Rauch Brothers Germans in the Woods

86-year-old World War II veteran Joseph Robertson fought at the Battle of the Bulge. Over 60 years later, he still can’t forget one soldier he killed there. Rauch Brothers and StoryCorp have put his story into animation in “Germans in the Woods”, a short film. 86-year-old World War II veteran Joseph Robertson fought for the Allies at the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler’s last major offensive. Amidst fierce combat and harsh winter weather, both the Germans and the Allies suffered heavy casualties. But Mr. Robertson has never been able to forget one young soldier he killed there. In July 2005, he shared this memory with son-in-law John Fish, Jr. at a StoryCorps MobileBooth in Columbus, Ohio.

Germans in the Woods Story in Storycorp Booth


Animation was directed by Tim Rauch and produced by Mike Rauch, at Rauch Brothers Animation, with audio producer Michael Garofalo.

Germans in the Woods was designed like a black and white war photograph, with atmospheric backgrounds. The film’s background art was built from pen drawings, ink washes, and scans of textures – like eraser shavings and denim – found around the Rauch Brothers studio. Background elements were separated into layers so they could be manipulated in each frame, creating more dynamic mood and motion.

StoryCorps is a nonprofit organization that has helped more than 50000 Americans record their stories. StoryCorps staff included interviewer John Fish, Jr., senior producer Sarah Kramer, executive producer Dave Isay.

Germans in the Woods won 2nd place at the Independent Film ASIFA-East Animation Festival, appeared in the Rhode Island International Film Festival, and was selected for the Palm Springs International ShortFest.

Joseph Robertson joined the National Guard in 1935. During World War II, he served in Europe as part of the 30th Infantry Division. He was the only one in his division who wasn’t killed, captured or wounded. In 1961, after 26 years of service in the Army, Mr. Robertson retired. The German Soldier was a member of the Hitler Youth. As the war ended, Hitler Youth, ages 10-18, were used to fill the Nazi’s desperate need for manpower. The young soldiers died in the thousands, often fighting suicidally to the death.

The Battle of the Bulge is the English language name given to the Ardennes Offensive, 16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945, a major German offensive launched towards the end of World War II through the forested Ardennes Mountains region of Belgium.

Filed under: Short Film