Hitler's Henchmen

Watch Hitler's Henchmen

  • 2013
  • 1 Season
  • 7.7  (245)

Portraits of important people in Nazi-Germany.

Hitler's Henchmen
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The Admiral: Karl Doenitz
6. The Admiral: Karl Doenitz
February 4, 2013
For some, Donitz was the man who saved millions of refugees who had been trapped in Eastern Europe. For others he was a cold technocrat who had faithfully served the causes of destruction. For the allies he was first and foremost a war criminal. And for himself? An honorable soldier who had simply done his duty. Donitz was Hitler's grand admiral and the instigator of one of the Fuhrer's most feared weapons: the U-Boot. "The only thing which constantly filled me with dread were Donitz's boats," Churchill confessed after the war. As head of the German navy, Donitz shared Hitler's idea of "holding out" to the bitter end. As a result he too was responsible for the death of tens of thousands of soldiers and civilians during the final days of the war. Before Hitler committed suicide in the bunker beneath the Chancellery, he appointed Donitz as his successor. Donitz's term, however, only lasted 23 days. The Allies allowed him to conclude the war. But that was all. They had other plans for Donitz. Hitler's successor was tried in Nurnberg as a war criminal - a charge which he denied during his 10 year prison term, right up to his dying day. Exclusive testimonies and documents tell a different story. Donitz participated in both the Holocaust and the systematic murders which accompanied it. Eyewitnesses tell of his mad declarations which urged the country to hold out, of his complete disregard of reality and the merciless way in which he sent submariners to their certain deaths. His daughter Ursula and his nephew Klaus Hessler, for the first time on film, shed light on Donitz's largely unknown private life.
The Architect: Albert Speer
5. The Architect: Albert Speer
February 4, 2013
He sculpted Nazi ideology in stone and cement. He turned art into propaganda. And he recruited an entire nation to forge weapons for the Führer: Albert Speer - the technocrat among Hitler's henchmen. From early on Hitler knew how to manipulate this young architect's organizational talents and creativity for his own schemes. As a result, he was instrumental in paving the way for Speer's extraordinary career. The passion they shared for monumental buildings was the basis for a close, personal relationship. At the end of the Nazi regime Speer remarked that he had been Hitler's only friend. Speer gave his all for the Führer. But was Speer only an impartial virtuoso, the artist who kept the wheels of destruction in motion without willingly serving a mad man's ideology?
The Marshall: Hermann Goring
4. The Marshall: Hermann Goring
February 4, 2013
Half war monger, half comedian - more than any of Hitler's other helpers Hermann Goring embodied the two-faced deception which permeated the murderous Nazi regime. Most of his contemporaries saw in him the light-hearted side of the "Third Reich". As one of Hitler's oldest cronies, Goring helped the brown-shirted demagogue become publicly acceptable - another reason for Hitler's quick ascent to the heights of unrestrained power. The popular, highly decorated World War I hero was the patsy who held Hitler's stirrups. Right up to the closing days of the war he was clearly Hitler's second-in-command. When the Luftwaffe was no longer able to execute Goring's terse promises, he slowly fell into discredit and began to show physical and psychological signs of deterioration. Nevertheless, Goring continued to live as the "last Renaissance man" - a gallant addicted to morphine, luxury and power. Hitler's number two man was the victim of an imminent military catastrophe and his own shortcomings. Up to the end he clung to the prestige which his offices and appointments afforded - even when it meant undermining Hitler's military ambitions. During the war tribunal in Nürnberg Goring showed the world that he remained a true Nazi elitist: a remarkable mind, but void of conscience or scruples. Private film footage and declassified documents from both Germany and abroad, are presented for the first time. They depict a man who craved opulent luxuries: stolen works of art, expensive villas, outlandish, eccentric uniforms. Here was a man for whom too much was never enough. Goring, whose schizophrenic, brutal personality knew no restraints, is shown for what he truly was: a man obsessed with greed serving a man obsessed with power.
The Propagandist: Joseph Goebbels
3. The Propagandist: Joseph Goebbels
February 4, 2013
Goebbels was the spokesman and calling card for the Third Reich. Inspired by a deep belief in his "Messiah", this eloquent speaker and demagogue was destined to become Hitler's most fervent servant. As Nazi propaganda minister he hammered his Führer's insane ideas into the hearts and minds of the German people. He preached hatred of Jews and persuaded his followers to keep going even when it was obvious that all was lost. He outshone the government's sinister shadows by parading deceptive "one people, one Führer" pictures across the country's silver screens. He knew how to capitalize on the powers of conviction, enthusiasm and hatred for his own ends. He was "The Arsonist" who inspired the Brown Shirts to burn books, synagogues and eventually human lives. He murdered with words. And when he fervently asked a crippled nation, still under his spell, if it wanted "Total War" - the resounding reply was "Yes!". Who was this heartless creature who sent adolescent soldiers to die senseless deaths while making wild and empty promises in order to prolong a war that couldn't be won? What was it that made this handicapped intellectual turn to a life of indifferent hatred, and then to one woman after another like an obsessed man seeking exoneration? Film footage which Goebbels kept secretly locked away, and previously unpublished notes from his diary, provide an inside examination of this political arsonist, his personal stigmas and the role he played in plotting the crime of the century. Excerpts from his speeches show that the dire fate which Hitler had chosen for Europe's Jewish population did not disturb him in the least. Colleagues who knew the minister well provide detailed information - often for the first time - about the unknown side of the "Little Doctor". Those who suffered under Goebbels´ dictates are also given their turn. They tell about the devastating effect "The Arsonist" had on their lives.
The Executioner: Heinrich Himmler
2. The Executioner: Heinrich Himmler
February 4, 2013
Largely due to the SS which he led, Himmler, the unsuspecting killer, was the most powerful of all of Hitler's helpers. He was also the cruelest. His brave new world consisted of concentration and death camps, Secret Service and Gestapo. No one was more responsible for the Holocaust than Himmler. Heinrich Himmler's talent was deception. He knew how to take advantage of the fact that the rest of Hitler's men had overlooked him for so long. No one - but Himmler - ever suspected that he would become the Third Reich's second most powerful figure. A totally different career had been planned for this son of a deeply religious catholic family. Heinrich's father was the tutor of Prince Heinrich of Bavaria and it was from him, his godfather, that he got his name. He was the typical schoolmaster of his day: strict, pedantic, very German, but also a man of virtues and most definitely not anti-Semitic. Following the First World War, young Himmler's world fell apart. This twisted soul found in Hitler the leader that he had been searching for. Unwavering loyalty to him became Himmler's highest aim. He ordered new SS members to swear the same loyalty at their inauguration. Ironically Himmler betrayed this loyalty, just as his SS betrayed an entire nation. The ever friendly Himmler was merciless with anyone whom he considered to be his opponent or enemy. Indifference became a virtue. Disregard for human life became a strength. Gestapo, concentration camps, experiments on humans, mass murder and the Holocaust - all these transgressions are indelibly connected with his name. With the assistance of recently discovered archive materials and original recordings, as well as exclusive eyewitness reports, the viewer is able to piece together the true identity of a Judas who was perhaps Hitler's most willing disciple, and definitely his most depraved.
The Deputy: Rudolf Hess
1. The Deputy: Rudolf Hess
February 4, 2013
Rudolf Hess was Hitler's first adherent. He was a true and extremely loyal follower and until his mysterious death in 1987 in a prison cell in Spandau, Germany, he was the Führer's longest surviving helper. He steadfastly believed in the Nazi "movement" to the very end. As deputy minister he, more than any other, naively cultivated the Führer cult. But his true influence on the events of his day was marginal. Hess personified the loyal disciple. Film footage from the archives of the Hess family, shown for the first time, demonstrates that Hess was a man who wanted to be led. Until this very day, Hess' unauthorized flight to Scotland on May 10, 1941 remains one of the great mysteries of the Second World War. Documents which have been kept secret for decades, as well as reports from people who were directly involved in this hair-raising escapade, shed light on Hess' motives. For Hess himself the flight meant the beginning of a prison term which was to last 46 years. Eye witness accounts of Hitler's reaction prove that the Führer knew nothing about Hess' "mission of peace" and that he never forgave Hess for his actions. The news of Hess' death in 1987 made headlines worldwide. Year for year Neonazi processions clash with the police as they march to commemorate the anniversary of Hess' death. The Allies' report that Hess used an electrical cable to commit suicide is still viewed by many with skepticism. The film shows, however, in unprecedented reports from witnesses, such as the US prison guard who was on the scene directly after the event occurred, that the suicide theory is almost certainly true.

Portraits of important people in Nazi-Germany.

  • Premiere Date
    February 4, 2013
  • IMDB Rating
    7.7  (245)