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The Abyss: The Seeds of Violence 1918-1922

The Rise and Fall of the Nazis

In 1940, Adolf Hitler forces the defeated French to sign their surrender in a train carriage - the Germans had experienced the same humiliation at the end of the First World War.

52 min
52 min
08.05.2021
08.05.2021
Verfügbarkeit:
Video verfügbar bis 29.04.2031, in Deutschland

For many Germans, it was immensely satisfying to see a defeated France, signing their surrender in the same train carriage in which Germany capitulated the First World War. Germany’s territorial losses, the burden or war-reparations and perceived humiliations created deep scars in the minds of many Germans.

Hatred and the desire for revenge

The First World War, with 20 million dead, did not lead to a rejection of violence but only laid the foundation for radical nationalists to rise to power in an inter-war Germany. The architects of the Treaty of Versailles severely hampered Germany's fledgling democracy, as USA jurist and author James Q. Whitman states: "The question is whether they contributed to the creation of an environment that made it possible for creatures like Hitler to flourish. By that measure, Versailles was a terrible, terrible failure."

Hatred and a desire for revenge fester in the minds of many Germans. The violent clashes between right- and left-wing groups turned the Weimar Republic into a powder keg. Many Germans believe that Jews, who made up just one percent of the population, were the cause of all kinds of problems: moral decay, communism, economic hardship.

Mussolini - Hitler's role model

The recently rediscovered feature film "City Without Jews" (1922) seems like an omen. It shows, long before Hitler's rise, how a right-wing populist incites a town to expel its Jewish population. A terrifying vision, one which costs the author their life: He is shot by an NSDAP supporter.

Ideas of racial purity and classes of “sub-humans” are not a Nazi invention. Such concepts are commonplace throughout the world. "We can see time and time again that National Socialism took up ideas that were widespread in Germany and Europe in the early 20th century," says German historian Andreas Rödder. "But National Socialism massively radicalized them and pushed them to new extremes."

In 1922, when the fascist movement seized power in Italy with brutality and political maneuvering, a little-known political agitator by the name of Adolf Hitler, living a broken and failed existence, took fascist leader Benito Mussolini as his role model with one goal: to gain power in Germany.Bearbeitet

What facilitated the rise of the Nazis?

With this 10-part documentary series "The Abyss - Rise and Fall of the Nazis" ZDFinfo is using the power of film to take a stand against ignorance towards the past. The project tells the story of the rise and fall of National Socialism from an international perspective, examining the causes of the rupture in civilization at the hands of Germans, which led from a crisis-ridden democracy to war and genocide.

Rare, and newly discovered film and photo footage, as well as 40 field-leading experts such as Richard J. Evans, Mary Fulbrook, Peter Longerich, Moshe Zimmermann, Alexandra Richie, and Götz Aly, offer new perspectives on the history between 1918 and 1948.

Based on the latest research, the series focuses on both the motives of the perpetrators, but also on the responsibility of a significant portion of the German people What facilitated the rise of the Nazis. What paved the way for the genocide of the Jews? This is the story of how humanity's darkest hour took place. The Abyss.

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