‘Hitler and the Nazis’ Review: Building a Case for Alarm

Hitler’s project: “Make Germany great again”. The Nazi characterization of media criticism: “Fake news.” Hitler’s mountain retreat at Berchtesgaden: “It’s a bit like Hitler’s Mar-a-Lago, if you like.”

Donald Trump’s name is not mentioned in six episodes of “Hitler and the Nazis: Evil on Trial,” a new historical documentary series on Netflix. But it dances just beneath the surface, and sometimes, as in the examples above, the production’s group of scholars, popular historians, and biographers can barely resist giving the game away.

The series was directed by veteran documentarian Joe Berlinger (“Paradise Lost,” “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster”), who has a production deal with Netflix and gave him popular true crime shows like “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich.” and the “Conversations with a Killer” series.

In his promotional material, Berlinger explains his decision to move from true crime to all-out war and genocide: “Now is the right time to tell this story to a younger generation as a cautionary tale,” he says, adding: “ In America, we are in the midst of our own reckoning with democracy, with authoritarianism knocking at the door and a rise in anti-Semitism. » In other words, you can’t make a documentary about Germany in the 1930s and 1940s without thinking about the United States in the 2010s and 20s.

To that end, Berlinger has made a deluxe version of the story of Hitler, the Third Reich and the Holocaust that has been a staple of American cable television for years. The information is not new, but the resources at Berlinger’s disposal are reflected in the abundance of material he deploys over nearly six and a half hours: archival films, most of them meticulously colorized for the series, and audio; staged re-enactments with a large cast of actors; and the extensive list of people interviewed.

Of course, telling a new old story requires a twist, and Berlinger has several. American journalist William L. Shirer is the unofficial narrator of the series, although he died in 1993 – an AI reconstruction of his voice recites passages from his many books about the period, and sometimes his actual voice is heard in extracts from radio broadcasts. He is also portrayed on screen by an actor in scenes recreating the series’ other main framing device, the first Nuremberg trials in 1945.

Testimony from the trials is used to supplement the series’ narratives of political machinations, war and massacres. And the presentation of the trials is the most striking example of the visual style that Berlinger employs throughout the series: sliding smoothly between painstakingly staged reenactments and actual colorized footage, so that you have to pay attention to know if you look at Hermann. Goering or the actor playing Hermann Goering (Gabor Sotonyi). Berlinger strives for smooth dramatic effect, and while it doesn’t always work as drama, it keeps your attention.

Even the interviews are theatrical, shot on a dark stage with blood-red curtains framing a ladder and what looks like a rough brick wall. It’s unclear exactly what the setting is meant to depict, but it might reflect Berlinger’s clear tendency toward a kind of hushed sensationalism in the service of storytelling. This impulse appears most clearly in some re-enactments, such as a scene of Jewish captives being shot at Babi Yar, or in the way the actor silently playing Hitler, Karoly Kozma, was asked to play many of his scenes as if they were in full crisis.

Much of the familiar material of a World War II documentary is missing or mentioned in passing, with events on the Western Front receiving cursory attention. Berlinger is interested in the development of Hitler’s psychology and worldview, which takes the series on a trail from the frustrations of his youth in Austria to his rise in 1930s Germany, and from there to Eastern Front, the Soviet Union and the concentration camps. in Germany and Poland.

The focus is on how the personal determines the political, and you can’t watch “Evil on Trial” without considering how Berlinger and his colleagues’ feelings toward Trump and the far right in the contemporary United States may have affected what it chose to emphasize. in their portrait of Hitler and Nazi Germany.

But the tacit arguments they make are comprehensive. We are shown Hitler exploiting the emotions aroused by a nation’s loss of power; playing with people who feel economically exploited and alienated from a liberal, urban culture; and uniting moderate and radical conservatives in fear of the far left. We see him demand absolute loyalty and pit his subordinates against each other in battles for his favor. We see a lack of empathy and an inability to admit defeat. Shirer chimes in: “I began to understand that it wasn’t so much what he said as how he said it. In such an atmosphere, every lie spoken is accepted as a lofty truth in itself.

Whether you find the case compelling or not is probably irrelevant, since the most striking feature of our current political landscape is that most Americans seem to have already made up their minds about who – in the case of “Evil in trial” anyway – should not be named.

Gn entert
News Source : www.nytimes.com


With a penchant for words, Eleon Smith began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, Smith landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, Eleon also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
Back to top button