Episode 1 The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler


Episode 1

Adolf Hitler seemed an unlikely leader, yet was once loved by millions. How was this possible, and what role did Hitler's alleged 'charisma' play in his success?


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Transcript


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AUDIO OF ADOLF HITLER GIVING SPEECH

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Adolf Hitler,

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the leader of a country rich in culture at the heart of Europe.

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A man incapable of normal human relationships,

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lacking all compassion, filled with hatred and prejudice.

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Here, long before the Second World War,

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Hitler was speaking about his political opponents with brutality,

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"vernichtet", meaning destroyed.

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'Vernichtet!

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'Vernichtet!

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'Vernichtet!

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'Vernichtet!'

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Hitler's hatred would lead to the Holocaust.

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His desire for conquest would leave much of Europe in ruins.

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Yet this man, so full of anger, was once loved by millions.

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Here, in the mountains of southern Germany during the 1930s,

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lay a place of pilgrimage.

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On the slopes of the Obersalzberg was Adolf Hitler's home,

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the Berghof.

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And this is what many people thought of him.

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'I myself had the feeling that here was a man

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'who did not think about himself and his own advantage,

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'but solely about the good of the German people.'

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This film reveals why Hitler was so attractive to these people,

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with insights from those who lived through these times,

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many of whom were interviewed by the BBC over the last 20 years.

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'The man gave off such a charisma

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'that people believed whatever he said.'

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But the truth is that Hitler did not somehow hypnotise the German people,

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for this is a history that shows how charisma

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is created in a relationship.

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Hitler said that those Germans he considered racially pure

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were better than anyone else, and many German believed him.

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Hitler, always filled with hatred,

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managed to make a connection with millions of Germans,

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and in the process, this seemingly unlikely figure

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generated a level of charismatic attraction

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that is almost without parallel in history.

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Munich, in southern Germany.

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In 1913, the home to a strange 24-year-old Austrian,

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somebody nobody at the time considered remotely charismatic,

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Adolf Hitler.

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He rented a room from a tailor,

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and scraped a living painting pictures of Munich,

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similar to this, for tourists.

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He felt bitter and angry that his dreams

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of being a great artist had come to nothing.

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A previous flatmate,

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August Kubizek, described Hitler like this.

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'Unleashing a torrent of hatred, he would pour his fury over everything.'

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And Hitler would almost certainly have remained an unknown painter

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if it hadn't been for a momentous event in world history...

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..the First World War.

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Hitler, as an ordinary soldier, fought over these fields in France.

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'To the left and right, shrapnel abursting,

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'and in between, the English bullets whistle.

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'But we don't care.

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'Every one of us has only one wish,

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'to settle the score with that gang out there once and for all,

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'whatever the cost.'

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Though brave - he won the Iron Cross -

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his comrades still thought Hitler a bit weird.

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One of them, Balthasar Brandmayer, said...

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But what is extraordinary is that the very qualities

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that made Hitler appear so peculiar to his comrades

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would shortly help make him appear charismatic to thousands.

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For Hitler's character never really changed,

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but the situation did, when Germany lost the war.

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In November 1918, the war ended.

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More than two million Germans had died in this war,

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and all that their sacrifice seemed to have achieved

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was a humiliating defeat.

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In the aftermath of this lost war came riots

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on the streets of Germany and a socialist revolution in Berlin.

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Some of the leaders of the attempted revolution were Jewish,

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a fact which fed anti-Semitic prejudice,

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particularly amongst many of those on the right of German politics.

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GERMAN REVOLUTIONARY SONG PLAYS

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Thousands of ex-soldiers formed paramilitary groups

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called Freikorps in order to fight the revolution.

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And these Freikorps already held many of the ideas and beliefs

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that Hitler would later adopt as his own.

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Many Freikorps were hugely anti-Semitic,

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believing in the fantasy that Jews were responsible

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both for Communism and Germany's defeat in the war.

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And one of the most notorious Freikorps groups even adapted

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what they took to be a racist symbol, the Hakenkreuz...

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or Swastika.

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Members of the Freikorps called their leaders Fuehrer.

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And many of those who would later become infamous as Nazis joined Freikorps...

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..like Heinrich Himmler, who would become head of the SS,

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Gregor Strasser,

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one of the most important early leaders in the Nazi party...

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..and Rudolf Hoess, the future commandant of Auschwitz.

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But Hitler was not in a Freikorps. He was back in Munich.

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Devastated by the loss of the war and desperate to stay in the army,

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he seemed lost and directionless.

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Captain Karl Mayr knew Hitler in May 1919.

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'This time, Hitler was ready to throw in his lot with anyone

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'who would show him kindness.

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'When I first met him, he was like a tired, stray dog

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'looking for a master.'

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But Mayr detected in Hitler qualities he could use.

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He decided to train Hitler as a propaganda agent.

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Who's that?

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Hitler was sent on a short course here at the University of Munich

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and then started giving right-wing speeches to his fellow soldiers,

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warning of the dangers of Communism.

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It's only at this point that Hitler's thinking

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seems to crystallize.

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How many of these ideas were already latent within him

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is still a matter of debate,

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but what's certain is that in the summer of 1919,

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he becomes sure of his beliefs.

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In a letter he wrote in September 1919,

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Hitler called for the removal of the Jews from Germany

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and a Government of National Strength.

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Now, at the age of 30, Hitler had found his mission in life.

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And this mission was the first part of his charismatic appeal.

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Hitler joined the German Workers' Party,

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one of a huge number of far-right groups in Munich at the time,

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and started speaking at meetings in beer halls.

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Harsh and theatrical as his speeches appear to us today,

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at the time, his performances soon got him noticed in Munich.

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He seemed to be able to express the anger many people felt,

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as well as their desire to blame someone else

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for the problems Germany faced - particularly the Jews.

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This speech, from 1933,

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shows how Hitler's own hatred connected with the audience.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Many now shared Hitler's warped prejudices,

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and his intolerance was taken as strength of character.

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Hans Frank, who would go on to become a leading Nazi,

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first heard Hitler speak in 1920.

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'Everything came from the heart

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'and he struck a chord with all of us.

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'He uttered what was in the consciousness of all those present.'

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This is a key insight into charisma.

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Because charisma does not exist on its own in anyone.

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It exists only in an interaction

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between an individual and an audience.

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An individual like Hitler who was telling the audience

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what they wanted to hear.

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Many of them longed for a charismatic leader

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to lead them out of misery.

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German history was rich in stories of such heroes.

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Here, amongst the mountains around Hitler's house,

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the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa was, according to legend, sleeping -

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waiting to awaken and fight his final battles.

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And one of the most popular tourist attractions of the time

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was this monument, completed in 1875,

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to Hermann, a tribal leader who had led the Germans

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to victory over the Romans nearly 2,000 years before.

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This later engraving claims a direct link between Hitler and Hermann.

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Both portrayed as German heroes.

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And Hermann was so important to the Nazis that Heinrich Himmler

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took over Wewelsburg Castle nearby in the 1930s,

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intending this place to be a centre of SS power.

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In the crypt of the castle,

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Himmler wanted to hold pagan SS ceremonies

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by the light of an eternal flame.

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Above the crypt was a hall, for the leaders of the SS to meet,

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like the warrior knights of old.

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Always subordinate to their heroic master, Adolf Hitler.

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'He is a genuinely great man

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'and, above all, a true and pure one.'

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Himmler believed that, just as Hermann had once proved

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to be a superior kind of Germanic hero, 2,000 years ago,

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Adolf Hitler would prove to be just such a hero today.

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In 1923, the political atmosphere in Munich was tense and unstable.

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By now, Hitler had been leader of the National Socialist German Workers' Party,

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which some called the Nazis, for two years.

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And he'd built a large and growing paramilitary organisation -

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the Stormtroopers.

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In November 1923, he decided to act,

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and to try and spark an uprising in Munich.

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On 9th November, the Nazis marched through these streets,

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but were stopped by the police.

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Here, at the corner of the Feldherrnhalle.

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Shots were exchanged.

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Four police and 16 Nazis were killed that day.

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The uprising, or Putsch, had been an incompetent and violent attempt

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to overthrow a democratic state.

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But Hitler managed to turn it into a heroic myth.

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This annual re-enactment of the march,

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filmed after the Nazis came to power,

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shows just how Hitler tried to create that myth.

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Each of the Nazis killed in the Putsch was turned into a martyr.

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Their flag became a sacred relic.

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Where they were shot became a hallowed site.

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Those in attendance were blessed.

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Hitler wanted to show how his devoted disciples

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had died for a great cause,

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a cause symbolised by their single, heroic leader.

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Back in 1924,

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Hitler received the minimum sentence possible for his part in the Putsch

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from a sympathetic judge and was sent to Landsberg Prison.

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Here, he wrote a book - Mein Kampf, or my struggle.

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In it, he tried to demonstrate

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that he possessed the next important element

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needed by a charismatic leader -

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a vision of how the world is and how it ought to be.

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A brutal vision.

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'He who wants to live, should fight,

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'and he who does not want to fight

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'in this world of eternal struggle,

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'does not deserve to live.'

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Hitler believed that the fact that we are animals

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is the most important thing about us,

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and that so-called Aryan Germans were superior animals.

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Hitler's vision from Mein Kampf was later expressed

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in this propaganda film of the 1930s,

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made after the Nazis came to power.

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Once in power, Hitler introduced compulsory sterilisation

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for selected disabled Germans.

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Later, he would authorise

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the killing of tens of thousands of them.

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On 20th December 1924, Hitler was released from Landsberg Prison

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and set about trying to rebuild the Nazi Party.

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Despite writing Mein Kampf,

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Hitler's charismatic credentials as a revolutionary

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were still largely based on his reputation as a speaker.

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This series of studio photos, taken later in the 1920s,

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shows how he attempted to demonstrate his dynamic image.

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But in the mid 1920s,

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support for the Nazis was dropping as the economy improved.

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And one of the most senior Nazis, Gregor Strasser,

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wanted the party to be led in a less dictatorial way.

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His challenge now was to convince Adolf Hitler to agree with him.

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On 14th February 1926, here, in the ancient city of Bamberg,

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Hitler held a special conference to deal with Strasser's proposals.

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But there was to be no debate.

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Hitler just spoke for several hours, repudiating Strasser's ideas

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and was then cheered by his supporters.

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Hitler did not approve of discussion nor of detailed policy.

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For a charismatic leader, vagueness is valuable.

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This is how he later explained the Nazi Party should operate.

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CHEERING

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Hitler worked hard to try and appear charismatic.

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One technique he used was his stare.

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He would hold the eyes of the person he was looking at

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longer than was usual.

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One Nazi supporter later claimed he felt this

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when he looked into Hitler's eyes.

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'That was one of the most curious moments of my life.

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'The gaze, which at first rested completely on me,

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'suddenly went straight through me and into an unknown distance.

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'It was so strange.'

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But being a Nazi could be difficult

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if you didn't accept Hitler's charisma.

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Here in Bamberg, one of Strasser's close associates was distraught

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when Hitler chose not to debate policy.

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He was a 28-year-old former journalist called Joseph Goebbels,

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and he wrote in his diary...

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"I no longer fully believe in Hitler. I am in despair."

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But Hitler recognised the potential value of Goebbels to the Nazi Party,

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so he now focused his attention directly on Goebbels.

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Asking him to Munich,

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passionately expounding his vision for the future of Germany,

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and flattering him.

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Goebbels was captivated.

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Two months after Bamberg, Goebbels wrote in his diary...

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Hitler now had the party he wanted,

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one built around his strange personality.

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Small as the Nazi Party was

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at the time this footage was shot in the 1920s,

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most of the elements that would come together

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to make Hitler be seen as a leader of charisma were already in place.

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His mission - to create a racist, Aryan, German state.

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The connection he made with his audience via his speeches.

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His claim that he possessed strength because he was a proven war hero.

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His Darwinian vision, developed in Mein Kampf,

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which also contained the fantasy

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that the Jews and Communists were to blame for everything.

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But still, if you weren't already inclined to accept Hitler's views,

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then, you felt he possessed no charisma at all.

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'I immediately disliked him because of his scratchy voice.

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'He shouted out really, really simple political ideas.

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'I thought he wasn't quite normal.'

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'He put forward certain claims that were in no way valid

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'and I said to my friend, "My impression after that speech

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'"is that this man Hitler will hopefully

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'"never come to political power."'

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And in 1928, it looked like he never would.

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The vast majority of people in Germany

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were completely immune to Hitler's charisma.

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At the election in May 1928, the Nazis gained just 2.6% of the vote.

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Hitler's appeal only began to be felt

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beyond a small group of fanatics because of an economic catastrophe.

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In the wake of the Wall Street Crash of 1929,

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the German economy all but collapsed.

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The Weimar government had borrowed money

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to pay the Allies war reparations

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and now the debt became too great to service.

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Banks crashed, and unemployment soared.

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The Nazis gained support, but so did the Communists.

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'It was a ray of hope that Socialism would be coming,

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'that unemployment would be vanquished,

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'that you would have a right to a job and you'd be paid more.'

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In the beer halls,

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fights between the Nazis and the Communists

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became almost commonplace.

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'Stormtroopers all had a big glass in front of them,

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'practically a missile.

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'The battle was pretty fierce,

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'several people were hospitalized, some Stormtroopers too,

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'they had face wounds.

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'I had a head wound, I was bleeding.'

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Hitler thrived in this atmosphere of violence and political crisis.

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At election rallies,

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he openly called for the destruction of democracy.

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And for a new Germany to be united under his leadership.

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MUSIC: "Deutschlandlied" by Joseph Haydn

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'It was our aim that a strong man should have the say,

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'and we had such a strong man.

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'The people were really hungry.

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'It was very, very hard.

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'And, in that context,

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'Hitler, with his statements, seemed to be the bringer of salvation.'

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Hitler hadn't somehow mesmerised his new followers

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into acting against their own will.

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In this desperate situation,

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they chose to have faith in a leader they felt had charisma.

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But not everybody thought Hitler was the answer to Germany's problems.

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President Hindenburg certainly didn't.

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Even though in 1932 the Nazis became the biggest party in Germany,

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he refused to make Hitler Chancellor,

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calling him the "Bohemian corporal."

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Hitler was offered the job of Vice Chancellor,

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but he refused to take it.

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And some of his supporters saw his obstinacy as heroic.

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'Hitler holds his nerve, he is above the machinations.

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'I love him when he's like this.'

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But other leading Nazis were not so full of praise for Hitler.

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Gregor Strasser, still an important figure in the party,

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thought that Hitler was stupid to hold out for the Chancellorship.

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He had had enough.

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'He should realise that he has been

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'consistently refused this post by everybody.

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'I'm not prepared to wait for the Fuehrer

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'to be appointed Reich Chancellor

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'as, by then, our movement would have collapsed.

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'I'm at the end of my tether, I've resigned from the Party

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'and I'm now going to the mountains to recuperate.'

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But some in the German elite were beginning to think

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that appointing Hitler as Chancellor

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might be one way out of Germany's problems.

0:30:150:30:19

The aristocratic Franz von Papen, a former Chancellor himself,

0:30:190:30:23

thought Hitler could be a useful figurehead.

0:30:230:30:26

Der Mann ist doch ein Ausbund von Kleinbuergertum...

0:30:260:30:29

He didn't find Hitler charismatic, but "curiously unimpressive."

0:30:290:30:33

What they were most frightened of was not Hitler, but the Communists.

0:30:370:30:41

Die Kommunisten. Der Kommunismus.

0:30:420:30:44

Das ist die Hauptbedrohung, die ich sehe. Es muss etwas geschehen...

0:30:440:30:47

And so, von Papen and his friends,

0:30:470:30:50

backed an idea to make Hitler Chancellor,

0:30:500:30:53

as long as there were only a few other Nazis in the cabinet.

0:30:530:30:57

..Staatsmaennisches Verhalten.

0:30:570:30:59

On 30th January 1933, after lobbying from von Papen and others,

0:31:050:31:10

Hitler was appointed Chancellor by President Hindenburg.

0:31:100:31:13

For Hitler's supporters, this was the strongest proof yet

0:31:220:31:26

of his power as a charismatic leader.

0:31:260:31:28

When it had looked impossible that he would become Chancellor,

0:31:280:31:31

and many had doubted him, he had asked them to have faith.

0:31:310:31:36

And now, he WAS Chancellor.

0:31:360:31:38

Von Papen, who was happy to see democracy disappear,

0:31:400:31:43

became Vice Chancellor.

0:31:430:31:46

He still thought he and his friends could control Hitler.

0:31:460:31:49

He would shortly discover

0:31:490:31:51

that he'd made one the most monumental misjudgements in history.

0:31:510:31:54

CHEERING

0:31:590:32:02

Hitler talked to the German nation as Chancellor on 10th February 1933.

0:32:030:32:09

Thousands were in the hall in front of him,

0:32:090:32:11

and millions were listening on radio.

0:32:110:32:15

But Hitler made them all wait.

0:32:150:32:17

When he did start, Hitler stuck to his old familiar script.

0:33:010:33:04

His speech was vague in detail

0:33:040:33:07

and called for Germans to fix their problems without outside help.

0:33:070:33:11

APPLAUSE

0:33:550:33:58

But if Hitler didn't consider you a "true" German,

0:34:010:34:04

then, suddenly, you were at risk.

0:34:040:34:05

Thousands of people the Nazis considered enemies of the new regime,

0:34:080:34:12

mostly their political opponents, but also some Jews,

0:34:120:34:15

were imprisoned in concentration camps.

0:34:150:34:18

This one at Dachau outside Munich

0:34:200:34:22

was opened just weeks after Hitler became Chancellor.

0:34:220:34:26

To begin with, the concentration camps

0:34:340:34:37

were under the control of the Nazi Stormtroopers.

0:34:370:34:40

Here they are parading in triumph through Berlin.

0:34:400:34:43

But their ordered marching hid a chaotic and violent reality.

0:34:460:34:52

'Everyone is arresting everyone else

0:34:540:34:56

'and avoiding the prescribed official channels.

0:34:560:34:58

'Everyone is threatening everyone else with protective custody.

0:34:580:35:01

'Everyone is threatening everyone else with Dachau.'

0:35:010:35:05

These concentration camps were not yet places of mass killing,

0:35:060:35:09

but they were brutal in the extreme.

0:35:090:35:13

A number of prisoners were murdered,

0:35:130:35:14

and torture, often psychological torture, was commonplace.

0:35:140:35:19

'I was thrown into the bunker and kept in chains.

0:35:200:35:24

'We only got something to eat every fourth day.

0:35:240:35:27

'Other than that, there was just a jug of water and bread.

0:35:270:35:30

'After four days, he said, "You're getting out tomorrow,"

0:35:300:35:35

'but he was just messing around with me.

0:35:350:35:37

'They kept saying, "You'll be getting out..." Nothing.'

0:35:370:35:41

Throughout Germany, the reality was obvious -

0:36:010:36:05

Hitler led a movement of violent revolutionaries

0:36:050:36:08

and was brutally suppressing any opposition.

0:36:080:36:11

But now he was Chancellor,

0:36:130:36:15

Hitler also wanted the support of all of those who lived in this land

0:36:150:36:19

that he considered "true" Germans.

0:36:190:36:21

Nazi Stormtroopers were still as ready to spill the blood of their enemies as they'd always been.

0:36:260:36:32

So how could Hitler benefit from the brutality of his Stormtroopers

0:36:340:36:38

and yet not be blamed for it?

0:36:380:36:40

An early sign of how Hitler would attempt this deception

0:36:470:36:50

was shown just two months into his Chancellorship.

0:36:500:36:53

Hitler's anti-Semitic prejudice knew no bounds.

0:36:530:36:57

And on 1st April 1933, with Hitler's approval,

0:36:570:37:01

the Nazis held a boycott of Jewish shops and businesses

0:37:010:37:05

that lasted one day.

0:37:050:37:07

'I felt like I was falling into a deep hole.

0:37:070:37:10

'That was when I intuitively realised for the first time

0:37:100:37:14

'that the existing law did not apply to Jews.

0:37:140:37:18

'You could do with Jews whatever you liked.

0:37:180:37:20

'A Jew was an outlaw.'

0:37:200:37:22

But because Hitler didn't know what the reaction to all this would be,

0:37:230:37:27

particularly abroad, he didn't want his name associated with it.

0:37:270:37:30

The document calling for the boycott was signed only

0:37:320:37:35

"Leadership of the National Socialist German Workers' Party."

0:37:350:37:38

But Hitler was concerned

0:37:480:37:50

that the Stormtroopers might be getting out of his control,

0:37:500:37:54

that they were starting to become a threat to the regime itself.

0:37:540:37:57

Hitler told them the revolution was over.

0:38:030:38:06

But the Stormtroopers wanted to march the revolution ever onwards,

0:38:060:38:10

staying true to the words of the Nazi anthem,

0:38:100:38:13

written by Stormtrooper Horst Wessel.

0:38:130:38:15

Their leader, Ernst Roehm,

0:38:500:38:52

even wanted the Stormtroopers to take over the German Army.

0:38:520:38:56

But the army didn't want anything to do with this bunch of thugs.

0:38:560:39:01

'One rejected the Stormtroopers because of their behaviour.

0:39:010:39:05

'Well, at the end, one can almost say

0:39:050:39:06

'the Stormtroopers were hated by most soldiers.'

0:39:060:39:09

Von Papen, Hitler's Vice Chancellor,

0:39:230:39:26

had been gathering complaints about the Stormtroopers.

0:39:260:39:29

This was potentially dangerous for Hitler,

0:39:310:39:33

as von Papen was close to the aged President Hindenburg.

0:39:330:39:36

On 17th June 1934, von Papen made a speech openly criticising the Nazis.

0:39:390:39:45

'An endless dynamic creates nothing.

0:39:470:39:49

'Germany must not become a train into the unknown,

0:39:490:39:53

'with no-one knowing when it will stop.'

0:39:530:39:55

But Hitler realised he could turn all this to his advantage

0:40:020:40:06

and alter the way millions perceived him as a leader.

0:40:060:40:09

He just had to be cold-hearted and ruthless.

0:40:130:40:16

On 30th June 1934,

0:40:250:40:27

Hitler travelled to the shores of the Tegernsee in Bavaria

0:40:270:40:30

and the health resort of Bad Wiessee.

0:40:300:40:33

Roehm and the senior leadership of the Stormtroopers

0:40:370:40:39

were all on holiday here, at this hotel then called the Hanselbauer.

0:40:390:40:44

Hitler and his entourage arrived at 6.30 in the morning.

0:40:520:40:55

Hitler walked through the lobby of the hotel

0:40:550:40:58

and up the stairs to the first floor,

0:40:580:41:01

where Roehm was asleep in this room.

0:41:010:41:04

Hitler, claiming that Roehm was plotting a coup against him,

0:41:040:41:07

arrested his old comrade along with the other leaders of the Stormtroopers.

0:41:070:41:11

Two days later, Roehm was shot.

0:41:110:41:14

Many others Hitler held grudges against

0:41:230:41:25

were killed at the same time.

0:41:250:41:27

Gregor Strasser, who had once been a leading Nazi

0:41:270:41:30

but had quarrelled with Hitler, was also shot.

0:41:300:41:33

As for von Papen, two of his aides were murdered,

0:41:420:41:45

but he was allowed to live,

0:41:450:41:47

eventually sent to Vienna as German ambassador.

0:41:470:41:50

Hitler benefited hugely as a result of the ruthless killing of Roehm and the others.

0:41:560:42:01

Now Hitler had seemingly destroyed disorderly elements

0:42:010:42:04

within his own party,

0:42:040:42:05

many Germans started to see him for the first time

0:42:050:42:08

as leader of the nation, not just leader of the Nazis.

0:42:080:42:12

On 2nd August 1934, just one month after the murder of Roehm,

0:42:190:42:24

every member of the German armed forces was ordered to swear an oath of loyalty to Hitler personally.

0:42:240:42:31

President Hindenburg had just died,

0:42:440:42:46

and now Hitler was head of state as well as Chancellor.

0:42:460:42:50

ALL: Adolf Hitler.

0:42:520:42:54

Just a few weeks later, in September 1934,

0:43:040:43:08

Hitler was here in Nuremberg for the Nazi Party rally.

0:43:080:43:11

The Nazis had first held a rally in Nuremberg in 1927.

0:43:130:43:16

But this rally would be remembered more than any other

0:43:160:43:20

and would play an important part in the creation of a Hitler myth.

0:43:200:43:24

Because this rally was filmed

0:43:240:43:26

for the feature length documentary Triumph Of The Will.

0:43:260:43:29

Hitler was portrayed as a flawless, almost God-like leader,

0:43:370:43:41

descending from the clouds to meet his adoring subjects.

0:43:410:43:44

Thanks to Triumph Of The Will,

0:43:520:43:54

it wasn't just the people who were physically present

0:43:540:43:56

who experienced the emotional impact of seeing their leader.

0:43:560:44:00

Now, millions more could see in cinemas

0:44:030:44:06

a carefully crafted vision of Hitler.

0:44:060:44:09

'For me, the Fuehrer was an inviolable personality -

0:44:200:44:24

'the Fuehrer of the German Reich.

0:44:240:44:26

'He, whom Providence had given so many gifts.

0:44:260:44:29

'He, who was so powerful that he could orchestrate millions.'

0:44:290:44:34

'There was the wish to place power in the hands of a man who says,

0:44:380:44:42

'"We will do it, and we will only succeed like this

0:44:420:44:44

'"if we all roll up our sleeves."'

0:44:440:44:46

'It made you sick, but it was fascinating at the same time.

0:44:500:44:55

'Hitler didn't promise anything.

0:44:550:44:57

'It was always "only for the German people"

0:44:570:45:00

'and "we have to free the people from Marxism."

0:45:000:45:03

'I only admired the technique.'

0:45:030:45:05

'The fact is that Hitler managed to get all of them,

0:45:120:45:16

'almost all of them, under the one roof, so to speak.

0:45:160:45:20

'To pull them together.

0:45:200:45:21

'People said that Hitler had the effect of a magnet

0:45:210:45:25

'that was being passed over the heads of the German people.'

0:45:250:45:28

But despite this level of adulation, Hitler had not changed -

0:45:490:45:53

he was just as hate-filled as ever

0:45:530:45:56

and so was the regime he led.

0:45:560:45:58

The same year Triumph Of The Will was made, 1934,

0:46:040:46:08

Alois Pfaller, a German Communist,

0:46:080:46:10

was taken for questioning by the Nazi secret police - the Gestapo.

0:46:100:46:15

'They hit me in the face.

0:46:150:46:17

'For three hours. Always at my face.

0:46:170:46:19

'In the meantime, my eardrum had split,

0:46:190:46:22

'so then, I heard an incredible racket.

0:46:220:46:25

'It was a roaring, an incredible roaring,

0:46:250:46:27

'so you couldn't understand anything properly any longer.'

0:46:270:46:30

When Alois suffered a massive haemorrhage,

0:46:320:46:35

the Gestapo made him clean his own blood off the floor

0:46:350:46:37

before sending him to a concentration camp.

0:46:370:46:40

The reason that this kind of persecution did not,

0:46:480:46:51

for the most part, damage Hitler amongst the general population

0:46:510:46:54

was because the perception of many Germans

0:46:540:46:57

was that Hitler was using violence to bring order.

0:46:570:47:00

'Right at the beginning,

0:47:020:47:04

'the first Communists and social democrats were carted off,

0:47:040:47:06

'I even saw it myself, the lorries.

0:47:060:47:08

'It didn't make us think.

0:47:080:47:10

'They were only Communists after all, enemies of the people.'

0:47:100:47:13

Hitler was careful to act mostly against groups in German society

0:47:180:47:22

that many other Germans were already prejudiced against -

0:47:220:47:25

like Jews and Communists.

0:47:250:47:28

Hitler was aware that, as a charismatic leader,

0:47:280:47:31

the more he targeted carefully defined enemies, the better.

0:47:310:47:35

Less than 1% of Germans were Jewish,

0:47:450:47:48

and few dared to now claim they were Communists.

0:47:480:47:52

So the vast majority of Germans were not at risk from persecution...

0:47:530:47:58

..as long as they embraced the new world of Nazism.

0:48:000:48:03

And since unemployment was falling

0:48:030:48:05

and the economy seemed to be picking up,

0:48:050:48:08

many ordinary Germans now felt this was the beginning

0:48:080:48:11

of a new, more optimistic era.

0:48:110:48:14

'At first, you were carried along by a wave of hope,

0:48:170:48:20

'because we had it better.

0:48:200:48:22

'We had order in the country. We had, well, security.'

0:48:220:48:26

In particular, the young were taught the Nazi world view.

0:48:300:48:33

Most importantly, that Hitler was a flawless leader.

0:48:330:48:37

These members of the Hitler Youth were the future soldiers of Germany,

0:48:420:48:46

from whom Hitler would demand absolute loyalty.

0:48:460:48:50

'It was hammered into us even in the Hitler Youth -

0:48:510:48:54

'Germany must live, even if we have to die.

0:48:540:48:57

'Then, I realised that people in the Hitler Youth

0:48:570:49:00

'had a vulgar way of dealing with each other.

0:49:000:49:03

'A very unpleasant and violent manner was customary.

0:49:030:49:05

'The way, for example, we were told,

0:49:050:49:08

'"If your teachers haven't yet grasped this new era,

0:49:080:49:11

'"then, smack them in the mouth!"'

0:49:110:49:13

CHEERING

0:49:210:49:24

Now that they were in power, many of those close to Hitler

0:49:240:49:27

found their belief in him had intensified still further.

0:49:270:49:31

'We love Adolf Hitler because we believe, firmly and profoundly,

0:49:340:49:38

'that he was sent to us by God to save Germany.

0:49:380:49:41

'To those who follow him,

0:49:410:49:43

'there is no quality that he does not possess

0:49:430:49:46

'to the greatest perfection.'

0:49:460:49:48

No-one even thought it odd when Hitler told them

0:49:590:50:02

that what they were doing would last for millennia.

0:50:020:50:04

CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

0:50:220:50:25

One foreign correspondent who attended the 1934 rally,

0:50:280:50:31

wrote that some of those present looked on Hitler as a Messiah.

0:50:310:50:35

This wasn't an accident.

0:50:390:50:40

Hitler later talked of being guided

0:50:420:50:44

by a mystical force he called "Providence."

0:50:440:50:47

And this belief in himself as a kind of Messiah

0:50:480:50:51

was a key part of his charismatic appeal.

0:50:510:50:54

Not surprisingly, the established churches would, for the most part,

0:51:020:51:06

have an uneasy relationship with Nazism.

0:51:060:51:09

Some clerics even came to reject Hitler.

0:51:130:51:16

But there were Christian leaders who reacted to Nazism very differently.

0:51:180:51:22

They embraced the regime.

0:51:240:51:27

This is a church procession in Muenster in 1934,

0:51:340:51:37

and the flags displayed, with the swastika replaced by the crucifix,

0:51:370:51:42

are those of the Deutsche Christen movement,

0:51:420:51:44

the Nazi supporting branch of the Protestant church.

0:51:440:51:47

One leading member of the Deutsche Christen movement

0:51:520:51:55

referred to Adolf Hitler as the embodiment of the eternal will of God.

0:51:550:51:59

Millions of other Christians also supported Hitler.

0:52:040:52:07

At a conference of nurses attached to the Protestant church in 1933,

0:52:090:52:14

one sister called Hitler

0:52:140:52:16

"Germany's Saviour from Bolshevism and Marxism."

0:52:160:52:19

But Hitler was most certainly NOT a practising Christian.

0:52:250:52:29

And here, at the site of the Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg,

0:52:290:52:32

a different sort of spiritual belief was on show.

0:52:320:52:36

This incantation of a list of German battles in front of Hitler

0:52:440:52:48

was allied to the promise that there was a sort of life after death,

0:52:480:52:52

one in which the dead lived on as part of Germany.

0:52:520:52:57

And if this was a religion,

0:53:160:53:18

then Hitler was its prophet.

0:53:180:53:20

Hitler's birthday, celebrated here in Berlin,

0:53:330:53:36

became a day for national rejoicing.

0:53:360:53:39

He was praised for trying to restore Germany's greatness

0:53:490:53:54

and, in the process, spending enormous sums on the Germany military.

0:53:540:53:58

Hitler came to be seen as a leader

0:54:080:54:10

far above the squabbles of everyday life.

0:54:100:54:13

As a result, it became possible for Germans

0:54:130:54:16

to dislike particular Nazis they dealt with,

0:54:160:54:19

and yet still respect Hitler.

0:54:190:54:21

'There is great sympathy amongst the population for the Fuehrer

0:54:250:54:28

'and Reich Chancellor, Adolf Hitler.

0:54:280:54:30

'I have never heard any negative comment directed at his own person.

0:54:300:54:34

'Rather, one hears now and then,

0:54:340:54:36

'"Yes, if Hitler could do everything himself,

0:54:360:54:39

'"some things would be different.

0:54:390:54:42

'"But he can't keep a watch on everything."'

0:54:420:54:45

This myth that "If Hitler only knew

0:54:460:54:49

"about unpopular aspects of the Nazi regime, he would change them,"

0:54:490:54:52

was a safety valve in the system,

0:54:520:54:54

one that protected Hitler's image as a charismatic leader.

0:54:540:54:58

As Adolf Hitler looked out from his home above Berchtesgaden,

0:55:110:55:15

he knew he was the undisputed master of Germany.

0:55:150:55:19

It had been an incredible journey,

0:55:230:55:25

from the nobody who had arrived in Munich

0:55:250:55:27

just before the First World War

0:55:270:55:29

to Chancellor and Fuehrer of the German people.

0:55:290:55:32

But what is just as remarkable

0:55:340:55:36

is that he was essentially the same character as he had always been.

0:55:360:55:40

This home movie footage from the 1930s,

0:55:450:55:48

of Hitler with these young children,

0:55:480:55:50

gives a false impression.

0:55:500:55:52

He still had no normal emotional attachment

0:55:520:55:54

to any one individual.

0:55:540:55:57

Though he had a girlfriend now, Eva Braun,

0:55:570:56:00

the relationship was fraught.

0:56:000:56:02

He seldom saw her and she attempted suicide twice in the 1930s.

0:56:020:56:06

He was still as choking with hatred as he had been in pre-war Vienna.

0:56:080:56:12

But Hitler's character defects

0:56:160:56:18

were an advantage in the times he lived in.

0:56:180:56:21

For his lack of compassion and empathy

0:56:210:56:23

made him one of the least emotionally needy people alive.

0:56:230:56:27

As a result, his supporters basked

0:56:270:56:29

in his apparent strength and certainty.

0:56:290:56:32

His rise would prove to be a reminder

0:56:400:56:42

of what can happen in desperate times.

0:56:420:56:45

When you chose to have faith in a leader you think has charisma.

0:56:450:56:49

For now, secure in power,

0:56:540:56:57

Hitler sat high in the mountains of southern Bavaria

0:56:570:57:00

and dreamt dreams of brutal conquest.

0:57:000:57:03

Adolf Hitler believed

0:57:170:57:19

he should make all the big decisions entirely himself.

0:57:190:57:22

And in 1937, he told his generals

0:57:270:57:29

that he'd decided on a timetable for German expansion,

0:57:290:57:32

even if it meant war.

0:57:320:57:35

What's surprising about this is that there was no evidence

0:57:370:57:40

that the majority of Hitler's supporters actually wanted war.

0:57:400:57:45

But Hitler couldn't turn his epic vision

0:57:450:57:47

of a Nazi empire based on conquest into a reality

0:57:470:57:50

without the support of large numbers of those he led.

0:57:500:57:53

To try and convince these people to embrace conflict,

0:57:570:58:01

Hitler would use all of the techniques of persuasion he possessed.

0:58:010:58:05

Crucially, he would exploit his charismatic appeal.

0:58:050:58:09

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:360:58:39

Adolf Hitler seemed an unlikely leader - fuelled by anger, incapable of forming normal human relationships and unwilling to debate political issues. Such was the depth of his hatred that he would become a war criminal arguably without precedent in history.

Yet this strange character was once loved by millions. How was this possible, and what role did Hitler's alleged 'charisma' play in his success?

With the help of testimony from those who lived through those times, film archive - including colour home movies - and specially-shot documentary footage, this film reveals how Hitler managed to turn from a nobody in 1913 - someone thought 'peculiar' - into the chancellor and fuhrer of the German people.

This is the first episode in a three-part series written and produced by Laurence Rees, who won a BAFTA for his previous series Nazis: A Warning from History and a Grierson Award for his Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution'.


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