Nazi Germany - Part 2 History File


Nazi Germany - Part 2

Using evidence from five people who lived through the rise of National Socialism, this programme looks at why Germany fell into the hands of Hitler.


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Transcript


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My father worked on the railways. My mother came from a poor farming family. I was their only child.

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We had a typical flat in working-class Hamburg.

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Factories were all around us - smoke and noise.

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The banging and grinding

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filled the air throughout the day.

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But it was music to our ears - the music of life itself.

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CHANTING: 'Sieg Heil!'

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This is the story of one man's childhood.

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Ten years old when the Nazis came to power,

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like so many children in Germany,

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Henry Metelmann learned to live, to fight - if necessary, to die - for Adolf Hitler.

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TRANSLATION: 'When my opponents say, "We won't join you,"

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'I just say, "Your children are mine already. What are you? In time, you will die.

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'"But your sons and daughters stand for ever in my new camp,

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'"and in a short time they'll know nothing else but this new community."'

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For Henry's parents, the Nazis spelt disaster.

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Henry remembers their hopelessness as the "brown pest" - as his father called them -

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marched in triumph outside.

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But, for Henry, the Nazis were new,

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-exciting.

-When my father spoke so badly about them, I just didn't understand it.

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I thought, "What does he mean, that these Nazis are so dangerous?"

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I used to run alongside them as they marched, singing their songs.

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They were always so smart in their uniforms - the leather, the jackboots.

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-#

-SA marschiert

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-#

-Mit ruhig festem Schritt...

-#

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To get the next generation on their side, the Nazis had put tremendous energy into winning them over.

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Theirs was the party of youth against age,

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offering young people not just a dream, but a role to play -

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standard-bearers in the march to a new dawn.

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It was a way of channelling the natural rebelliousness of youth

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on organised lines.

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The organisation responsible was the Hitlerjugend, the youth wing of the Nazi Party.

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In 1932, the Hitler Youth numbered just 100,000.

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Within two years, it numbered three and a half million.

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And by 1939, it was an army, compulsory for all boys,

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with girls joining its sister organisation, the League of German Maidens.

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The largest youth movement the world had ever seen.

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Henry's first contact with the Hitler Youth came in the summer of '33.

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Like many of his friends, he'd joined a youth club, the church scouts.

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They met at the parish hall for songs and competitions.

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One day, they found Hitler Youth boys there to teach them drill.

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Henry was secretly delighted,

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but telling his father wasn't easy.

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'He hadn't wanted me in the scouts in the first place - a Christian youth organisation.'

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A down-to-earth man, he didn't want his son brainwashed by anyone.

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But to see me sucked up into the Hitler Youth really hurt him.

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'When I told him...' You must buy me a uniform.

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They told me to tell you. A brown shirt. Before the next meeting. 'He just laughed.'

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You know how a bull hates a red rag when it's waved in front of it? That's what a brown rag does to me.

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I will never waste money on a brown shirt.

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-So, what do I tell them?

-Tell them...

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Tell them, on my pay,

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if I spend my money on a brown shirt,

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then we don't eat.

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They'll just have to accept that.

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'And they did accept it, grudgingly.'

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At the next Hitler Youth meeting they made me step forward and I was given a parcel

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'to take home and hand to my parents.'

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-Fritz, look. Two brown shirts for the boy, with the compliments of the party. Good.

-What's good?

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A shirt is a shirt. So what if it's brown?

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It's material I won't have to buy.

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It's good quality. He can put his elbows on the table

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and it won't wear through.

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'I loved it in the Hitler Youth. The uniform was so smashing.'

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The dark brown, the black, the swastika. I loved marching, the flag before us, a drum beating.

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Most roads in Germany at that time had cobbles.

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It was painful on our feet. But it didn't matter. We felt important.

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The police had to stop traffic to give us right of way. Passers-by had to salute, to respect our flag.

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How funny it sometimes was! Old ladies with their shopping bags,

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shooting their arms into the air.

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As with many German children, the Hitler Youth became the single most important influence in Henry's life.

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His group met after school, and all day Saturday.

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Plenty of sport,

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with the emphasis on teamwork.

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And training in useful skills.

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Signalling, fixing bikes,

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collecting waste and scrap metal.

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But the most important lesson was in Nazi theory.

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Learning to love Hitler.

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'It was as if we had created our own atmosphere, the atmosphere of the coming German generation.

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'As the Fuhrer had written, Germany's future belonged to its youth. I told Father that.

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'He replied, somewhat crushingly...'

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That's like saying grass is green.

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As his father knew, Henry was being indoctrinated,

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his head filled with propaganda -

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Nazi lies or half-truths,

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endlessly repeated.

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For adults, spotting propaganda was hard enough.

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For the young, it was almost impossible.

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One day I came home from school

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'and said to my mother...' You know, Mama...

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I don't think it's right that Dr Bergman touches me any more.

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-'Dr Bergman was our family doctor. My mother jumped to the wrong conclusion.'

-What did he do?

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Oh, no, he treated me well.

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He's a very kind man.

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Well, what, then?

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It's just...

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I don't think it's right that a German boy should be touched by a Jew.

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'She was horrified that I should say such a stupid, wicked thing.'

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In my defence I explained how a man in a brown uniform

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had told our class in school how we should keep the race pure,

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and how he'd been proud of me because I had said, "Why don't we throw the Jews out of Germany?",

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like it was a solution to Germany's problems. Mother wasn't impressed.

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Dr Bergman. Did you mention Dr Bergman to this man, that he touched you?

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Yes, Mama.

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But I did say I didn't think Dr Bergman was a bad man.

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(Oh, my God.)

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'"Oh, my God." That's all she said.'

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This story, so typical in Nazi Germany,

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shows how easily young minds took on board dangerous ideas.

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Schools had been Nazified,

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anti-Nazi teachers sacked,

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textbooks rewritten.

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Nazi race science was taught in class.

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Jewish students had separate desks, then separate schools.

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By '42, they could get no formal education at all.

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Meanwhile, children like Henry were taught how to spot the "Jewish enemy".

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They told me that because of my German blood I was a superior human being.

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I never dreamt of asking what German blood really was.

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Old history textbooks were destroyed.

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Those that replaced them taught children the Nazi version of Germany's past, and future.

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RECITING IN GERMAN

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We learned about Lebensraum, living space, how glorious it would be

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to fight Poland and Russia, to conquer land for Germany.

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We learned about battles and wars and kings -

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how, if we stuck together and weren't stabbed in the back like last time, we could not lose.

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-#

-Deutschland uber alles.

-#

-Germany above everything.

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And I lapped it all up.

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It just upset me that my father was so scornful.

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Balderdash.

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But what was I to do? Was I to say to my teachers, "It's all balderdash"?

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So I shouldn't believe what they teach me?

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-I'm not to believe my teachers?

-Some of the things they teach you, believe. A pencil, when I drop it...

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The Nazis cannot change gravity. Use your head.

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If it sounds like opinion, say to yourself, "Whose opinion is it?"

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Two plus two equals four. That's fine. That's all right.

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But even two plus two could brainwash.

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Maths books taught angles by plotting the paths of falling bombs.

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Adding sums meant working out the money saved if Germany got rid of its invalids.

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For me, it was all very confusing.

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Everything I heard at home was the opposite of what they taught me at school, and it bothered me.

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I wanted my loved ones to be right, but I also loved Germany,

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and I believed that our Fuhrer was giving us back our dignity.

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I used to get so angry.

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All right.

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-I'll tell them tomorrow that they are teaching us lies.

-No, Henry!

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Promise me, Junge, you will never repeat what we say to you outside these four walls. Do you promise?

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Of course, I kept my promise.

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But I'll never forget their terror, the power I had just as a child.

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If I had let slip all my father told me, who knows,

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late at night, the knock on the door, arrest by the Gestapo.

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We were encouraged to tell tales if we ever heard grown-ups talk against Hitler, against the regime.

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There were children so passionately Nazi, they turned in their own parents. How can you explain that?

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Only that Hitler grabbed us so young, and he never let go.

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How many children escaped indoctrination?

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It's impossible to know.

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As ten years of Nazi rule passed by, the Hitler Youth lost its appeal as something exciting.

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It was now compulsory,

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backed up by Gestapo laws and busybody Hitler Youth patrols.

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Ich liebe treu den Fuhrer!

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More and more, the rebellious thing

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was to refuse to join.

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JAZZ MUSIC

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These photographs are the only surviving pictures of German youth gangs in the early 1940s.

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The Edelweiss Pirates, the Texas Band, the Navajos.

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They beat up Nazi officials,

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wrote graffiti on walls, but mostly

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they hung out and listened to American jazz.

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Their casual, fun-loving attitude made a mockery of Nazi control.

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'They dance outrageously. They call it swing.

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'Sometimes two boys with one girl, sometimes all together.

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'Girls wear lipstick and paint their nails.

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'It's monstrous.'

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I remember when a group of jazzers had gathered on the pier to play Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.

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Jazz was un-German.

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So the self-important Hitler Youth leader marches up and orders them to stop this Jewish nonsense.

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The jazzers stripped his clothes off, stuffed disgusting things into his mouth,

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and they chucked him in the river.

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The whole thing took no more than a few minutes.

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The government hit back. Curfews were ordered, to stop young people visiting bars

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after nine o'clock. Hanging around and smoking in public were banned.

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Forced labour for those that broke the rules, or death.

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This photo shows the fate of 12 young Edelweiss Pirates caught in Cologne in '44.

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The ideal child raised by proud Nazi parents was of quite another mould.

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For one thing, young men and young women had different parts to play.

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As a leader of the Girls League put it...

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Boys and girls must carry out their duty according to their station.

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Boys we raise as political soldiers, and girls as the comrades of these soldiers.

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We teach them to be wives and mothers and to breed the next generation. That's all.

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Kinder, Kirche, Kuche.

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Children, church and kitchen.

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Girls weren't encouraged to have ambitions beyond the home.

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In the Girls League they learned cooking, making beds, childcare.

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Their clothes and hair copied old peasant styles.

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No cigarettes, no make-up.

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A perm could be punished by shaving the head.

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Boys, meanwhile, were being bred for war.

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These scenes record life on a typical Hitler Youth summer camp.

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The camps were the high point of the Hitler Youth calendar.

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They were loved. They gave poor children the chance of a holiday.

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They mixed rich and poor together. They introduced city kids to the countryside.

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But their main function was military training.

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How to throw hand grenades and dig trenches.

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They took us on long, hard marches to toughen us up.

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If anyone fell, they'd shout till they wobbled onto their feet again.

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They'd divide us into the Blues and the Reds -

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one group to defend a position, the other to attack it.

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WHISTLE BLOWS

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A whistle, then contact.

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Noise, bloody noses, twisted arms,

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shrieks of pain.

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In the beginning, I hated it all, but I got used to it.

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I think what it did was,

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it developed the aggression we would all need to help Germany fight a war.

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Some historians argue Hitler wanted war from the start,

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the way he delighted Germans by snubbing the Treaty of Versailles, rearming,

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and reclaiming peacefully land lost to Germany in 1919 -

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the Saar, the Rhineland,

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Austria, in 1938, the Sudetenland and western Czechoslovakia.

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But then, in March 1939,

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the rest of Czechoslovakia fell.

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'Once again, the rattle of a German army on the march echoes in Europe. Where it may end, no man can tell,

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'not even the man who ordered it.'

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Czechoslovakia wasn't conquered

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to unify German-speaking people.

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This was invasion, pure and simple,

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the first of many invasions to create Lebensraum - living space -

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for Hitler's master race.

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Suddenly, the purpose of all that youth indoctrination was clear.

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In just six years, Hitler had turned boys like Henry into soldiers,

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strong enough and committed enough to wage a war of aggression.

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My father felt that the only cause worth fighting for was peace.

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He fought in the First World War.

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To him, it had been a senseless slaughter of millions of young men.

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He felt it almost a holy duty to save me from experiencing such horror.

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I didn't see it like that at all.

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If I was to die on a battlefield, that would be glorious,

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protecting my parents from our enemies.

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Such a death would be tremendous.

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September, 1939.

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Poland.

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German aggression kick-starts the Second World War.

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When it finally came, it was almost a relief -

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the air clearing after so much uncertainty.

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Our future was now in the open. Hitler himself said as much.

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We believed our Fuhrer with all our hearts and we were prepared to follow him to the end of the world.

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Henry Metelmann himself was drafted in 1941.

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Few in his company of 200 men were over 20 years old,

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and all were ex-Hitler Youth.

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They saw their journey east as a great adventure.

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But the reality of war on the Russian Front was somewhat different.

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This was perhaps the most brutal battle zone of the war.

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Nine out of every ten German casualties

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fell here.

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My father died just before we left.

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On his deathbed he told me,

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"The enemy soldiers you'll be fighting will be working men like you,

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"force-fed the same slogans, fooled into the same false dreams."

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I just humoured him. Later, I came to realise the truth of his words.

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CHANTING: Sieg Heil!

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For 11 years now, drunkenness on a scale beyond measuring,

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which will be followed by the most horrible hangover the world has ever known.

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This is the story of the German opposition to Hitler, as recorded in the diary of a writer and lawyer,

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Fritz Reck-Malleczewen.

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They're drunk on propaganda.

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Even on the point of defeat,

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the German people are so drugged they heil this maniac, Hitler,

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like a herd of mooing cattle.

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The date, July 1944.

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The Second World War has a year to run,

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but already it's clear Germany is losing.

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Every day and every night, Allied bombs rain down on German cities.

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German armies are in retreat on every front.

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And yet, still Hitler clings to power.

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For those like Fritz Reck who loathed the Nazis,

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it was a time of shame.

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Even here, far from Munich,

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the pressure from the bombing shatters windows.

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On the roads - refugees, old women with bundles on their backs.

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In their eyes, you see the horror of the firestorms.

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But why should Herr Hitler worry?

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We hear he spends his time reading novels, watching movies,

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bullying his generals.

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And meanwhile, every day his shelter is dug deeper and deeper into the earth.

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Reck's dream was that one day the German people would see their mistake

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and defeat Nazism from within.

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But time was running out.

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For 11 long and lonely years he'd watched the opposition fail to make any impact on the German people.

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But why did they fail?

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'Terror is the best political weapon,

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'for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death.'

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1933. Hitler destroys all organised political opposition.

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The Communist and Social Democratic Parties - banned.

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The trade unions which spoke up for workers - banned.

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Their leaders -

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beaten up, arrested,

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imprisoned in concentration camps.

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At a stroke, Hitler had made powerless those men and women most likely to lead protest against him.

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Those that escaped arrest were now illegals,

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outlaws.

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WOMAN: We were in constant danger. We could not go to the law. There was no law.

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What could we do? Move to a part of the country where no-one knew us?

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Live under false names and false papers? Some did.

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Others just gave up.

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In the circumstances, it's amazing how much political resistance survived.

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In 1936, according to police statistics, over 1,000 anti-Nazi groups were still at work,

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writing reports on the public mood, printing anti-Nazi leaflets,

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all disguised with false covers to make them easier to hide -

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as cake recipes, seed packets, camera instruction manuals.

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The Gestapo counted one and a half million such anti-Nazi leaflets doing the rounds.

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But the resistance was divided.

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The Social Democrats didn't trust the Communists.

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As the secret police drew the net ever closer,

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the fight became more and more hopeless.

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Can we harm the Nazis fly-posting,

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or painting slogans on walls, or stealing and hiding a gun or two?

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Does it change enough to make the risk worthwhile?

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People think it's romantic to fight the Gestapo. It's not. It's suicidal.

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Fritz Reck never actively resisted.

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But writing a diary was treason enough,

0:28:440:28:48

keeping an ear to the ground on his estate, recording the public mood.

0:28:480:28:53

Again and again my friends warn me about my writings. I ignore them.

0:28:530:28:59

I must record what's happening here in Germany.

0:28:590:29:03

'And so night after night I hide this diary deep in the woods, always changing my hiding-place.

0:29:030:29:10

'Do you have any idea what it's like to live like this?'

0:29:100:29:15

No rights, always under threat that someone might turn you in, and this lack of opposition.

0:29:150:29:22

'That makes our life here so unbearable.'

0:29:220:29:26

At most, all those like Reck could do was lodge a quiet protest.

0:29:280:29:33

There were ways.

0:29:330:29:35

The Nazis wanted conformity -

0:29:350:29:38

everyone the same, flying the flag,

0:29:380:29:41

saluting, using the correct Nazi greeting.

0:29:410:29:45

Heil Hitler.

0:29:450:29:48

-Heil Hitler.

-Heil Hitler.

-Heil Hitler.

0:29:480:29:51

-By breaking the rules...

-Heil Hitler, Professor.

-Gruss Gott.

0:29:510:29:56

..you could quite spoil a Nazi's day.

0:29:560:30:00

Equally dangerous, there were Nazi charities.

0:30:000:30:04

Refusing to give could result in arrest, but people took the risk.

0:30:040:30:09

-Heil Hitler!

-Shoo!

0:30:100:30:12

And there was humour.

0:30:120:30:15

This innocent-looking brownshirt songbook disguised a gag-sheet.

0:30:150:30:20

Joke after joke at the Nazis' expense.

0:30:220:30:25

A man with an aching tooth went to a dentist. The dentist said, "Open your mouth." The man said...

0:30:270:30:35

"Open my mouth in front of a stranger? You must be joking."

0:30:350:30:40

But, as Fritz Reck noted in his diary,

0:30:430:30:47

the government was hardly likely to be brought down by joke-books.

0:30:470:30:52

I think we'd rather see resistance take the form of armed rebellion.

0:30:520:30:57

But that's the problem. The Nazis have made us so sluggish, a nation of cowards.

0:30:570:31:03

Reck was a Christian.

0:31:050:31:07

His opposition to the Nazis was less political than religious.

0:31:070:31:12

He feared the Nazis meant to destroy Christianity. He was right.

0:31:120:31:17

They were busy inventing their own religion.

0:31:170:31:21

Not one that protected the weak, but one that admired strength.

0:31:210:31:26

I saw a Hitler Youth boy recently.

0:31:310:31:35

He was in a classroom, and suddenly he noticed a crucifix hanging behind the teacher's desk.

0:31:350:31:42

And his face twisted in fury,

0:31:420:31:45

and he ripped down this symbol,

0:31:450:31:48

which hangs in every church in Germany,

0:31:480:31:51

and he threw it to the ground with the cry, "Lie there, you dirty Jew!"

0:31:510:31:58

The Christian churches might have led ordinary Germans against the Nazis,

0:32:010:32:08

but, like the outlawed political parties, they failed.

0:32:080:32:12

Hitler had made idle promises that he'd protect the Church.

0:32:120:32:19

The Pope, the Catholic bishops,

0:32:190:32:22

and German Protestant leaders chose to believe him.

0:32:220:32:26

'We Germans had been rooted in Christianity for centuries.'

0:32:290:32:34

If the churches had pulled together, if the bishops hadn't compromised,

0:32:340:32:40

many of us felt that there would have been a popular uprising, some sort of rebellion. I'm sure of it.

0:32:400:32:47

Some did what they could. Martin Niemoller spent 8 years in prison for preaching anti-Nazi sermons.

0:32:480:32:56

As he reflected in a poem in 1945,

0:32:560:32:59

more common were Christians that just stood by.

0:32:590:33:03

'When the Nazis came for the Communists, I was silent. I wasn't a Communist.

0:33:030:33:09

'When the Nazis came for the Social Democrats, I was silent. I wasn't a Social Democrat.

0:33:090:33:16

'When the Nazis came for the trade unionists, I was silent. I wasn't a trade unionist.

0:33:160:33:23

'When the Nazis came for the Jews, I was silent.

0:33:230:33:27

'I wasn't a Jew.

0:33:270:33:29

'When the Nazis came for me, there was no-one left to protest.'

0:33:290:33:34

September 1939.

0:33:380:33:40

War.

0:33:400:33:42

Fritz Reck receives a letter.

0:33:420:33:45

'Reck, you won't believe it. We are the children of the gods.

0:33:450:33:50

'I'm just back from the Battle of Poland. Eleven flying missions,

0:33:500:33:55

'dive-bombing columns of troops. It's such a wonderful carnage.

0:33:550:34:01

'I love this war. We're so utterly without pity.'

0:34:010:34:05

A letter written by an escaped convict? No.

0:34:090:34:13

This letter was written by a young man with bright, blue eyes and an irresistible, boyish laugh.

0:34:130:34:20

In civilian life, he was entirely harmless.

0:34:200:34:24

You see, we can't see the shame any more.

0:34:240:34:28

Germany is so completely drugged on its own lies,

0:34:280:34:32

The cure will be more terrible than anything seen before in history.

0:34:320:34:37

The war changed everything. Now resistance was treason.

0:34:440:34:49

But now there was more reason to resist.

0:34:490:34:53

Germany was no longer just killing her own, but committing unspeakable atrocities abroad.

0:34:550:35:02

I spoke with a man.

0:35:040:35:07

I'll call him just "H".

0:35:070:35:09

Back from the Eastern Front.

0:35:110:35:14

And...he saw a massacre.

0:35:140:35:17

Thirty thousand Jews slaughtered...

0:35:190:35:23

in one hour.

0:35:230:35:26

When they ran out of bullets they used flame-throwers. People came to watch from all over the city.

0:35:260:35:33

Off-duty troops. Young, fresh-faced fellows.

0:35:330:35:37

The degradation.

0:35:400:35:43

Did people back home in Germany know what was being done in their name?

0:35:470:35:54

After the war, ordinary Germans gave conflicting accounts of what was or was not known.

0:35:540:36:01

We had problems of our own.

0:36:010:36:04

The war. Day to day, it grabbed us like a prisoner.

0:36:040:36:09

If we heard rumours, it was a very distant thing.

0:36:100:36:15

They were called work camps.

0:36:150:36:18

That's what we thought they were for.

0:36:180:36:21

And I used to think, "Good. It'll be the first honest day's work they've done in their lives."

0:36:230:36:30

They were secret.

0:36:300:36:33

They kept the camps secret, otherwise there would have been a protest. We didn't know nothing.

0:36:330:36:40

Everyone knew.

0:36:420:36:44

The gassings, everything.

0:36:440:36:46

They can't say otherwise.

0:36:480:36:51

People made jokes about it.

0:36:530:36:55

We had this cheap soap. It floated on water.

0:36:550:36:59

People said it was made from the Jews.

0:36:590:37:03

Why did no-one speak out?

0:37:050:37:07

Because the horror stopped people's mouths.

0:37:070:37:12

If you spoke out, you went to a camp yourself.

0:37:120:37:16

Hans Scholl was one of those few exceptional Germans brave enough to take the risk.

0:37:190:37:25

The only pictures that survive show him at Munich University.

0:37:270:37:32

There, he'd learned to hate Nazism, how it crushed individual freedom.

0:37:320:37:37

In 1942,

0:37:380:37:41

with a group of student friends, he began to print secret leaflets.

0:37:410:37:46

They called themselves The White Rose - white for purity.

0:37:460:37:50

We will not be silenced.

0:37:500:37:53

We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace.

0:37:530:38:00

At first, Hans' sister Sophie was angry,

0:38:020:38:06

terrified that he should run such a risk.

0:38:060:38:10

But she, too, loathed the Nazis -

0:38:100:38:13

the way the local party boss, Paul Giesler, urged the girl students to bear a child for Hitler.

0:38:130:38:20

'One a year, preferably a boy. It's pretty automatic once you're in the swing of it.

0:38:200:38:27

'If you're too charmless to find a mate, I'll lend you one of my officers.'

0:38:270:38:33

Giesler sparked off a near riot amongst the Munich students.

0:38:330:38:38

For Hans and Sophie, it spurred them on to more opposition.

0:38:380:38:43

Another five leaflets, printed in bulk and taken by train for posting in towns across Germany.

0:38:430:38:51

The aim was to spread the word.

0:38:520:38:54

"In the name of the German people, we demand of Hitler the return of our most valuable possession -

0:38:590:39:07

-"freedom."

-Where's it come from?

0:39:070:39:10

"A leaflet of the Resistance Movement in Germany."

0:39:110:39:15

-How did they get our address?

-I don't know.

-Burn it! It mustn't be found in the house!

0:39:150:39:22

I will burn it, but first I'm going to read it.

0:39:220:39:27

On February the 18th, 1943,

0:39:290:39:32

Hans and Sophie were spotted in the empty university,

0:39:320:39:37

showering leaflets down a stairwell.

0:39:370:39:40

They'd known the risks. Sophie had said just days before...

0:39:400:39:45

So many people have died for this regime. It's time someone died against it.

0:39:450:39:52

They were arrested, tried,

0:39:520:39:54

and beheaded for high treason.

0:39:540:39:57

'I never saw these two young people.

0:39:590:40:02

'I heard only bits and pieces of the story, broadcast from London.

0:40:020:40:07

'But the importance of what I heard, I could hardly believe it.

0:40:070:40:12

'The Scholls are the first in Germany with the courage to speak out for the truth.

0:40:120:40:19

'One day, we must all make a pilgrimage to their graves and stand before them, ashamed.'

0:40:190:40:26

RADIO: 'Aircraft of Bomber Command

0:40:260:40:29

'have carried out attacks on the port of Brest and on enemy shipping there.'

0:40:290:40:35

1943 was the war's turning point.

0:40:350:40:38

The German army was retreating in Russia and Africa, and the carpet bombing of German cities had begun.

0:40:380:40:46

Propaganda Minister Goebbels talked of a war demanding total sacrifice. Would Germany fight total war?

0:40:460:40:54

-Wollt ihr den totalen Krieg?

-Ja!

0:40:540:40:59

But in reality, the Nazis were slowly losing control.

0:40:590:41:04

The atmosphere shifted accordingly.

0:41:040:41:07

People walk straighter, their faces shine.

0:41:070:41:11

A ghostly hand has nailed the Nazis' death warrant to the wall.

0:41:110:41:17

And what do we find?

0:41:170:41:19

Party officials sniffing which way the wind's blowing, saying "Gruss Gott" instead of "Heil Hitler",

0:41:190:41:27

Nazi schoolteachers back in church,

0:41:270:41:30

the swastika disappearing from coat lapels, the women's leader quietening down.

0:41:300:41:36

The Nazis were running scared.

0:41:390:41:42

Also, the harsh realities of war -

0:41:420:41:45

rationing, bombing - were puncturing Nazi confidence.

0:41:450:41:50

Grumbling became more common, black humour at Hitler's expense,

0:41:500:41:55

and, at last, some active resistance.

0:41:550:41:58

Reck's diary mentions army deserters sabotaging the war machine.

0:42:000:42:06

But the government hadn't given up.

0:42:060:42:09

This was total war, and the Nazis were punch-drunk on terror.

0:42:090:42:14

Five-minute trials are enough.

0:42:160:42:19

They stamp on the verdict,

0:42:190:42:22

liquidate and expropriate -

0:42:220:42:25

kill - then seize all property.

0:42:250:42:28

The victim's shoved out a back door

0:42:310:42:34

where the guillotine waits.

0:42:340:42:36

In medical schools the corpses are piling up so high,

0:42:360:42:41

they've refused further shipments.

0:42:410:42:44

And still the war dragged on, week after week.

0:42:500:42:54

With every week, another 30,000 murders in the death camps.

0:42:540:42:59

Only Hitler's death would stop the madness,

0:42:590:43:03

but he was like a fox,

0:43:030:43:05

gone to earth.

0:43:050:43:08

As Reck had so despairingly put it...

0:43:080:43:12

Why should Herr Hitler worry?

0:43:120:43:14

Every day, his shelter is dug deeper and deeper into the earth.

0:43:140:43:19

Reck wrote those words on July the 18th, 1944.

0:43:210:43:25

Three days earlier,

0:43:270:43:29

this photo had been taken.

0:43:290:43:32

Hitler with one of his generals.

0:43:320:43:35

And standing beside them, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg.

0:43:350:43:40

On July 20th, Stauffenberg put a bomb in a briefcase under a table

0:43:430:43:48

just a few feet from Hitler.

0:43:480:43:51

With the fuse set at ten minutes, he left the room and flew to Berlin, where an army rebellion was waiting.

0:43:540:44:02

But the bomb plot failed.

0:44:070:44:10

Hitler, shielded by the wooden leg of the table,

0:44:120:44:17

survived the blast.

0:44:170:44:20

'God guarded

0:44:200:44:23

'and protected the Fuhrer.

0:44:230:44:25

'God did not desert Germany in its fateful hour.'

0:44:250:44:30

In the wave of terror that followed the bomb plot, another 5,000 Germans lost their lives.

0:44:360:44:43

Some were strung up on butcher's hooks to prolong their agony.

0:44:460:44:52

And Hitler, it was said, liked to watch the execution footage over and over again.

0:44:520:45:00

Fritz Reck was himself arrested in October '44.

0:45:020:45:06

We don't know exactly what he did.

0:45:060:45:09

The official charge said he "undermined army morale".

0:45:090:45:14

He died in Dachau concentration camp.

0:45:160:45:20

A Genickschuss - a shot in the neck.

0:45:220:45:26

You, up there.

0:45:320:45:34

I hate you, waking and sleeping.

0:45:340:45:37

Sieben, sechs, funf...

0:45:370:45:40

I don't know if I'll survive your downfall, but this I do know -

0:45:420:45:47

that a man must hate this Germany

0:45:470:45:50

with all his heart,

0:45:500:45:52

if he really loves his country.

0:45:520:45:55

I'd ten times rather die than see you triumph.

0:45:560:46:01

'This is London calling. Here is a news flash.

0:46:320:46:36

'The German radio has just announced that Hitler is dead.

0:46:360:46:41

'I'll repeat that.

0:46:410:46:43

'The German radio has just announced that Hitler is dead.'

0:46:430:46:48

Subtitles by John Macdonald, Subtext, for BBC Subtitling, 1997

0:46:540:46:59

Using evidence from five people who lived through the rise of National Socialism, this takes a look at why Germany fell into the hands of Hitler and put the Holocaust and atomic bombs into a wider context.


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