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Rise of the Nazis

Rise of the Nazis

  • Premiered: 
    September 2, 2019
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: BBC2
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Historical
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Plot Synopsis

RISE OF THE NAZIS is a three-part documentary series that embarks on a forensic examination of how Germany turned from a liberal democracy into a brutal murderous dictatorship in just four years. In 1930 Germany was a liberal democracy, but just four years later the country is ruled by a dictator and its government is in the hands of murderers. This series explores what happened in those four short years, revealing that the Nazification of Germany was as much about ruthless personal ambition and a desire to hold onto power by more moderate politicians as it was about extreme ideology. RISE OF THE NAZIS also exposes the power struggles between prominent Nazis which helped transform Germany into a brutal police state, allowing Hitler to transform himself from Chancellor to all-powerful Fuhrer of the Third Reich. Along with dramatic reconstruction and archive footage, historians and experts, including Professor Sir Richard Evans, General Sir Mike Jackson, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, and Ash Sarkar, take viewers inside the heads of the historical characters who were key players, and pick apart the events in the Nazis' rise to power. Each one-hour episode also reveals one of the many resistance stories, acting as a reminder that there were those who understood what was happening and were prepared to act:

Episode 1: The first episode takes us into the corridors of power, where Germany's populist firebrand Adolf Hitler sees an opportunity to use the political turmoil of a hung parliament for his own ends. This sets off a chain of miscalculations by opponents, backroom deals and power grabs that will send Hitler from the fringes of politics into the heart of government. Hitler wants to become absolute leader of a single-party German state. Standing in his way is democracy and the rule of law. After leading a failed coup in 1923 Adolf Hitler decided on a new strategy for taking power. Instead of being revolutionaries, the Nazis will become a mainstream political party, operating under the veneer of legality. To achieve his goal Hitler must overcome Germany's political elite, including Paul von Hindenburg, the President who looks down on him. Behind the scenes, political mastermind and right-wing political rival Kurt von Schleicher decides he wants to use Hitler for his own ends. Whilst this political intrigue plays out at the highest level of government, Hitler faces another obstacle at ground level: a Jewish lawyer called Hans Litten who is out to prove that the Nazis are far from the legal, legitimate party they claim to be.

Episode 2: In the second episode of the series it is 1933 and Hitler is the Chancellor of Germany, but his position isn't secure. He is part of a shaky coalition in a democratic government. Now, Hitler moves to the next stage of his plan to become absolute leader - destroying democracy from within. Hitler tasks the Nazi leadership with tightening their grip on power. He does this by destroying the political opposition and bringing all German states under Nazi control. But in executing Hitler's plan bitter rivalries emerge among the Nazi elite. Hermann Goring and Heinrich Himmler start vying for their own personal power and Hitler's favour. As these men attempt to outwit and outdo one another, their rivalry gives rise to the main organs of a new Nazi state - The Gestapo, the Death Camps and The SS. As Hitler sets about dismantling democracy, a brave deputy prosecutor called Josef Hartinger reveals the truth of Nazi oppression and the first acts of the Holocaust.

Episode 3: The final episode of the series -- the final act in Hitler's rise to power -- sees him take on opponents at the top of the government and within the heart of the Nazi regime. Hitler has suspended democracy and is bringing all of Germany under Nazi control. But to gain absolute power and control of Germany's military, Hitler must be named successor to the ageing President Hindenburg before he dies. In order to convince Hindenberg to hand him the keys to ultimate power, Hitler must fight a decisive battle for the soul of the Nazi party. Ernst Rohm, leader of the Nazi Stormtroopers and Hitler's close friend, wants to take control of Germany's military for himself by launching a revolution against the old order to which Hindenberg belongs. Heinrich Himmler and Hermann Goring join forces to take on Rohm. Meanwhile a conservative radical called Edgar Jung challenges Hitler's power by writing a speech that tells Germany the truth about the reality of its Nazi government. These intrigues come together in a climax when Hitler takes down all these enemies at once in the Night Of The Long Knives.

RISE OF THE NAZIS had its U.S. premiere on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 9pm on PBS (check local listings), with a new episode each Tuesday through November 24.