Hitler and the Nazis: Evil on Trial (2024) s01e01 Episode Script

Origin of Evil

[distant explosions]
[radio announcer]
German resistance is crumbling,
and we're in a situation today
where anything may happen.
We take you to San Francisco.
William L. Shirer reporting.
[Shirer] So Hitler is dead and destroyed,
like his country that he tried
to make the master of the world,
and and ended only by destroying.
I must say that, uh, in a sense,
in a very deep sense, of course,
uh, this is a day that I have been
waiting for, for many a year.
Suddenly, we got the word,
the surrender terms of the United Nations.
This, ladies and gentlemen,
is the end of the Second World War.
That is the word we have just received
from the White House in Washington.
I didn't expect to hear a celebration here
in our newsroom in New York,
-but you can hear what's going on
-[people cheering]
[crowd cheering]
[announcer 2] Berlin had capitulated.
From their holes and their hiding places,
the German generals emerged
like beasts ferreted out of their lairs.
Goering gave himself up.
-Goebbels preferred to shoot himself.
Now the major war criminals
were in the hands of justice.
It was decided to try them in Nuremberg.
Nuremberg, where the Nazis ran rampant.
Nuremberg, from which the demented Hitler
hurled his threats to the world.
-[glass shatters]
-[dogs barking]
[radio announcer 2]
Nuremberg now lies in ruins and ashes.
Here, they were brought
to answer for their crimes.
These warmongers
and conspirators against nations.
These butchers of whole people
and plunderers of whole states.
[woman whimpers]
These child murderers and slave traders.
These 20th-century Huns.
For all this, they must now answer.
The hour of reckoning has come.
[dramatic music playing]
[radio announcer 2]
Don't hide your face, Goering.
All the world knows you,
and the world curses you.
[music crescendos, fades out]
[opening theme music playing]
[music fades to silence]
[propeller humming]
[radio announcer 3] We hear first
from the man who knows Germany best,
whose broadcasts from Berlin
and elsewhere in Germany
during the early days of Nazi aggression
were eagerly listened to
all over the country.
Ladies and gentlemen, the author
of Berlin Diary, William L. Shirer.
[Shirer] It's all over
after 2,319 days of it,
nearly six years.
And not only the German leaders
had no sense of responsibility,
there was not a word said by any of them
when they surrendered
about being sorry for their crimes,
or feeling any sense of responsibility
for having tried to destroy our world.
For me, it was the last chapter of a story
that had begun 11 years before,
in this very city,
when, as my first assignment
in Hitler's Germany,
I had been sent there
at the beginning of September 1934
to cover the annual Nazi Party rally.
[crowd shouting] Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!
Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!
[Shirer] I had got my first glimpse
of Adolf Hitler and his henchmen,
Goering, Goebbels,
Himmler, and Hess,
and launched myself
into covering the rise of the Third Reich
for the next six years.
Now, those of them Nazi leaders
who had not committed suicide
were waiting trial
for crimes against humanity.
Justice, at long last,
had caught up with them.
[Francine Hirsch] The complete devastation
that was brought by the Second World War,
was something that people
really had to reckon with afterwards.
Like, how could there really be justice
after something like that?
This was why the Nuremberg Trials
were seen as critical.
[somber orchestral music playing]
[reporter 1] For the first time
in the history of mankind,
a court consisting of American, British,
French, and Russian judges
has been formed to pronounce a verdict
on crimes which have had
no precedent in human memory.
[reporter 2]
Crowding the spectators' gallery
are 400 newspapermen
from every corner of the world.
The atmosphere in the courtroom is tense.
Nobody quite knows what to expect.
[spectators murmuring]
[Pendas] When the defendants walk in
a kind of hush falls over the courtroom
as people are staring at them.
[Shirer] This really is the end
of the long night
of the hideous nightmare,
and how the mighty have fallen.
The sudden loss of power
seemed to have stripped them clean
of the arrogance
that was their very being
in all the years I knew them.
How quickly they have become
broken, miserable little men.
The long Nazi night has given me
much to think and write about.
All my years I have searched,
like so many others, for some meaning.
[Pendas] One of the more striking aspects
of the Nuremberg Trial
is who's not in the dock.
Hitler is not there physically,
but his presence is inescapable.
[somber orchestral music continues]
[Alexandra Richie] Every single
human being has within him or her
the potential to be good or evil,
and if you look
at Hitler's record as a young man,
there's really nothing to show
that he was going to become
this terribly vengeful, hate-filled figure
whose whole motivation in life
was going to be
to exterminate an entire race.
[dramatic musical sting]
[Christian Goeschel]
Hitler was born in Austria.
He came from a middle-class family.
[Benjamin Carter Hett] Hitler's mother
was probably the only person in his life
he really loved.
She seems to have been
a very gentle, kindly person,
who had to deal
with a very difficult husband.
Hitler is brought up fairly strictly.
His father beat him,
but that was very common at the time.
[Goeschel] His father
was a customs official
who had changed his name
from Schicklgruber to Hitler.
Can you imagine?
People would have had to shout,
"Heil Schicklgruber"
instead of "Heil Hitler."
[Hett] Hitler was a bit of an oddball
in some ways.
He liked to read a lot.
He had a powerful imagination.
[Goeschel] Hitler was not a good student.
He was not industrious.
He had pipe dreams
of becoming a great artist.
[Hett] So Hitler moved to Vienna in 1907
in the hopes that he would be studying art
at the Vienna Academy of Art.
Then he was turned down for admission,
which shocked him.
[Evans] He wanted to become
a world-famous artist,
but he wasn't actually very good.
If you look at some of his paintings,
they are mostly townscapes,
and he was rejected
because he couldn't do people.
It's quite significant, in a way.
He couldn't paint people.
He was forced to eke out an existence
by selling paintings
that he copied from postcards.
[Hett] He lived for a few years
in a men's shelter
in a northern part of Vienna.
[Evans] He lived
a rather hand-to-mouth existence.
At that time,
German-speaking Austria was part
of a much bigger political entity,
the so-called Habsburg,
or Austro-Hungarian Empire.
[Hett] It was a very nationally
and ethnically diverse empire,
and in the early 20th century,
almost all the major nations were
in some sense trying to pull away from it
and assert their own autonomy.
[Evans] The Hungarians,
the Czechs, the Romanians,
all of these different nationalities
wanted their own state,
not necessarily independent,
but certainly self-governing.
There's also the German Empire,
which was the most important economy
in Europe.
It was a large,
prosperous industrial power.
[Hett] And there was developing
what was called a pan-German ideology,
an all-German ideology,
among German-Austrians
who had nothing but contempt
for the other ethnicities
within the empire,
and really wanted to break away from it
and unite themselves
to the German Empire next door.
[Goeschel] There is a pervasive culture
among many on the right
in the city of Vienna
that the German people
are superior to other people
such as the Czechs, such as the Jews.
[Evans] Anti-Semitism, or hatred of Jews,
had been around
for a very long time in Europe,
but a new kind of anti-Semitism emerged
in the late 19th century,
and fringe political agitators
began to write tracts
which expounded this racist view
of the Jewish race as being subversive,
as plotting everywhere
to undermine civilization,
to destroy hard-working small businessmen.
[Tiffany N. Florvil] There are a number
of prominent politicians in Vienna
who were not only political anti-Semites,
but they're also talking
about racialized anti-Semitism.
[Hett] Karl Lueger was mayor of Vienna,
calls himself
and calls his movement Christian Social,
and anti-Semitism was a key element of it.
Hitler was watching all this
as a young man,
and to some extent,
drawing inspiration from it.
[Goeschel] Hitler, from early on,
despised Austria,
and the multinational Habsburg Empire.
He saw himself, above all,
as German and not as Austrian.
He thought Germany was the great nation.
[Evans] He lived
in a kind of fantasy world.
Hitler spent more money
than perhaps was wise
on going to the opera.
He was particularly taken
with the music dramas of Richard Wagner.
[Wagner's "Ahntest du nicht"
from Lohengrin playing]
He thought Wagner presented
the Germany that he wanted to aspire to,
a Germany of gods
and heroism and great leaders.
["Ahntest du nicht" continues playing]
[Richie] This music spoke to him.
The messages spoke to him.
[Goeschel] One of the first Wagner operas
Hitler sees is Lohengrin,
a romantic opera
composed in the mid-19th century,
where the great hero Lohengrin
more or less sacrifices himself
for the nation.
The powerful music by Wagner
nurtured Hitler's idea
that he himself would one day become
a great heroic leader.
[man] Attention! Tribunal.
[pensive music playing]
[Shirer] Hitler would one day
become the dictator of Germany,
and then the conqueror of most of Europe,
but it must be added at once
that he was one of the cruelest,
most bloodthirsty and barbarous tyrants
who ever lived.
He plunged the world
into one of the bloodiest
and most destructive wars in history.
[Pendas] Robert Jackson, who serves
as the chief American prosecutor
at the Nuremberg Trial,
is at the time of the trial
an associate justice
on the United States Supreme Court.
His opening statement at Nuremberg
in particular is is simply a masterpiece.
[Jackson] The privilege
of opening the first trial in history
for crimes against the peace of the world
imposes a grave responsibility.
The wrongs,
which we seek to condemn and punish,
have been so calculated,
so malignant, and so devastating
that civilization cannot tolerate
their being ignored
because it cannot survive
their being repeated.
[Pendas] What Jackson does
in his opening statement
is he makes plain
the moral stakes of this trial
and the kind of symbolic message
that the Allies are trying
to send with this trial.
This is not just political justice.
This is the full force of the law
being mobilized
to try to punish
and bring some measure of justice
for some of the worst horrors
that humanity has ever seen.
[Shirer] I think we have heard today
one of the great trial addresses
of history.
The words ringing out
so that they match the hopes
and the aspirations
and the great challenge of this moment.
As a human being,
I would have preferred to have escaped
this long German chapter in my life,
but as a journalist and eventual writer,
I did not regret it.
[Omer Bartov] William Shirer
is an outside witness from the inside,
and that's a huge advantage
that most historians don't have
because historians write about the past,
not the past that they lived in.
[Hett] Shirer really was present
at the confluence of a lot of new things
from 1934 to 1940.
He's really present
at the early stages of the Nazi regime.
A lot of his broadcasts
were among the really pioneering
international radio news broadcasts.
[bombs whistling]
[Shirer] I've seen what happens to nations
and peoples that Hitler conquers.
I've seen how he destroys them
with a brutality, with a ruthlessness,
that you have to see to really comprehend.
One personal word here, if I may.
I want to assure you that I am not
one of those armchair civilians
who has come to incite you with a lot
of fake stories about the enemy.
The truth about him needs no adornment.
[Deirdre van Dyk] While my grandfather
is reporting from Nazi Germany,
he would write in his diaries
about what he was seeing,
and all the things
he couldn't say in his broadcast.
Those were uncensored accounts,
day by day.
After the war, he kept writing.
He really had a sense
of where history was going
and the implications
of what was happening.
He thought democracy was important,
and it was always in danger.
What happened in Nazi Germany,
it doesn't happen suddenly.
Changes are very slow and gradual.
My grandfather always told us
to pay attention.
[typewriter keys clacking]
[Shirer] In the spring of 1913,
when he was 24 years old,
Hitler left Vienna for Munich, in Germany.
The principal reason he left Austria
was to escape military service.
For three years, since his 21st birthday,
he had dodged it.
He had, however, one thing,
an unquenchable confidence
he would still make good.
Just how, he did not yet know.
The coming of World War I in 1914
offered Hitler an escape
from all the failures and frustrations
of his personal life.
[pensive music playing softly]
For decades,
all of the great powers of Europe,
Russia, Britain, France, Austria-Hungary,
had various alliances and treaties.
That started to break down
by the beginning of the 20th century.
[Goeschel] World War I
is caused by a lethal cocktail.
In 1914, there was a very fragile
European alliance system,
but you also have
territorial imperialist ambitions
of some powers,
national pride, and militarism
that facilitated
the outbreak of World War I.
[Evans] World War I broke out
because the heir to the Habsburg throne,
the Archduke Franz Ferdinand,
had been assassinated with his wife.
[Hett] They were assassinated
by Bosnian-Serbian terrorists.
[tense music building]
[Hett] Tension immediately
springs up in Europe.
[Evans] The Russian Empire said,
"We back the Serbs,"
the German Empire said,
"We back the Austrians,"
the French said,
"We'll back the Russians,"
and the British said,
"We'll back the French."
So the two sides lined up.
[Hett] Within a few weeks,
you have a situation
where all of these major European powers
are at war.
[Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" playing]
[Kaiser Wilhelm II, in German]
In the midst of peace,
the enemy invades us.
So let's take up arms!
We will stand this fight
even against a world of enemies.
[crowd cheering uproariously]
[Richie, in English]
When World War I breaks out,
there's a general sense in Europe
that it's an excitement.
And there was this idea
that it was just a big, fun sports event.
["Ride of the Valkyries" continues]
[Richie] I mean, young men sign up
all over these countries
so that they won't miss out
on the adventure.
Nationalism had become
very, very important
in the European psyche.
Suddenly, everybody says,
"We're in this together."
Hitler feels this energy,
this this momentum,
and he wants to be involved in it.
He wants to take part in it.
There's a famous photograph
greeting the outbreak of war.
Hitler's there, ecstatic.
And so he volunteers
to join the Bavarian Army,
which was part of the German Army.
[Goeschel] He refuses to serve
in the multiracial army
of the Habsburg Empire
because Hitler sees himself as German.
[Evans] And it's a chaotic situation.
Thousands and thousands
of young men are volunteering,
and the authorities can't really check
their papers properly.
So he gets in,
though he's not actually
Bavarian or German.
[Richie] For Hitler, war is glory.
War is something fantastic.
War is gonna be good
for the German nation.
[Goeschel] Hitler suddenly has a purpose.
He has found a purpose
for his unglamorous,
rather miserable life.
[Shirer] The coming of World War I in 1914
offered Hitler an escape.
"It came," he later said,
"as a deliverance from the distress
that had weighed upon me
during the days of my youth."
"I am not ashamed to say
that I sank down on my knees
and thanked heaven."
["Ride of the Valkyries" continues]
[Richie] It was the war to end all wars.
But this is something
that the boys going off to war in 1914
have no concept of.
[rapid gunfire]
[Richie] There was no understanding
of the terrible technological changes
that had taken place.
The horrors of mechanized warfare,
things like the creation of machine gun,
poison gas being used,
the creation of tanks,
the creation of flamethrowers,
the creation of planes dropping bombs,
and all of these other developments
which are there to massacre human beings.
[distant explosions]
[Richie] They're there
to destroy human flesh.
[Hett] Hitler was a runner
who carried messages
from the regimental quarters
to the frontline and back again.
[Evans] For four years,
he fought, carried messages,
underwent dangers,
and railed against anybody
who would betray the war
or disbelieve in it.
[foreboding music building slowly]
[Evans] During the war,
some of the shells fired are gas shells.
Poison gas, mustard gas.
It's very deadly and very dangerous.
And Hitler is attacked,
and he's hospitalized to recover.
[Shirer] On the dark autumn Sunday morning
of November 10th, 1918,
a pastor came bearing unbelievable news
for the wounded soldiers.
Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Emperor of Germany,
had abdicated and fled to neutral Holland,
the pastor told them.
The German Army would surrender
to the Allies at Compiègne, in France.
The war was lost.
The pastor began to sob.
So did the blinded Corporal Hitler.
[Evans] At one blow,
four years of his life
had been deprived of meaning.
They'd been destroyed.
Most people believed Germany was winning.
That's because
the German military government had,
all the way up
to within a few weeks of the defeat,
insisted that Germany was winning.
They had concealed
the deep problems of the German Army
from the populace at large.
[Hett] It becomes clear
to Germany's army commanders
that they've been unquestionably defeated
on the battlefield.
So the High Command draws
the only rational lesson they could draw,
which is that they need to get
out of the war as quickly as possible.
And this meant
that the imperial government collapsed.
The Emperor of Germany,
Kaiser Wilhelm II, abdicated.
[Goeschel] World War I
fundamentally transforms Germany.
Germany ceases being an empire.
Germany ceases being a monarchy.
Germany in 1918
is turned into a liberal democracy
that came to be known
as the Weimar Republic.
[in German] Workers and soldiers.
The old and the rotten,
the monarchy, has collapsed.
Long live the new!
Long live the German Republic!
[Florvil, in English]
The Weimar Republic was largely led
by a coalition
of the Social Democratic Party.
These are sort of mostly leftist groups
and many Jewish politicians.
[Pendas] So it's up to the new government
to sign the armistice
in a railroad car in France.
The Social Democrats
are essentially left holding the bag.
-[crowd cheering]
-[uneasy music playing]
[Hett] Then comes the Treaty of Versailles
in June of 1919,
with no German involvement.
The treaty took from Germany
about 13% of its pre-war territory.
[Eaton] The victors
put horrible reparations on Germany
to make Germany take all of the war guilt.
The winning powers accused Germany
of having the most expansive aims,
but most Germans were aghast
at the idea that they were supposed
to take on the war guilt
which they saw as a part
of a big international situation
and not German aggressive war aims.
[Anne Berg] The Treaty of Versailles
was so upsetting to Germans,
and it basically served
as a national consensus.
The rejection of the Treaty of Versailles,
the rejection of this punitive peace,
the rejection of the reparations
That was something pretty much everyone
across the political spectrum
could agree on.
But the government reluctantly signed it.
[uneasy music continues]
[Goeschel] The conservative
German Army leadership
has completely abrogated
its responsibility.
They basically say,
"We will not have
anything to do with the surrender."
[Pendas] It is, in fact,
the military leadership
that begins actively promoting
the conspiracy theory
that Germany did not lose World War I
on the battlefield,
that it was not defeated militarily,
but that it was stabbed in the back
by a left-wing Jewish civilian leadership
that prevented Germany from winning.
This is, of course, absurd.
[speaking indistinctly]
[Goeschel] Hitler firmly believes
in this conspiracy theory.
Hitler is raging.
He is blaming the Jews,
he is blaming socialists
for undermining
the victorious German Army.
[Evans] He found a paranoid explanation.
Like Siegfried in the Wagner operas,
he thought German troops
had been stabbed in the back
by the home front.
[Goeschel] Hitler claims
that his life mission
will be to claw back control
from the dark forces of history
and to make sure
that Aryan Germans like Hitler
will run the fortunes of Germany
and that they will make Germany
a great country again.
[Jackson] What makes
this inquest significant
is that these prisoners represent
sinister influences
that will lurk in the world
long after their bodies
have returned to dust.
We will show them to be
the living symbols of racial hatreds,
terrorism, and of violence,
and of the arrogance and cruelty of power.
They are the symbols
[Shirer] My spine throbbed today
as Jackson used the power of language
to build up hour after hour
his masterly case
against the Nazi barbarism.
More important to me than the trial itself
was the making public by the prosecution
of hundreds of tons of secret documents
that had been seized by the Allied armies
before the Germans
had time to destroy them.
The Nazi defendants are going
to be convicted by their own words,
their own records,
their own foul deeds.
[Pendas] These four charges,
in the minds of the prosecution,
are all interconnected.
Conspiracy, the first count
of the indictment,
was the glue that was going to hold
all of these other charges together.
Crimes against peace,
the idea is essentially
that the prosecution is saying
it's illegal under international law
to attack your neighbors unprovoked.
War crimes
You can't kill civilians,
you can't kill wounded POWs,
you can't attack hospitals
Those sorts of things.
And finally, there's the charge
of crimes against humanity,
which, like crimes against peace,
is a new invention at Nuremberg.
And the idea behind
crimes against humanity
was that there was now
an international law
against political mass murder
of your own citizens.
Jackson says that these crimes,
they are all derivative of the war itself.
If you don't have the war,
you don't have the atrocities.
And so if we can prevent future wars
by using the law,
we will prevent all of these
kinds of horrors from happening again.
-[dramatic music playing]
-[woman shouting indistinctly]
[Pendas] World War I
basically ended with political chaos
and revolutionary ferment
in Germany and in Eastern Europe.
[crowd clamoring]
[Hett] The Bolshevik Revolution in Russia
created a completely mistaken belief,
but the widespread belief,
that there's a connection
between communism, or as they said
in those days, "Bolshevism,"
and Jews.
And this was applied in Germany as well,
the idea that democratic politicians
were also Jews and communists.
So there's a violence that permeates
the early Weimar Republic.
[Goeschel] There is
a civil war-like atmosphere.
[Goeschel] It's a hotbed
of extreme political polarization.
There are several attempts
by the political left
to impose socialist,
communist-style regimes,
and right-wing military veterans
come together
to fight what they see
as the left-wing threat.
[Hett] And the army in Munich
is trying to keep tabs
on what's happening politically
in the city.
[Goeschel] The army leadership is
very much interested in what is going on
on the right-wing fringes
of the political spectrum,
and they're using Hitler
and other fairly small,
insignificant figures
to gather information on the breadth
and scope of the German right.
[people murmuring indistinctly]
[Hett] Hitler starts being sent out
as a kind of political spy
to look at the meetings
of various political groups
and report back to the army command
on what's going on there.
On one of these occasions,
Hitler goes to a meeting
put on by a small fringe group.
It's called the German Workers' Party.
And Hitler is supposed to just watch,
record what happens, and report back.
But what happens at this meeting
is a speaker there speaks in favor
of Bavarian secession from Germany.
And for Hitler,
this is absolutely rank treason,
and Hitler stands up
and unloads on this man
in a torrent of angry rhetoric.
And the leading figures
of this small German Workers' Party
are incredibly impressed
by Hitler's tirade.
One of the leaders,
a man named Anton Drexler, comments,
"That man's got a mouth on him.
We could use him."
[Berg] The chairman
of the German Workers' Party
approached him, handed him a pamphlet,
and invited him to join.
[Goeschel] Hitler decides
to leave the German Army
after six years of service.
He sees that this party
has great potential.
[Goeschel] This party is
actively against the Weimar Republic.
This party is actively against
liberal democracy.
This party is hostile
to communism and socialism.
This party is hostile to the Jews.
[Hett] And then, pretty quickly,
he starts to make a reputation in Munich
as the most effective speaker
at things like rallies
and beer hall meetings and so on,
for this fledgling German Workers' Party.
[crowd clamoring]
[Shirer] To the surprise of all
who had come into contact with him,
Hitler suddenly revealed
a ferocious energy and drive.
All the warped ideas which had
been bubbling in his strange mind
since the lonesome days
of hunger in Vienna,
now found an outlet.
[Goeschel] He develops
his own distinct rhetorical style.
[Hett] When he started to speak,
this huge voice would somehow come out
of this rather frail person,
and that gave him
a very commanding presence.
[Richie] Hitler was a genius
at tapping into already-existing feelings
in the German population.
[Goeschel] We are talking about
resentful army veterans
who think that Germany's reputation
has been dragged into the mud.
[Berg] That was something
that Hitler was really good at,
riling up the masses
for speaking to this resentment and anger
that was so pervasive in German society.
To read the room and feel the energy
and ride that energy
to incredible heights.
[pensive music playing]
[Evans] He began to focus
on a number of different messages.
One thing that came through very strongly
was his hatred of the Jews.
It's important to remember
that Jews in Germany
were only less than 1% of the population.
It's a tiny minority.
He talks about making Germany great again.
He rails against the Versailles Treaty.
[Richie] So this then
becomes this maelstrom
of self-pity and of hatred
and of resentment,
and of watching this great Germany
turn into this subjugated, poor nation.
Germany had been such an important power,
and all of a sudden it's nothing?
And so he taps into that.
[Hett] Eventually,
he was able to use this power
to force out the original leadership
and to get himself named
the one clear leader
of the German Workers' Party,
whose orders would never be questioned.
He made it clear this would not be
a democratic or a consensus party,
that it would be a leader party.
[Berg] The party rose quite substantially
after 1921,
when Hitler addresses mass meetings,
talking to 2,000 and more people,
making Hitler and the Nazi Party
into a regional force.
But it is not yet a force
that actually has a wider recognition
across Germany.
[Goeschel] He molds
the German Workers' Party
into his own party
and renames it the Nationalist-Socialist
German Workers' Party,
which is also known as the Nazi Party.
Hitler adopts the swastika symbol
as the Nazi Party emblem.
The swastika symbol
goes back thousands of years,
representing fortune and peace.
Hitler claims
that he himself designed the Nazi flag.
He claims that the red stands
for the socialist aims of the Nazi Party,
the white stands for the nationalist aims,
and the swastika itself stands
for the aspirations of the German people.
[Hett] Important to have the "national"
on the front there,
because if you just had a party called
the Socialist German Workers' Party,
you would normally think this must be
a left-wing party of some kind.
Having "National" in front of that,
indicated that the party had a mixture
of nationalist, more right-wing ideology.
The idea was that it would be an effort
to bring working-class people,
who would typically vote left in some way,
socialist or communist,
to bring them
into a nationalist political group.
[Goeschel] The Nazi Party
buys its own newspaper
called Völkischer Beobachter
or "People's Observer,"
an anti-Semitic newspaper
in which Nazi officials peddle
their hateful views.
[patriotic band music playing]
[Goeschel] The Nazi Party
wanted to appeal to the senses,
they wanted to appeal
to the emotions of German voters,
through speech,
through images, through flags,
through songs like "Deutschland Erwache,"
"Germany Awaken."
[male choir singing in German] Germany ♪
Awake from your nightmare! ♪
Don't give foreign Jews ♪
Room in your kingdom! ♪
We want to fight ♪
For your resurgence ♪
Aryan blood ♪
Shall not perish! ♪
[Goeschel, in English] Nazism is born
out of the ashes of World War I.
The First World War
certainly saved Hitler.
It saved his life.
It sounds perverse to us
that a war saved someone's life.
Without the war,
Hitler wouldn't have had
a purpose in his life.
Without the First World War,
we wouldn't be speaking
about Hitler today.
[male choir singing in German]
Hail our leader! ♪
Hail Hitler to you! ♪
[crowd cheering]
[Jackson, in English]
This war did not just happen.
It was planned and prepared for
over a long period of time.
[unsettling music playing]
[Jackson] The chief instrumentality
of cohesion in plan and in action
was the National Socialist
German Workers' Party,
known as the Nazi Party.
Some of these defendants
were with it from the beginning.
The membership took the party oath.
This was the oath
"I vow inviolable fidelity
to Adolf Hitler."
"I avow absolute obedience to him
and to the leaders he designates for me."
[unsettling music continues]
[Shirer] These subordinate leaders
who helped Hitler on the road
to political power in Germany
were an odd assortment.
There is Goering,
a famous fighter pilot during World War I,
and a drug addict.
At last, he has achieved his ambition
of being number one,
though not precisely
as he had once dreamed.
At first glance, I scarcely recognize him.
His faded air force uniform,
shorn of the insignia and of the medals
he loved so childishly,
hangs loosely on him.
And gone is his old burliness,
his old arrogance,
his flamboyant air.
How a twist of fate, I marveled,
could reduce a man to size.
Rudolf Hess, for long, the closest
of all the Nazi aides to Hitler.
Now in the dock,
he struck me as a broken man.
His face so emaciated,
it looked like a skeleton.
His mouth kept twitching nervously,
his once-bright eyes stared vacantly
about the courtroom.
It was the first time
I had ever seen Hess out of uniform.
Alfred Rosenberg,
once the mentor
of Hitler and the Nazi movement.
He who contributed so much
to the Nazis' race hatreds
and who helped direct
the extermination of the Slav people,
is nervous in the dock,
lurching forward to catch every word,
his hands shaking.
[Evans] Hitler had a knack of attracting
these rather footloose,
purposeless nationalists
who were looking for someone
to represent the cause
and take them to victory.
[Dr. Stahmer, in German] Tell the Tribunal
when and under what circumstances
you came to know Hitler.
[Goering] I inquired and found
that I could hear Hitler speak
as he held a meeting every Monday evening.
I went there, and there Hitler spoke
about The Treaty of Versailles
and the repudiation of Versailles.
These convictions
were spoken word for word
as if from my own soul.
Now, finally I saw a man here
who had a clear and definite aim.
[Berg, in English] In the 1920s, because
militarism is forbidden, basically,
by the terms of the Treaty of Versailles,
there are these forces
of paramilitary groupings
who mobilize in terms of politics,
but militarized politics.
[Hett] The Nazis' band of thugs
is particularly notorious
and particularly important.
They're the group known as the SA,
stands for Sturmabteilung in German,
or translates basically
as "storm troopers."
They were known for their brown shirts,
and their role was basically to move
into areas of German cities and towns,
particularly working-class areas
where the social democrats
or the communists might be dominant,
and to start engaging
in basically gang warfare
with the paramilitaries of those parties,
and literally gain control of territory.
[Goering, in German]
I strove from the beginning
to bring into the SA
those members of the Party
who were young and idealistic enough
to devote their free time
and their entire personalities to it.
For at that time,
things were very difficult
for these good men.
[crowd chanting]
[Goeschel, in English]
Some of the early members of the SA
are military veterans who believe
that the war hasn't ended in 1918.
They believe that they have
to fight the Weimar Republic,
they have to fight the Jews,
they have to fight the communists,
they have to claw back control
so that Germany can be great again.
And Hitler's very much part of that.
This is not a shameful war.
No. "We're gonna get our revenge.
We're gonna get back at them."
[frenetic string music playing]
[Berg] And lots of them had nowhere to go,
nothing to eat,
nothing to do with themselves.
And these soldiers say,
"Oh, well, this is our savior."
"This is the guy
who's going to bring us back
to where we should have been,
because we should have won this war."
[Hett] For a young man
who couldn't settle down to civilian life,
and still wanted action,
they wanted violence and excitement,
it's something
that you have instant comradeship.
You join a unit where you have friends.
All you have to do is beat up communists,
beat up other political opponents,
and for many young men seeking adventure,
that's an appealing mixture.
They would also engage in murder
and assassination and political violence.
[Goeschel] Ernst Röhm was an officer
in the German Army.
He is one of the most violent Nazis.
Röhm molds the SA
into a violent crack troop.
[glass shattering]
[Hett] He was one of the people
who just could not get enough combat,
who couldn't settle down after the war.
[Evans] He'd been wounded in World War I.
His face was quite badly scarred.
Röhm was quite close to Hitler,
and his SA, his Brownshirts,
were absolutely vital
in trying to establish Nazi rule by force.
[Pendas] They were
a really important instrument
of the Nazi disruption
of the Weimar Republic.
They're helping to promote
a crisis atmosphere.
They're helping
to make Germany ungovernable.
[Hett] The first five years
of the Weimar Republic
really were a time
of nearly constant crisis.
Germany really is in the grip
of a low-level civil war.
Day after day and night after night,
there are these complicated
multi-way political gang warfare battles
going on in German towns and cities.
1923 was in many ways
the most crisis-ridden of those years.
[Berg] Germany had a lot of war debt from
the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.
And social costs are really high,
and the government had to pay war widows,
they had to pay insurance for veterans,
and so on and so forth.
So there's a lot of money
that needed to be shelled out,
and they basically started
printing more money.
So at this point,
inflation becomes astronomical.
[Goeschel] The economy
has gone completely out of control.
One US dollar is worth
more than four trillion marks.
Children play with banknotes
because paper money has lost its value.
People are paid their wages.
By the time they go to the shops,
prices have gone up
that they cannot buy anything.
[Berg] So in this environment
of hyperinflation
and civil strife and popular discontent,
Hitler decides that action
is really the only way forward.
[crowd murmuring indistinctly]
[Goeschel] The Bavarian government
organizes a rally
in one of Munich's main beer halls.
The Bavarian government
is extremely dissatisfied
with the national government.
They think that the national government
is not doing enough
to fight back against the political left.
[Hett] Hitler and several others
see this as the opportunity
they've been looking for.
[Berg] And Hitler
and his SA storm troopers march in.
[tense music playing]
[Berg] And all of a sudden,
Hitler stands up on a chair,
shoots his pistol in the air
and declares
the current government deposed.
[Pendas] It was an attempt
to overthrow the government
through a kind of armed insurrection.
[dramatic orchestral music playing]
[Goeschel] Hitler thinks that
he can co-opt the Bavarian government
in his quest to seize power in Berlin,
and he takes members
of the Bavarian government
into a side room at gunpoint.
[Berg] And he extracts promises
from the political elites in the room
that they are going
to play the assigned role
in this new dictatorship.
[Goeschel] Then Hitler
goes back into the main room.
He gives a speech
in which he appeals
to the ultra-nationalist sentiments
of the audience.
Some in the audience cheer him,
not necessarily because they agree
with Hitler,
but simply because Hitler
is a very effective speaker.
[crowd applauding]
[Berg] At the same time,
the SA, Ernst Röhm in particular,
is trying to take over police
and military stations,
which is where things go sour.
The police and the military
do not play along,
and they fail to take
over a telephone switchboard,
which actually means
that the news is getting out.
Once the police show up,
the political elites are like,
"Oh no, no, no, no.
We made those agreements under duress."
Hitler and the Nazi Party had expected,
somewhat unrealistically,
that the army and the police
would just join in,
and that didn't happen.
The next day, however,
Hitler and the Nazi Party realize
that the momentum had been lost,
and they don't really
quite know what to do.
So they come up with this idea
that they could maybe just stage
a march through Munich,
and potentially even take it
all the way to Berlin.
[Hett] And Hitler and his people
meet police forces
at the Feldherrnhalle
in the center of Munich,
the very place where he had
presumably been photographed
on the outbreak of World War I,
and there's a firefight.
[Evans] They were met
with a hail of bullets
from the Bavarian police.
Hitler was pulled to the ground
by one of his co-marchers,
dislocating his shoulder.
Goering was wounded by a bullet,
and in order to dull the pain,
took morphine,
and became a morphine addict
the rest of his life, pretty much.
Several Nazis were killed,
several policemen were killed,
and the putsch
was a pathetic, miserable failure.
[intense music playing]
[Hett] The trial which occurred in 1924,
was an incredible reversal for Hitler.
[Berg] In the trial,
Hitler addresses the population
in a way that changes the narrative.
Not some lunatic with a gun
trying to take over the Weimar government
from a beer hall,
but rather a man
with deep-rooted national conscience
is appealing to the masses
to recognize the dysfunction
of the system at large.
-[intense music continues]
-[indistinct shouting]
[Berg] And instead of
denying his responsibility,
he actually claims full responsibility,
and says, "Yes, this is what I did,
but actually, the revolutionaries
who destroyed the German Reich,
and cooked up this crazy republic,
they are the real criminals."
[Florvil] He talks about
the sense of himself as a victim,
but also Germany as a victim.
We're getting at the sort of core themes,
core elements,
that are pervasive
throughout Nazi ideology.
Democracy is rotten,
it's capitalistic, it's internationalist.
And so the Nazi order
will help to restore Germany
to its its greatness once again.
National and international newspapers
report the Hitler trial in detail.
The Beer Hall Putsch made Hitler
and the Nazis famous across the globe.
[Florvil] The media
writes about this figure,
this charismatic, very interesting figure
that emerges through the trial.
He becomes the star.
[indistinct shouting]
[Hett] As he is giving his last speech
at the end of the trial,
he memorably said to the court
that they might convict him of treason,
and they might send him to jail,
but the goddess of history,
with a smile, would acquit him
because what he had done,
he had done for his country,
he had done out of patriotism.
One of the judges
was heard to say at one point,
"What a splendid chap this Hitler is."
And these words
had a considerable effect on the court,
which gave him the lightest sentence
they could possibly give him,
which was five years in prison.
[indistinct murmuring]
[Goeschel] The sympathetic
right-wing judge adds to the sentence
that Hitler will be eligible for parole
after a mere six months.
He is sent to Landsberg Prison
outside Munich.
[birds chirping]
[Goeschel] He doesn't face
harsh living conditions in this prison.
[Hett] He doesn't have to wear
any prison uniform.
[door opens]
[Hett] He receives food packages
from admirers.
He was receiving so many packages
of sweets and sausages
and cakes and things like that,
that he put on a lot of weight.
[Berg] And many people
shower him with fan mail.
I would say this is the first time
that women lose their heads over Hitler.
[Florvil] It's sort of like
a revolving door of guests
coming in and out.
He's still a central figure
of the Nazi Party.
So I think this says a lot
about his ability to network,
the ways in which he's able
to help facilitate his political rise.
[typewriter keys clacking]
[Goeschel] He uses his time in prison
to write his autobiography Mein Kampf,
or My Struggle.
And it is Rudolf Hess
who collaborates with Hitler
on Mein Kampf.
[Hett] Hess is in prison with Hitler,
and he was always very much an acolyte,
we might say a groupie, of Hitler.
Hess begins to convey to Hitler
some of the lessons
that he's learned at Munich University
about the idea of lebensraum.
[Richie] For Hitler, lebensraum,
it's translated as "living space."
But actually, it's more complex than that.
It's part of 19th-century
German propaganda ideology,
and Hitler has the idea
that the cultures that actually exist
on these territories in the east,
the Slavs who he considered
to be subhuman,
are sort of bastard cultures.
They shouldn't really be there.
The Jews are untermenschen, nonhumans.
And what we really need to do,
is go back to this idea
of the German mission in the east,
where us, wonderful, civilized Aryan race
will go in and cleanse these lands,
and recreate them with these beautiful
little German towns and villages.
[Berg] And so for him,
the idea that Germany needed
its own hinterland
into which to expand
and extract resources,
and build up the kind of arsenal
that would enable it to be a global power,
was of the utmost importance
from the beginning.
For Hitler, war was not a question
of if, but when.
[Goeschel] Mein Kampf
is not an easy book to read.
It is a cocktail of hateful ideas.
One chilling point,
he says if only several thousand
of those Jewish miscreants
had been gassed in World War I,
uh, Germany would be in a better place.
[typewriter keys continue clacking]
[foreboding music playing]
[Hett] This book is an example
of what Germans call a bildungsroman,
a novel or a story
about a young person growing to maturity,
but with the idea of presenting himself
as a political genius.
[Berg] Given the experience
of the Beer Hall Putsch,
Hitler realizes that it is impossible
to seize power by way of revolution.
He decided, as a political strategy,
you have to play within the system
and then dismantle the system from within.
[paper rustling]
[Goeschel] Hitler realizes
that the Nazis can only come to power
if they have the legitimacy
of as many people
in positions of influence as possible.
They want to conquer Germany
through violence
and through the ballot box.
[foreboding music continues]
[Evans] Hitler had always lived
in a bit of a dream world.
There's very little political realism
in Mein Kampf.
Here he is
on the outer fringes of politics.
You could almost say
the lunatic fringe of politics.
This extremism,
the kind of language he uses
is not the language
of a parliamentary democracy,
and that, I think,
should have given people a clue
as to how untamable he would be
if he got anywhere near power,
and how he would use it.
[Norman Birkett] It must be remembered
that Mein Kampf
was no mere private diary
in which the secret thoughts
of Hitler were set down.
By the year 1945,
over six-and-a-half million copies
had been circulated.
[Shirer] Like almost everyone else
who had bothered to read the Nazi Bible,
I had not taken the aims Hitler set down
in that hodgepodge of a book seriously.
I have often thought subsequently
that if more people
had digested Mein Kampf
and seen it not only
as a lot of Nazi gibberish,
then history might have taken
a different course.
[in German] Before I answer
the question of the Tribunal
whether or not I am guilty
[gavel bangs]
[man, in English]
You must plead guilty or not guilty.
[in German] I declare myself in the sense
of the indictment not guilty.
[somber music playing]
[Goeschel, in English]
How can people in the modern age follow,
or seemingly follow, one man?
[man] Rudolf Hess.
[in German] No.
[Pendas, in English] It's not that
a handful of evil men can do evil things.
It's that a handful of evil men
can convince
a large majority of ordinary men
to help them do evil things.
[in German] I declare myself in the sense
of the indictment not guilty.
I declare myself in the sense
of the indictment not guilty.
I declare myself not guilty.
Not guilty.
I declare myself in no way guilty.
I declare myself not guilty.
[Shirer, in English] Adolf Hitler's rise
would have a hold on the German people.
[crowd cheering]
[Shirer] They were prepared
to follow him loyally and obediently.
[Shirer] What he did with that power,
and how he abused it, we shall see.
[plaintive piano music playing]
[music fades out]
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