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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 14 November 2005
This is one of the finest television documentaries I have ever seen. It probes behind the usual cliches and half-truths about the Nazis and presents a picture of the party that is altogether more disturbing. The documentary concludes that once in power the operation of some of their darker policies was facilitated by the assistance of lower party officials and ordinary Germans. This expounds the myth that all Germans were manipulated into compliance from the top down. Neither are the sentiments that fuelled Nazi policies restricted to Germany, as in one of the most disturbing parts of the documentary a Lithuanian man who volunteered without coercion to join a shooting squad and execute his Jewish neighbours is interviewed. This series is given weight by the latest scholarship and authenticity and emotive power by a multitude of interviews. The music and narration is also of the finest quality. The documentary will leave you better informed, but also asking some uneasy questions. It is divided into the following six chapters, each approximately 48 minutes in duration:
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.
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on 22 November 2004
The Nazi's - A Warning From History is one which i only saw in its entirety this year on UK History. I found it an engrossing and fascinating series. From the outset the brilliant music featured in the credits create in the viewers mind a programme that is going to convey a story that is perhaps unsurpassed in its horror and of historys' main role as being teacher for us in the present and future.
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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on 24 June 2000
This series, now shown 3 years ago still sticks in my mind as one of the profound documentaries I have ever seen. The 'Warning from History' is the story of a highly civilised democracy that turned into a violent military state. The warning lies in the fact that these events are not as much in history as we may like to tell ourselves for two main reasons. Firstly, it's not that long ago - many of the unrepentant interviewees who supported the fascist regime are alive and well and happy to discuss their feelings of the time. Secondly, they are ordinary members of society who were caught up in series of events that best served them as individuals and threatened them if they resisted. As ordinary selfish individuals, they responded and went along with the mainstream, ignoring the realities they did not like in the interests of their own survival. By mixing personal, sociological and historical vews, the history comes frighteningly into the present. We all live in a society on this knife edge. If we too were brutalised and threatened, we could and would turn on eachother to ensure our own survival. This video should be bought, remembered and shown to the next generation
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VINE VOICEon 11 February 2007
Why are there not more DVDs like this? If I could, I would rate it a 7 out of 5.

The main thrust of this DVD has nothing to do with the conduct, management or execution of the war but rather the conduct, management or execution of the political field. So do not expect to see dive-bombing Stukas, menacing Tigers or obdurate Stormtroopers. None of these even have a walk-in part in this DVD.

Although we all hold a view that this was a barbarous regime, how did it manage to attain power & even more importantly, how did it manage to retain the power to memerise the German volk until the very end. Unlike the Stalinist regime which used terror by killing tens of millions of their own citizens, the Nazi state employed terror primarily against the undermensch and Juden. Undoubtedly terror was used against internal dissidents especially at the war's close but, in the main, the ordinary German folk were captivated or in thrall of Hitler and no doubt felt unbridled pride in the achievements of the German war machine especially with their initial, swift and essentially "bloodless" victories.

[...]Episode one deals with the birth of the Nationalist Socialist Workers Party or Nazi Party for short. Despondency had set in after their ignominious defeat in WW1. Disaffected elements without jobs & a future bandied together. These were revolutionary times in Germany with first the left trying to overthrow the existing order & establishing the short-lived Räterepublik in Bavaria. Then the right in the form of the Nazi Party had a go in the 1923 Putsch. Where Rees is outstanding, is marshalling little know facts such as the fact that the prosecutor in his trial had previously gone beyond the call of duty in assisting Hitler to evade justice. From their irrelevance in 1928 where the Nazi's only polled 2.6% of the national vote they soldiered on to obtain 32% in 1933. What had changed was neither their rhetoric nor their racist polices but rather the effects of the Great Depression which polarized the country into extreme right & extreme left.

Take episode two as an example of how wrong one can be: The prevailing view, and one carefully cultivated by the Nazi Party too, that they brought stability & especially orderliness to German society whereas in fact under the façade of normalcy lay a plethora of competing bodies each with a partial stake in a particular area. Their deliberate blurring of areas of responsibility started at its pinnacle i.e. Hitler who deliberately gave overlapping responsibility to his subordinates so as to set each underling against the other. This was not part of some Machiavellian principle but rather a profound belief in Darwinism or natural selection that drove this behaviour. This view was buttressed by the many films by Goebbels espousing this viewpoint.

The third episode touches on a point that I was blithely unaware of viz the Nazis high regard for the British & especially their way of life. Despite this they went to war first against the British & not their sworn enemies, the Bolsheviks, with whom they actually entered into a peace treaty.

The second disk deals with "The Wild West", "The Road to Treblinka" & "Fighting to the End".

The "Wild West" deals with the first 18 months of the German administration of Poland which had been spilt into 3 with 2 of them becoming part of Germany & the third being the dumping grounds for unwanted Poles from the other 2 areas. This process was not as straightforward as is presumed. The process involved the Germanisation of those of the local population that it could, the deportation of the rest and the resettlement of "ethnic" Germans from other parts of Eastern Europe in the vacated areas. Hardline Nazis such as the Gaulitier of Warthegau, Otter Grieser, adopted the expedient of simply dispossessing the non Germans of their property & possessions en masse & deporting them to the General Government in central Poland whereas his contemporary to the north merely used the expedient of Germanising whole groups of Poles except for the most recalcitrant.

This is a DVD of the top drawer variety. Instead of stock video footage used on countless other DVDs & the simplistic regurgitation of the facts, this DVD gets behind the facts and casts a spotlight on the underlying nooks & crannies. All of this is supported by documents & eye witnesses. Potentially this combination could be deadly boring; instead it has more the feel of a "whodunit" as the facts are revealed to support Rees' line of argument. What is especially intriguing is how Lawrence Rees manages to find eye witnesses to substantiate the various aspects covered.

Buy it now & get a unique, revealing and well presented insight into the modus operandi of the Nazi political machine. In spite of morbid somber quality & equally haunting music, do not be fooled. Just enjoy it.
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on 28 November 2000
This series provides exactly what the title suggests, a warning to subsequent generations of how a group such as the nazis can subvert the large part of a nation. This message is as important now as ever. This series should be standard viewing for all school children so that they may learn also learn the lesson of allowing a charismatic figure such as Adolf Hitler to provide solutions that require easy scapegoats; as indeed the Jews were in this case. The suffering endured by the Russians is also remarkably palpable.

Unfortunately, it seems, the warning is easily forgotten (as recent events in the Balkans show).

Television as powerful and as informative as this is all too rare in an age where we tend to be obsessed by modern gadgetary and techniques. This series provides a truly memorable tour de force using the testimony of victims and oppressors alike. As would be expected, the futility of a war such as that which occurred between 1939-45 is all too apparent.

Dr. Steve McCabe
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on 25 May 2006
...but also absolutely essential so that, as the other reviewers have said, this can never happen again. Nazism did not arise because the Germans are uniquely evil; it arose from a particular combination of historical circumstances and a unique individual. In other words, the potential for it to happen again is there. We have seen in our own time just how near the slippery slope we are, how petty ambitions and deliberate distortions of the truth can lead to invasion, destruction, concentration camps, torture and murder, all beyond the normal rule of law. We can never be too careful.

This outstanding series gives a great insight into the Nazi regime, how it ran (or rather didn't run) and why people who appear ordinary decent people were prepared to fight for it and to do dreadful things in its name. All praise to the BBC for getting some of these folk on camera - and profoundly disturbing to note the frequent lack of remorse. As I say, we can never be too careful.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 November 2012
I have seen many documentaries covering the Nazis rise to power, the second world war and the horrors of the holocaust. The usual impression given was that Hitler and his immediate subordinates were uniquely responsible for these terrible times, but this is a view which I have always found difficult to understand.

In contrast this documentary seeks to show how Hitler and the Nazi leadership were a product of the times, rather than vice versa, and how the policies were driven from the ground up, shaped by Hitler's vision, which had been borrowed and shaped from the beliefs of various right wing groups, mainly from the south of Germany. The really scary thing about this video is that given the right conditions it could happen again, almost anywhere.

This is one of the best documentary series I have seen and it makes compelling, if uncomfortable, viewing.
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on 12 January 2008
I remember watching this series when broadcast. At the time, it had a profound impression on me, illustrating clearly that while I understood some of what had happened in the 1930s-40s, I had a great deal to learn about why and how it happened. To hear from those who had taken part or stood by while the horrors unfolded, to see the lack of regret, showed just why this series should be included in everyone's education.
It lead me to further research on various aspects, but even having read volumes on certain aspects, this documentary series remains at the height of distilled knowledge. Easily understood, anyone can watch this, at any suitable age, and gain from it. As I said in my title, while many other similar series have been broadcast since, this is still one of the most incredible produced.
As a complimentary to it, I'd recommend Conspiracy. Naturally it's a work involving some drama and elaboration, but to see the one after the other gives a feeling of the times and attitudes of senior Nazis, that while some actively sought the holocaust, others allowed it through their inaction. It's a reflection of the wider, national feeling of Germany at the time, something that TN-AWFH illustrates in the programmes focusing on that terrible period of inhumanity.
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on 22 August 2015
As a permanent resident of Germany who has watched countless German-produced documentaries on the Nazis (they are shown on TV all the time), I must tip my hat to the BBC for this production. It outclasses everything I've ever seen on this subject so far.

What impressed me most of all were the interviews. Both the sheer number of people interviewed and the quality of the interviews is stunning. People from all walks of life who lived through the events speak about their thoughts and experiences - from military people, to eyewitnesses, to concentration camp survivors, to former secretaries of Nazis (just to name a few examples). Even a man who was in the "Einsatzgruppen" and killed many women and children speaks (uncomfortably) in front of the camera. I got the feeling that the Germans who were interviewed were more open than they might have been if they had been interviewed by a German production team. In any case, what the interviewers draw out of these people is often very moving.

Other aspects of this series are laudable as well. Narration is perfect, editing is excellent, and the whole series is simply well produced in a tasteful, non-spectacular manner. This will stand the test of time.
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on 17 May 2004
This Series should be compulsory viewing. It lets the true nature of the events through the words of those on both sides paint the pictures for you, and for that it is all the more horrific and compelling. It dispells the myths and misconceptions and instead looks at the reasons that Hitler rose to power, how simple prejudice could snowball into mass genocide. Please watch this and learn.
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