The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler (2012): Season 1, Episode 2 - Episode #1.2 - full transcript

In the 1930s, here in Nuremberg,

hundreds of thousands of Germans gathered

to pay homage to Adolf Hitler.

Everybody wanted to be close to him.

Just to live in his favour,
to be in his presence,

to be near him just once,

that was the big event for the individual.

Hitler hadn't hypnotised these
Germans into supporting him.

They believed in him because of
what he'd done and what he'd said.

Not least that he'd told them

they were a superior race who
would accomplish great things.

But Hitler now faced the greatest test yet

to his charismatic leadership.

He wanted to take these people
into a war of racial conquest,

to gain a vast new empire.

But there was no evidence
most of them wanted war.

With insights from those
who lived through these times,

most of whom were interviewed
by the BBC over the last 20 years,

this film reveals how Hitler
tried to persuade his followers

to embrace conflict.


Capital of Germany today,

just as it was capital of
Germany in the 1930s,

when Adolf Hitler was Chancellor.

In 1937, Hitler lived and
worked at a building on this site.

This was the Old Reich Chancellery.

And here, Hitler spent much
of his time alone in his bedroom

where he would listen to what
he called his "inner conviction".

Often, Hitler would not emerge
from his bedroom until lunchtime.

For central to his charismatic
leadership, was the idea

that he made all the big
decisions entirely on his own.

Hitler was always
certain that he was right.

He didn't even like to
read other people's advice.

In 1935, a leading Nazi sent
Hitler a paper on youth issues

and received this reply
from Hitler's adjutant.

"The Fuehrer received it,

"but immediately gave it back to me unread.

"He intends to give a major speech
on this issue at the next Party rally

"and therefore, does not want his thinking

"to be influenced by anybody in any way."

Hitler was thought infallible.

"When a decision has to be taken,

"none of us count more than the
stones on which we are standing.

"It is the Fuehrer alone who decides."

And in late 1937, in the
isolation of his bedroom,

the Fuehrer was thinking about this.


This place would be the
first test of Hitler's desire

to occupy land that
was not part of Germany.

The first test of how others
would react to his willingness

to use brute force to
subjugate another country.

Hitler had been born in Austria

and passionately wanted
this German-speaking country

to be under his control.

On 5th November 1937,

Hitler told his military leaders
that he'd decided to occupy Austria,

and then wanted later to
eliminate Czechoslovakia.

But his generals were worried
that Hitler would start another war.

It wasn't the reaction Hitler had expected.

He wanted his generals to be like this.

"My generals should be
like bull terriers on chains,

"and they should want war, war, war.

"But what happens now?

"I want to go ahead with strong policies

"and the generals try to stop me!"

Within just a few months, three
of those who'd been unenthusiastic

about Hitler's plans at the
meeting were no longer in office.

But still, Hitler didn't
feel able to be as ruthless

with his military leaders as
his fellow dictator Stalin did.

Hitler needed the support
of the German officer corps.

The Chief Of Staff of the
German army, Ludwig Beck,

had welcomed Hitler as Chancellor.

Like many generals,

he wasn't against the
idea of German expansion,

he was just anxious that the
German army wasn't strong enough yet

to accomplish the task.

But in the end, Hitler's sheer
determination won him over.

On the morning of 12th March 1938,

German soldiers crossed the
border into neighbouring Austria.

They were greeted not
with bullets and guns,

but with roses and carnations.

So much so that the action
became known as the Blumenkrieg -

the war of flowers.

"During my ten years at party conferences

"or at rallies with Adolf Hitler,

"I had certainly witnessed
my share of enthusiasm,

"but the degree of enthusiasm

"that was prevalent in Austria at that time

"was not only surprising to
us, but also quite unbelievable."

The Austrian government,
destabilised by the Nazis for years,

had finally succumbed to Hitler's bullying

and offered no resistance.

Most of the Austrian people,

envying what they saw
as the economic success

and prestige that Hitler
had brought to Germany,

now welcomed their German neighbours.

Hitler's first great gamble
of expansion had paid off.

At just before four o'clock in
the afternoon of 12th March 1938,

Adolf Hitler drove down this road

and crossed over the
River Inn, into Austria.

He was coming home.

This town, Braunau am
Inn was his birthplace.

And it was in this house that
Hitler had first entered the world

49 years before.

The crowds were so ecstatic

that Hitler's motorcade took
several hours to reach the city of Linz,

the place Hitler had gone to school
and lived for much of his youth.

The welcome here was
the most tumultuous yet.

"I think we cried,
most of us, at that time.

"Tears were running down our cheeks,

"and when we looked at the
neighbours, it was the same.

" 'You all,' and he said that to us,

" 'You all shall help me build up
my empire to be a good empire

" 'with happy people who are thinking
and promising to be good people.' "

Something extraordinary
happened to Hitler that night in Linz.

Something that demonstrates
how charismatic leadership

is about a connection
between the leader and the led.

For Hitler only decided NOW,

once he'd witnessed the joyous
reaction of the people of Linz,

that Austria should formally
become a part of Germany,

rather than remain a separate
country within the Nazi empire,

as he'd originally planned.

It was as if the people had
changed his mind for him.

Hitler moved on to Vienna.

And his emotional state would
have been heightened even more

by what happened next.

It was here, as an unknown young man,

struggling to survive
before the First World War,

that he had dreamt dreams of greatness.

At the Vienna opera, he'd seen
Wagner's heroic opera Lohengrin

over and over again.

And now, 25 years later,
here on the Heldenplatz,

the Heroes' Square in
front of the Hofburg Palace,

more than 200,000 people
gathered to see Hitler.

In this city, Hitler had
once longed to be a hero.

And now, to the cheering
crowd in front of him, he was one.

All the most important elements
of Hitler's charismatic attraction

were on show here in Austria.

His mission to unite all
Germans under his rule.

His ability to establish a connection

and express what his audience
were wanting and feeling.

His vision of a racist state,

filled only with those he
thought "true" Germans.

The hope he offered these people

in their economic crisis.

His certainty that all would come well... that Germany and Austria were united.

A final part of Hitler's
charisma was also on show -

one that appealed to people's prejudice.

His capacity to hate.

Tens of thousands of Hitler's political
opponents in Austria were arrested,

with many sent to concentration camps.

In particular, Austrian Jews suffered,

many violently attacked,
robbed and humiliated.

Some forced to scrub the streets clean.

"There was no protection from anywhere.

"I remember I once had
to scrub the streets as well.

"I saw in the crowd a well-dressed woman

"and she was holding up a little girl

"so that this girl could see better."

Hitler blamed the Jews for
Germany's and Austria's defeat

in the First World War, for Communism,

and for much else besides.

And many believed these
anti-Semitic fantasies.

Around ten per cent of the
population of Vienna was Jewish,

with many Jews concentrated
in this area in the north of the city.

Few of their fellow
Austrians helped the Jews,

some were glad to see them go.

The Nazis now organised a
plebiscite, a vote of approval,

not just in the unification
of Austria and Germany,

but, crucially, in Hitler himself.

The Nazi propaganda
campaign was focused on Hitler,

and Austrians were taught the
three united values of their new state -

one people, one reich, one leader.

In a demonstration of how central he
was personally to this whole system,

Hitler travelled across
Austria on a campaign tour.

Heil! Heil! Heil!

Heil! Heil! Heil!

Heil! Heil! Heil!

Heil! Heil! Heil!

The vote was held on 10th April 1938

and both Austrians and Germans were asked

if they agreed with the
unification of the two countries

and with Adolf Hitler.

Several hundred thousand Austrians,

mostly Jews and the
Nazis' political opponents,

were denied the right to vote.

And for those who did vote,
there was a hint on the ballot paper

of what their choice should be,

with the space for "Yes" much
bigger than the space for "No".

More than 99% of
Austrians voted for Hitler.

Hitler emerged from his Austrian adventure

stronger than he had ever been.

And now he wanted to
take over Czechoslovakia.

General Ludwig Beck wrote a warning memo

and read it in May 1938
to the head of the army.

Those who worked closely with
Hitler were now split into two camps -

those who believed in Hitler's charisma,

like Hermann Goering who had
absolutely faith in his judgment,

and the more pragmatic
supporters, like Ludwig Beck.

He liked a great deal
of what Hitler was doing,

particularly the strengthening
of the armed forces

with more planes and more armaments,

but feared he was leading the
Germans into a war they would lose.

What wasn't clear was just how
many in the military might be prepared

to try and restrain Hitler,

and how many simply trusted
him and would follow where he led.

A clue to the prevailing
mood came in June 1938

when a number of officers
gathered to discuss Beck's views,

their words later recalled by one
of those who heard them speak.

Hitler had now been in
power for more than five years.

Years in which the Nazis
had sought to influence

every aspect of German life.

This traditional festival, held in
Muehleberg in central Germany,

shows just how successful
the Nazis had been.

In particular, Hitler targeted the young.

He wanted them to be
indoctrinated with Nazi beliefs

almost as soon as they could walk.

"There was God himself, we
young people believed all of that."

Young people weren't just being taught

to all but worship Adolf Hitler.

They learnt his racist,
hate-filled values as well -

that they were better than everyone else,

and that they should despise the weak.

What mattered in life was to be strong.

Es Zittern Die Morschen
Knochen by Hans Baumann

Hitler made big decisions in isolation.

And when he had the biggest
decisions of all to make,

he liked to come here - to the
mountains of Southern Bavaria

near the border with Austria.

In the summer of 1938,

he was asking himself if
he was prepared to risk war

with Britain, France, maybe
even the Soviet Union as well.

All over the question of Czechoslovakia.

Almost every day,

Hitler would take an afternoon walk
down the slopes of the Obersalzberg

and then, be driven back
to his house - the Berghof.

And almost every day, the
tension grew greater and greater.

Hitler said openly in the 1930s

that he wanted to gain back
for Germany the land lost

as a result of defeat
in the First World War

and gather all ethnic
Germans under his rule.

And the border region of
Czechoslovakia, the Sudetenland,

contained several million ethnic Germans.

But, in reality, as he'd written in
his book Mein Kampf back in 1924,

his ambitions were much greater.

He wanted to gain a huge
new empire for Germany

in the west of the Soviet Union.

But he knew that, whilst
millions of Germans

wanted to get back the land they'd lost,

they didn't want to fight a
massive war of conquest.

And, as a charismatic leader,

he wanted the majority to support him.

So he hid his grand ambitions behind
the smoke screen of simply saying

he wanted to right the wrongs
of the territorial settlement

at the end of the First World War.

Most in the adoring crowds

who attended the national
Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg

were unaware that, soon,
Hitler wanted to try and create

a vast new German empire.

Even though in a few of
his speeches in the 1930s,

Hitler dropped hints that
Germany's problem was

that it just wasn't big enough.

Heil, Hitler! Heil, Hitler!

God Save The King

In the autumn of 1938,

Neville Chamberlain,
the British Prime Minister,

flew to Germany to meet Hitler.

When I come back,

I hope I may be able to say

as Hotspur says in Henry IV,

"Out of this little danger,

"we plucked this flower, safety."

Chamberlain made three
separate trips to Germany

in order to discuss Hitler's
claims on Czechoslovakia.

And the dominant thought
in Chamberlain's mind

was the memory of this -

the First World War.

The bloodiest war in British history.

And the worst killing fields were here,

in the valley of the River Somme.

On 1st July 1916,

the first day of the Battle of the Somme,

nearly 20,000 British
soldiers lost their lives,

more than on any other single
day in the history of the British Army.

"Surely," thought Chamberlain,
"no leader of a major European state

"wanted something like
this to happen again."

But British leaders already had
an idea of Hitler's true character,

because Lord Halifax had
met Hitler the year before,

in November 1937, at Berchtesgaden.

During the meeting, Hitler had said

the British could solve any
problems they had in India

by shooting the Indian
leader Mahatma Gandhi.

And, if that didn't work,

they should shoot a dozen
members of his Congress party,

and if there were still problems,
shoot 200 more and so on

until order was established.

Lord Halifax was not impressed.

He certainly didn't
succumb to Hitler's charisma.

Nor did Chamberlain.

In September 1938, he travelled to Munich

and Hitler's office on the Koenigsplatz.

for one final meeting.

Chamberlain didn't think
Hitler was a gentleman.

In fact, he remarked that Hitler was
the commonest little dog he'd ever seen,

so undistinguished that you
would never notice him in a crowd.

But Chamberlain did have
sympathy with the view

that the peace treaty at the
end of the First World War

had been too hard on Germany.

And he signed an
agreement on 29th September

that gave Hitler the Sudetenland,

the German-speaking area of Czechoslovakia.

Just as they had been in Austria,

soldiers of the German army
were greeted with flowers

when they entered the
Sudetenland in October 1938.

"The joy of our redemption was
very great and it was welcomed by all.

"People said, 'Thank God,
times are changing for us now.'

"Everyone was delighted about it."

But events that would
take place here in Munich,

just a few weeks later in November 1938,

would demonstrate Hitler's true world view.

They would also give an insight

into how his charismatic leadership worked.

Leading Nazis had gathered here
to celebrate the 15th anniversary

of the Munich Beer Hall Putsch -

a sacred date for the Nazi party.

On the evening of 9th November,

they learnt that a German
diplomat in Paris had been shot

by a German-Polish Jew.

Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister,

a vicious anti-Semite himself,

suggested to Hitler that Nazi
Stormtroopers be let loose

against the Jews of Germany.

This was how Hitler's
charismatic leadership could work -

he had a vision, he hated the
Jews and wanted to get rid of them,

but others suggested the ways in
which this could be implemented.

Hitler agreed with Goebbels' idea

and so, Nazi Stormtroopers ran
wild on the night of 9th November,

attacking Jews and their property.

Around 25,000 Jews were
imprisoned in concentration camps

and more than 100 were murdered.

Shortly afterwards, the SS newspaper
warned of terrible consequences

if a Jew assassinated
another leading German.

"There will be no more Jews in Germany.

"We hope we make ourselves clear!"

They also threatened...

"Because no power on Earth can stop us,

"we will bring the Jewish
question to its total solution.

"The programme is clear - total
expulsion, complete separation."

Many Germans were
certainly anti-Semitic at the time,

but there was no evidence that
the majority of ordinary people,

like these holidaymakers, approved
of murderous attacks on German Jews.

Nor that they had any desire
to fight another European war.

But large numbers of them
did certainly have faith in Hitler.

They called him General Bloodless -

someone who had achieved great
things for them and their country

without the need to spill any blood.

"We had adopted an attitude

"whereby one said that
the Fuehrer would manage.

"The Fuehrer would do the right thing."

Hitler knew that this attitude of trust,

that he would "do the right thing",

was based on these people's
faith in his charismatic leadership.

So he faced the difficult task of
trying to get ordinary Germans

to accept military conflict, without
them losing their faith in him.

We can get an idea of just
how Hitler had been working

at turning around public opinion

from a secret speech he gave here in Munich

to leading German journalists.

On 10th November 1938, Hitler said...

"For decades, circumstances forced
me to talk almost exclusively of peace."

But now, he told the journalists,
the news had to be presented

so as to create the impression that...

"There are matters which, if they
cannot be achieved by peaceful means,

"must be enforced by means of violence."

What was crucial was
to say to the people...

This was now important, said Hitler,

in order to free the German
people from the bondage of doubt.

These were the scenes
in Munich, in July 1939,

for a celebration of German art.

By the time these pictures were taken,

Hitler had orchestrated the
dismemberment of Czechoslovakia,

and the British and French
governments had warned Hitler

that if the Germans moved on
Poland, then there would be war.

The German press saw
things very differently

and with one voice had
been telling the people

that Germany was being treated unjustly.

That their Fuehrer's legitimate
demands were simply not being met.

Secretly, Hitler had already
told his military leaders

to be ready for war.

And just a month after his
trip to the Munich Art Festival,

Hitler announced to his generals that they
should harden their hearts against the enemy.

One general who wasn't part of
Hitler's plans was Ludwig Beck.

He'd resigned as Chief Of
Staff of the German army,

believing now, as he said to a friend,

that Hitler was "a psychopath
through and through".

He was more certain than ever

that Hitler was leading
Germany to catastrophe.

"I warned and warned," he
said, "and at last I stood alone."

On 1st September 1939, the
German army invaded Poland.

Two days later, Britain and
France declared war on Germany.

The Polish army stood little chance.

Not only was this ideal
country for the German tanks,

but under a secret part of a
non-aggression agreement with Stalin,

signed just days before,

Germany and the Soviet Union
split up Poland between them.

The Germans invaded Poland from the west.

Two weeks later, the Red Army
invaded Poland from the east.

Less than six weeks after
it began, the war was over.

Poland was crushed.

For the German officers and their
men, it was a time for celebration.

For the Poles, it was the beginning

of one of the most brutal
occupations in history.

Poland would suffer proportionately

more than any other country in this war -

nearly six million Poles would die.

More than 16% of the population.

For Hitler and the Nazis,

this was an ideological
war from the very beginning.

Hitler told Joseph Goebbels that autumn

that he thought the Poles were
"more animals than human beings"

and that "the filth of the
Poles was unimaginable".

Hitler's "judgment" on the Poles,
said Goebbels, was "annihilatory".

Two million Polish Jews came under
Nazi control in the autumn of 1939.

Thousands were shot and the
Nazis began to mark the rest,

with Polish Jews made to wear
special symbols on their clothes.

They would shortly be
imprisoned in ghettos.

Later in the war, they would
be sent to death camps.

The likelihood is that not
one of these Polish Jews

would have survived the war.

Back in Berlin, Hitler prepared to
speak to the German Reichstag.

And, on 6th October, he gave a speech

which exuded confidence
about the way ahead.

Senior German army offices knew
that Hitler was not planning on peace.

Just days before he spoke to the Reichstag,

Hitler had told them to
prepare immediate plans

for an attack in Western Europe,

which would mean invading France.

It's almost impossible to overestimate
how reckless, almost crazy,

the idea of attacking France
seemed to many of Hitler's generals.

Not only did the British and French
possess more tanks than the Germans,

their tanks were better.

The consensus was that the
Germans could not possibly succeed.

There was even talk in the
autumn of 1939 of a mutiny.

General Halder, Chief Of
Staff of the German army

and General Brauchitsch,
the head of the army,

discussed trying to enforce
a change in leadership.

What they almost certainly
had in mind was something

that had happened little
more than 20 years ago.

In the First World War,
the head of state, the Kaiser,

had been pushed into the background,

whilst leading generals
like Hindenburg took control.

This is what they wanted
to see happen to Hitler.

General Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb

also tried to rally support
for a coup against Hitler.

He called the planned
attack in the west simply mad.

And he also thought the
atrocities that were being committed

by the Nazis in Poland were
unworthy of a civilised nation.

But von Leeb's was a rare voice of protest.

It was one of von Leeb's own officers,

Corps Commander General
Geyr von Schweppenburg,

who identified the problem
the conspirators faced.

He came to the view, after
consulting his colleagues,

that their soldiers would
refuse to turn against Hitler

because respect and faith in Hitler
was entrenched too deeply in them.

Hitler's charismatic leadership,

one built on the education
of the young in Nazi ideology

and on successes like Austria,
the Sudetenland and now Poland,

was simply too powerful
for them to overcome.

Then, there was another
aspect of Hitler's leadership

which was to prove crucial
- his absolute certainty

that Germany would win
this war against the French.

Despite all the objections of his generals,

HE remained sure of victory.

And this certainty, this complete
confidence, began to have an effect.

'Der Fuehrer mit seinen
Generaelen in Hauptquartier...'

Once again, Hitler set a vision,
this time, invade Western Europe,

and others came up with
ways of implementing it.

And they all knew that
Hitler admired radical plans,

was prepared to take fantastic risks

to gamble on the chance of success.

And in early 1940, a new
version of the invasion plan,

this one proposed by General von Manstein,

was certainly both radical and risky.

The idea was simple.

The main armoured thrust of
the German invasion of France

should go through this.

The forest of the Ardennes -

one of the last natural
wildernesses in Western Europe.

If the Germans could get through
here undetected by the Allies

and then dash for the Channel coast,

then they stood a chance of
a swift and dramatic victory.

If they were detected as they drove
down the forest roads and attacked,

then, almost certainly, Germany
would lose the whole war.

It was to be one of the greatest
gambles in military history.

All or nothing.

And Hitler loved the idea.

The plan was that Army Group B
would invade Belgium and Holland

and engage the Allies in battle,

whilst Army Group A made
its dash through the Ardennes

and tried to reach the coast.

As a result, Allied
armies would be trapped.

What was vital was that the Germans
were able to cross the River Meuse

in north east France

before Allied reinforcements arrived.

If they could do it, and
the risks were huge,

then there was no other major
natural obstacle in their way

until the English Channel.

On the 10th May 1940,

one section of the German
army did what the Allies expected

and invaded Belgium.

British and French forces
moved forward to engage them.

It looked like this would all develop

into a series of conventional battles.

Most probably, it would lead to stalemate.

Not unlike the First World War.

Waiting in the forest far south of them,

undetected by the Allies, were
1,200 Panzers of Army Group A.

The Germans had concentrated
their mechanised forces here.

Though they had fewer
tanks than the Allies,

they were gambling on the
Allied tanks being north of them,

in the wrong place to stop their advance.

But the roads were so narrow that
one German general was worried

that the advance could turn
into an enormous traffic jam.

The whole essence of the attack was speed.

So much so that the drivers of the Panzers
were issued with amphetamine tablets

so that they wouldn't need
to sleep for several days,

tablets known as Panzer Chocolates.

Units of 7th Panzer were some of
the first to reach the River Meuse,

here, near the town of Dinant.

The commander of 7th
Panzer was a 48-year-old,

then relatively unknown
general, called Erwin Rommel.

On 13th May, Rommel crossed
the River Meuse at this weir.

A day later, more Panzers
crossed the river further south.

For the Germans, all this was a triumph.

"It was hard to believe -
we had broken through

"and were advancing
deep into enemy territory.

"It was not just a beautiful dream.

"It was reality."

But in the midst of all this success,

something strange was
happening behind the scenes.

On 17th May, Hitler ordered
Army Group A to stop its advance.

He was, thought General Halder,

"Terribly nervous and
frightened by his own success."

The generals couldn't
understand how Hitler could be

both the great gambler and
yet be so fearful during the battle.

But Hitler was proving to be an
unreliable battlefield commander

because of how his leadership worked.

For Hitler believed...

"Decision-making means not hesitating to do

"what inner conviction commands you to do."

Hitler had previously
listened to this inner conviction

in places like his bedroom or walking
amongst the mountains of Southern Bavaria.

Now, constrained in endless
military meetings about detail,

rather than thinking of grand visions,

Hitler's inner conviction was
proving to be an unreliable guide.

Here, in the battle for France,
Hitler overcame his fears

and, within a day, the
advance was continuing.

But it was a sign of things to come -

the clearest example yet of
how Hitler as a military leader

could be as much a liability as an asset.

Army Group A reached the Channel coast,

here, where the River Somme
meets the sea, on 20th May 1940.

Just ten days after the
attack had been launched.

Refugees had tried to run from the Germans.

But the advance had been so swift

that there was nowhere for them to run to.

The shock of what had just happened,

almost impossible for
us to conceive of today.

In this single campaign,

the Germans took more than
one and a half million prisoners.

The Germans lost about 30,000 dead.

The Allied death toll was three times that.

The defeat of the Allies
was made all the worse

because they'd been confident
they could hold back the Germans.

Hitler had said before the campaign

that reacting quickly to events was...

"Not in the nature of
either the systematic French

"or the ponderous Englishmen."

And events had proved that he was right.

Here, on the beaches of Dunkirk,

the British had managed to
fashion a kind of victory from defeat.

Around 340,000 soldiers
had been rescued from here,

and in the city itself, before
the Germans took control.

But the heavy equipment
had been left behind -

almost 2,500 pieces of artillery

and more than 60,000 vehicles
were lost in this campaign.

As for Hitler, General Keitel now announced

that he was the greatest
military leader of all time.

The Germans and the French
signed an armistice on 22nd June 1940.

The Germans had won in
little more than six weeks

and, in truth, the key
battles of this campaign

had been won in just four days.

Now it was time for German
soldiers to enjoy themselves.

For these Germans, who were all well-aware

of the stalemate of the
trenches of the First World War,

with the German Army stuck for years

in trenches 100 miles north-east of Paris,

this victory seemed all but miraculous.

"German soldiers were
obviously unstoppable.

"And given the situation, we all, we
all were, to be honest, enthusiastic.

"Even those who'd previously
held a different attitude

"towards the entire regime.

"All of a sudden, considering
everything worked so well

"and nobody had been able to stop us,

"we were suddenly all nationalists.

"Wherever German soldiers were,
nobody else could get a foothold.

"It was really like that."

And it all appeared
to be part of a pattern,

one created by Adolf Hitler.

Faith in charismatic
leadership is fed by success.

And Hitler had gained
success after success.

Austria, the Sudetenland,
Poland, and now, the greatest of all,

the humiliation of the
old enemy - the French.

Hitler's victory parade in
Berlin, on 6th July 1940,

marked the high point in faith
in his charismatic leadership.

Never again would he be so triumphant.

These people hadn't somehow been hypnotised

into believing in Hitler.

They'd chosen to support him

because they loved what
he'd brought them - victory.

Shortly after this parade,

Hitler would announce
to his military commanders

that since Britain's position was hopeless,

then Germany had won the war.

It was just a question
of the British realising

that they had lost.

It was a moment that captured
both the strength and weakness

of Hitler's charismatic rule.

Because, despite the faith
these people had in him,

Hitler knew that he was
not in control of events,

as he pretended to be.

Back in the New Reich Chancellery,

he could shut himself up to wait for
guidance from his inner conviction,

but he didn't seem able to
make his enemy, the British,

act as he thought they were
supposed to, and just give up.

What he decided to do next would lead both

to the shattering of the
Germans' faith in his charisma

and the death of millions
of innocent people.

Hitler orders his army to
advance into the Soviet Union.

"We were all inspired by the belief
that we succeed in whatever we do.

"And that, for us, nothing is impossible."

Hitler said that he wanted this
to be a racist war of annihilation.

And, within weeks, the
Germans said they'd won.

But they hadn't.

And so this becomes the story of
what happens to a charismatic leader

when the victories stop coming.

"I experienced examples of it -

"of men who came to tell him
it could not go on any longer,

"and even said that to him.

"And then, he talked for an hour

"and then, they went and said,

" 'I want to give it another try.' "

The history of Hitler's charismatic
leadership finally ends here,

in a bunker in Berlin,

with Hitler ever more
deluded and living in fantasy.

Claiming he'd done
the right thing all along.

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