The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler (2012): Season 1, Episode 1 - Episode #1.1 - full transcript

Adolf Hitler,

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

A man incapable of
normal human relationships,

lacking all compassion,
filled with hatred and prejudice.

Here, long before the Second World War,

Hitler was speaking about his
political opponents with brutality,

"vernichtet", meaning destroyed.





Hitler's hatred would
lead to the Holocaust.

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

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

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

lay a place of pilgrimage.

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

the Berghof.

And this is what many
people thought of him.

'I myself had the feeling
that here was a man

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

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

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

with insights from those
who lived through these times,

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

'The man gave off such a charisma

'that people believed whatever he said.'

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

for this is a history that
shows how charisma

is created in a relationship.

Hitler said that those Germans
he considered racially pure

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

Hitler, always filled with hatred,

managed to make a connection
with millions of Germans,

and in the process, this
seemingly unlikely figure

generated a level of charismatic attraction

that is almost without parallel in history.

Munich, in southern Germany.

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

somebody nobody at the time
considered remotely charismatic,

Adolf Hitler.

He rented a room from a tailor,

and scraped a living
painting pictures of Munich,

similar to this, for tourists.

He felt bitter and angry that his dreams

of being a great artist
had come to nothing.

A previous flatmate,

August Kubizek, described Hitler like this.

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

And Hitler would almost certainly
have remained an unknown painter

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

..the First World War.

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

'To the left and right, shrapnel abursting,

'and in between, the
English bullets whistle.

'But we don't care.

'Every one of us has only one wish,

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

'whatever the cost.'

Though brave - he won the Iron Cross -

his comrades still
thought Hitler a bit weird.

One of them, Balthasar Brandmayer, said...

But what is extraordinary
is that the very qualities

that made Hitler appear
so peculiar to his comrades

would shortly help make him
appear charismatic to thousands.

For Hitler's character
never really changed,

but the situation did,
when Germany lost the war.

In November 1918, the war ended.

More than two million
Germans had died in this war,

and all that their sacrifice
seemed to have achieved

was a humiliating defeat.

In the aftermath of
this lost war came riots

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

Some of the leaders of the
attempted revolution were Jewish,

a fact which fed anti-Semitic prejudice,

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

Thousands of ex-soldiers
formed paramilitary groups

called Freikorps in order
to fight the revolution.

And these Freikorps already
held many of the ideas and beliefs

that Hitler would later adopt as his own.

Many Freikorps were hugely anti-Semitic,

believing in the fantasy
that Jews were responsible

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

And one of the most notorious
Freikorps groups even adapted

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

or Swastika.

Members of the Freikorps
called their leaders Fuehrer.

And many of those who would later become
infamous as Nazis joined Freikorps... Heinrich Himmler, who
would become head of the SS,

Gregor Strasser,

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

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

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

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

he seemed lost and directionless.

Captain Karl Mayr knew Hitler in May 1919.

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

'who would show him kindness.

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

'looking for a master.'

But Mayr detected in
Hitler qualities he could use.

He decided to train Hitler
as a propaganda agent.

Who's that?

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

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

warning of the dangers of Communism.

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

seems to crystallize.

How many of these ideas
were already latent within him

is still a matter of debate,

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

he becomes sure of his beliefs.

In a letter he wrote in September 1919,

Hitler called for the removal
of the Jews from Germany

and a Government of National Strength.

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

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

Hitler joined the German Workers' Party,

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

and started speaking
at meetings in beer halls.

Harsh and theatrical as his
speeches appear to us today,

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

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

as well as their desire
to blame someone else

for the problems Germany
faced - particularly the Jews.

This speech, from 1933,

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

Many now shared Hitler's warped prejudices,

and his intolerance was
taken as strength of character.

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

first heard Hitler speak in 1920.

'Everything came from the heart

'and he struck a chord with all of us.

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

This is a key insight into charisma.

Because charisma does
not exist on its own in anyone.

It exists only in an interaction

between an individual and an audience.

An individual like Hitler
who was telling the audience

what they wanted to hear.

Many of them longed
for a charismatic leader

to lead them out of misery.

German history was rich
in stories of such heroes.

Here, amongst the mountains
around Hitler's house,

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

waiting to awaken and
fight his final battles.

And one of the most popular
tourist attractions of the time

was this monument, completed in 1875,

to Hermann, a tribal leader
who had led the Germans

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

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

Both portrayed as German heroes.

And Hermann was so important
to the Nazis that Heinrich Himmler

took over Wewelsburg
Castle nearby in the 1930s,

intending this place to
be a centre of SS power.

In the crypt of the castle,

Himmler wanted to hold pagan SS ceremonies

by the light of an eternal flame.

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

like the warrior knights of old.

Always subordinate to their
heroic master, Adolf Hitler.

'He is a genuinely great man

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

Himmler believed that, just
as Hermann had once proved

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

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

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

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

which some called the Nazis, for two years.

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

the Stormtroopers.

In November 1923, he decided to act,

and to try and spark an uprising in Munich.

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

but were stopped by the police.

Here, at the corner of the Feldherrnhalle.

Shots were exchanged.

Four police and 16
Nazis were killed that day.

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

to overthrow a democratic state.

But Hitler managed to
turn it into a heroic myth.

This annual re-enactment of the march,

filmed after the Nazis came to power,

shows just how Hitler
tried to create that myth.

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

Their flag became a sacred relic.

Where they were shot
became a hallowed site.

Those in attendance were blessed.

Hitler wanted to show
how his devoted disciples

had died for a great cause,

a cause symbolised by
their single, heroic leader.

Back in 1924,

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

from a sympathetic judge and
was sent to Landsberg Prison.

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

In it, he tried to demonstrate

that he possessed the
next important element

needed by a charismatic leader -

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

A brutal vision.

'He who wants to live, should fight,

'and he who does not want to fight

'in this world of eternal struggle,

'does not deserve to live.'

Hitler believed that the
fact that we are animals

is the most important thing about us,

and that so-called Aryan
Germans were superior animals.

Hitler's vision from Mein
Kampf was later expressed

in this propaganda film of the 1930s,

made after the Nazis came to power.

Once in power, Hitler
introduced compulsory sterilisation

for selected disabled Germans.

Later, he would authorise

the killing of tens of thousands of them.

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

and set about trying to
rebuild the Nazi Party.

Despite writing Mein Kampf,

Hitler's charismatic
credentials as a revolutionary

were still largely based on
his reputation as a speaker.

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

shows how he attempted to
demonstrate his dynamic image.

But in the mid 1920s,

support for the Nazis was
dropping as the economy improved.

And one of the most senior
Nazis, Gregor Strasser,

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

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

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

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

But there was to be no debate.

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

and was then cheered by his supporters.

Hitler did not approve of
discussion nor of detailed policy.

For a charismatic leader,
vagueness is valuable.

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

Hitler worked hard to try
and appear charismatic.

One technique he used was his stare.

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

longer than was usual.

One Nazi supporter
later claimed he felt this

when he looked into Hitler's eyes.

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

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

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

'It was so strange.'

But being a Nazi could be difficult

if you didn't accept Hitler's charisma.

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

when Hitler chose not to debate policy.

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

and he wrote in his diary...

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

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

so he now focused his
attention directly on Goebbels.

Asking him to Munich,

passionately expounding his
vision for the future of Germany,

and flattering him.

Goebbels was captivated.

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

Hitler now had the party he wanted,

one built around his strange personality.

Small as the Nazi Party was

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

most of the elements
that would come together

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

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

The connection he made with
his audience via his speeches.

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

His Darwinian vision,
developed in Mein Kampf,

which also contained the fantasy

that the Jews and Communists
were to blame for everything.

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

then, you felt he
possessed no charisma at all.

'I immediately disliked him
because of his scratchy voice.

'He shouted out really,
really simple political ideas.

'I thought he wasn't quite normal.'

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

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

'"is that this man Hitler will hopefully

'"never come to political power."'

And in 1928, it looked like he never would.

The vast majority of people in Germany

were completely immune
to Hitler's charisma.

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

Hitler's appeal only began to be felt

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

In the wake of the Wall
Street Crash of 1929,

the German economy all but collapsed.

The Weimar government had borrowed money

to pay the Allies war reparations

and now the debt became
too great to service.

Banks crashed, and unemployment soared.

The Nazis gained support,
but so did the Communists.

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

'that unemployment would be vanquished,

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

In the beer halls,

fights between the Nazis and the Communists

became almost commonplace.

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

'practically a missile.

'The battle was pretty fierce,

'several people were hospitalized,
some Stormtroopers too,

'they had face wounds.

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

Hitler thrived in this atmosphere
of violence and political crisis.

At election rallies,

he openly called for the
destruction of democracy.

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

"Deutschlandlied" by Joseph Haydn

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

'and we had such a strong man.

'The people were really hungry.

'It was very, very hard.

'And, in that context,

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

Hitler hadn't somehow
mesmerised his new followers

into acting against their own will.

In this desperate situation,

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

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

President Hindenburg certainly didn't.

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

he refused to make Hitler Chancellor,

calling him the "Bohemian corporal."

Hitler was offered the
job of Vice Chancellor,

but he refused to take it.

And some of his supporters
saw his obstinacy as heroic.

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

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

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

Gregor Strasser, still an
important figure in the party,

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

He had had enough.

'He should realise that he has been

'consistently refused
this post by everybody.

'I'm not prepared to wait for the Fuehrer

'to be appointed Reich Chancellor

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

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

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

But some in the German
elite were beginning to think

that appointing Hitler as Chancellor

might be one way out of Germany's problems.

The aristocratic Franz von
Papen, a former Chancellor himself,

thought Hitler could
be a useful figurehead.

Der Mann ist doch ein
Ausbund von Kleinbuergertum...

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

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

Die Kommunisten. Der Kommunismus.

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

And so, von Papen and his friends,

backed an idea to make Hitler Chancellor,

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

..Staatsmaennisches Verhalten.

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

Hitler was appointed Chancellor
by President Hindenburg.

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

of his power as a charismatic leader.

When it had looked impossible
that he would become Chancellor,

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

And now, he WAS Chancellor.

Von Papen, who was happy
to see democracy disappear,

became Vice Chancellor.

He still thought he and his
friends could control Hitler.

He would shortly discover

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

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

Thousands were in the hall in front of him,

and millions were listening on radio.

But Hitler made them all wait.

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

His speech was vague in detail

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

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

then, suddenly, you were at risk.

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

mostly their political
opponents, but also some Jews,

were imprisoned in concentration camps.

This one at Dachau outside Munich

was opened just weeks
after Hitler became Chancellor.

To begin with, the concentration camps

were under the control
of the Nazi Stormtroopers.

Here they are parading
in triumph through Berlin.

But their ordered marching
hid a chaotic and violent reality.

'Everyone is arresting everyone else

'and avoiding the
prescribed official channels.

'Everyone is threatening everyone
else with protective custody.

'Everyone is threatening
everyone else with Dachau.'

These concentration camps
were not yet places of mass killing,

but they were brutal in the extreme.

A number of prisoners were murdered,

and torture, often psychological
torture, was commonplace.

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

'We only got something
to eat every fourth day.

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

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

'but he was just messing around with me.

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

Throughout Germany,
the reality was obvious -

Hitler led a movement
of violent revolutionaries

and was brutally
suppressing any opposition.

But now he was Chancellor,

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

that he considered "true" Germans.

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

So how could Hitler benefit from
the brutality of his Stormtroopers

and yet not be blamed for it?

An early sign of how Hitler
would attempt this deception

was shown just two months
into his Chancellorship.

Hitler's anti-Semitic
prejudice knew no bounds.

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

the Nazis held a boycott of
Jewish shops and businesses

that lasted one day.

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

'That was when I intuitively
realised for the first time

'that the existing law
did not apply to Jews.

'You could do with Jews whatever you liked.

'A Jew was an outlaw.'

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

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

The document calling for
the boycott was signed only

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

But Hitler was concerned

that the Stormtroopers might
be getting out of his control,

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

Hitler told them the revolution was over.

But the Stormtroopers wanted to
march the revolution ever onwards,

staying true to the
words of the Nazi anthem,

written by Stormtrooper Horst Wessel.

Their leader, Ernst Roehm,

even wanted the Stormtroopers
to take over the German Army.

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

'One rejected the Stormtroopers
because of their behaviour.

'Well, at the end, one can almost say

'the Stormtroopers were
hated by most soldiers.'

Von Papen, Hitler's Vice Chancellor,

had been gathering complaints
about the Stormtroopers.

This was potentially dangerous for Hitler,

as von Papen was close to
the aged President Hindenburg.

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

'An endless dynamic creates nothing.

'Germany must not become
a train into the unknown,

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

But Hitler realised he could
turn all this to his advantage

and alter the way millions
perceived him as a leader.

He just had to be
cold-hearted and ruthless.

On 30th June 1934,

Hitler travelled to the shores
of the Tegernsee in Bavaria

and the health resort of Bad Wiessee.

Roehm and the senior
leadership of the Stormtroopers

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

Hitler and his entourage
arrived at 6.30 in the morning.

Hitler walked through
the lobby of the hotel

and up the stairs to the first floor,

where Roehm was asleep in this room.

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

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

Two days later, Roehm was shot.

Many others Hitler held grudges against

were killed at the same time.

Gregor Strasser, who had
once been a leading Nazi

but had quarrelled with
Hitler, was also shot.

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

but he was allowed to live,

eventually sent to Vienna
as German ambassador.

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

Now Hitler had seemingly
destroyed disorderly elements

within his own party,

many Germans started
to see him for the first time

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

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

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

President Hindenburg had just died,

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

Adolf Hitler.

Just a few weeks later, in September 1934,

Hitler was here in Nuremberg
for the Nazi Party rally.

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

But this rally would be
remembered more than any other

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

Because this rally was filmed

for the feature length
documentary Triumph Of The Will.

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

descending from the clouds
to meet his adoring subjects.

Thanks to Triumph Of The Will,

it wasn't just the people
who were physically present

who experienced the emotional
impact of seeing their leader.

Now, millions more could see in cinemas

a carefully crafted vision of Hitler.

'For me, the Fuehrer was
an inviolable personality -

'the Fuehrer of the German Reich.

'He, whom Providence
had given so many gifts.

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

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

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

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

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

'Hitler didn't promise anything.

'It was always "only for the German people"

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

'I only admired the technique.'

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

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

'To pull them together.

'People said that Hitler
had the effect of a magnet

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

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

he was just as hate-filled as ever

and so was the regime he led.

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

Alois Pfaller, a German Communist,

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

'They hit me in the face.

'For three hours. Always at my face.

'In the meantime, my eardrum had split,

'so then, I heard an incredible racket.

'It was a roaring, an incredible roaring,

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

When Alois suffered a massive haemorrhage,

the Gestapo made him clean
his own blood off the floor

before sending him to a concentration camp.

The reason that this
kind of persecution did not,

for the most part, damage Hitler
amongst the general population

was because the perception of many Germans

was that Hitler was using
violence to bring order.

'Right at the beginning,

'the first Communists and
social democrats were carted off,

'I even saw it myself, the lorries.

'It didn't make us think.

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

Hitler was careful to act mostly
against groups in German society

that many other Germans
were already prejudiced against -

like Jews and Communists.

Hitler was aware that,
as a charismatic leader,

the more he targeted carefully
defined enemies, the better.

Less than 1% of Germans were Jewish,

and few dared to now
claim they were Communists.

So the vast majority of Germans
were not at risk from persecution... long as they embraced
the new world of Nazism.

And since unemployment was falling

and the economy seemed to be picking up,

many ordinary Germans
now felt this was the beginning

of a new, more optimistic era.

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

'because we had it better.

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

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

Most importantly, that
Hitler was a flawless leader.

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

from whom Hitler would
demand absolute loyalty.

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

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

'Then, I realised that
people in the Hitler Youth

'had a vulgar way of
dealing with each other.

'A very unpleasant and
violent manner was customary.

'The way, for example, we were told,

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

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

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

found their belief in him
had intensified still further.

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

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

'To those who follow him,

'there is no quality that
he does not possess

'to the greatest perfection.'

No-one even thought it
odd when Hitler told them

that what they were doing
would last for millennia.

One foreign correspondent
who attended the 1934 rally,

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

This wasn't an accident.

Hitler later talked of being guided

by a mystical force he called "Providence."

And this belief in himself
as a kind of Messiah

was a key part of his charismatic appeal.

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

have an uneasy relationship with Nazism.

Some clerics even came to reject Hitler.

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

They embraced the regime.

This is a church procession
in Muenster in 1934,

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

are those of the Deutsche
Christen movement,

the Nazi supporting branch
of the Protestant church.

One leading member of the
Deutsche Christen movement

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

Millions of other Christians
also supported Hitler.

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

one sister called Hitler

"Germany's Saviour from
Bolshevism and Marxism."

But Hitler was most certainly
NOT a practising Christian.

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

a different sort of spiritual
belief was on show.

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

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

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

And if this was a religion,

then Hitler was its prophet.

Hitler's birthday,
celebrated here in Berlin,

became a day for national rejoicing.

He was praised for trying to
restore Germany's greatness

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

Hitler came to be seen as a leader

far above the squabbles of everyday life.

As a result, it became possible for Germans

to dislike particular
Nazis they dealt with,

and yet still respect Hitler.

'There is great sympathy amongst
the population for the Fuehrer

'and Reich Chancellor, Adolf Hitler.

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

'Rather, one hears now and then,

'"Yes, if Hitler could
do everything himself,

'"some things would be different.

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

This myth that "If Hitler only knew

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

was a safety valve in the system,

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

As Adolf Hitler looked out from
his home above Berchtesgaden,

he knew he was the
undisputed master of Germany.

It had been an incredible journey,

from the nobody who had arrived in Munich

just before the First World War

to Chancellor and Fuehrer
of the German people.

But what is just as remarkable

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

This home movie footage from the 1930s,

of Hitler with these young children,

gives a false impression.

He still had no normal emotional attachment

to any one individual.

Though he had a girlfriend now, Eva Braun,

the relationship was fraught.

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

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

But Hitler's character defects

were an advantage in the times he lived in.

For his lack of compassion and empathy

made him one of the least
emotionally needy people alive.

As a result, his supporters basked

in his apparent strength and certainty.

His rise would prove to be a reminder

of what can happen in desperate times.

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

For now, secure in power,

Hitler sat high in the
mountains of southern Bavaria

and dreamt dreams of brutal conquest.

Adolf Hitler believed

he should make all the big
decisions entirely himself.

And in 1937, he told his generals

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

even if it meant war.

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

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

But Hitler couldn't turn his epic vision

of a Nazi empire based
on conquest into a reality

without the support of large
numbers of those he led.

To try and convince these
people to embrace conflict,

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

Crucially, he would exploit
his charismatic appeal.

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