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.
Browse content similar to Nazi Germany - Part 2. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
My father worked on the railways. My mother came from a poor farming family. I was their only child.
We had a typical flat in working-class Hamburg.
Factories were all around us - smoke and noise.
The banging and grinding
filled the air throughout the day.
But it was music to our ears - the music of life itself.
CHANTING: 'Sieg Heil!'
This is the story of one man's childhood.
Ten years old when the Nazis came to power,
like so many children in Germany,
Henry Metelmann learned to live, to fight - if necessary, to die - for Adolf Hitler.
TRANSLATION: 'When my opponents say, "We won't join you,"
'I just say, "Your children are mine already. What are you? In time, you will die.
'"But your sons and daughters stand for ever in my new camp,
'"and in a short time they'll know nothing else but this new community."'
For Henry's parents, the Nazis spelt disaster.
Henry remembers their hopelessness as the "brown pest" - as his father called them -
marched in triumph outside.
But, for Henry, the Nazis were new,
-When my father spoke so badly about them, I just didn't understand it.
I thought, "What does he mean, that these Nazis are so dangerous?"
I used to run alongside them as they marched, singing their songs.
They were always so smart in their uniforms - the leather, the jackboots.
-Mit ruhig festem Schritt...
To get the next generation on their side, the Nazis had put tremendous energy into winning them over.
Theirs was the party of youth against age,
offering young people not just a dream, but a role to play -
standard-bearers in the march to a new dawn.
It was a way of channelling the natural rebelliousness of youth
on organised lines.
The organisation responsible was the Hitlerjugend, the youth wing of the Nazi Party.
In 1932, the Hitler Youth numbered just 100,000.
Within two years, it numbered three and a half million.
And by 1939, it was an army, compulsory for all boys,
with girls joining its sister organisation, the League of German Maidens.
The largest youth movement the world had ever seen.
Henry's first contact with the Hitler Youth came in the summer of '33.
Like many of his friends, he'd joined a youth club, the church scouts.
They met at the parish hall for songs and competitions.
One day, they found Hitler Youth boys there to teach them drill.
Henry was secretly delighted,
but telling his father wasn't easy.
'He hadn't wanted me in the scouts in the first place - a Christian youth organisation.'
A down-to-earth man, he didn't want his son brainwashed by anyone.
But to see me sucked up into the Hitler Youth really hurt him.
'When I told him...' You must buy me a uniform.
They told me to tell you. A brown shirt. Before the next meeting. 'He just laughed.'
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.
I will never waste money on a brown shirt.
-So, what do I tell them?
Tell them, on my pay,
if I spend my money on a brown shirt,
then we don't eat.
They'll just have to accept that.
'And they did accept it, grudgingly.'
At the next Hitler Youth meeting they made me step forward and I was given a parcel
'to take home and hand to my parents.'
-Fritz, look. Two brown shirts for the boy, with the compliments of the party. Good.
A shirt is a shirt. So what if it's brown?
It's material I won't have to buy.
It's good quality. He can put his elbows on the table
and it won't wear through.
'I loved it in the Hitler Youth. The uniform was so smashing.'
The dark brown, the black, the swastika. I loved marching, the flag before us, a drum beating.
Most roads in Germany at that time had cobbles.
It was painful on our feet. But it didn't matter. We felt important.
The police had to stop traffic to give us right of way. Passers-by had to salute, to respect our flag.
How funny it sometimes was! Old ladies with their shopping bags,
shooting their arms into the air.
As with many German children, the Hitler Youth became the single most important influence in Henry's life.
His group met after school, and all day Saturday.
Plenty of sport,
with the emphasis on teamwork.
And training in useful skills.
Signalling, fixing bikes,
collecting waste and scrap metal.
But the most important lesson was in Nazi theory.
Learning to love Hitler.
'It was as if we had created our own atmosphere, the atmosphere of the coming German generation.
'As the Fuhrer had written, Germany's future belonged to its youth. I told Father that.
'He replied, somewhat crushingly...'
That's like saying grass is green.
As his father knew, Henry was being indoctrinated,
his head filled with propaganda -
Nazi lies or half-truths,
For adults, spotting propaganda was hard enough.
For the young, it was almost impossible.
One day I came home from school
'and said to my mother...' You know, Mama...
I don't think it's right that Dr Bergman touches me any more.
-'Dr Bergman was our family doctor. My mother jumped to the wrong conclusion.'
-What did he do?
Oh, no, he treated me well.
He's a very kind man.
Well, what, then?
I don't think it's right that a German boy should be touched by a Jew.
'She was horrified that I should say such a stupid, wicked thing.'
In my defence I explained how a man in a brown uniform
had told our class in school how we should keep the race pure,
and how he'd been proud of me because I had said, "Why don't we throw the Jews out of Germany?",
like it was a solution to Germany's problems. Mother wasn't impressed.
Dr Bergman. Did you mention Dr Bergman to this man, that he touched you?
But I did say I didn't think Dr Bergman was a bad man.
(Oh, my God.)
'"Oh, my God." That's all she said.'
This story, so typical in Nazi Germany,
shows how easily young minds took on board dangerous ideas.
Schools had been Nazified,
anti-Nazi teachers sacked,
Nazi race science was taught in class.
Jewish students had separate desks, then separate schools.
By '42, they could get no formal education at all.
Meanwhile, children like Henry were taught how to spot the "Jewish enemy".
They told me that because of my German blood I was a superior human being.
I never dreamt of asking what German blood really was.
Old history textbooks were destroyed.
Those that replaced them taught children the Nazi version of Germany's past, and future.
RECITING IN GERMAN
We learned about Lebensraum, living space, how glorious it would be
to fight Poland and Russia, to conquer land for Germany.
We learned about battles and wars and kings -
how, if we stuck together and weren't stabbed in the back like last time, we could not lose.
-Deutschland uber alles.
-Germany above everything.
And I lapped it all up.
It just upset me that my father was so scornful.
But what was I to do? Was I to say to my teachers, "It's all balderdash"?
So I shouldn't believe what they teach me?
-I'm not to believe my teachers?
-Some of the things they teach you, believe. A pencil, when I drop it...
The Nazis cannot change gravity. Use your head.
If it sounds like opinion, say to yourself, "Whose opinion is it?"
Two plus two equals four. That's fine. That's all right.
But even two plus two could brainwash.
Maths books taught angles by plotting the paths of falling bombs.
Adding sums meant working out the money saved if Germany got rid of its invalids.
For me, it was all very confusing.
Everything I heard at home was the opposite of what they taught me at school, and it bothered me.
I wanted my loved ones to be right, but I also loved Germany,
and I believed that our Fuhrer was giving us back our dignity.
I used to get so angry.
-I'll tell them tomorrow that they are teaching us lies.
Promise me, Junge, you will never repeat what we say to you outside these four walls. Do you promise?
Of course, I kept my promise.
But I'll never forget their terror, the power I had just as a child.
If I had let slip all my father told me, who knows,
late at night, the knock on the door, arrest by the Gestapo.
We were encouraged to tell tales if we ever heard grown-ups talk against Hitler, against the regime.
There were children so passionately Nazi, they turned in their own parents. How can you explain that?
Only that Hitler grabbed us so young, and he never let go.
How many children escaped indoctrination?
It's impossible to know.
As ten years of Nazi rule passed by, the Hitler Youth lost its appeal as something exciting.
It was now compulsory,
backed up by Gestapo laws and busybody Hitler Youth patrols.
Ich liebe treu den Fuhrer!
More and more, the rebellious thing
was to refuse to join.
These photographs are the only surviving pictures of German youth gangs in the early 1940s.
The Edelweiss Pirates, the Texas Band, the Navajos.
They beat up Nazi officials,
wrote graffiti on walls, but mostly
they hung out and listened to American jazz.
Their casual, fun-loving attitude made a mockery of Nazi control.
'They dance outrageously. They call it swing.
'Sometimes two boys with one girl, sometimes all together.
'Girls wear lipstick and paint their nails.
I remember when a group of jazzers had gathered on the pier to play Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington.
Jazz was un-German.
So the self-important Hitler Youth leader marches up and orders them to stop this Jewish nonsense.
The jazzers stripped his clothes off, stuffed disgusting things into his mouth,
and they chucked him in the river.
The whole thing took no more than a few minutes.
The government hit back. Curfews were ordered, to stop young people visiting bars
after nine o'clock. Hanging around and smoking in public were banned.
Forced labour for those that broke the rules, or death.
This photo shows the fate of 12 young Edelweiss Pirates caught in Cologne in '44.
The ideal child raised by proud Nazi parents was of quite another mould.
For one thing, young men and young women had different parts to play.
As a leader of the Girls League put it...
Boys and girls must carry out their duty according to their station.
Boys we raise as political soldiers, and girls as the comrades of these soldiers.
We teach them to be wives and mothers and to breed the next generation. That's all.
Kinder, Kirche, Kuche.
Children, church and kitchen.
Girls weren't encouraged to have ambitions beyond the home.
In the Girls League they learned cooking, making beds, childcare.
Their clothes and hair copied old peasant styles.
No cigarettes, no make-up.
A perm could be punished by shaving the head.
Boys, meanwhile, were being bred for war.
These scenes record life on a typical Hitler Youth summer camp.
The camps were the high point of the Hitler Youth calendar.
They were loved. They gave poor children the chance of a holiday.
They mixed rich and poor together. They introduced city kids to the countryside.
But their main function was military training.
How to throw hand grenades and dig trenches.
They took us on long, hard marches to toughen us up.
If anyone fell, they'd shout till they wobbled onto their feet again.
They'd divide us into the Blues and the Reds -
one group to defend a position, the other to attack it.
A whistle, then contact.
Noise, bloody noses, twisted arms,
shrieks of pain.
In the beginning, I hated it all, but I got used to it.
I think what it did was,
it developed the aggression we would all need to help Germany fight a war.
Some historians argue Hitler wanted war from the start,
the way he delighted Germans by snubbing the Treaty of Versailles, rearming,
and reclaiming peacefully land lost to Germany in 1919 -
the Saar, the Rhineland,
Austria, in 1938, the Sudetenland and western Czechoslovakia.
But then, in March 1939,
the rest of Czechoslovakia fell.
'Once again, the rattle of a German army on the march echoes in Europe. Where it may end, no man can tell,
'not even the man who ordered it.'
Czechoslovakia wasn't conquered
to unify German-speaking people.
This was invasion, pure and simple,
the first of many invasions to create Lebensraum - living space -
for Hitler's master race.
Suddenly, the purpose of all that youth indoctrination was clear.
In just six years, Hitler had turned boys like Henry into soldiers,
strong enough and committed enough to wage a war of aggression.
My father felt that the only cause worth fighting for was peace.
He fought in the First World War.
To him, it had been a senseless slaughter of millions of young men.
He felt it almost a holy duty to save me from experiencing such horror.
I didn't see it like that at all.
If I was to die on a battlefield, that would be glorious,
protecting my parents from our enemies.
Such a death would be tremendous.
German aggression kick-starts the Second World War.
When it finally came, it was almost a relief -
the air clearing after so much uncertainty.
Our future was now in the open. Hitler himself said as much.
We believed our Fuhrer with all our hearts and we were prepared to follow him to the end of the world.
Henry Metelmann himself was drafted in 1941.
Few in his company of 200 men were over 20 years old,
and all were ex-Hitler Youth.
They saw their journey east as a great adventure.
But the reality of war on the Russian Front was somewhat different.
This was perhaps the most brutal battle zone of the war.
Nine out of every ten German casualties
My father died just before we left.
On his deathbed he told me,
"The enemy soldiers you'll be fighting will be working men like you,
"force-fed the same slogans, fooled into the same false dreams."
I just humoured him. Later, I came to realise the truth of his words.
CHANTING: Sieg Heil!
For 11 years now, drunkenness on a scale beyond measuring,
which will be followed by the most horrible hangover the world has ever known.
This is the story of the German opposition to Hitler, as recorded in the diary of a writer and lawyer,
They're drunk on propaganda.
Even on the point of defeat,
the German people are so drugged they heil this maniac, Hitler,
like a herd of mooing cattle.
The date, July 1944.
The Second World War has a year to run,
but already it's clear Germany is losing.
Every day and every night, Allied bombs rain down on German cities.
German armies are in retreat on every front.
And yet, still Hitler clings to power.
For those like Fritz Reck who loathed the Nazis,
it was a time of shame.
Even here, far from Munich,
the pressure from the bombing shatters windows.
On the roads - refugees, old women with bundles on their backs.
In their eyes, you see the horror of the firestorms.
But why should Herr Hitler worry?
We hear he spends his time reading novels, watching movies,
bullying his generals.
And meanwhile, every day his shelter is dug deeper and deeper into the earth.
Reck's dream was that one day the German people would see their mistake
and defeat Nazism from within.
But time was running out.
For 11 long and lonely years he'd watched the opposition fail to make any impact on the German people.
But why did they fail?
'Terror is the best political weapon,
'for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death.'
1933. Hitler destroys all organised political opposition.
The Communist and Social Democratic Parties - banned.
The trade unions which spoke up for workers - banned.
Their leaders -
beaten up, arrested,
imprisoned in concentration camps.
At a stroke, Hitler had made powerless those men and women most likely to lead protest against him.
Those that escaped arrest were now illegals,
WOMAN: We were in constant danger. We could not go to the law. There was no law.
What could we do? Move to a part of the country where no-one knew us?
Live under false names and false papers? Some did.
Others just gave up.
In the circumstances, it's amazing how much political resistance survived.
In 1936, according to police statistics, over 1,000 anti-Nazi groups were still at work,
writing reports on the public mood, printing anti-Nazi leaflets,
all disguised with false covers to make them easier to hide -
as cake recipes, seed packets, camera instruction manuals.
The Gestapo counted one and a half million such anti-Nazi leaflets doing the rounds.
But the resistance was divided.
The Social Democrats didn't trust the Communists.
As the secret police drew the net ever closer,
the fight became more and more hopeless.
Can we harm the Nazis fly-posting,
or painting slogans on walls, or stealing and hiding a gun or two?
Does it change enough to make the risk worthwhile?
People think it's romantic to fight the Gestapo. It's not. It's suicidal.
Fritz Reck never actively resisted.
But writing a diary was treason enough,
keeping an ear to the ground on his estate, recording the public mood.
Again and again my friends warn me about my writings. I ignore them.
I must record what's happening here in Germany.
'And so night after night I hide this diary deep in the woods, always changing my hiding-place.
'Do you have any idea what it's like to live like this?'
No rights, always under threat that someone might turn you in, and this lack of opposition.
'That makes our life here so unbearable.'
At most, all those like Reck could do was lodge a quiet protest.
There were ways.
The Nazis wanted conformity -
everyone the same, flying the flag,
saluting, using the correct Nazi greeting.
-By breaking the rules...
-Heil Hitler, Professor.
..you could quite spoil a Nazi's day.
Equally dangerous, there were Nazi charities.
Refusing to give could result in arrest, but people took the risk.
And there was humour.
This innocent-looking brownshirt songbook disguised a gag-sheet.
Joke after joke at the Nazis' expense.
A man with an aching tooth went to a dentist. The dentist said, "Open your mouth." The man said...
"Open my mouth in front of a stranger? You must be joking."
But, as Fritz Reck noted in his diary,
the government was hardly likely to be brought down by joke-books.
I think we'd rather see resistance take the form of armed rebellion.
But that's the problem. The Nazis have made us so sluggish, a nation of cowards.
Reck was a Christian.
His opposition to the Nazis was less political than religious.
He feared the Nazis meant to destroy Christianity. He was right.
They were busy inventing their own religion.
Not one that protected the weak, but one that admired strength.
I saw a Hitler Youth boy recently.
He was in a classroom, and suddenly he noticed a crucifix hanging behind the teacher's desk.
And his face twisted in fury,
and he ripped down this symbol,
which hangs in every church in Germany,
and he threw it to the ground with the cry, "Lie there, you dirty Jew!"
The Christian churches might have led ordinary Germans against the Nazis,
but, like the outlawed political parties, they failed.
Hitler had made idle promises that he'd protect the Church.
The Pope, the Catholic bishops,
and German Protestant leaders chose to believe him.
'We Germans had been rooted in Christianity for centuries.'
If the churches had pulled together, if the bishops hadn't compromised,
many of us felt that there would have been a popular uprising, some sort of rebellion. I'm sure of it.
Some did what they could. Martin Niemoller spent 8 years in prison for preaching anti-Nazi sermons.
As he reflected in a poem in 1945,
more common were Christians that just stood by.
'When the Nazis came for the Communists, I was silent. I wasn't a Communist.
'When the Nazis came for the Social Democrats, I was silent. I wasn't a Social Democrat.
'When the Nazis came for the trade unionists, I was silent. I wasn't a trade unionist.
'When the Nazis came for the Jews, I was silent.
'I wasn't a Jew.
'When the Nazis came for me, there was no-one left to protest.'
Fritz Reck receives a letter.
'Reck, you won't believe it. We are the children of the gods.
'I'm just back from the Battle of Poland. Eleven flying missions,
'dive-bombing columns of troops. It's such a wonderful carnage.
'I love this war. We're so utterly without pity.'
A letter written by an escaped convict? No.
This letter was written by a young man with bright, blue eyes and an irresistible, boyish laugh.
In civilian life, he was entirely harmless.
You see, we can't see the shame any more.
Germany is so completely drugged on its own lies,
The cure will be more terrible than anything seen before in history.
The war changed everything. Now resistance was treason.
But now there was more reason to resist.
Germany was no longer just killing her own, but committing unspeakable atrocities abroad.
I spoke with a man.
I'll call him just "H".
Back from the Eastern Front.
And...he saw a massacre.
Thirty thousand Jews slaughtered...
in one hour.
When they ran out of bullets they used flame-throwers. People came to watch from all over the city.
Off-duty troops. Young, fresh-faced fellows.
Did people back home in Germany know what was being done in their name?
After the war, ordinary Germans gave conflicting accounts of what was or was not known.
We had problems of our own.
The war. Day to day, it grabbed us like a prisoner.
If we heard rumours, it was a very distant thing.
They were called work camps.
That's what we thought they were for.
And I used to think, "Good. It'll be the first honest day's work they've done in their lives."
They were secret.
They kept the camps secret, otherwise there would have been a protest. We didn't know nothing.
The gassings, everything.
They can't say otherwise.
People made jokes about it.
We had this cheap soap. It floated on water.
People said it was made from the Jews.
Why did no-one speak out?
Because the horror stopped people's mouths.
If you spoke out, you went to a camp yourself.
Hans Scholl was one of those few exceptional Germans brave enough to take the risk.
The only pictures that survive show him at Munich University.
There, he'd learned to hate Nazism, how it crushed individual freedom.
with a group of student friends, he began to print secret leaflets.
They called themselves The White Rose - white for purity.
We will not be silenced.
We are your bad conscience. The White Rose will not leave you in peace.
At first, Hans' sister Sophie was angry,
terrified that he should run such a risk.
But she, too, loathed the Nazis -
the way the local party boss, Paul Giesler, urged the girl students to bear a child for Hitler.
'One a year, preferably a boy. It's pretty automatic once you're in the swing of it.
'If you're too charmless to find a mate, I'll lend you one of my officers.'
Giesler sparked off a near riot amongst the Munich students.
For Hans and Sophie, it spurred them on to more opposition.
Another five leaflets, printed in bulk and taken by train for posting in towns across Germany.
The aim was to spread the word.
"In the name of the German people, we demand of Hitler the return of our most valuable possession -
-Where's it come from?
"A leaflet of the Resistance Movement in Germany."
-How did they get our address?
-I don't know.
-Burn it! It mustn't be found in the house!
I will burn it, but first I'm going to read it.
On February the 18th, 1943,
Hans and Sophie were spotted in the empty university,
showering leaflets down a stairwell.
They'd known the risks. Sophie had said just days before...
So many people have died for this regime. It's time someone died against it.
They were arrested, tried,
and beheaded for high treason.
'I never saw these two young people.
'I heard only bits and pieces of the story, broadcast from London.
'But the importance of what I heard, I could hardly believe it.
'The Scholls are the first in Germany with the courage to speak out for the truth.
'One day, we must all make a pilgrimage to their graves and stand before them, ashamed.'
RADIO: 'Aircraft of Bomber Command
'have carried out attacks on the port of Brest and on enemy shipping there.'
1943 was the war's turning point.
The German army was retreating in Russia and Africa, and the carpet bombing of German cities had begun.
Propaganda Minister Goebbels talked of a war demanding total sacrifice. Would Germany fight total war?
-Wollt ihr den totalen Krieg?
But in reality, the Nazis were slowly losing control.
The atmosphere shifted accordingly.
People walk straighter, their faces shine.
A ghostly hand has nailed the Nazis' death warrant to the wall.
And what do we find?
Party officials sniffing which way the wind's blowing, saying "Gruss Gott" instead of "Heil Hitler",
Nazi schoolteachers back in church,
the swastika disappearing from coat lapels, the women's leader quietening down.
The Nazis were running scared.
Also, the harsh realities of war -
rationing, bombing - were puncturing Nazi confidence.
Grumbling became more common, black humour at Hitler's expense,
and, at last, some active resistance.
Reck's diary mentions army deserters sabotaging the war machine.
But the government hadn't given up.
This was total war, and the Nazis were punch-drunk on terror.
Five-minute trials are enough.
They stamp on the verdict,
liquidate and expropriate -
kill - then seize all property.
The victim's shoved out a back door
where the guillotine waits.
In medical schools the corpses are piling up so high,
they've refused further shipments.
And still the war dragged on, week after week.
With every week, another 30,000 murders in the death camps.
Only Hitler's death would stop the madness,
but he was like a fox,
gone to earth.
As Reck had so despairingly put it...
Why should Herr Hitler worry?
Every day, his shelter is dug deeper and deeper into the earth.
Reck wrote those words on July the 18th, 1944.
Three days earlier,
this photo had been taken.
Hitler with one of his generals.
And standing beside them, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg.
On July 20th, Stauffenberg put a bomb in a briefcase under a table
just a few feet from Hitler.
With the fuse set at ten minutes, he left the room and flew to Berlin, where an army rebellion was waiting.
But the bomb plot failed.
Hitler, shielded by the wooden leg of the table,
survived the blast.
'and protected the Fuhrer.
'God did not desert Germany in its fateful hour.'
In the wave of terror that followed the bomb plot, another 5,000 Germans lost their lives.
Some were strung up on butcher's hooks to prolong their agony.
And Hitler, it was said, liked to watch the execution footage over and over again.
Fritz Reck was himself arrested in October '44.
We don't know exactly what he did.
The official charge said he "undermined army morale".
He died in Dachau concentration camp.
A Genickschuss - a shot in the neck.
You, up there.
I hate you, waking and sleeping.
Sieben, sechs, funf...
I don't know if I'll survive your downfall, but this I do know -
that a man must hate this Germany
with all his heart,
if he really loves his country.
I'd ten times rather die than see you triumph.
'This is London calling. Here is a news flash.
'The German radio has just announced that Hitler is dead.
'I'll repeat that.
'The German radio has just announced that Hitler is dead.'
Subtitles by John Macdonald, Subtext, for BBC Subtitling, 1997
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.