August 3, 2011
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Yes, with all that is going on in politics, talking about Hitler and the Third Reich is totally a tangent.
I am a World War II buff (much to the chagrin of my wife, who makes me go watch the History Channel in a separate room). I recently watched a 2 part series on the rise and fall of the Third Reich. I knew the general idea of how Hitler rose to power, the wanton killing the Nazis did to hold power, the extermination of Jews across Europe, and the subsequent mudhole stomping they received from the Allies by the end of the war.
But this was different. They showed things from the perspective of home videos, shot by people in Germany at the time, as well as those shot by soldiers in the war. What jumped out at me most:
- Hitler and the Nazis ascended to power very quickly. Two weeks after Hitler lost an election attempt to run the country, he was able to become Chancellor. 52 days later, he was head of Germany
- It is amazing how much Hitler had Germany in the palm of his hand. People believed whatever he told them. Whether it was justifying killing and displacing Jews, or the whole idea of a master race, they ate it up. Women wanted to marry him. Kids wanted to be just like him.
- At one point there were 20,000 concentration camps. And the people in the towns near them claim they had no idea what was going on. When the allies captured Germany, they made the townsfolk walk through the camps and see first hand the cruelty. They also made Nazi party members buy the dead.
- The German people were convinced nothing could go wrong. That is, until their cities were getting bombed and the German army got routed by the Russians.
- By the end of the war, Germany had lowered the drafting age to 13. Kids were in the streets fighting to protect Berlin. Any kids caught hiding from duty were hung.
- Other countries knew was was going on with German Jews, but turned them away when they came looking for refuge. That includes the US.
There is more, of course, as the show was 4 hours long. It’s not for the faint of heart, as there are many disturbing images. but I highly recommend the program.