Hitler, it turns out, was a profoundly lazy man who rarely got out of bed before midday, and preferred to leave affairs of state to sort themselves out. He subscribed fervently to the doctrine of survival of the fittest as applied to all social and political matters, and actively encouraged in-fighting among his subordinates. The result was an organisational vacuum at the centre of state, which super-ambitious acolytes were only too eager to fill, often acting on nothing more than the Fuhrer's off-the-cuff remarks. One small example is revealing: after reading a letter from the father of a disabled child, Hitler agreed that it would be best for the boy to die. From this single statement arose a nationwide policy of euthanasia for all disabled children, carried out willingly and without compulsion by the doctors and "carers" themselves. It needed nothing more than the Fuhrer's nod. The message is clear and shocking: it happened in Germany, it could happen anywhere.
On the DVD: The Nazis: A Warning from History has six episodes spread across two discs. Picture and sound are standard TV quality; notable is the evocative use of Brahms's German Requiem as the series' theme. Other than subtitles, there are no extra features. -Mark Walker
Helped Into Power - this chapter examines how the political and economic turmoil of the Weimar Republic assisted the Nazis into a position of power. The economic depression of the early 1930s and opposition to communism from senior German politicians are shown to be important contributory factors.
Chaos and Consent – shows that behind the public façade of a rigidly ordered Nazi party, the lackadaisical approach to administration of Adolf Hitler created a cloud of confusion in which ambitious Nazis could exert considerable power in the formulation of specific policies.
The Wrong War – the immediate events preceding the outbreak of WW2 are presented and the question why Hitler ended up at war with the power he most admired – Great Britain - and allied to the country he most hated – Soviet Russia – is answered.
The Wild East – reveals how the occupied territories of Eastern Europe were governed once they were conquered. The chapter focuses on the brutal Nazi administration of Poland, in which forced migration, slave labour and execution were commonplace.
The Road To Treblinka – charts the rise of anti-Jewish sentiment and policies which led to the Holocaust and the creation of mass slaughter camps such as the one at Treblinka. The daily operation of the Treblinka camp is revealed and accounts from living survivors are presented.
Fighting To The End – asks why, despite a growing awareness of the repression and atrocities of the Nazi regime and a realisation of impending military defeat, the German people were not able to rid themselves of Adolf Hitler and were left fighting to the end. Even in the midst of set backs Hitler was able to inspire a fatalistic loyalty in his people and army that prolonged the Second World War. In addition, fear of the advancing Soviet army and the reprisals they would exact on the German people kept the nation fighting until the finale of the Battle of Berlin.
The programme itself keeps the right balance on information, making very effective use of documents and eye witness testimony, explaining very effectively how the Nazi's came to power, and although we now view it as an evil regime, one witness at the time said it was 'paradise'. It weaves a story together that appears seamless and interlinked, tying events that occured in chance meeting between Hitler with a Nazi official or his recieving a letter asking for permission to get rid of a disabled child, and how these in turn led to the various events and policy of Nazi Germany.
Its a rare and powerful documentary that is still as watchable 7 years on. Thoroughly recommended to those with even a passing interest in history and perhaps as a reminder to those who believe that as a species humans are advanced as we really think. This will make you think again.
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