Whenever a study of the Nazis is undertaken, there is one burning question that emerges: How could a cultured nation, at the heart of Europe, be responsible for acts so horrible, so inhuman? Laurence Rees' BAFTA Award-winning series attempts to answer this question by exploring the underlying politics and psychology behind the Nazi's rise to power.
HOW CAN THIS BE DONE?
Three years and interviews with more than 50 eyewitnesses, many of whom were committed Nazis, went into the making of this series, giving a personal angle to one of those most devastating wars in history. It also explores the massive collaborative effort throughout Europe, not just of elite killing squads, but also regular German soldiers and local civilian populations, that went into creating the Nazi regime. The result is a series of remarkable and disturbing insights into the human mind and the dangers of complacency.
HELPED INTO POWER
The Nazi party was born out of the economic devastation that Germany experienced as a result of the first world war. Support for the party grew quickly during the 1920s, with a promise of a brighter future and a stronger Germany. This promise led to the German people voting, in January 1933, for a Chancellor who was openly committed to overthrowing democracy.
CHAOS AND CONSENT
The series suggests that part of the Nazi's appeal to the German people came from the false promise of a disciplined society that would function with military precision. In a country full of chaos, Hitler emerged, promising order and structure. This promise led to an astonishing amount of voluntary public support for the infamous Gestapo, who were believed to personify Hitler's pledge to Germany and help bring back stability to the people. Rees uses archive film and witness testimonies to reveal that there was in fact very little of the alleged military order within this brutal secret police force.
Nazis: A Warning from History sheds new light onto the Nazi reign of terror in Poland. It also delves into the decision-making process that led to the Holocaust, and the ideology that allowed homosexuals, gypsies, communists and Jews to be systematically murdered. The imagery and footage is never easy to watch, but the series emphasises the reasons that we should watch and remember.
FIGHTING TO THE END
In 1943 the Germans were defeated in Stalingrad, but a fear and hatred of Bolshevism drove many Germans to fight to the bitter end. Through interviews with Germans that were there, the series discovers why so many chose to continue fighting a losing battle. Finally, Rees draws uncomfortable conclusions that are vital to understand if people are to learn from the mistakes and avoid repeating them.