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The Abyss: Up in Flames 1936-1940

Rise an Fall of the Nazis (6/10)

At the end of 1939, the German army invaded Poland. They are closely followed by SS task forces, which have only one mission: to exterminate the Polish intelligentsia. Thousands are murdered.

51 min
51 min
Video verfügbar bis 07.05.2031, in Deutschland

Unhindered, Hitler pushed through his war plans. “It would have been right to have invaded Germany, to have waged war against Germany” says historian Götz Aly. But France, Britain, and the USA hesitate.

The majority of Germans support Hitler's dictatorship, intoxicated by successes such as the occupation of the Rhineland or the annexation of Austria. Meanwhile, the former victorious powers of World War I face a dilemma: on the one hand, they no longer want to enforce the Treaty of Versailles, but on the other their concessions should not legitimize the German dictator any further. Meanwhile, Adolf Hitler lies, deceives, and blackmails to get his demands accepted. Could he have been stopped?

A Test Run for War

The Spanish Civil war shows, in dramatic style, how brutal modern warfare, especially aerial bombing has become. The carnage weakened the resolve of the great powers, while for Hitler it was a mere dress rehearsal, a test run for German pilots who will later play an important role in the blitzkrieg against Poland.

The victims of this policy are the democracies of Europe – those few that remain after the revolutions of 1918/19. First Czechoslovakia, then Poland, and France, which is defeated in a "blitzkrieg" within a mere few weeks.

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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