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Rise of the Nazis/The Downfall

I watched my recording of the first part of this series yesterday.

It’s a documentary in the modern mould: actors silently depicting the major personages; a young female historian from a diverse background.

Heavyweight historian Sir Richard Evans presents it.

It begins in 1944 with Adolf Hitler presenting his strategy of total war to recapture the initiative, namely the Ardennes counteroffensive, known as the Battle of  the Bulge.

With no air cover and shortage of fuel for the Panzer tanks it was always doomed and not worth diverting troops from the Eastern Front.

The game was up.

Reichsmarshal Herman Goering was marginalised and the key figures at the court of Hitler were now Josef Goebbels and Albert Speer.

Speer, who was given responsibility for armament production, was a fascinating character.

The excellent biography of him by Gitta Sereny has been criticised as she seems to have fallen in love with him.

He was perhaps the cleverest of the lot and by 1944 was hell-bent on saving his own skin, not displaying loyalty to the Fuhrer.

Even at the Nuremberg Trial he admitted collective responsibility which probably saved him from the rope.

The German historians in the programme, in perfect English, dismissed Hitler as a madman.

Yet he was always a populist as well as a popular leader.

Had he died in 1937 his restoration of Germany economically might have made him one of the great achieving politicians of the Twentieth Century.

As it was, his theory that it was the Jews who were not only responsible for the demise of Germany – but also the world – and his hellbent policy of achieving global domination by war made him forever cast as a dangerous lunatic and megalomaniac.

Next year will be the 100th anniversary of the Munich putsch and in 2o33 the 100th anniversary of the Nazis attaining power.

Yet even after a considerable period of time documentaries about them still fill the schedules and it is one of the few governments that people can still name the principal operators.

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About Henry Elkins

A keen researcher of family ancestors, Henry will be reporting on the centenary of World War One. More Posts