote or join the army.


That’s the question that’s posed and answered in The End of America, the smartly structured and thoroughly researched documentary, as co-directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg. Structurally, the film follows author Naomi Wolf on a lecture tour based on her book, The End Of America.

Yes, that’s the same title as the film’s, and the thesis of both book and film are also the same–that changes made to the American legal process during the eight or so years before the film’s release in 2008. Additionally, the documentary shows that the concurrent injection of fear-inducing ideas into the way Americans view the nation and wider world are just about the same as those leading up to the establishment of the Third Reich in German, and other abhorrent dictatorships.


Wolf presents what she refers to as the ten step blueprint to establishing dictatorship. Put simply, they are:

  • Create an internal/external threat that terrorizes the populace.
  • Create secret prisons, with torture.
  • Create a paramilitary force.
  • Single out ordinary citizens as ‘troublesome persons.’
  • Establish surveillance of citizens’ groups and ordinary citizens deemed ‘troublesome.’
  • Detain and release citizens without formally charging them with any crime.
  • Target key individuals who are well known, popular figures.
  • Restrict the press.
  • Redefine dissent as treason
  • Subvert the rule of law.

Could all that happen in America? Yes, says Wolf, and her points are substantiated by the filmmakers’ research. Archival footage, documents, interviews with numerous eyewitnesses provide clear evidence that the American Constitution has been undermined, subverted, all but undone.


Calling domestic security ‘Homeland Security’ is, says Wolf, a page out of Hitler’s book–Heimatland (German for homeland) is the Nazi terminology. The military prison at Guantanamo was kept secret, and torture was used on detainees. Blackwater, the mercenary outfit with close ties to the Bush administration, is a paramilitary group similar to Hitler’s brownshirts. Ordinary U.S. citizens are ‘listed’ for special security searches at airports. The Dixie Chicks (who commented they’re ashamed George Bush is from Texas, an episode that was chronicled in the documentary, Shut Up And Sing) and Dan Rather (for his investigative reporting) were singled out and discredited. And the list of examples goes on.

Even if you’re not inclined to be critical of the government or to jump on political bandwagons, this film will convince you that our personal freedoms, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, are in jeopardy. The supporting evidence–including testimony by General James Cullen (retired Chief Judge of the Army) and other credible sources–is irrefutable.

But see The End of America for yourself and make your own judgement. Then think about the challenge the film poses in the end: are you going to do anything about it? And, if so, what? And how? The film was released in 2008, but it is currently available on DVD. The questions it raises are still timely.


Title: The End of America
Directors: Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg
U.S. Theatrical Release Date: December 3, 2008
Running Time: 86 mins.
Parental Advisory: Content advisory for parents
Locations: New York City, USA
Language: English
Production Country: USA
Production Companies: Impact Partners, Katahdin Productions
Distribution Company: IndiePix, SnagFilms

EDITOR’S NOTE: This review was originally published on November 9, 2016.

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