The Meaning of Hitler (2020) Movie Script

This film begins with a book.
The kind you find
displayed next to the register,
an impulse buy
for uncertain times.
The dystopian book of the week,
suggested reading for
the coming catastrophe.
The cover catering to our
deepest fears and anxieties.
The title loudly
promising answers
to urgent questions
during daily commutes.
The Meaning Of Hitler
by Sebastian Haffner.
Hitler never had nor
sought an occupation;
on the contrary,
he positively avoided one.
His shyness of occupation
is as striking a trait
as his shyness of
marriage or intimacy.
He did not wish to be
the first servant of the state
but der Fuhrer,
an absolute master.
And he perceived correctly that
absolute rule was not possible
in an intact state organism
but only amidst
controlled chaos.
That was why from the outset,
"he replaced the
states with chaos."
You undermine the
institutions of the state
because that magnifies
your own position.
Everything's dependent on you.
You might as well get onto
his similarities with Trump.
We begin with the
novelist Martin Amis.
He's been thinking
about Hitler a lot lately.
The similarities are,
in fact, an odd lot
between Trump and Hitler.
cleanliness is one trait
and, of course,
lying is another.
Here was a head of
state who didn't mind lying.
There is no downside to lying.
It's terrific at first
because it looks for a moment
as if everything is possible.
My understanding is
you wanna clear the air
'cause you think you're
being unfavorably compared
to Donald Trump.
Don't get me wrong, Conan.
I agree with a lot he says, a lot.
Like 90% of what he says,
I'm like, "This guy gets it."
Perhaps the most
extraordinary thing about Hitler
is how he resists understanding.
And there's not one historian,
apart from Haffner,
who claims to understand it.
Born in Berlin in 1907,
Sebastian Haffner witnessed
Hitler come to power.
For Haffner,
Hitler was the original radical loser,
a man whose whole identity
was staked on a
fanatical project,
born from the radicalization
of his and his followers'
perceived victimhood.
In 1940, Haffner observed
that for the world to
be done with Hitler,
it had to kill not just the man,
but the legend as well.
As the newspaper
Der Spiegel put it,
- "Hitler is here again."
- Was he a martyr to German nationalism?
Was he something of a
German Jesse James?
Fast forward four decades,
wary of cultural amnesia,
Haffner aimed
to kill the legend.
"Hitler lived from April 20th,
until April 30th, 1945.
For 30 years,
he was an obscure failure.
Then almost overnight,
a local celebrity
and eventually the
man around whom
the whole of world
policy revolved.
"How does that go together?"
Uh, I don't really know.
I don't think anyone knows.
you cannot put Hitler
on a psychologist's couch.
Maybe I could start by the
fact that in the course of history,
Hitler has been assigned almost any
psychiatric diagnosis that's available.
Why can't he make appointments
like any normal person?
Because, my dear Anna,
our patient is not
exactly a normal person.
Oedipus complex, megalomania.
Bipolar disorder or schizophrenic
and also as hysterical.
So, I think any psychiatric
diagnosis has been assigned to him.
Our understanding
of Hitler is central
to our self-understanding.
It's a reckoning
you have to make
if you're a serious person.
And if anyone can advance
the understanding of Hitler
by so much as a millimeter,
then that is well
worth undertaking.
Well, good luck.
I mean...
He has no... not a chance
because I think there is
such a num... such a vast
conjunction of reasons,
of factors.
Historians are endlessly arguing
about the past and
the meaning of the past.
There isn't any consensus on many,
many issues.
It was at this point
that we began to
question the wisdom
of making a film called
The Meaning of Hitler,
because you can't begin to
understand the meaning of Hitler
without first understanding
the meaning of history itself.
Professor Saul
Friedlander would know.
He's spent the
better part of his life
studying Hitler
and the Holocaust.
He was born Pavel in Prague,
baptized Paul in France,
renamed Shaul in Palestine,
and is now simply
Saul in California.
Understanding Hitler is,
in my opinion, not the problem.
We are drawn towards Nazis
and towards the
personality of Hitler
and that, I think,
is the main problem.
- Heil, do you know me?
- I'm fighting for Germany!
My whole life has been one
long struggle for Germany!
Adolf Hitler.
Hollywood has
always loved Hitler,
but the most famous Hitler film
is the one he
commissioned about himself.
Triumph of the Will,
Leni Riefenstahl's
propaganda film
about the 1934 Nuremberg Rally
is arguably the most recycled
and imitated film in history.
The Nuremberg Rally
was a kind of work of art.
It was kind of performance art.
It's very aesthetic.
The lighting,
the fire-lit faces of those young men.
When Hitler's plane is coming in,
the shadow of his little plane
is being cast on the spires
and rooftops of Nuremberg.
It's pure kitsch.
But if you knew nothing,
I think you really might think,
"How beautiful."
It's like the Rockettes or something.
It's like, you know, Radio City.
It's so... I mean, if it's divorced
from its origins and its purpose,
it's this kind of
gorgeous pageantry,
but the minute you know anything,
it makes your flesh creep.
The Nazis understood
that martyrdom and death
were much more
potent than "long live life"
because it was much closer to
religious... to a religious feeling
and a sense of eternity,
in a way.
The Nazis had a feeling
that they were acting
in some huge historical play
for the future, for history,
and then people
will remember this
for the next centuries
and centuries.
That's the Wagnerian
sense of him.
He was speaking of a performance
but a performance for eternity in a way,
you see?
Adolf Hitler.
If you switch on German TV,
you have a 95% chance
to get a Hitler documentary.
- Hitler's Friends.
- Hitler in Private.
Hitler's Household.
The Ten Things You
Didn't Know About Hitler,
and it's always the ten things
you already know about Hitler.
Call it the Hitler Channel.
We've seen Hitler's dogs,
his women, his cars,
his food, his generals,
his secretaries, his secret weapons
and his drug habits,
never before seen footage
in glorious color.
Fascinating fascism.
Has history lost all meaning?
Which begs the question,
is it possible to
make a film like this
without contributing
to the expansion
of the Nazi cinematic universe?
I mean, the images you can
show are very well known.
it would be redundant in many ways
and it's all propaganda.
After the war,
all Nazi monuments
were destroyed,
but the images live on,
each and every frame
a tribute to Nazism.
This is the spell of fascination
we were warned about,
where propaganda is
repackaged as reality,
sensation is confused
with meaning,
and the Nazi past is normalized.
- Hitler did nothing wrong.
- Hitler did nothing wrong.
Hitler actually wasn't that bad.
Hitler was right.
What we are saying
is that this image
of National Socialism
and of Hitler,
ultimately has a greater impact
on the minds and the emotions
of younger generations today
Is that what you were saying?
Momentarily rid of the impulse
to make yet
another archival film,
we wondered if there
was a better approach.
Perhaps we could come
closer to understanding
the meaning of Hitler
if we started at the source.
Doersheim, Austria,
Hitler's ancestral village
and the source of
much speculation.
Was Hitler abused as a child?
A sexual deviant?
Or was there some dark
secret in his family tree?
To control the many
rumors about his past,
Hitler simply erased it
and Doersheim was declared
a restricted military area.
But the question remains.
What made Hitler Hitler?
Part of the spell
of great evil doers
is that they do have
this capacity to astonish.
And you can't believe
anyone's going to behave
as demonically as that
and that in itself
confers a kind of aura.
"Hitler's life lacked everything
that normally lends weight,
warmth, and dignity
to a human life.
Education, occupation,
love and friendship,
marriage, parenthood.
There were a few women,
but he treated
them as unimportant
"and did not make them happy."
He liked his dog,
but tested a cyanide pill on it.
He got married 24 hours before he and
his wife went through with a suicide pact.
I mean,
it's almost like a travesty
of what human relationships are.
"Hitler had no friends."
He enjoyed sitting for hours
on end with subordinate staff,
drivers, bodyguards,
but he alone
did all the talking.
He refused to think
beyond his own lifespan.
Everything had to
happen through himself.
A continuous
readiness for suicide
accompanied Hitler
throughout his political career.
And at its end,
almost as a matter of course,
"stood a real suicide."
Yeah, we are standing
here in the middle of Berlin.
That's the Holocaust
Shoah Memorial over there
and here's the Mall of Berlin.
And yeah,
this is just a parking lot
with very unspectacular
prebuilt houses
and, well,
somewhere down below the ground is the...
My name is Enno Lenze
and I run the
Berlin Story Bunker
and the documentation
Hitler How Could It Happen?
I'm doing a lot of tours
with school classes here
and if you were born
like in the year 2000,
then it was 55 years ago.
So, it's like dinosaurs for you
and you would say,
"What do I have to do with it?"
Because you have
never heard of any war.
Often we really have
to explain what a war is
and what a bunker is
because they think a bunker
is a place which rich
people buy to set up lofts.
But there are many
questions like this like,
"Were you forced to be a Nazi?"
Or, especially, from the US,
people ask us,
"Why were the Nazis
able to invade Germany?"
So, yeah,
we're already beyond that point
that people lost
the meaning of Hitler
and it's really often
several times a day
that people ask us about,
"Are you sure that he's dead?"
If he's still alive,
he doesn't have jaws and teeth, so...
I'm Mark Benecke and
I'm a forensic biologist.
In the Fuhrerbunker,
there was one room and it had a sofa
and on the sofa Hitler and his wife,
Eva Hitler,
were just sitting
and then they killed themselves
by taking a cyanide capsule
and shooting themselves.
Stalin first said that Hitler poisoned
himself, his words, "like a wife."
Some people think that females
have a tendency to use poison
to kill themselves.
Instead of soldiers,
especially leading soldiers,
officers who are
supposed to kill themselves
manly with a bullet.
Many people think that
once you take cyanide,
it's like in a movie.
Your eyes start to roll,
which they don't,
or you gasp or you move.
None of this happens.
You just suffocate
because the oxygen cannot bind to
your blood anymore and then you die.
So, during that time,
you can still shoot,
write a letter or do
whatever you want
for half a minute or a minute.
Now, darling.
Hitler was taken outside
and wrapped in a blanket
and then they burned the body
because Hitler was very afraid
that his body would be
presented like a loser.
So, he said, "Okay, just destroy my body."
It's very child-like.
You know, like, "Okay,
I don't want to be shown."
"So, burn me."
But that it was just him.
There was a lot of
childishness in Hitler.
Suicidal ideation, as they call it,
was always with him.
He just... It's the
answer to everything.
The tap doesn't work.
I know what I'll do.
I'll blow my brains out.
Did you ever notice how
the door always closes
or the camera pans away right
before Hitler pulls the trigger?
Why does Hollywood grant Hitler
the kind of honorable death
that is never given
to his victims?
We see them suffer every
atrocity and humiliation on screen,
but Hitler is always allowed
to die on his own terms.
And so, his legend lives on.
Well, we are here in Braunau.
You can hear the bell.
It's number six among
Austrian bell towers.
Braunau is a small town,
about 17,000 inhabitants.
It's close to the
border to Germany.
The house behind me
is the place where
Adolf Hitler was born
on the 20th of April in 1889.
The family lived there for
only a short period of time.
It's sure that he was
born in this building
because there are other
opinions he was born
in another part of this complex,
which was a stable.
You know? A stable birth place?
But it's not true. Um...
That... it's...
- That would be very convenient, though.
Yeah, yes.
You have the
connection to another.
Yeah, it's... was...
there's a book, uh...
which had the title Braunau,
Bethlehem of the Third Reich.
Mm-hmm. It was an ordinary
house and it was an ordinary family
and he started his life there,
but he did not start his
career as a political criminal,
but it's connected.
You can't separate.
You can't cut his life
from his political career.
This stone was brought here
from the concentration
camp of Mauthausen.
This inscription is from
the... it's the political ideology.
It's the wording of the 1990s.
Maybe now we should have another
because the name
Hitler is not mentioned.
The authorities are
not hiding the fact.
But, uh, in my opinion,
they are not dealing in the proper way.
We have to deal
with the history,
but it's not fixed on
there on some bricks.
It's not only the building.
The building,
it's not as beautiful.
It's not a...
Well, it's a building,
but it's all the connection
in the brains of the people
who are coming here.
That's what we can influence.
Two doors down
from the Hitler house
is an Arab grocery store.
In 2015, Braunau was a hotspot
because we had thousands
and thousands of people
from Africa, from Syria,
who wanted to go to Germany.
Well, at this special time,
the people assisted
the immigrants.
They tried to to help them.
They welcome them.
But after a period of time,
people began to
think about the future.
If there really will come
thousands and
thousands of immigrants,
how to deal with this?
People are mostly
afraid of strangers
where there are
very few strangers.
Those people who have
no feelings of their borders
and put the borders of
the country as their own.
So, if you sit somewhere in
near of Berlin and the country,
and somebody on the
Italian or Austrian border
is pouring into Germany,
it's a threat to their skin.
It's a nationalist movement.
So, this is, once again,
a movement
to separate one country or
one community from the other.
Of course,
this is connected then
with trying to get a
distance to the Nazi time.
what the call the revision of history
is quite a central element
of right-wing
extremist thinking.
Say it loud, say it clear.
Refugees are welcome here.
Nazis out!
Wird sind das volk,
"we are the people,"
was the rallying cry
of these Germans
that led to the collapse
of the Berlin Wall.
But here the words don't unite.
They divide.
"Lunpresse," the lying press.
The enemy of the people.
This is the language of Nazism.
What is happening now
is the great replacement.
By mass migration,
by failed migration policy
you see a shift in
European demographics
in every Western
European nation.
In a few decades,
the populations will be replaced.
Nationalisms look for enemies.
This is true of 2018, '19,
just as it is of the beginning
of the 20th century.
Much has been made
of Hitler's time in Vienna,
especially by Hitler himself.
Hitler lived here,
here, here, here,
and here he lived in
a homeless shelter.
This is the art school he
famously failed to enter twice.
He's an artist,
but a failed artist
and I think that's worth
giving some thought to.
We're in the US Army's
Museum Support Center
at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.
You know the warehouse
at the end of Raiders
of the Lost Ark,
where the US
government stores artifacts
too dangerous to
see the light of day?
This is that place.
this is an oversized head of Adolf Hitler.
It came to us from
the Eagle's Nest.
When this piece was
examined by conservators,
they noted graffiti along
both sides of his neck,
um, and it has been removed.
But at one point,
somebody painted the word "fool"
on one side of his face
and an anatomically correct,
um, phallus on the other side.
So I never know
how to explain that.
You know? A portion of the male
anatomy on the other side of his face.
The army holds nearly 600 pieces
of confiscated art classified
as either propaganda
or dangerously promoting
Hitler and Nazism,
including work
by Hitler himself.
the four watercolors by Adolf Hitler
were a part of Heinrich
Hoffman's collection.
Heinrich Hoffmann was
Hitler's personal photographer.
And at the end of the war,
his collection of photographs
as well as these
four watercolors
were confiscated by the US Army.
This one here is the first
chronologically out of the four.
It was done during his period
as a street artist in Vienna
around 1910 or so.
Um, it portrays, you know,
a random street scene in Vienna.
There is one human figure,
portrayed right there in the center.
You know,
he has the attention to detail
that you might want
to see in an architect,
um, but, you know,
could he create this
if he was not
standing in front of it
or copying from a postcard?
Probably not.
If I were on the board
of the Vienna art school
when he applied,
and if he applied just based
on these four watercolors,
my feedback would be "I wanna
see more variety in your work."
You know, as an artist,
he was not that good.
He could have ended his
life as an unsuccessful artist,
just like Himmler could
have ended his life
as a chicken farmer,
which is something that he studied.
and Goebbels as a journalist at some paper.
But condition was such
that it made it possible
for people like that to represent
large numbers of people.
"According to his
account inMein Kampf,
the observation that
Jews were different
was enough for the conclusion,
'Because they are different,
they have to be removed.'"
A lot of what he talks
about in Mein Kampf
about his earlier life is
invented or imagined.
It's not factually reliable
but it is a clue to his ideology.
You can look at it and see quite a
lot of what he actually believes in.
Hitler believed every word
of what he was saying,
every word.
What is antisemitism?
Antisemitism is a
conspiracy theory.
And when social scientists
talk about conspiracy theories,
they're talking about something
that has no basis in rational fact.
You know, I was... if I was late
to this interview this morning,
and I'd tell you the traffic
on Broadway was horrendous
because they knew I was
coming to this interview
and the antisemites
were out there
to prevent me from getting here,
you'd say, "Cut,
this woman is nuts.
We'll go onto the next person."
You know,
think about the charges
that the antisemite
makes against the Jews.
The Jews are clannish.
The Jews are pushy.
How can you be clannish
and pushy at the same time?
The Jews are all communists, leftists, and
today's Soros, trying to overthrow society.
Well, how can you be a capitalist
and a communist at the same...
It doesn't make sense.
It's irrational.
So, when we try to figure out
where Hitler's
antisemitism came from,
what we're trying to do
is rationally explain
an irrational sentiment.
When people say, "Oh, well,
his mother was treated by a Jewish doctor
and he couldn't save her."
So what?
The minute you're trying to
give a rational explanation
for an irrational sentiment,
you're gonna be lost.
I think we're lost.
"Recently, an English historian,
David Irving,
has disputed
Hitler's responsibility
for the murder of the Jews,
which Irving claims
was performed by
Himmler on his own initiative
behind Hitler's back.
"Irving's thesis is untenable."
I'll offer you $1,000
if you can prove that
there's even one page,
one wartime page
showing Adolf Hitler
ordering the extermination,
or even knowing it was going on,
whatever it was,
the extermination of the Jews.
David Irving, please.
David Irving,
whom I met several times way back,
is really not a
serious historian
and already in the late '70's,
early '80's,
David Irving was considered
very close to neo-Nazis,
if not to a neo-Nazi.
In his books on the Nazi era,
British writer David Irving
has argued Adolf Hitler
never ordered the
mass killing of Jews.
His views have
endeared him to neo-Nazis
and gotten him arrested
in Germany and Canada.
He insists Auschwitz
was no death camp
and he's suing an American
author who calls him a liar.
It's an unfortunate
consequence of this trial
that Auschwitz will lose all
credibility by the time the trial is over.
The defendant is
Deborah Lipstadt.
I defended myself with
everything I possibly could... history.
That's how we defended.
We brought historians
into the courtroom
and we followed the
footnotes back to their sources
so that Richard Evans could say,
"It's simply not true."
If you go through, as I did,
saw all his publications
and his speeches,
you can see right
to the very beginning
he tried to exonerate
Hitler all the way through
from any involvement
in the Holocaust
unless it was to try
and stop it or minimize it.
"Hitler was probably
the best friend
that Jews ever had
in the Third Reich,"
he said on one occasion.
And I think he
genuinely believed that.
The court called him
a neo-Nazi polemicist.
The court described his work
as having no
facilitated antisemitism.
The court spoke of his racism.
The verdict will be welcomed
by many around the world,
who see it as a triumph of truth
over attempts to rewrite a
terrible chapter in history.
Irving now says
he will appeal...
You can't make
a film about Hitler
and not talk to his
biggest admirer.
So we reached out to
David Irving for an interview.
He replied with an
email that began,
"You may be a Jew."
He suggested that
we meet in Poland
during one of his
so-called real history tours
through notable Hitler sites.
Yeah. Yeah.
He's a man who,
according to the enemy,
has millions of notches
on his rifle butt so to speak.
Millions of deaths that
he's responsible for.
And so,
that what's people know about him.
I announce that if people
can come on the tours
and make up their own minds
and see what they're saying,
see what they see and
then see what they believe.
I don't try and push
them one way or the other.
They're interested in this
man who's been lied about.
They want to see him.
They want to see him close up
and this is about as
close up as you get
with Adolf Hitler
and the legend.
Seeing the actual bunkers
where he and his staff lived.
And the interesting thing is
to come and look at it here.
He was protected from the enemy
by these immense concrete walls,
but in the long run,
the truth will filter through,
filter out.
No, Hitchens did, though.
He came to see
Christopher in Washington,
went down in the elevator
with Christopher's
wife and and daughter
and sang a terrible
song to the daughter.
It was a sort of
racist limerick.
- About my little daughter?
- Your not a...
"I am a
something-something Aryan,
not Jewish or sectarian.
I have no plans to marry
an ape or Rastafarian."
Christopher's wife, Carol,
who's not easily shocked said,
"Don't ever leave me
alone with that man again."
It was a very good poem
or a very clever poem.
It was so clever.
In fact, I wrote it down in my diary,
which is where the the enemy
found it in the Lipstadt trial,
in my diaries.
And right at the very end,
they kind of dredged
it up as being proof
Mr. Irving being a racist.
In this organized attempt
to smear me into oblivion,
the enemy, as I recall,
traditional enemies
of the truths
have generated...
Constructed this picture
of me being a Holocaust denier,
which is a strange
kind of phrase.
I never met this phrase,
Holocaust denier.
It's one of these
artificial kind of phrases.
It means nothing
when you analyze it.
Old-fashioned Holocaust deniers
are essentially
neo-Nazis or neo-fascists.
people with ultra right-wing views,
who are antisemitic
and believe that the Jews
have invented all this...
It is a form of antisemitism,
clothed in historical-like garb.
We're just examining history.
We only wanna get
to the truth in history
and if this history
can be rewritten,
any history can be rewritten.
And we've seen that today. We're
seeing that today in the United States.
We're seeing that
today in parts of Europe
where history just becomes
a political play thing.
And this is what the danger of
the times we are now living through,
when the very concept of
truth itself has been questioned.
So, let's take this a little
closer to home, right?
- So, I'm Jewish...
- Mm-hmm.
and there's a set of people who deny
that the Holocaust happened,
I find that deeply offensive.
But at the end of the day,
I don't believe that our
platform should take that down
because I think that there are
things that different people get wrong.
Um, either...
I don't think that they're
intentionally getting it wrong,
but I think that they...
In the case of the Holocaust deniers,
they might be, but go ahead.
It's hard to impugn intent.
The minute you
give room to people
who are clearly twisting
history and distorting history,
not just a different
interpretation of history,
but such a distortion
and you say, "Oh,
everybody's a right to their opinion."
There are facts,
there are opinions,
and there're lies,
and that's lies.
History is not propaganda.
"During the war,
Hitler was politically happy.
Only his antisemitism
remained unsatisfied
but otherwise, things went
splendidly well for four years."
He was here in the
chaotic phase of the war.
The war... The front was
not consolidated at that time,
but everything was very chaotic.
There was still very
hard fighting over here.
When we stand here today,
it's a very peaceful,
a very beautiful and
a nice landscape.
It's very difficult
to get in touch
with the atmosphere
of those days.
The noise and the smell
and the war material,
but we still miss
the part of the story.
It's too quiet.
It's too touristic.
In 1940,
as the British evacuated Dunkirk,
Hitler went on a car
tour of World War I sites.
Here is the village where
his first wound was treated.
A command bunker.
At one point,
he stopped the car and asked some locals,
"My name is Hitler.
Do you remember me?"
He then visited a cemetery.
- I am blind.
- No organic damage.
No sign of gas poisoning.
His eyes are completely normal
but he insists
that he can't see.
He probably can't.
A case of hysteria, shock.
An emotional, unbalanced mind
retreating into illness.
We know from other documents
that the diagnosis he's been
given was gas poisoning,
but there has been a
tremendous speculation going on
that he was actually being
treated for psychiatric reasons
and the speculation
goes like this.
He underwent
psychiatric treatment
that he had been hypnotized,
Hypnosis is often effective
in certain types
of battle neuroses,
such as amnesia.
Put your mind on going to sleep.
All right.
Now keep your eyes on mine.
Keep your eyes on mine.
Going into a deep, deep sleep.
- Going into a deep, deep sleep...
- Had been suggested that, okay,
a person of exceptional
qualities can overcome
the blindness you suffer from.
And you are this person and
you're born to be Germans' savior
in the moment of surrender.
This was used to
overcome his blindness,
but it was never taken back,
the hypnosis.
And he acted under
control or manipulated
by the hypnotic
suggestion for which there is
no evidence whatsoever.
We have the desire
to fill in the blanks
and make up stories where
we have no certain knowledge.
But the underlying
rationale is always the same.
It's that of reduced
We have been hypnotized.
He was hypnotized.
So in the end,
it's no one's guilt.
It's some obscure illness
or hypnotic process.
People are afraid of identifying
with the Nazis and with Hitler.
But Hitler was a
perfectly normal person.
his psychological problems are no different
from those of many
millions of others.
Munich is from the outside,
not much connected
with the Nazi history,
but everything started here.
We are here exactly at
the place where until 1945
was the representative
headquarters of the Nazi Party.
Here we are at the
place of the perpetrators.
And here we do not
want to create empathy.
We do not want to make
an event out of history.
We want to have a distant,
rational approach
so that you can
learn out of history.
We do not want to make
Nazi history interesting.
We do not want
to make it an event.
Hitler started his career here.
Hitler founded the Nazi Party
here in 1920 and
he got help from
all different groups of society.
Munich was called the
capital of the movement.
"The party,
when Hitler joined it,
was an obscure
backroom organization
with a few hundred
members of little importance.
The breakthrough experience
was his own discovery
of his power as an orator,
when with sweeping success,
"he made his first
speech at a mass rally."
So he studied his audience.
And he had all these
kind of ideas about mass.
The mass being feminine,
the mass being easily won over
by a certain way of
addressing the mass,
by the mass being
open to contagion.
When you are in the crowd
and the crowd is very close
and the crowd has this certain
power of changing you,
then it can be
like in a love affair.
You can become another person.
He wanted to whip
up their emotions,
but also tame them
and channel them.
The masses are put into a form
and then they are
no longer a threat.
'Cause that's one thing
that he never wanted.
He didn't want chaos.
Hitler puts those
people into blocks.
They have to...
stand like this on the field in a row,
in a vertical and horizontal
row and all of them,
their gun in the same way.
Blocks and blocks
and blocks and blocks.
A nation of 80 million
people standing in blocks.
That's the fascist fantasy.
He then would give them
an outlet for their emotions
and say, "Well,
look, it's the Jew."
"It's the system." It's...
In this way of talk, they...
a proposal, something...
There will be the
day you are allowed
to put your structure
into violent actions
and to get in your
own way of big living.
What's threatening them has to disappear,
You don't have to worry
and you don't have
to think anymore.
That is his mastership.
That way he is
the loud speaker of
that what was present
in the German nation,
in the German population.
you are really intent in having
good sound of this
microphone already?
Okay, all right.
Believe it or not,
there are still people today
that care about good sounds.
Whether it's Barbra Streisand
or Brian Adams or Adele,
these are all people
that care very much
that their emotional
delivery is translated properly.
And it started with
this microphone.
It started in the late 1920s.
There was all of a
sudden a revolution.
So what we have here is the CMV3,
sometimes referred to
as the Neumann bottle,
but more often now,
especially in America,
referred to as
the Hitler bottle.
Up to mid 1920s,
the microphones that were
used were carbon microphones.
Little carbon
crystals suspended,
and when they get
excited by audio waves
or by sound waves,
they would generate electricity.
The problem was that you
had to be incredibly close to it.
If you would go even this
far away from the microphone,
the volume would
drop by 50% or more.
So all of a sudden,
Hitler was able to
be more evocative,
more animated in
his delivery because
he wasn't shackled
by the technology.
He could actually use the
technology to help him deliver.
By being able to move,
by being soft,
by being whispering
and then building up
and then getting super loud
and it would still sound good.
I bet you it was
just the same as
when the Beatles
performed at Shea Stadium.
All of a sudden,
there was a dimension
that was part of his delivery,
part of the masses
responding in the same way,
uniformly, that was infectious.
And the microphone
was able to allow that.
And it's a feedback.
It goes back and forth
and it builds up and
it gets to a crescendo.
And you see it in
the footage of Hitler.
That was exactly how it worked.
He heard himself also
through the loudspeakers.
They were to the
side of the stage.
That means he also
heard himself amplified.
It's almost like Jimi
Hendrix hearing himself
through a Marshall stack.
That also was a
positive feedback loop
in terms of the performance.
So, that whole technology,
microphone all the way
to the loudspeakers,
amplified the emotional translation
of the message.
I don't even know
what that would be now.
Is it Twitter now that
we don't quite get yet,
that some people use very effectively?
I don't know.
So I know a lot about
Twitter and Facebook.
somebody said I'm the Ernest Hemingway
of 140 characters.
Can you believe it?
Also the effect he had on women.
The National Socialists were
the least friendly to women
of all the parties that were
bobbing around in the '20s.
It was a very bad bet for a
woman to be swooning at Hitler.
But swoon they did.
The object of desire,
you can see very
good in pop groups.
The Beatles were
not standing with
their women before the cameras,
when the girls were
shouting and so on.
So, he had to hide his own wife.
Eva Braun didn't
appear in public,
so the place had to be open
for the feelings of the totality
of German women to become
Fuhrer's brides in their,
not only fantasy,
in their feeling.
He said,
"We were nothing without your work.
We would be nothing.
It's your economy and
leading the household.
And that's the way we
have to lead the state."
How despicable can it get?
I mean,
it's something that he...
That's wax,
he uses as wax in his hands,
but that he does
not respect or love.
In a way it's kind of weird
that the masses didn't get that.
He produced his
environment that sustained him
and that confirmed
his quest for power,
through all kinds of mythologies,
but also a kind of
day-to-day consent.
It's consent.
He never found anybody who objected.
They all said, "Well,
we believe you.
We trust you. We love you."
This is a big crowd.
And normally I like
talking about my crowds
'cause I get crowds
like nobody...
"Hitler was all his life
exceedingly full of himself.
And from his earliest
to his last days
tended to self-conceit.
With the Hitler cult,
Hitler was not only its object,
but also the earliest,
most persistent
"and the most
passionate devotee."
My name is Werner Muller. I'm the general
manager of Kempinski Hotel, Berchtesgarten.
Obersalzberg had a crucial part
for world history because
Adolf Hitler and some other
leading Nazi figures lived here,
had their private houses.
And also,
they made some crucial decisions here,
which meant the death
of millions of people.
Adolf Hitler and basically his
photographer, Heinrich Hoffman,
they really saw how
they could use this area.
So in 1932, 1933,
they started to make
a lot of pictures here
and to use the area to
form an image of Adolf Hitler
as a person who makes
walks in the nice countryside,
who visits neighbors,
who talks to small children.
So who is the... kind
of the caring uncle
or he is some kind
of this lonely guy.
He's standing in the mountains
and thinking about
the fate of Germany.
basically the image of the Fuhrer,
of the leader,
was that he's kind of omnipotent.
So he can do everything,
he knows everything.
He's an expert in everything.
But what is quite,
it's interesting,
Hitler lived here
in the mountain
and he showed himself in
front of the mountain view,
but he never tried
to make himself
a sports person, for example.
So he didn't go for hikes.
He didn't do any
skiing in the winter.
If you see back down there,
you can see the flag.
And behind the flag,
there was some
kind of a small hill
where Hitler used
to go afternoon.
And when he made this walk,
he just walked down and
then they went back by car.
So if he made any walks,
it was always down,
not up the hill.
Still, people come here,
also journalists with cameras
and then they say,
"Ah, I'm standing here,
you can see the
historic photograph
and it's exactly this place
where I'm standing,
Adolf Hitler stood."
And this is the kind of
fascination about Hitler
we regard carefully.
That's the place where
the Berghof Adolf Hitler,
the private house
of Adolf Hitler was.
The ruins were... blew up in 1952
because the people were afraid
that this will be, yeah,
some kind of Nazi shrine.
They planted those
trees to keep the people
away from this area,
but they came every year.
Lots of people came here
because they
still believe in this.
Yeah, in Hitler,
they still believe in the Nazi ideology.
And that's the reason
why the discussion,
how to deal with the
history will never stop.
"Worse had been expected."
During 1933 and '34,
the terror slowly
died down to give way
to the 'good Nazi years, '
to almost normal conditions,
only slightly disturbed by
the continued existence of
"the now less crowded
concentration camps."
Haffner is 26 in '33
and he said the dominant
emotion wasn't horror.
It was this utter unreality,
as if everything was clockwork,
that people moved
around like mannequins.
Well, at the very beginning,
enthusiasm was still mixed.
But as years went by,
through the '30s,
enthusiasm grew for two obvious reasons.
The economic
reorganization and reshaping
of the German economy.
And there were the
successes in foreign policy
and those who were
opposed were either in camps
like the communists and so on.
The Jews, that came later,
nobody really protested,
as far as I know,
mainly in the
universities and so on.
I mean, people took it in stride,
you know, saying,
the reawakening of the country
and so on is so important,
so these are little problems."
And others would say,
good that Hitler is doing that.
"I mean, after all,
the Jews are foreigners," and so on.
I mean,
there is a segment of the population
who certainly knew that this was
a very problematic regime.
But most Germans
were enthusiastic.
And you should see the
enthusiasm of the elites.
Doctors, lawyers, engineers.
The people who pioneered,
the people who first engaged
in the ways of killing
were doctors.
You see doctors
who just flipped,
just flipped and began
to talk in medical terms
of the need to starve patients
before they start gassing them.
In certain places,
they're killing them by starving them.
This was done in the
most advanced society
with the active participation
of those elements of society
that we generally
see as a counterweight
to this kind of authoritarian,
genocidal regime.
How is that possible?
But what is really
historically important
is the readiness of an immense
number of people in Germany
at the beginning to go after
him and then to take even steps
beyond what the Nazis demanded.
Sir Ian Kershaw in
Britain put it very clearly,
"Working towards the Fuhrer."
He didn't have to say anything.
"The Third Reich was
producing guns and butter
and a great many other things.
'The man may have his faults,
but he has given us
work and bread again, '
was the million-fold view.
In the prologue to
his biography of Hitler,
Joachim Fest performs an
interesting speculative experiment.
He says, 'If Hitler had
succumbed to an assassination
or an accident at
the end of 1938,
few would hesitate
to call him one of
"the greatest of
German statesmen.'"
Was he a great man?
Well, that's a strange question.
His appeal was to promise,
let's be very, very basic here,
work and a better life.
And they got it.
They were looking for a savior.
So here he was.
It wasn't an ideology.
It was more like
characterology in that
the ideology consisted
of a rallying cry.
And this is quite close
to what Haffner wrote.
He said, "And it was saying,
with a bullhorn",
'Those of you who
are willing to rob,
cheat, beat and kill people
who have done you no harm,
"then gather around my flag.'"
Hitler was a racist and he believed that
human history is
defined by the struggle
between different races
for the survival of the fittest
and indeed for domination.
And that struggle
had to be perpetual.
You had to keep going or you
became soft and weak as a race.
Master race and what
are they in daily life?
A piece of little shit.
When you belong
to the master race,
you have to have
the proof someday.
If it's a secret at all,
that would be the secret
that he gives the
people the feeling
they will be allowed one day
to do the killings
they are full with
and they are fantasizing.
And that's what really happened.
"For three years, day after day,
Jewish families
throughout Europe
were taken from their
homes or hiding places,
transported to the
east and driven naked
into the death factories
where the chimneys
"of the cremating furnaces
smoked day and night."
They're coming.
They hear the whistle and they're
frightened and they run this way.
We'll go further.
We're gonna go left.
Here we've got the road
to the execution sites.
It's going to be a
very pleasant walk.
Treblinka. Between 1942 and '43,
the Nazis murdered
over 900,000 people here.
It's also one of the
highlights of Irving's tour.
The stones are symbolic of...
These Jews have a particular
habit of inflating numbers.
They want big numbers.
We find out usually that
the numbers are smaller.
I love seeing things like this.
This is where history began.
That's true.
Got no idea. Got no idea.
Beate and Serge
Klarsfeld are Nazi hunters
responsible for bringing
many Nazis to justice,
including, most famously,
Klaus Barbie.
Paris is celebrating Bastille
Day and the World Cup final.
But Serge and Beate are worried.
A few months later,
Serge and Beate's concerns
about rising
nationalism feel urgent.
It's an important event,
the restoration of independence
after the First World War.
It became a kind of an occasion
for nationalist fringe
movements to come
up in public space
and demonstrate.
And it became just a huge thing.
It's organized by these
very radical fascists,
some of them organizations,
but it brings in also a
lot of people who kind of
go there for a big
demonstration and...
There is,
from the interwar years,
a very well established
and articulated fascist,
if you will,
trajectory in Polish politics.
A party,
which carries the same name
and uses the same paraphernalia,
the same symbols.
Some of these flags,
if you look closely,
you will see that it carries
a symbol that in some way
is reminiscent of the swastika,
of the hakenkreuz.
Made of a bent arm with a sword.
Before the war,
it was a right radical splinter group
from the nationalist movement.
It had the same
name then as now,
Obz Narodowo-Radykalny,
the National Radical Camp.
And they were just
beating Jews in the streets.
And their ideology,
heart of their nationalistic,
if you will,
message to get rid of the Jews.
And this is a legal
organization in Poland today.
This regime kind of winks to
these groups and tells them,
"We're not going to touch you."
And they thrive.
In a natural way,
what they would want to do is also,
of course, expunge these
complicated parts of the history.
They are not interested
in having it told as it was.
As a Pole,
this is an extraordinarily upsetting
and dramatic event,
given what Poland
has gone through.
Wartime history is on one hand
a history of
incredible sacrifice
and suffering on the part
of the Polish population.
And then slowly we
discover that it is fraught,
the history of the Second World War,
with this very dramatic story
of complicity in the
persecution of the Polish Jews
during the Second World War.
This is not a
Polish specificity.
This is a phenomenon
of all of occupied Europe.
It makes confronting the
history of the Second World War
very complicated.
Saul Friedlander
is in Berlin to address
the German Bundestag
for Holocaust Memorial Day.
Among the audience are far
right members of Parliament,
including Alexander Gauland,
who as you may remember,
likened the Nazi period
to a mere bird dropping
on German history.
Every historian has some
other historians he likes
and some other
historians he likes less.
So I happen to like Saul
Friedlander's approach.
We went to the same school,
by the way, in Prague.
Elementary school?
- Pardon?
- High school?
- No, elementary school.
He is six years
younger than I am.
So we didn't know each other,
you know, but, uh...
You know,
they went to France, huh?
They went to France, why?
Because they were
aware of the Hitler regime
and the occupation
of Czechoslovakia.
And so,
we managed to get out before that.
My father decided to
leave Europe in 1934.
It took him four years to
collect the money to do that.
But the decision
was made way before.
One year after
Hitler came to power.
He... that's it.
Bauer's family
went to Palestine.
Friedlander's parents
found refuge for him in France
and then tried to
escape to Switzerland.
After the war,
Friedlander learned
that his mother and father
were killed in Auschwitz.
I've been asked many a time
whether writing the memoir
created a kind of catharsis,
you know, therapeutic, as you say.
No, it didn't create anything.
The memoir was what it was.
And then I decided to write
the history of the whole period.
I didn't know it
would take so long,
but it did take 16
years or something.
But now I feel,
you know, in this old age
that I've done
what I wanted to do.
one cannot compel memory to move in a...
It moves in its own direction.
You cannot do anything about it,
Speaking of that...
There are ways of putting
an end to the spell, I think.
But what happened
with many films is that
they prefer the spell because
it's attracting the viewers.
But you should end
in Sobibr or in Belzec.
I mean, you should end on the,
in my opinion, I cannot...
You asked me,
"How should we end?"
So, I took the...
In a way, I took the...
I answer your question.
Maybe you should
end in a place like that.
That would put an
end to the fascination.
It suddenly makes sense why Professor
Friedlander implored us to come here.
This is what he calls
the unknowable spot.
Here there is nothing. Little was
photographed and nothing was filmed.
Everything was erased.
Himmler, speaking to the
SS in 1943 said of the killing,
"This is the page
never to be written."
Had the Nazis won the war
and had there been no survivors,
the extermination would
have remained secret.
The forest the only witness.
That is why Wojciech and
the historians keep digging.
People believe in the
destruction of other people.
People actually believe
that this is the only way
to rescue their society,
humanity, whatever.
And one of the great
problems that people today have
who are educated in liberal
or semi-liberal societies,
is they don't understand
how people can
believe that stuff.
Contrary to others,
I don't think that Nazism
or the ideas behind
Nazism are dead.
In the world of the internet where
people are spending more and more
of their lives online, the currency is,
of course, attention.
And we are all probably
familiar with the idea of click bait,
but in order to gain
attention online,
you have to be sensational.
You have to be irreverent.
You have to be controversial.
You have to get
eyeballs looking at you.
And, of course,
Hitler is a very easy way
to accomplish that precise goal.
What's with the Christmas...
I like the editing.
Subscribe to Keemstar.
Normalizing Hitler
pays off for people.
But while they're doing that,
they're radicalizing people.
They're introducing them
to much more controversial
and extreme content.
I was invited to go
to Charlottesville.
I was told,
and this is what the event was.
It was called Unite the Right.
It's pretty self-explanatory.
You shall not replace us.
Hell, yeah. What's up fam?
Let's keep moving forward.
Okay, it's a zoo out here.
Out here with Brittany Venti.
What up, fam?
We're live too.
Shit is wild out here.
We got hundreds of
people out here with torches.
It was a full-on like,
almost like a mob, but not quite,
because a mob is like
angry and disorganized.
Everyone here was very
like calm and like focused.
Like calm at first,
and then focused.
Everyone has their tiki torches.
Everyone managed to bring one.
There was like 600 people.
I don't know,
maybe there was 1000.
It just seemed like a
sea of endless people.
I was breathless.
My breath was taken away.
Yeah, torchlight,
it's beautiful.
You know, the way,
the light on people's faces and so forth.
I mean,
there's something very romantic
and very dramatic about it.
I mean, tiki torches, basically.
But in the context,
it's horrifying.
you have beautiful on one hand
and horrifying on the other.
And you have to know the history
to know why it
might be horrifying.
Oh, my God.
History isn't pretty all the time, guys.
People get fucking
slaughtered and killed.
We are in the process of
undergoing a phenomenon
that's comparable to
industrial revolutions,
like the invention of
steam engines suddenly
and this information
revolution that's taking place.
And there are no institutions
within this democratic, uh,
paradigm, if you will,
to contain somehow and manage
the fact that people
can communicate
with tens of millions of
people instantaneously
without any sort of filters.
We grew up with the Internet.
So we have no centralized
source of information
that controls what we think.
You have demagogues
now that can reach
on their own instantaneously,
untold numbers of people.
Because you see,
I know the truth
and people out
there in the world,
they really don't know the truth.
They don't know what it is.
The people,
my people are so smart
and you know what else
they say about my people?
The polls.
They say I have the most loyal people.
Did you ever see that?
Where I could stand in
the middle of Fifth Avenue
and shoot somebody and I
wouldn't lose any voters, okay?
It's like incredible.
No, they say, "Trump,
we love you too, man.
Trump's voters are by far..."
I'm at 68, 69%.
I'm at 90% total.
Like, will you say absolutely,
I think it's 68 or 69%.
If there's no limit
to what you can say,
it's easy to believe there's
no limit to what you can do.
When somebody is the
President of the United States,
the authority is total.
It's all a lie.
We are back in the city
where this movie started.
It took a catastrophe
to see the obvious.
Never has age and human
experience felt so precious.
Saul Friedlander is 87.
Yehuda Bauer
turned 94 a week ago.
I'm still working.
I'm not quite dead yet.
Soon, but not yet.
With that,
he gets the final word
on the meaning of Hitler.
Humans are animals
who kill other animals
of the same species.
They also develop the opposite,
because we are herd animals.
So we develop sympathy and
love and collaboration and so on
because a herd
cannot exist without that.
And so,
there are two conflicting elements
in all of human society
and all attempts to fight
the kind of Hitlerism that
we are discussing here
are really the
attempt to strengthen
one human reaction against
another human reaction.
The problem that we have is
not that the Nazis were inhuman,
but that they were human.
That's the basic
problem that we have,
with ourselves,
not with the Nazis.
We also act out our ideas.
they are not Nazi ideas,
but the Nazi ideas
were acted out
by people who were
absolutely normal.