World War III (Der Dritte Weltkrieg) is a 1998 German television ZDF's mockumentary, directed by Robert Stone. It depicts what might have transpired had Soviet troops opened fire on demonstrators in Berlin in the fall of 1989 and precipitated a World War III. The film mixes real footage of world leaders such as Helmut Kohl and Mikhail Gorbachev with mock interviews of citizens, soldiers and political aides.
Meanwhile, Mikhail Gorbachev's plane fails to arrive safely in Moscow, and the Soviet Union's leader is presumed dead, allowing hardliners to seize power. As civil unrest in the GDR reaches a critical level, the new Soviet leadership decides to suppress it with force. The NATO high command notices the mobilization of GDR troops and the redeployment of other Warsaw Pact forces, including a blockade of West berlin. Fearing an impeding attack on that city or West Germany, it also mobilizes, leading to the first military action when reinforcements clash with another Soviet blockade in the Atlantic Ocean. The situation escalates when forces of the Warsaw Pact enter West Germany from the Baltic Sea and at the Fulda Gap. They are eventually stopped and forced to retreat to the Polish border, leaving NATO forces in control of Berlin and most of East Germany.
Soviet surveillance systems detect unverified ICBM launches (as they were prone to in reality) but due to the escalated situation the new leader, fearing the worst, decides not to wait for additional verification. The movie ends with a mock live report in front of the White House with air raid sirens heard in the background. The frantic journalist reports rumors of a Soviet attack and of a nuclear counterstrike authorized by the President of the United States. Video and audio is cut in mid-sentence, leaving only the snow of a lost signal onscreen.