90 years ago, on January 30, 1933, Reich President Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934) appointed the National Socialist Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) as Reich Chancellor. To mark this momentous moment in the past century, ZDF will be broadcasting a focus on National Socialism from mid-January.
The core is the three-part documentary "Hitler's Power", the first part of which will be broadcast on Tuesday (January 17). Photographs and moving images from the archive, some of which have been colored afterwards, are on display, including staged images by Hitler's "personal photographer" Heinrich Hoffmann (1885-1957). Explanations from the off are illustrated with animations. Renowned historians and biographers also have their say.
The three parts address these questions:
How could a "nobody" become a power man who brings down a democracy in a few years? Where are the moments that helped Hitler gain recognition and influence? Who were his supporters? Which moods in the population suited him?
How did Hitler manage to transform a republic into a "Fuehrerstaat" in a short time? How did the "coordination" of society take place? How readily did the Germans fall in line? How far did the consonance of "Führer and people" reach?
How was Hitler able to lead "his" people into a murderous war of conquest? Why did the machinery of the war of extermination and the murder of the Jews work so smoothly? How did the Nazi leader secure his allegiance - to the bitter end?
Many experts and researchers have their say in the documentaries, which are well worth seeing. They speak a clear language, deliver concrete research results and put the events in the historical context.
This is how Prof. Dr. Alexandra Richie from the University of Warsaw on Hitler's rise to power: "Hitler's rise to power was made possible by the external circumstances: the tragic defeat in the war, the collapse and the crises of the Weimar Republic. But it was also made possible by an unshakable belief in oneself, his oratory and his ability to manipulate the Germans."
Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber from the University of Aberdeen: "He could scream. He could be soft, he could sound hard. He spoke very figuratively. And so he just took the people with him. They bawled, they cheered, they called out something, and that's it Hitler very much."
Elsewhere, historian Dr. Heike Görtemaker: "Hitler had a very high level of social intelligence. He was able to make and maintain friendships. You can't order followers. That means people came to him and followed him."
About Hitler's reaction to the increasing bombing of German cities, Prof. Dr. Ute Frevert from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development Berlin: "Hitler withdraws so as not to take responsibility for this massive destruction and suffering himself. It is always others who have failed, who have not done enough, to protect the cities."
About Hitler's responsibility for the Holocaust, Prof. Dr. Benjamin Carter Hett of New York University: "The crimes of the Holocaust are unthinkable without Hitler. Hitler's role is absolutely crucial. There is ample evidence of his command procedures. There is ample evidence of the role he played. It gives ample evidence of the dominance of his own thinking and conception of what the Holocaust should be."
Stefan Brauburger, head of ZDF contemporary history, gives three reasons why there is a ZDF special focus on the occasion of this event. On the one hand, the goal is "to make a younger audience aware of how the darkest chapter of our history was shaped by a ruler who, in almost all parts of the population to the 'bitter end' - even in the face of wars of annihilation and crimes - found support".
But it is also important to "represent timeless mechanisms of dictatorships that are still having an effect today, the threat to freedom and peace, including military violence".
And it's about "conveying drastic historical experiences in order to counteract those forces in our present that want to erode or destroy our democracy". Because, Brauburger continues, "extremism, anti-Semitism, contempt for the state, fake news campaigns, but also politically or racially motivated attacks and murders" are phenomena of our time.
"Hitler's Power: The Rise" (1/3) will be shown on Tuesday, January 17 at 8:35 p.m. on ZDF. "Hitler's Power: The Ruler" (2/3) will air on Tuesday, January 24 at 8:15 p.m. and "Hitler's Power: The Destroyer" (3/3) will air on Tuesday, January 31, at 8:15 p.m :3pm.