Hitler: the Rise of Evil (2003) 

 

 

Director:     Christian Duguay. 

Starring:     Robert Carlyle (Adolf Hitler),  Stockard Channing (Klara Hitler),  Jena Malone (Geli Raubal),  Julianna Margulies (Helene Hanfstaengl),  Matthew Modine (Fritz Gerlich),  Liev Schreiber (Ernst Hanfstaengl),  Peter Stormare (Ernst Rhm),  Friedrich von Thun (General Erich Ludendorff),  Peter O'Toole (President Paul von Hindenburg),  Zoe Telford (Eva Braun),  Terence Harvey (Gustav von Kahr),  Justin Salinger (Dr. Joseph Goebbels),  Chris Larkin (Hermann Gring),  James Babson (Rudolf Hess),  Patricia Netzer (Sophie Gerlich).

the rise to power of the anti-Semitic Adolf Hitler to power in Germany following WWI

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire movie. 

Part I. 

Linz, Austria, 1899.  Hitler's father shows him around his old office before his retirement.  His father Adolf that he should be sure to apply himself at school, to which Adolf says to himself:  "Stupid old fool."  Back at home, father tells Hitler's mother that the boy is God's curse on him for marrying his niece.  Klara Hitler only says:  "Uncle don't be absurd."  Father goes outside to tend to his beehives.  She tells Adolf that he will be a great painter one day. 

Father is mad at Adolf again saying:  "You little bastard.  You've burned my beehives again."  Hen them gives the boy a whipping.  At dinner father dies. 

Mom develops cancer of the breast.  Hitler is told that she will die soon.  Hitler's responses is:  "She'll do anything to ruin my career."  Mom turns his care over to her stepdaughter, Hitler's married half-sister Angela.  His mother dies. 

Vienna, Austria, 1907.  At art school Hitler is offended by the use of a nude model.  He gets turned down by the art world.  Hitler finds himself homeless and sleeping with the poor.  A current idea going around was that the hard times were the result of the actions of the Jews.  Hitler grabbed this idea and blamed the Jews for his own unfortunate situation. 

Vienna, Austria, 1913.  Hitler sleeps in a flop house.  He writes to his sister about personally bringing him his inheritance.  She brings it.  While there she introduces him to her daughter Geli.  Hitler goes to Germany using his inheritance money.  World War I begins.  Hitler cheers on the idea of war.  He soon finds himself at the front.  A long line of German soldiers, including Hitler, get shelled by Allied artillery. 

Private Hitler proves to be the only one of 600 men to survived.  He is, therefore, promoted to corporal.  Lt. Guttman uses Hitler as a messenger.  Hitler picks up a dog.  He tries to teach it, but the dog just will not sit.  The other soldiers laugh at his failure.  This infuriates Hitler and he beats the dog. 

Hitler becomes enraged at seeing that some soldiers practiced self-mutilation to get themselves sent home from the front.  He overturns a table to show his abhorrence of the idea.  A doctor sends Hitler home.

Back at the front Hitler is again relaying messages.  The officer in charge tells Hitler and another messenger that if they get a certain message through, they will both receive Iron Crosses.  Hitler succeeds and does indeed get his iron cross. 

Hitler is told that his unit will be sent to the Eastern front.  He objects that they are only 50 km from Paris.  Soon the unit is hit by mustard gas.  Hitler breathes it in and falls down.  He finds himself in the hospital where it is announced that the Army high command agreed to negotiate surrender.  Hitler is very angry over the defeat. 

Back on the street Hitler runs into a demonstration by communists.  They shout "Death to the Kaiser!"  The free corps militia arrives and starts shooting the protestors.  He sees the leader Ernst Rhm shoot one of the protestors and then when the wounded man fell to the ground, Hitler saw him finish the man off with more shots.  Reporter Fritz Gerlich says the the demobilized soldiers of the war are still active and armed in our countryside.  He then has to quickly run off to get married.   

Hitler gets a reputation as a rapid German nationalist and so he is used to spy on some of the 50 different political factions in Berlin.  He begins spying on the German Workers Party led by Anton Drexler.  The group declares Bavarian independence.  Hitler gets mad at this idea of separation, speaks his mind to the group and then leaves.  This certainly gets him noticed.  Hitler likes the agenda of the right wing group and thinks of joining.  Hitler throws in some goals of a national agenda himself, namely the nationalist goal of eliminating the Jews.  Ernst Rhm overhears Hitler speaking and inquires about him. 

Hitler is made the guest speaker of the German Workers Party.  He starts handing out political literature.  He starts attracting more and more listeners to his right-wing garbage.  Soon he is getting thunderous applause.  Reporter Gerlich takes note of the fast rise of the German Workers Party, newly dubbed the Party of the National Socialists. 

Herr Hanfstaengl and his wife Helene arrive home with their baby.  He thinks that he will soon be making lots of money as Germany rebuilds. 

Hitler faces an audience with a lot of reds in it.  He deliberately bates them.  They start throwing beer glasses at him.  The fascists start beating up the reds.   Hitler starts courting Ernst Rhm and his free corps militia. 

Herr Hanfstaengl is invited to go hear Hitler speak.   He attends a Hitler speech.  He is amazed at what he sees and hears.  He joins in on the clapping.  Apparently, he thinks he has found a winner who he can use.  After the speech, he speaks with Hitler.  Hanfstaengl wants to provide a means to get Hitler's message to the wealthy of Germany.  He says:  "Herr Hitler, I can make you very popular."  He gives Hitler a lot of useful advice.  Out of this, Hitler designs the flag with the swastika. 

Hanfstaengl sets up a meeting with the wealthy and Hitler.  Captain Goering of the German air force is there.  One man and his wife leave the table after Hitler's anti-Semitic remarks.  He tells Mrs. Hanfstaengl that Hitler is heating up the hatred in the country to a boiling point.  He adds:  "May God forgive you and your husband for supporting him."  Hitler show them his design for the party's new flag.  The wealthy write out big checks to give to Herr Hanfstaengl. 

Hitler has a show-down with Drexler, the founder of the right-wing party.  He tells Drexler that he doesn't need him or his party.  He will form his own party.  Hitler walks out on him.  Drexler backs down.  He demands that Drexler step down and name Hitler as his successor.  Drexler agrees.  He makes the announcement.  Hitler steps up to take over. 

Hitler receives a message from Bavarian Prime Minister von Kahr to cancel his speeches.  Hitler sends the response:  "It's the time for revolution."  Hanfstaengl talks to Hitler to cheer him up.  He shows him an article by Gerlich that is complimentary.  And Gerlich happens to write Kommissar von Kahr's speeches.  Hitler pays the man a visit.  He wants him to write on behalf of the Nazi Party.  Hitler starts screaming about the Jews spitting out pieces of cake as he talks. 

Gerlich meets with von Kahr.  He says about Hitler:  "He's insane.  A complete psychotic."  Gerlich describes the man as terrifying. 

Von Kahr speaks with Hitler.  Last week there were over 40 political murders.  He offers Hitler a voice in the government.  Von Kahr says:  "In a few weeks time, General von Lossow and Colonel Seisser intend to march on Berlin --  a putsch, to bring the national government under our control.  Would you like to be part of that putsch?"    He gets Hitler to agree to be less of a demagogue for awhile and to stop the violence.  Hitler asks for and gets the support of Ludendorff, the leader of the nationalist right in the country.  Hess and others inform Hitler that von Kahr has outfoxed him.  The politician plans to form a coalition with all of Hitler's competitors.  Hitler's response:  "We move without them, then." 

Hofbrauhaus Beer Hall, November 8, 1923.  He will seize Munich and march on Berlin.  In Munich they will surround the military barracks.  Then the lines of communication will be cut.  Hitler busts up the meeting while von Kahr is speaking.  Ludendorff shows up at the beer hall. 

Rhm starts making his move.  But he and his men are repulsed by the army.  Hitler is shocked to see their failure.  Hitler starts to move on the army.  They open fire.  Hitler is wounded in the left arm.  The Nazis start running away.  Hanfstaengl calls his wife to tell her to take herself and the kid to her mother's place.  It has all gone sour.  A desperate-looking Hitler shows up at their house.  He puts his pistol to his head.  The authorities knock on the door.  They come in and arrest Hitler. 

Hitler is placed in prison.  He goes on a hunger strike.  Helene Hanfstaengl, under pressure from her husband, shores up Hitler's confidence.  At his trial he pleads guilty.  He makes a speech before the courthouse.  The audience cheers him.  This upsets Gerlich a great deal.  And now, he says, we are running toward a monster who we should be running from. 

The court fines Hitler and sends him to Landsberg Prison for five years.  Gerlich is happy.  But Hitler will be eligible for parole in nine months. 

Part II. 

Landsberg Prison, April 1924.  Hitler is allowed to have as many visitors as he wants.  The prisoner wants to write his memoirs and publish them.  He calls Hanfstaengl, who pays him a visit.  Hitler wants him to be his publisher.  Hanfstaengl wants to go to America, but Hitler tells him no.  Knowing the party won't be able to function without him, Hitler resigns from the party. 

Munich, Germany.  December 20, 1924.  Hitler is released from prison.  He shows up unannounced at the Hanfstaengl house at Christmas time.  Hitler thanks Mrs. Hanfstaengl profusely, so profusely that he makes her feel uncomfortable.  He leaves, heading for the country.

Obersalzberg, Germany 1925.  Angela greets Hitler.  Geli comes with her.  She thanks her uncle for bringing them to his place.  Her uncle is very happy to see her.  Hitler supports Ludendorff over Hindensburg for the presidency.  He has Gelli walk fast around him in a circle.  This upsets her and she starts to cry. 

Gerlich tries to get his editor to realize that Hitler is a threat to the German nation.  He comments that Hitler has declared war against the Jews.  The editor tells Gerlich to stop writing about Hitler.  Rhm tells Hitler of the up and coming Joseph Goebbels, who wants the party to divorce itself completely from Hitler. 

Presidential Elections, April 26, 1925. 

Reichstag, Berlin.  Nazi Party:  3 seats.  April 1925.  Hindenburg triumphs.  In his car, Hitler criticizes Ludendorff harshly.  Ludendroff demands to be let out of the car.  His wish is granted.

Munich, Germany.  February 14, 1926.  Hitler attends his ordered get-together of the party officials.  He wants to solidify the party under him.  Our new policy is to win elections.  The SA has to remain peaceful.  He has fired the SA and replaced them with the SS.  Goebbels is impressed with Hitler. 

Hitler recruits Mrs. Hanfstaengl as a fund-raiser.  Geli flirts with the driver.  She says her uncle is a monster:  "You can't imagine what he asks of me."

Hitler's New Headquarters, 1929.  Mrs. Hanfstaengl has little time any time left to see her husband. 

Election campaign, 1929.  Geli has to have a bodyguard. 

Stock Market Crash 1929.  SA thugs committing crimes against the Jews and others.  Gerlich is very upset and distraught. 

There is gossip about Geli and her uncle and Hitler doesn't like it.  Eva Braun wants to take Hitler's photograph.  He finds her with the driver and tells her if he finds her again with the man, he will have him killed. 

Reichstag Election.  Nazi Party: 107 seats.  September 14, 1930.  6.5 million votes.  Hitler makes Goebbels Minister of Information.  Makes Hanfstaengl his press secretary.  Scolds Geli for trying to runaway from him and kisses her passionately before leaving her.  Geli is taken home.  She shoots herself to death.  Hitler is upset at his loss.  He even cries for his loss.  He says to his half-sister:  "This room (her bedroom) will not be touched."

1932, February 26.  Hitler receives his new German citizenship.  Goebbels unveils a new election campaign poster.  Eva Braun says:  "I think it looks wonderful."  Hitler thanks her.  Hitler runs for the presidency of Germany.  Gerlich starts writing again about Hitler. When Hitler learns of this he says:  "I want him stopped."

April 5, 1932.  A smoke bomb is thrown into the paper's window.  Gerlich is fired by his editor. 

Angela shows Eva Braun Geli's locked room upstairs.  She warns her of how Hitler treated Geli and says that Hitler will treat her worse.  Everyday he puts a fresh rose on Geli's pillow.  Eva says she wants Angel gone from the house by morning.  Gerlich seeks new ways to publish his criticisms of Hitler. 

Hitler defeated in the election against Hindenburg.  But he got 30% of the vote.  Hitler is confident that he can force Hindenburg to make him the Chancellor of Germany.  Hindenburg will do so, he says, because he can cause too many problems for the President.

Hitler scolds Rhm.  He says that rumors say that the SA wants to kill Hitler.  So Hitler tells Rhm that the SA men are too rebellious.  They have to be in lock step with the party.  He wants Rhm do handle it. 

Office of the President, Berlin.  June 1, 1932.  Hindenburg complains that the National Socialists paralyze the Reichstag far too often for comfort.  The President makes Franz Von Papen the new Chancellor of Germany.   Herr Hitler is the largest threat to German democracy.  Von Papen suggests they make Hitler vice-chancellor as a way of controlling him.  Hitler almost demands that Hindenburg make him the Chancellor.  This enrages Hindenburg and he tells Hitler that he will never appoint him Chancellor.  Hitler leaves, calling Hindenburg a "stupid old fool" to his staff. 

The Nationalist Socialist Party walks out out of the Reichstag. New elections have to be called.

Reichstag Elections.  Nazi Party: 230 seats.  July 31, 1932.  They are the largest party in the Reichstag.  Hindenburg still enraged at Hitler.  He decides to make General von Schleicher the new Chancellor of Germany.  The new Chancellor then offer the vice-chancellor position to a Nazi named Strasser to get around Hitler.  Hitler calls Strasser a traitor and tells him he must refuse the position offered and resign as a member of the Nazi party. 

First issue of The Straight Path, 1932.    Hitler is infuriated when he reads the paper.  He is distracted by Eva Braun.  He kisses her hard.  Then he abruptly pushes her away, leaving Eva confused.

Hitler talks with Von Papen about getting even with Hindenburg and General von Schleicher.  He suggests that Hindenburg would appoint Von Papen vice-chancellor under Chancellor Hitler.  Von Papen suggests that Hitler write a letter to Hindenburg full of flattery.  Hitler does so.  The Nazi Party walks out of the Reichstag. 

Eva Braun considers suicide.  A rock with a threatening note to Gerlich attached to it is tossed through a window.  Hitler goes to the hospital to see Eva who has shot herself. 

Reich Chancellery, Berlin, January 30, 1933.   Hitler is sworn in as Chancellor.  Outside the Nazis march in a torchlight parade. 

Gerlich's publisher does not want to print what Gerlich writes anymore.  He is afraid of what the Nazis might do to him and his presses.  He also tells Gerlich that he is not long for this world.  Gerlich prints some insider information about a memo suggesting the use of agitation in the SA.  Hitler blames Rhm for this.  Hitler muses that Rhm is right.  "Sometimes primitive force is the only way.  Helps if there's some kind of legal reason behind it, of course, something outrageous to provoke a response."

The Reichstag Fire February 27, 1933.  A Dutch communist is blamed for setting the fire. 

Hindenburg tells Hitler:  "Well, this completely overrides the Constitution.  Effectively, it puts you in charge."  Hitler has to get the approval for an Enabling Act.  He says:  "From now on, all legislation will be handled by the administration, which will have sole rights to make constitutional changes.  Freedoms of speech, associations and the press are temporarily suspended."  Hitler is establishing a police state.  Rhm and his men descend on Gerlich and his staff.  Rhm starts beating Gerlich.  They shoot Gerlich's informer. 

Gerlich's wife tries to get her husband out of "protective custody."  Hitler has put so many people in jail and they can't prosecute so many.  So Hitler comes up with the idea of using "camps" to hold these people.  Hitlers ask Rhm to stand down, but Rhm refuses.

Bad Wiessee, Germany.  June 30, 1934.  The Night of the Long Knives.  Hitler bursts into Rhm's room.  The homosexual Rhm is in bed with another man.  Hitler points a revolver at him and tells him he is under arrest.  Gerlich writes a letter to his wife.  He is then sent to Dachau.  The Nazis start killing political opponents.  In a cell, Gerlich is beaten by the guards. 

Hanfstaengl wants to leave Germany, but his wife now will not go.  Hitler tells his staff to give a pistol to Rhm so that he might commit suicide.  Since he doesn't do so, two guards shoot him to death. 

Hindenburg dies.  State Funeral, August 2, 1934.    The office of President and Chancellor are combined into one.  Each man in the army has to swear personal allegiance to Hitler. 

Ernst Hanfstaengl eventually escaped to England where he was imprisoned as an enemy alien.  After writing President Roosevelt, Hanfstaengl was brought to Washington to advise on the Allied war effort. 

Sophie Gerlich was given no official notification of her husband's death.  She receives his bloody glasses via the mail.

Helene Hanfstaengl later became disillusioned with Hitler and returned to America. 

In September 1935, Hitler enacted the Nuremberg Laws, which isolated the Jews and deprived them of their citizenship. 

In 1938, Hitler unleashed Kristallnacht, a savage attack against the Jews.  Destroying synagogues and businesses and imprisoning thousands.  

Over the next three years, Hitler's armies conquered and occupied much of Europe, including Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Holland and France.

The first use of poison gas to murder Jews took place in Poland on December 8, 1941. 

In 1942, in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, Nazi bureaucrats worked out ways to extend the systematic slaughter to all the Jews of Europe.  This secret state policy of murder was called the "Final Solution".  The atrocities included:  execution squads, medical experiments and death camps.

In 1944, even as Allied troops landed in France, Hitler diverted military resources to accelerate the deportation of Jews to concentration camps. 

On April 30, 1945, with the war all but lost, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker.  World War II claimed the lives of almost 50 million people. 

 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

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