Choose the Reich option

Updated: Apr 20, 2020, 09:59 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

On Hitler's 131st birth anniversary, here are three pieces of film and literature art that offer a deeper insight into the Nazi dictator's life

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

A definitive account of Nazi Germany, William L Shirer’s 1,200-page book will probably take you more than the current lockdown period to absorb. Shirer relies on his journalistic credentials to trace the story of Hitler’s journey from a failed artist to a ruthless autocrat, and draws upon the time he spent in Berlin as an American scribe. The best-seller was published in 1960, but met with criticism that it could lead to anti-German sentiment in the US. Either way, it’s a must-read for anyone looking to deep-dive into WWII.

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None of us know what Hitler sounded or behaved like in person. But Bruno Ganz’s depiction of the dictator in the 2004 drama Downfall is probably the closest we will get. The plot is set in the final days of the war, when Germany’s defeat is imminent but Hitler refuses to see the writing on the wall. His private secretary, Traudl Jung, narrates the story, lending a level of humaneness to the mass-murderer, which the film was criticised for. Later, in the social media age, certain scenes became ripe fodder for Internet memes.

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The Great Dictator

The Great Dictator

Arguably the most humane piece of scriptwriting in cinematic history arrives at the end of The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin’s first sound film, released in 1940. In it, the master auteur essays a double role, that of a Hitler-like character and a persecuted Jew who, after being mistaken for the dictator, delivers an impassioned speech asking for humankind to recognise that compassion and universal brotherhood are our only hope of survival.

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Also catch this web series

Hunters is a web show set in the modern era where a bunch of Jews decide to exact revenge on their former Nazi torturers who have now assimilated into American society. The show doesn’t have any direct reference to Hitler. Or does it? Watch it on to find out.

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