How the Nazis Lost the War (2021) - full transcript

Told through the lens of the bumbling generals and paranoid Fuhrer who had hit the big time by tragic accident. Hitler's war machine was feared and ruthless - at least for a time. It cut a swathe through Europe and North Africa and threatened to overrun Russia. From 1939 into the early 1940s Hitler's dream of a Third Reich and dominance over all of Europe was a distinct possibility. But then cracks appeared. The war machine became vulnerable. The history of WWII is usually told through the eyes of the victors - but How the Nazis Lost the War is told through the lens of the bumbling generals and paranoid Fuhrer who had hit the big time by tragic accident. For the first time, How the Nazis Lost the War tells the decline of Hitler's empire from the inside out - showing how a dysfunctional, bloated, poorly led gang of thugs managed to fool Germany, then take Europe by surprise.

Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!
Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!

These are some of
the most infamous men

of the Nazi regime.

The Führer, Adolf Hitler.

Hitler was utterly ruthless.
Anything that stood in his way

he could justify to himself
that it was worth getting rid of.

The Fighter Ace, Hermann Goering.

A bon vivant,
he liked women, he liked wine,

he liked drugs.

The Spin Doctor, Joseph Goebbels.

The ultimate sycophant, just tells
Hitler always what he wants to hear

and makes Hitler feel
great about himself.

Head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler.

He enjoyed the trappings of power.

He enjoyed his
relationship with Hitler,

and he would do whatever it took
to ensure that that continued.

The Gatekeeper, Martin Bormann.

He was a ruthless man.

He had blood on his hands.

He was the sort of man that
Hitler needed to do his dirty work.

Each name
conjures its own special nightmare.

But could they work together

to bring the grand
Nazi vision to fruition?

Or would their toxic
and dangerous self-interest

cause dysfunction and ruin?

Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!
Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!

The Nazi leadership was ambitious,

it was ruthless, it was cutthroat.

It was absolutely backstabbing.

And you couldn't trust anyone
as much as look at them.

What is the pathway to promotion?

How do you assume a
leadership role in the Third Reich?

It's by telling Hitler to no small
extent what he wants to hear.

Without question,
it is inherently dysfunctional.

Hitler's leadership

was often contradictory
and self-serving.

Intentionally handing out

confusing and overlapping duties
to his underlings.

Keeping them busy
fighting among themselves,

rather than plotting against him,
was part of his ploy.

Well, Hitler's management style was

notoriously shambolic.

I mean, here was a guy
who went to bed early,

or else stayed up all night
watching movies,

invariably slept past noon,

had a notoriously
short attention span,

didn't listen to briefings,
didn't read stuff,

always operated on his gut

and, uh, thought
his gut was superior

to the professional views of others

who were really reading
intelligence reports

and doing real analysis of problems.

So it tended to be he would
try to reinforce his prejudices.

If he wanted to do something,
he would find reasons to do it

or find people
who would tell him it was doable,

and he would ignore
or purge critics.

And the toxic attitude
poisoned any chance

of a proper functioning elite.

"Stay on the good
side of Hitler or else"

was an excellent policy.

Failure meant a
swift fall from favor.

And in Nazi Germany,

this could be very
bad for your health.

One of the tactics
that Hitler used is,

not only in Germany
but within his own government,

is dividing and ruling,

setting one sector of society
up against another,

one department up against another,

one individual up against another.

Always making sure that

neither faction really knew
where they stood.

If individuals are jostling
for position, they are perhaps

not creating any
opposition to Hitler.

But the upsides were very alluring.

To make it into his inner circle

brought with it security,

immense power,

and often wealth.

To get there was not
so much a matter of abilities,

more a need
to demonstrate slavish devotion,

and a ruthless drive
to make it through the ranks.

One man who excelled in the traits

that went to making
a successful Nazi

was Hermann Goering.

Goering was a bon vivant, you know.

He liked women, he liked wine,

he liked drugs, he liked partying,

he liked ceremony,
he liked decorative uniforms,

uh, and he loved
art and real estate.

Goering was flamboyant, vain,

and downright weird.

He built a palace
in a hunting reserve,

dressed in period clothes,

and tried to have extinct animals

reengineered back to life

so he could hunt them like in the
good old days of German mythology.

Being hopelessly hooked on morphine,

which he originally
started taking for injuries

suffered in the Beer
Hall Putsch of 1923,

may explain some of this behavior.

Goering had the talent
to rub people up the wrong way

throughout his life.

He was arrogant,
he was vain, he was bombastic.

And if you didn't know
him too personally,

people were often sort of drawn
into his personality

and they found him charming.

But once you actually realized
that you had to work with him,

you knew you were
dealing with, you know,

a morphine addict
who was inconsistent,

who had mood swings.

Goering was deserving
of his top spot,

but equally, he condemned himself

to his fall from grace.

Despite often looking like one,

Goering was no clown.

When he put his mind to it,

he was as efficiently evil

as the next Nazi,

and he caught Hitler's eye.

Goering had been a commander
of the Flying Circus Squadron

in World War I,

under the famous
Baron von Richthofen,

the Red Baron,

and had proved his skill
with 22 kills to his name.

Goering had all the star power

and the swagger
of being a fighter ace

in the First World War.

Hitler really latched onto that.

He needed that sort
of sense of gravitas

and almost flamboyance

to make the National
Socialist Movement stand out.

It was a wedding of convenience
for the two,

you know, Hitler had the star power

and Goering had
this sort of sense of

needing to restore Germany
to its greatness,

particularly as he had
seen the German Air Force

be utterly smashed to pieces
and demoralized

after the First World War.

And he had sworn to restore
German aviation to the skies.

So Hitler was the
man to do it with him.

Goering rose quickly
through the ranks.

In 1923,

Hitler placed him in charge
of the Sturmabteilung, or SA,

which Goering quickly
shaped into a large

and powerful organization
of agitators and thugs.

Operating way outside the law,

they were essentially
Hitler's bully boys,

targeting any opposition
to the Nazi agenda.

Goering's arrogance
made him hugely unpopular

with the men under his command.

But it emboldened
the burgeoning Nazi Party

to attempt to seize power by force.

By 1923,

the party had grown confident enough

to attempt a brazen coup.

The National Socialists
made a stand under Hitler

at a beer hall in Munich

with a plan to overthrow
the federal government.

But the plan failed.

Sixteen party members were killed.

And Goering was badly wounded.

Goering suffered with that wound
for the rest of his life.

It created this morphine addiction
that made him balloon in weight.

And ultimately,
it did change his personality,

you know, even though he had been
seen as a bit of a difficult man,

and an arrogant man,
he was a smart man.

And the morphine sort of
blunted that intelligence.

The plot may have
failed catastrophically,

but for one old friend of Hitler's,

it had its advantages.

Ernst Rohm, who had been front
and center during the failed putsch,

displaced the incapacitated Goering
as head of the SA.

Under his command,

Rohm saw the numbers swell
to almost three million strong.

But trouble was brewing.

The signature backstabbing
and double-crossing

that was to define
the Nazi inner circle

was about to show its ugly face.

In July 1932,

the Nazis won the election,

due in no small way

to the intimidation by the SA.

Hitler was now chancellor,

and Goering was named
as president of the Reichstag

and his right-hand man.

All seemed to be
going well for the Nazis,

but the factions and
power centers within

were beginning to attack each other.

An early trigger
for the internal wars

was the rise of the SA.

Many worried it had become too big,

and the leader, Ernst Rohm,

was publicly moving away
from Hitler's ideology.

Hitler was always concerned

that there might be factions
within the Nazi Party

that could challenge
his own leadership.

And we see him really
trying to consolidate his power base

and removing those enemies

that could potentially
pose a challenge

to his leadership and his supremacy.

Rohm and the SA

were a powerful potential force

that he would find
very difficult to control.

To keep the SA in check,

Hitler created the
SS Security Service,

and then expanded the Gestapo,

the infamous secret state police,

placing them both
under Heinrich Himmler.

This new version of
organized thuggery

could now counteract
the power of the SA

and their leader, Ernst Rohm.

Nazi leaders Hermann Goering,

Deputy Nazi Chief Rudolf Hess,

Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels,

and SS Leader Heinrich Himmler

began to coalesce
around a deadly plan,

to rid themselves of
Ernst Rohm for good.

In 1934,

the cabal began
their campaign against Rohm.

They planted rumors
and fake evidence

that Rohm was planning
an overthrow of the regime.

Swirling talk of homosexuality

was also given plenty of air.

Neither Rohm nor the SA

ever planned to seize
power in Germany.

But the truth never got in the way
of a good Nazi conspiracy.

Despite Rohm being one
of his oldest friends,

Hitler seized the opportunity

and charged Himmler and the SS

with carrying out a massive

and deadly purge
of the SA officials,

including Rohm.

It was to be swift and merciless.

It would become known

as the Night of the Long Knives.

Hitler was utterly ruthless.

Anything that stood in his way

he could justify to himself

that it was worth getting rid of.

So if Rohm and the SA

had to be exterminated,
then why not do it?

On June the 28th, 1934,

the knives were sharpened
for a bloody and brutal evening,

as the regime prepared
to turn viciously on itself.

Hitler ordered Rohm
and the SA leaders

to gather at a Bavarian spa

where SS units surprised,

disarmed, and arrested them.

After being taken to prison,

most were shot on
the spot without trial.

SA supporters took
to the streets in protest,

while an enraged
Hitler ordered a swathe

of mass arrests and killings.

Thousands were arrested.

The next day, on orders from Hitler,

Rohm was shot in his cell.

His last words were "Heil Hitler."

After the Night of the Long Knives

and the death of Rohm, we see Hitler

make a very bold statement
that he was no longer

willing to put up with those
that threatened his power base.

He became a dictator,
he became a tyrant,

because of course,
he had to stamp on that opposition

that might otherwise
oust him from power.

The Nazis had shown they
were prepared to murder their own

to achieve their goals.

From now on, nothing
was out of bounds.

Nothing too extreme.

Lawlessness and brutality

was now a weapon of the regime.

Fear had taken root
in his circle of leaders.

No one ever felt safe again.

This was a ruthlessness

that he not only
exposed the party to,

but also the nation to, the idea

that there was
only one leader for Germany.

He was building himself an edifice

from which he couldn't be toppled.

Hitler's next target was the army.

Two top commanders

who felt the cold
grip of Nazi infighting

where War Minister
Werner von Blomberg

and Fritsch, the head
of the Wehrmacht.

Hitler had sat down in 1937
with his military leaders,

chief among them, Bloomberg,
the Minister of War,

and Fritsch, the Commander-in-Chief
of the Wehrmacht,

and he kind of outlined
his aggressive plans

for German expansion,

uh, principally in Eastern Europe,
then even the Soviet Union.

These guys were really alarmed,

and they began to push back
inside the German military saying,

you know, "Hitler might be off
his rocker," you know what I mean,

these are pretty ambitious plans

and Hitler gets wind of these
rumblings inside the German Army,

and he decides,
"I got to get rid of these guys.

I need to put in placemen
who will be loyal to me

and will carry out my orders
without hesitation."

And so he kind of trumps up
a couple of scandals.

The first scandal
involved von Blomberg.

In January 1938,

he married 26-year-old
typist Erna Gruhn.

With Hermann Goering as best man,

and Hitler himself as the witness.

But the course of true love
never did run smooth,

particularly in Nazi Germany.

Some pornographic images
of Blomberg's new wife surfaced,

together with evidence
that she had once been a prostitute.

Blomberg's days
as Minister of War were numbered,

and Hitler had the
perfect replacement.

A man with craven ambition,

who could be relied upon
to do his bidding,

Hermann Goering.

It's very clear
that Hitler wanted to ensure

that he placed at the
head of the military

individuals that he
could manipulate.

Hitler ordered Blomberg
to annul the marriage

in order to avoid scandal

and preserve the
integrity of the army.

When he refused,

Goering threatened
to publicly expose

Blomberg's wife's sordid past.

Finally, Blomberg gave up

and resigned all posts.

Flush with their success
at destroying Blomberg,

Hitler and Goering
now turn their attention

to Commander-in-Chief of the
Wehrmacht, Werner von Fritsch.

The next fall is Fritsch, you know, the
Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht,

uh, then Hitler concocts
this wholly outrageous story

that Fritsch is a
closeted homosexual,

and he's bringing dishonor on the
Prussian and German officer corps.

And so Fritsch who, you know,
demands a military court of honor

says this is not true

is forced in turn
to resign his post,

and Hitler then moves in as
Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht.

With both Blomberg
and Fritsch gone,

Goering was able
to cement his position

as the man who could
get things done for Hitler.

His star was on the rise

with his Luftwaffe
dominating the blitzkrieg attacks

on Poland and France.

Goering was rewarded by Hitler

and appointed his successor

as Führer of all Germany.

Goering was now the highest
ranking soldier in Germany,

answering only to
Hitler, which of course

made the rest of the
Nazi Party leadership

insanely jealous.

Early on in the war,

the successes in Poland
and in the French campaign,

this gives Goering a kind of

elite status among the inner circle.

Hitler is purposefully manipulating
his inner circle.

And as loyal as these men are,
and they are not just loyal,

they are real sycophants.

I mean, it is adulation to Hitler,

partly because they understand
that the more Hitler gives them,

the greater their prestige.

So they're always
seeking Hitler's favor.

And this is the reason why

Goering lasts so long
within the Nazi regime,

is for what he provided
within that inner sanctum,

what he provided Hitler with
in terms of confidence and advice.

It was his trust.
It was his loyalty.

And that is what Hitler demanded,
perhaps above all else.

It would prove
a precarious position

with Goering having
to constantly look over his shoulder

for the knives of his rivals.

They would not hesitate
to bring him down

at the first sign of weakness.

Increasingly throughout the war,

Hitler was concerned
at Goering's military capability,

which meant that there was
a significant question mark

surrounding Goering
as the war progressed.

That started during Dunkirk,

when the evacuation took place,

despite the attentions
of the Luftwaffe.

The Luftwaffe couldn't produce
the sort of strategic victories

that Goering
suggested that it could.

As the war goes on
and his star begins to decline,

partly because of
his obvious failures,

Goering defaults back
into his morphine addiction,

becomes ever more problematic, and
he kind of falls away from the scene.

But if Goering
was Hitler's closest confidant

in the military leadership,
his most trusted party man

was undoubtedly Minister
for Propaganda and Enlightenment

Joseph Goebbels.

Adolf Hitler's fanatic
little Propaganda Minister

Paul Joseph Goebbels.

The most Nazi of all the Nazis.

He was fanatical,
loyal to his Führer, and power-mad.

Goebbels had immense power
because Hitler's image

depended upon
Goebbels manipulation of information

and the development of Hitler
as an heroic figure.

All of the leading Nazis, whether
we're talking about, you know,

Goebbels, Bormann, Himmler, Goering,

they all figure out early on
that Hitler's a weak man,

and that Hitler's
easily manipulated.

Goebbels, because he's a...
The ultimate sycophant,

just tells Hitler always
what he wants to hear

and makes fit... Hitler
feel great about by himself,

and he's always at Hitler's side

and he's always spouting Nazi
propaganda, he's a key player.

Propaganda Minister
Goebbels told them

Germany didn't want a war at all.

Goebbels had proved
his mastery of the media

and the Nazi marketing

as he rose through
the ranks of the Nazi Party.

He adapted recent developments
in advertising

with use of catchy slogans,

eye-catching posters,

and cryptic headlines,

to further the Nazi
Party cause in image.

He penetrated the very fabric
of German society,

taking the voice of the Nazis

directly into lounge rooms

by making radios cheap
and readily available.

They were even handed out free
on his birthday.

Like Hitler, he
practiced his speeches

in front of the mirror,

perfecting his body language

to convey power,

with highly choreographed
hand gestures

and vocal infections.

He always knew how
to make an entrance

to give the most emotional impact.

He used the old trick

of keeping the audience waiting,

then hitting them with everything.

With his striking eyes
and attractive voice,

Goebbels was the undisputed
Nazi pin-up boy

and a prolific womanizer,

despite a clubbed foot

which had prevented him from
enlisting as a fighting soldier.

With the outbreak of war,

Goebbels began using
his propaganda machine

to shape messages
and control information

about what was happening
on the fighting fronts.

His word spread as gospel
throughout Germany.

In 1943, Goebbels was appointed
Minister for Total War,

after pressuring Hitler
to adopt the policy

which included measures like
closing non-essential businesses,

conscripting women
into the labor force,

and enlisting more
men into the Wehrmacht.

The whole idea of a...
Of a total war idea,

it's a wonderful propaganda message.

It shows the ability of Goebbels

to seize a moment

to say it is now very clear

that the war is being lost,
that we've suffered a great setback,

and we need to respond to this.

We need to respond to this
by seizing the moment

and allowing people to believe,
"Oh, we do have excess capacity,

oh, the war is now seriously
gonna be fought by Germany.

Now, we're going to take the
other hand out from behind our back

and fight this war."

As with every new maneuver

and promotion within
the Nazi hierarchy,

someone was going to end up
feeling overlooked and threatened.

This time, it was Goering.

Goebbels was pushing for changes

in armaments
production and industry,

which put him directly
in conflict with Goering.

After his failures
at the Battle of Britain

and inability to reduce losses
on the Eastern Front,

his precious Luftwaffe
was about to be given

a vote of no confidence

as armaments for his aircraft
were reduced.

Goering was starting
to feel disrespected

and marginalized.

When total war becomes a reality

in 1944 lead by Goebbels,

we see that Goering
is beside himself

with rage that he isn't given
the responsibility

that he had expected,

that he had demanded,

that he had put a great deal
of thought into,

and felt that those
that were responsible for it

didn't have the experience

to produce a total war economy.

And he was probably right.

Central to the Nazi vision

of a total war economy

was a fearful and utterly
subservient population.

Together, with hundreds
of thousands of slave laborers,

this would be the job of the feared

Reich state security police force,

the SS,

led by another of Hitler's trusted
inner circle,

Heinrich Himmler.

Himmler was one of Hitler's

most trusted allies.

He was given probably

more ability to go his own way

than other peers.

Being in control
of the national administration

was a huge responsibility

and provided him with
a huge power base.

Also, having responsibility
for the SS if you like,

the party's own
political military force.

Himmler's SS death squads

were to become universally
feared throughout Europe,

and were responsible
for the deaths of millions

of Poles and Slavs in the East.

Nazi commanders were well advised to
keep on the right side of Himmler.

Falling out with him,
as some commanders did,

meant a swift removal
from power or worse.

His power derived
from the trust of the Führer.

He was very loyal to Hitler,
and Hitler was very loyal to him.

There's no doubt that the nature

of his responsibility

for internal security

meant that he could
use that power base

to turn upon his enemies
very, very quickly,

and very quickly remove them,
and he did that on many occasions.

And so there's no doubt
that the inner sanctum

around Hitler were wary of Himmler,

because he himself
was incredibly ruthless.

He was given free rein

to carry out his diabolical mission,

orchestrating and administrating
the extermination of the Jews,

and anyone who was not
of so-called pure Aryan blood.

Himmler was responsible
for the creation and management

of the death camps
during World War II,

at the behest of his political
mentor and sponsor,

Adolf Hitler.

Himmler begins, you know,
studying the progress

of the Aryan race,

and its contrast with other races.

Impelled in part by Hitler

because of his own
sort of ambiguous past,

but also by Himmler

who begins to, you know,
encumber Nazi Germany

with a particular evil
that finds its fullest expression

in the Holocaust,
the Final Solution.

Himmler it seems was untouchable

in the Führer's eyes.

Even after the attempted
assassination of Hitler

by senior army commanders in 1944,

the infamous von Stauffenberg plot,

he went unpunished

for his failure to detect
and diffuse the plot in advance.

It was a massive embarrassment
for Himmler.

To soothe his shame,

he promptly rounded up

and executed thousands of suspects

as his way of demonstrating

his loyalty to Hitler

and restoring the
reputation of the SS.

Though he was in
thrall of his Führer,

Himmler, like other
ambitious Nazi officials,

had aspirations to succeed
Hitler as Germany's leader.

One man he suspected
of standing in his way

was Albert Speer,
the original architect

of the great Berlin buildings
and monuments

to the glory of the Reich.

Speer so impressed Hitler

with his architectural visions
of a new Berlin,

that he appointed
him to the critical post

of Minister for
Armaments and Munitions.

Now, some people say
he was a part of the inner circle,

but he was an architect,

who Hitler enjoyed
having conversations

about new design.

He wasn't a powerbroker,

but therein lies the decision.

He's a new player.

Hitler doesn't allow any one man
to assume too much power,

and he's absolutely loyal to Hitler.

Therefore, he becomes the perfect person
in this system to assume that position.

We see a tremendous dysfunction
in Hitler's inner circle

because the people
who are running things

are not necessarily appointed
because of their competence.

Speer appealed to Hitler's vanity,

that Hitler thought he and Speer

were fellow architects

and artists and creative geniuses.

And, uh, so he loves
spending time with Speer

and looking over plans for a
new Reich Chancellery or the...

A new imperial capital of Berlin.

Hitler was so admiring of Speer

that Himmler considered him
an especially dangerous rival,

both in the
administration of the Reich

and as a potential
successor to Hitler.

As a means of getting Speer onside,

Himmler offered him
the prestigious rank

of SS Obergruppenführer,

but Speer was having none of it.

The last thing he needed was to be
under Himmler's watchful eye.

He knew it would be hard to say no

when Himmler wanted a say
in armaments production.

He begins to rework
the German armaments industry.

He's now competing for resources,

and the underlings
of the Third Reich

are all seeking to both protect
their own empires

and make Speer look bad.

Speer then looks to Goebbels,

Goebbels has got his own competition
with Himmler,

and they become natural allies.

But that means
that the central focus

of the inner circle
are not necessarily focused

on the best outcome for the war,

but on protecting private interests.

After the war,
Speer was spared execution

and spent 20 years in prison.

During which time, he wrote
accounts of his experience

in Hitler's inner circle.

According to Speer, the powerful men

under Hitler, including
Joseph Goebbels,

Hermann Goering,
and Heinrich Himmler,

were from earlier
on jostling for favor

and watching each other

like a pack of childish pretenders
to the throne.

But perhaps, the greatest threat
to all of them

was Hitler's personal secretary,

Martin Bormann.

From the start, he made
himself seen insignificant

while imperceptibly building
his influence,

until he was arguably

the second most powerful man
of the Nazi Reich,

referred to by some
as the secret leader.

I see Bormann as the doorman
that would only allow entry

into the inner sanctum
of the Nazi Party

if you could add value,

if you were loyal,
if you were to be trusted.

He was a ruthless man.

He had blood on his hands.

He was the sort of man that Hitler
needed to do his dirty work.

And as a result of that,
he was a trusted confidant.

The first sign of Bormann's
ruthlessness and brutality

came immediately after World War I,

when he worked closely

with a nationalistic paramilitary
group, the Freikorps,

whose tactics could
get very nasty indeed.

Bormann enjoyed getting involved
in the more robust

activities of the Freikorps.

In 1928, he joined
the National Socialists

and was welcomed in to the SS

by Himmler himself.

Bormann creatively managed

Hitler's finances
with various schemes,

such as extracting royalties

from Hitler's book
and his image on postage stamps,

as well as setting up
the impressive sounding,

but actually very shady
Adolf Hitler Endowment Fund

of German Industry,

which was really
a thinly veiled extortion operation

on behalf of Hitler
to collect more money

from German industrialists.

No wonder Hitler loved him.

He took charge of
all Hitler's paperwork,

appointments, and personal finances.

By now, Hitler's trust in Bormann

and his worldview
was so overwhelming,

in one meeting, he's
said to have yelled,

"To win this war, I need Bormann."

Bormann was now the final word
before Hitler

in pretty much everything to do

with keeping the country running.

If you wanted to get to Hitler,

you had to get
through Bormann first.

Bormann is the head of
the Reich Chancellery,

and essentially what that gives him

is the ability to control
access to Hitler.

He also is a repository
of a lot of knowledge.

The various state
leaders around Germany,

they talked to him,

and this gives him
an indirect power with Hitler.

He selectively can take a lot
of information that is coming

across his desk and use it
to manipulate the message to Hitler.

And this is a real problem
for any of the other, uh, rivals.

Very few of them have in that
sense a direct access to Hitler.

So Bormann becomes
very much a gatekeeper.

And he proved to be a master

of intricate political maneuvering.

He was able to effectively nullify

any power plays by the big names.

He ruthlessly and skillfully

sabotaged the agendas of all of them

when he sensed any kind
of threat to his power.

The inner sanctum themselves

were always fighting
for time with Hitler.

Martin Bormann seemed to be able

to get Hitler on his own,

talk into his ear,

and influence him perhaps more

than any other member
of the close team

that developed around Hitler.

And as a result of that,

he was seen as someone
who was dangerous.

In February 1943,

the German defeat at Stalingrad

triggered a crisis in the regime.

True to form, Bormann
exploited the military disaster,

with his moves sparking
a massive power struggle

within the inner circle.

Bormann had a proposal
to which Hitler agreed.

The creation of a
three-man committee

with representatives from the state,

the army, and the party,

which would harness
the country's productivity

for the benefit of the war effort.

The Committee of Three
was an attempt by the Germans

in the middle of World War II

to really make more efficient

the German use of
resources and production

for this multi-front war effort.

And the idea was you'd have
a representative of industry,

a representative of the Nazi Party,

and a representative
of the German military,

who would all sit around a table
and decide

what plans had to get funded

and where resources would go.

The Committee of Three members

were Hans Lammers,

influential chief of
the Reich Chancellery

who worked alongside Bormann,

Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel
from the armed forces,

and of course, Martin Bormann.

Hitler seemed to like the idea
of the committee,

as none of the members
posed any threat

to his leadership nor would
they disagree with him.

The committee was to propose the
best independent course of action

regardless of the views
of the respective ministries,

with Hitler to make
the final decisions,

which did not suite
some people at all.

The Committee of Three were
immediately brought under attack

by sort of the Nazi hierarchy,
people like Goering,

people like Himmler,
people like Goebbels,

people like Speer, who all resented

their intruding
onto their little turfs.

And so the Committee of Three,
which was meant to rationalize

the German response to World War II,

ended up being a complete fizzle.

Despite the Committee of Three,

administrative chaos

continued to dog the
German war effort.

Ultimate responsibility
for this dysfunctionality

lay with Hitler

and his control freakish behavior,

as Goebbels well knew,

referring to it in his diary
as a crisis of leadership.

But Goebbels was too much
under Hitler's spell

ever to challenge his power.

As the war turned steadily
against Germany,

as desperation and doubt
seeped into the atmosphere,

those in the inner circle began
to viciously turn on each other.

Blame went in circles,
and the air around Hitler's table

became more toxic
and unproductive than ever.

And the mighty would begin
their inevitable falls from grace.

Goering is increasingly
marginalized by Himmler

because he sees
all of Goering's vulnerabilities,

lack of a work ethic,

his buffoonish behavior,
his drug addiction,

and he basically
increasingly sidelines Goering

in Hitler's eyes by
the end of the war.

There's no question
that the inner circle

becomes almost unworkable,

and I think it's illustrative of
the dysfunction in the inner circle

that someone who has suffered
as many defeats,

uh, both on the battlefield
and personally as Goering,

that he stays in that role,
that he's never replaced.

And that's just, well, it's absurd.

Even though he was marginalized

in the final months of the war,

Goering would have
one last shot at the top.

When it was reported to Goering

that Hitler had
essentially lost his mind

and was planning suicide,

he decided to try to assert
his claim to the leadership

based on the agreement
Hitler had signed

naming him as his successor.

Goering sent
a very carefully worded telegram,

requesting to take command
of the Reich forces

as per the agreement.

But it was intercepted by Bormann,

who took full advantage
of Hitler's paranoia

to brand Goering a traitor.

Hitler replied to Goering,
with much help from Bormann,

threatening him with
treason and execution

unless he resigned all posts.

Well, at the end of
the war, you know,

Goering always thought he had
been anointed by Hitler

as, you know, Deputy
Führer, you know.

So he thought that he had the chops
to take over the job,

and he made the mistake
of, you know, volunteering

to take over because,
"I know you're in Berlin,

I know you're in
the bunker, Führer,"

and, oh, that really angered Hitler.

Hitler... that was the final straw
for Hitler.

He'd already been souring on Goering

and then, when Goering
tried to sort of move

and take over the Führer's office
while Hitler was,

you know, hunkering in the bunker
waiting to blow his brains out,

he said no and Hitler takes
the job away from Goering

and gives it to
Donitz in a fit of spite.

Goering resigned
and started heading westwards

with his family to surrender
to the Americans,

which was a good move.

Bormann had ordered
his execution anyway if Berlin fell.

Next to make a rash grab for power

was Heinrich Himmler.

Himmler was second only to Goebbels

in loyalty to the Führer,

but he threw what remained away
when, in May 1945,

he attempted to broker
a peace deal with the Allies,

behind Hitler's back.

Well, you begin to see
just how many cracks there are

only at the very end,

when it's become clear
that in spite of all the promises,

even among the men who were supposedly
the most loyal, Goering and Himmler,

that they would seek
to open negotiations with the Allies

once it becomes clear that there's
going to be a post-Hitler Germany.

For Hitler, it is
the final betrayal,

and I guess in some ways
it also shows how these men...

At the end of the day,
they're ultimately self-interested.

The Allies
refused his generous terms

and for Himmler, the game was up.

As a final insult
to the Holocaust mastermind,

Heinrich Himmler
was officially branded a traitor

and, along with Goering,
stripped of all Nazi rank and power.

Not that it mattered.

Germany was moments away
from losing the war,

and Himmler was days away
from committing suicide

after being captured by the Allies.

Only Goebbels
remained steadfast in his loyalty.

And with the suicide of Hitler
and the fall of Germany imminent,

he became chancellor.

He served less than a day

before he and his wife
poisoned their six children

and themselves.

Martin Bormann had proven ruthless

and conniving right to the end

and having had the satisfaction

of defrocking his
great nemesis Goering,

tried to make a run for it.

Although mystery long remained
over his whereabouts,

he was later confirmed killed
by Soviet artillery

as he made his last
desperate bid for freedom.

The walls were literally
coming down around them,

and they were still exacting revenge

and intent on settling scores
with one another

until the bitter end.

Right from the beginning,

the seeds were sewn

for the destruction
of the Reich from within.

and personal power

for these craven sociopaths

had proved more important

than actually winning the war.