BBC The Nazis A Warning From History (1997) s01e03 Episode Script

Part 3

In the mountains of Southern Bavaria, on the slopes of the Obersalzberg, Adolf Hitler built his retreat - the Berghof.
He would relax by watching feature films, on one subject in particular.
- So it's war.
- Unless we're quick.
From China to Afghanistan, they're making one great confederacy.
Good Lord! A machine gun! (HEAVY GUNFIRE) To Hitler, British rule of India was perfect proof of Aryan superiority.
Later, in 1941, he said, "Let's learn from the English, who, with 250,000 men in all, "including 50,000 soldiers, "governed 400 million Indians.
"What India was for England, the territories of Russia will be for us.
" Yet, in 1939, Hitler ended up at war with the country he most admired - Great Britain - and allied to the country he most wanted to colonise - Russia.
How did he end up fighting what was, from his point of view, the wrong war? (SINGING) On 30th January, 1933, the same day Hitler became Chancellor, the Nazis paraded by torchlight in Berlin.
After the years of unemployment, inflation and political uncertainty, Hitler promised Germany would be reborn, national pride restored.
Germany would be a world power again, her foreign policy decided in a new way - by the desires of one man.
Every true German, especially the Nazi Storm Troopers, now had to be obedient to the will of their Führer.
- Alles ist Reich! - (CHEERING) - Sieg! - Heil! - Sieg! - Heil! (SINGING BEGINS) Under Hitler, the German armed forces would have all the guns, tanks and planes they needed - and more besides.
These armaments were paid for by a series of sophisticated loans which mortgaged Germany's future.
The plan was masterminded by Reich Minister of Economics Hjalmar Schacht.
Hitler wasn't interested in how Schacht worked this apparent economic miracle.
In a typical example of how he dealt with subordinates, he simply told Schacht to get on with the job any way he liked.
He later said, "I never had a conference with Schacht to see what means were at our disposal.
"I restricted myself to saying this is what I require and what I must have.
" Hitler was obsessed with the survival of the fittest.
Goebbels' propaganda films reflected this obsession.
Hitler believed human beings were simply animals and that the strongest animal would always win.
If his subordinates were strong enough, they would succeed without his help.
Just as it was with animals, so it was with great men and whole countries.
Hitler believed the entire world was locked in a permanent struggle in which the stronger must prevail.
This was the theory he developed in "Mein Kampf", the book he wrote in 1924.
In it he also wrote that the Germans were a nation who needed to expand.
Like the British, they needed colonies.
He was clear where they should find them.
"We are putting an end to the perpetual German march south and west "and turning our eyes towards the east.
"And when we speak of a new land in Europe today, "we must principally bear in mind Russia and the border states subject to her.
"Destiny itself seems to wish to point the way for us here.
" In the years immediately after he became Chancellor, though he never publicly said he wanted to conquer the East, Hitler repeated his country's central problem - Germany wasn't big enough.
Deutschland, Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Hitler did openly announce one foreign policy goal.
He wanted, as he saw it, to "right the wrong of the Versailles Treaty" by which Germany had lost territory at the end of World War One and was restricted to an army of 100,000.
At that time, young people were enthusiastic and optimistic and believed in Hitler and thought it was wonderful to overcome the consequences of Versailles.
We were in a very high mood.
To help overcome Versailles, the Germans looked to the English.
England and Englishmen were widely admired by the German ruling classes.
They embraced what they took to be the ideals of the English gentleman - country estates and fox hunting.
I always hopedI always hoped that England - I'm talking to you as an Englishman - that England would see what Germany was planning to do, was building up too much, and would agree in sharing Europe, or whatever.
Whilst the English may not have wanted to share Europe with the Germans, they did think some accommodation should be reached with their former enemy.
The general view in Britain was that the French had imposed, and we had obviously been connected with it, too harsh a settlement on Germany in 1918 and that this should be rectified.
And to that extent there was a slight feeling we ought to have done better.
If you call that a sentiment of guilt, all right.
I'm not sure it was guilt, quite.
The first fruits of Hitler's attempt to woo the British came in June, 1935, when a naval agreement was signed between Germany and Britain allowing Germany to rebuild her fleet beyond the level permitted by Versailles.
Hitler said the day the agreement was signed was the happiest of his life.
Hitler sought to capitalise by sending the Nazi who negotiated the deal, Joachim von Ribbentrop, to London as German Ambassador in the summer of 1936.
The task was 100% to find a German-British alliance, because he had arranged before, quite well, the naval agreement.
And that should be crowned by a German-English entente, agreement.
And he At the beginning, he worked on this.
Ribbentrop was not a success in Britain.
Not only did the British not want a treaty of alliance with Nazi Germany, Ribbentrop himself committed faux pas, like giving a Nazi salute to King George VI.
No, Ribbentrop was regarded as not a gentleman, you know.
And he wanted to be considered a gentleman.
He was VON Ribbentrop, not just one of the rough Nazis.
But I don't think that went down at all well even in circles which, on the whole, felt we must get on with the Germans.
His mission was rather disastrous.
Sometimes he shouted, sometimes he was furious, he threw pencils at the secretaries.
So, privately, he behaved very simple and stupidly and very pompous.
And the British don't like this - pompous people - and he was very outspoken and very loud voice.
Goebbels said of Ribbentrop, "He bought his name, he married his money and swindled his way into office.
" Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister, revealed that Mussolini had remarked, "You only have to look at his head to see that he has a small brain.
" Ribbentrop was loathed by almost all the other leading Nazis.
They thought him a humourless upstart.
And yet Hitler supported him.
Hitler one day said, when Ribbentrop wasn't present, "With Ribbentrop it is so easy.
"He's always radical.
"Meanwhile, all the other people I have, they come here, they have problems, "they are afraid, they think we should take care, "and then I have to blow them up, to get strong.
"And Ribbentrop was blowing the whole day and I had to do nothing, "I had to brake, give brakes there.
Much better.
" (NARRATOR) Ribbentrop had a great insight into how to deal with Hitler.
He knew that Hitler always smiled kindly on a person who came to him with a radical solution to any problem.
Even if he didn't adopt the suggestion, he still praised the person who made it.
This was an insight a more intelligent member of Hitler's regime didn't have.
Hjalmar Schacht thought Hitler would listen to reason when he told him the German economy was overheating and armament production should be scaled down.
Instead, Hitler was furious with his Economics Minister.
Schacht was sidelined.
The economy was now put in the hands of a man who, though ignorant of economic theory, was certainly a proven radical Herman GÃring.
(CHEERING) He was, you would say, a jolly good fellow.
A jolly good fellow.
Loved to show off.
And loved rings and diamonds and had had funny hobbies.
Loved paintings.
And loved to live in luxury in Karinhall, which was near Berlin in the Schorfeide, where he built some kind of castle for hunting purposes.
That was more than a castle, just wonderful.
And, upstairs in the attic, he had an electric train built, various trains running around.
He played there like a child.
Loved, loved to be there.
So therefore, besides being a true, dependable vassal to Hitler, he was a big child.
What did Hitler want his new army for? At first it seemed the answer might be just to overturn the worst consequences of Versailles.
In 1936, Hitler moved his troops into the demilitarised Rhineland.
There was little international protest.
Then at a secret meeting in November, 1937, he told his generals that Germany must expand to survive and announced that Germany's problem could be solved only by the use of force.
Austria and Czechoslovakia were named by Hitler as the first targets.
Leading generals were not enthusiastic.
They offered sober objections to Hitler's ideas, not the applause he wanted.
In three months, the War Minister and Commander of the Army were removed after personal scandals.
Hitler took the opportunity to appoint the most radical Nazi of all as Commander-in-Chief of the German armed forces - himself.
It was in the mountains above Berchtesgaden in Southern Bavaria that Hitler liked to dream of Germany's forthcoming greatness.
He later said that his greatest ideas came to him in these mountains.
In the afternoon he would go on walks between the great peaks of the Obersalzberg.
He would return to the Berghof, a house run for him by Herbert DÃhring, a member of Hitler's own personal guard, the SS Leibstandarte.
At the Berghof, Hitler indulged himself by planning the great cities he would build in his new Germany.
Herbert DÃhring would constantly be folding and unfolding huge building plans so his master could dream his dreams.
Sometimes it seemed Hitler did little else.
When not dreaming of future German cities or of German expansion, Hitler would watch feature films - at the Berghof, always two a night.
He preferred escapist entertainment and Goebbels always made sure there was plenty on hand.
At the Berghof in the spring of 1938, Hitler saw an opportunity to take the first step in achieving a cherished dream - to bring other German-speaking people under his rule.
He capitalised on political instability in neighbouring Austria, a country which had already come hugely under Nazi influence.
After checking that no foreign power would interfere, he ordered German troops to cross the border.
(CHEERING) (BAND PLAYS) The majority of Austrians welcomed the Germans into their country.
They too had suffered as their empire was dismantled at the end of WWI.
Now, united with Germany, they were a power once again.
It was one of the nicest days of my life when we entered Austria.
I was with Hitler in the sixth car.
I had tears in my eyes.
All my dreams of reuniting Austria with Germany.
Don't forget, Austria was ruling Germany during 600 years.
So for me, after the defeat of the year '18 and Versailles, for us it was a dream.
I suppose a lot of people in England would say, "They are Germans after all.
" You know, if that's what they really want.
But it was, after all, a pretty nasty sort of takeover.
(CHANTING) Sieg Heil! I think we cried.
Tears were running down our cheeks.
When we looked to our neighbours, it was the same.
And when Hitler came to me, I nearly forgot to give him the hand.
I just looked at him .
and I saw good eyes.
And in my heart I promised him, "I always will be faithful to you.
" I kept my promise.
All my free time, besides school, I gave to the work because he had called us.
"You all" He had said that to us.
"You all shall help me build up my empire "to be a good empire "with happy people "who are thinking "and promising to be good people.
" (NARRATOR) But this was not going to be a "good empire".
Heinrich Himmler, Commander of the SS, was one of the first Nazis into Austria.
Like Hitler, Himmler thought himself a radical and a visionary.
This former Bavarian chicken farmer made Wevelsburg Castle the spiritual home of the SS - the élite group which had emerged from Hitler's own personal bodyguard.
(SOLDIERS SINGING) Himmler believed these were the superior beings who would crush Germany's enemies.
Himmler fantasised that the leaders of the SS would meet in this room, like the Knights of the Round Table, subordinate only to their own King Arthur - Adolf Hitler.
Here they would plan how to rule over their own empire.
Himmler said in 1938, "Germany's future is either a greater Germanic empire or a nothing.
"I believe that if we in the SS are doing our duty "the Führer will create this greater Germanic empire, this Germanic Reich, "the biggest empire ever created by mankind on Earth.
" In Austria, the first territory of this new Greater Germany, the SS and the other Nazis revealed how they intended to rule - with intolerance and cruelty.
Just as in Germany, the Nazis made the Jews their scapegoats.
You were completely outlawed, no protection anywhere.
Anybody could come up to you and do what they want, and that's it.
Austrian Jews were forced to perform a variety of tasks to humiliate them, like scrubbing the streets clean.
I once had to scrub the streets as well.
Can't remember anything except that I saw in the crowd a well-dressed young woman and she was holding up a little girl - a blonde, lovely girl, you know, with these curls, and she was smiling, so that she could see better how that, maybe, a 20-year-old kicked an old Jew who fell down.
They all laughed and she laughed as well.
Sort of, how happy, that was a wonderful entertainment.
The Austrian Jews were so persecuted that many simply fled, after, of course, the SS had robbed them of most of their money.
17-year-old Walter Kammerling was seen off at Vienna Station by his parents.
It's a nightmare situation.
I remember leaving Austria.
It was like in a haze.
It was only days after that it struck me, when I wanted to talk to my parents and they weren't here.
After the Nazi takeover of Austria, Adolf Hitler returned to Berlin to a tumultuous welcome.
He was more popular now than he had ever been before.
His new Reich contained over 80 million Germans.
The humiliations of Versailles were almost forgotten, but not quite.
In this euphoric mood, Hitler turned his eyes towards Czechoslovakia.
He focused his demands on the Sudeten Germans in the border areas, proclaiming that they too, as Germans, should be under his rule.
But not all German generals went along with Hitler's ambitious expansion plans.
Some, like General Beck, were frightened that he was leading Germany into another world war.
They secretly communicated this to the British.
From then on, of course, Beck and that group of generals - they didn't represent all the generals - kept in touch with us by underground means.
They used to come through me and it was the sort of thing of, "If only you and the French will stand up to Hitler, then we'll do something.
" And we said, "Hadn't you better start doing something and we can help?" But as Hitler went on having success after success, the possibility of this group of generals getting rid of him became less and less.
As Germany threatened Czechoslovakia, the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, tried to prevent war.
The crisis grew as twice he met Hitler and on each occasion Hitler increased his demands.
Finally, Chamberlain left for one last meeting on 29th September, 1938.
When I was a little boy, I used to repeat, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again.
" That's what I am doing.
When I come back, I hope I may be able to say, as Hotspur says in "Henry IV", "Out of this nettle danger, we pluck this flower safety.
" (CHEERING) Chamberlain sat alongside Ribbentrop, now German Foreign Minister, as the motorcade made its way to the conference hall in Munich.
Finally, an agreement was reached, brokered by Mussolini and GÃring.
Hitler could have the Sudetenland as long as he promised this was his final territorial demand.
Chamberlain, naturally, knew public opinion in Britain.
That's not the Foreign Office's job.
He knew public opinion in the Dominions, which mattered a good deal, and felt, I think quite rightly, really, that public opinion would not understand getting involved as an ally of France, so to speak, in a war with Germany in Europe, to prevent Germans being attached to other Germans.
But Hitler was still disgruntled.
Shortly after the agreement was signed, he was saying he had been tricked.
I heard thatsay the day after the Munich conference, by some people who had been in the same hotel with Hitler or with his surrounding people, adjutants and so on, and Ribbentrop and so on, and they said that Hitler had the idea that he had failed to get his war, that he had taken One German soldier took a home movie camera as he entered the Sudetenland and filmed scenes reminiscent of the victorious German entry into Austria just six months previously.
German army officers were ecstatic, too.
They now controlled the Czech border defences - the barbed wire, pillboxes and minefields with which the Czechs had sought to defend their country.
The rest of Czechoslovakia now lay naked in front of the German Army and their Commander-in-Chief, Adolf Hitler.
Hitler asked the ageing President Hacha of Czechoslovakia to Berlin in 1939 for talks.
Hitler humiliated Hacha by keeping him waiting.
He was busy that evening watching one of Goebbels' romantic comedies - "A Hopeless Case".
- Papa, Papa! - Jenny! (SHIP'S HORN BLOWS) Hitler eventually saw Hacha at 1.
15 in the morning.
He announced that in a few hours' time German troops would invade his country.
At 4 a.
, the distraught Hacha signed over the Czech people into Hitler's "care".
As dawn broke, Hitler held a celebration.
Manfred von Schroeder was there.
That was a sort of private party and a sort of victory party with champagne.
Hitler had his mineral water.
It was amazing to see how he behaved when he was among his friends, alone, and hadn't to behave like a statesman.
So he was sitting first of all like this.
Everything here open, hair's like this.
Drinking his mineral water.
And then the interesting thing - talking like this the whole time.
In the meantime, he dictated to two secretaries a proclamation to Germany and another proclamation to the Czechoslovak people and a letter to Benito Mussolini to be transmitted by the Prince of Hesse.
All at the same time.
I was a youngster of 24, so that's how a genius looks at home, you know? The German troops who assembled to cross into the Czech Republic were about to take a momentous step.
This boundary post marks the old border between the Sudetenland and the rest of Czechoslovakia.
By crossing this line, Hitler showed that his claim that he wanted only to unite German speakers was a sham.
This country had never been German and had no German-speaking majority.
This was an invasion.
Gone were the cheering faces of Austria and the Sudetenland.
This time the German military parade was watched by a silent crowd.
Hitler visited Prague and its castle, the old residence of the Czech kings, less than 24 hours after he had first made his demands to President Hacha.
Looking over Prague, Hitler was full of joy.
But not all Nazi supporters were as pleased as their Führer.
That changed the whole history.
It was clear Hitler was an imperialist and wanted to conquer whatever he wanted to conquer.
It had nothing more to do with the self-determination of the German people.
That was the sort of task one could accept, but this was really terrible.
And, of course, this came as a great shock to Chamberlain because he thought at least Hitler would consult him before doing anything.
It opened Chamberlain's eyes.
It was rather like Saul on the road to Damascus, in some ways.
The British knew that Hitler's next demand would be for the return of former German territory in Poland.
Chamberlain pledged to resist.
If an attempt were made to change the situation by force, in such a way as to threaten Polish independence, why, then, that would inevitably start a general conflagration in which this country would be involved.
Hitler demanded the return of Danzig to Germany, a city that sat in the so-called Polish corridor of land between East Prussia and Germany.
As the crisis intensified, Hitler retreated to the Berghof.
Hitler's dream of a grand alliance with Britain lay in ruins.
In its place he faced war with Britain and France if he invaded Poland.
He needed a radical solution to his problems.
(NEwSREEL) Von Ribbentrop leaving Berlin for Moscow ushers in a new, incomprehensible chapter in German diplomacy.
what can Russia have in common with Germany to throw over the peace front? Since spring 1939, on the back of trade negotiations with the Soviet Union, the Nazis had been making tentative moves towards an alliance.
On 23rd August, 1939, Ribbentrop signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union, which protected Hitler from fighting a war on two fronts.
A secret part of the pact guaranteed Stalin a share in the spoils once Hitler invaded Poland.
Hitler was now allied to his ideological enemy.
At the same moment as the pact was being signed in Moscow, Hitler stood with his guests on the Berghof terrace and stared at the sky.
A Hungarian woman in Hitler's entourage looked at the sky and spoke to her Führer.
On 1st September, 1939, Germany invaded Poland.

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