The Füehrer, his dominating presence demands explicit attention. His eyes, both wild and lifeless, sweat and spittle literally exploding off him, he stabs the roof with his rigid salute. The crowd emulate his salute and scream “ZEICH HEIL!”.
This is the scene that would greet a viewer of Hitler: Rise of Evil, a BBC mini-series that showcases a dramatized biography of Adolf Hitler. The story follows his disturbed childhood, to his failed teenage years as an artist in Vienna, his national service for Germany in World War One and his sequenced rise to power in the Nazi Party. The story climaxes at the death of President Paul von Hindenburg which consolidates Hitler’s totalitarian rule over Germany. The rest is taken as said. Hitler: Rise of Evil conforms to the norms of demonizing Hitler.
The dominant representation of Hitler: Rise of Evil adhere to the stereotype of the author shamelessly dramatizing history to further demonize Hitler. The author deliberately represents Hitler as totally inhuman and uses certain creative imagery to emphasize this technique. The audience is shown a glimpse of humanity in Hitler, and then systematically rips this away and replaces it with demonic imagery. In essence, Hitler is replaced with a ‘cardboard cut-out’ for evil constructed specifically by the author. This is evident throughout Hitler: Rise of Evil in various instances.
An example of this is from the very beginning where the audience is shown a child Hitler suffering some heavy handed discipline from his father. The audience is positioned to feel sympathetic for poor little ‘Addy’. This sympathy is promptly shot down as the viewer sees young Hitler’s expressionless face as he’s being beaten. Revolted as the audience realise he is not an ordinary child but likened to something of ‘The Omen’ franchise. As the story progresses, there are continuous instances in which these polarized representations are present. In the World War One scene, Hitler is in the midst of couriering across the battlefield where he stumbles upon an orphaned dog taking shelter under its owner’s corpse. He then picks up and rescues the terrified and shaking dog which he affectionately names ‘Foxy’. Later when Foxy disobeys his command, Hitler consequently shoots down his humanitarian representation by beating and whipping his dog.
Perhaps of all these binary opposite representations, the most riveting is where Hitler helps his niece Geli after she falls of her bike and shows sympathy. He then reduces Geli to tears as he forces her to run around him in circles through thick scrub in a scene of metaphorical rape. Could all of these scenes be to reinforce a moral agenda?
Maybe the majority of texts that depict Hitler rely on this stereotypically ‘evil’ discourse because they have a moral…