Lira tumble hits hard Turkey's key construction sector    Displacements in northern Ethiopia up relief needs: UN    Int'l Day of Persons with Disabilities reminds world of their needs: Ashraf Marei    Opinion| Consequences of US withdrawal from Middle East    Opinion| UNIDO Egypt fosters manufacturing sector recovery in a changing economy    Cairo joins in 'Orange the World' campaign raising awareness on gender-based violence    EU, Egypt partner in supporting gender-targeted programmes: Ambassador Berger    Luiza Formenius launches new single 'I'll Be Home For Christmas'    Export-Import Bank of Korea delegation visits Cairo to chart Roadmap for future cooperation    Egypt renews call for nuclear weapon-free zone in Middle East    Wegz is most streamed artist in Egypt during 2021 for second consecutive year: Spotify    Orange Egypt Continues its Sponsorship for iRead Awards Ceremony    Egypt, Qatar discuss cooperation in sports infrastructure    Prominent Egyptian anchor calls on UK to designate "Muslim Brotherhood" a Terrorist entity    Egypt, Israel sign deal sign MoU to increase gas supplies, hydrogen transport    Egypt's stocks end week in green as benchmark EWX 30 surges 0.69%    Mortada Mansour sets road map for Zamalek, after normalization committee depart    I seek to secure stable financial sources to build strong judo team: Motei Fakhr El-Din    Orascom Construction joins consortium to develop Egypt's first green hydrogen production facility    98 potential candidates run for Libyan presidency    'Lake Victoria – Mediterranean' navigation corridor awaits feasibility studies, funds: official    Egypt's trade with Nile basin countries climbs 26% y-o-y in 9 months    Egypt selected to host COP27 international climate conference in 2022    Number of British tourists to Egypt seen hitting 500,000 this winter – envoy    The unvaccinated prohibited from entry to Egypt state institutions starting December 1    Egypt, Greece ink deal for first subsea power link between Europe and Africa    SCOHRE sparks discussion on harm reduction, tobacco control    Egypt to receive first of six high-trains from Spain's Talgo in mid-November    Egypt's iron and steel exports jump 197% in 8 months    Ethiopia halts work at its embassy in Egypt for 'economic reasons'    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egypt's FM asserts importance of stability in Libya, holding elections as scheduled    Brazil calls up 8 EPL players for World Cup qualifying    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Sisi calls on House, Senate to commence second legislative sessions on 3, 5 October    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    Qa'a play showing at Lycee El Horreya Theatre, Alexandria is a must go    APO Group enters new exclusive agreement with Getty Images on African press releases and images    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

Sympathy for the Devil
Published in Daily News Egypt on 25 - 04 - 2006

CAIRO: My interest in Hitler and the Nazi-era Germany stemmed from one of the most unusual discourses about this issue in my Public Opinion and Propaganda class back in university. Part of the course focused on the use of propaganda during that time and the various, devilishly-intelligent techniques used to shape German public opinion in accordance with the will of the Third Reich.
In order to gain a full understanding of that period, we had another side-discussion about Hitler himself and his beliefs and viewpoints. My professor hardly spoke badly about Hitler, as this was beside the main topic. However, he did speak about Hitler s contemptible views of the Jews and justified the holocaust as a well deserved sentence for a race that was composed of a bunch of traitors, spies and profiteers. The Jews, according to my professor, were sucking dry the blood of the poor Germans and Hitler had no other choice but cutting these roots of evil from the German soil.
I was not, however, so shocked by this claim; our long history of Jewish hatred is well known, after all. Frankly, what repulsed me is the basic idea of finding an excuse for killing millions of people in such a degrading, sadistic manner, no matter what crimes they ve supposedly committed. And if indeed the millions of Jews did commit those crimes, what about the Gypsies, the Roma, the handicapped, the mentally handicapped, the homosexuals or Jehovah s Witnesses? What atrocious crime did they commit to be subject to such punishment? But the questions that lingered the most in my mind is how could any man could continue to have a guilt-free conscious knowing that he s responsible for such mass murders? The answer to this question is the safe proposition history had longed adhered to: A monster, a fiend, a creature that under no circumstances can be classified as a human.
Truth of the matter is; he wasn t. Hitler was, after all, a human, a former artist whose sole ambition in his adolescence was to become an architect. Downfall, the latest of many recent German films set in the country s most disgraceful period, not only displays Hitler s covert human side, but also tries to understand how almost an entire nation could be transformed for 11 years.
The film, which chronicles the last 10 days of the life of Hitler and the Third Reich, is almost set entirely in the Fuhrer s bunker. We are initially introduced to the grim, morbid world of the dictator via the fresh young innocent eyes of Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara), Hitler s new hired secretary. The heydays of the German might are over; Russia and the Allied Forces are attacking from the east and west respectively. Berlin is bound to fall soon, with death looming at every corner of the ravaged capital.
In the midst of all of this inescapable destruction, the Fuhrer (Bruno Granz) vows to fight back, moving back and forth his imaginary troops on maps and insists that victory isn t the distant mirage everybody else knows it is. Hitler is still surrounded by his advisors and supporters, including his mistress Eva Braun (Juliane Köhler), his propaganda engineer Joseph Goebbels (Ulrich Matthes) and his wife Magada (Corinna Harfouch) and other senior commanders who are now moving away from the improbable plans of their maddening leader while trying to reduce the losses as much as possible.
Downfall has a very distinctive theme and a plot but doesn t follow the classical narrative style by including a beginning, middle and an end. The film feels more like a documentary or a travelogue through hell. The film flows from one point of demolition to another without any kind of proper relief or signs of hope. We know the outcome of these events, but that s not the point of the film. What s fascinating and unique about this story is watching the process of destruction itself and its effect on the multitude of characters inflicted by it.
The principle character of the misguided flock is, without a doubt, the leader. I cannot begin talking about Downfall's Hitler without mentioning Bruno Granz, the great German actor who played dozens of sad, dreamy idealistic loners, including his most celebrated role as the angel Damiel in Wim Wenders masterpiece Wings of Desire. Hitler was always regarded as the ultimate screen villain, whose grotesque persona became the subject of numerous films. It was always unacceptable for both the Germans and the world to see a different Hitler and that s where Downfall's notoriety emerged: Granz plays Hitler at a time when he was facing his demise. He still rants, screams and announces a series of inconceivably hideous declarations. He doesn t care about the civilians and believes that if his helpless soldiers can t defend their land, then death should be the petty price they must pay for their weakness.
Hitler appears completely engrossed in his ideology and his unreal universe. Nevertheless, the much talked about humanistic side still creeps out of him to give us not only a glimpse of a different man, but also a small aspect of what made millions of deluded Germans blindly follow him.
Apparently Hitler was a vegetarian; he liked good food and always kept up good relations with his chef. He was enormously fond of his dog and was, to some extent, kind and generous to the majority of his staff and subordinates. The most peculiar feature that Granz brilliantly infuses Hitler with is his bare frailty. Hitler isn't the rigid, confident and plainly cruel character we all remember from the various documentaries and footage taken of him; rather, he's now an ailing, dying man with a bent back, shaken, desperate voice and a continuously twitching hand. Such a sight temporarily suspends all memories of the Fuhrer and replaces them by entirely new ones.
The key behind deciphering the behavior of the German citizens lies in simply observing their behavior, along with Hitler's followers. The primary reason for Hitler's rise to power was the humiliation the Germans felt after the defeat in WW1 and the severe injustice imposed upon them through the Treaty of Versailles. Furthermore, the post economic depression and high rate of unemployment left the ordinary dignity-broken citizen searching for some kind of a savior that would rescue the country from those stern conditions. Hitler, with his sincere voice, sense of national pride and everyman's attitude, reached the hearts of his people and became the great father figure of the German public. Hitler, to Germans at that time, wasn't a mere president but the symbol of the German spirit and all it stood far.
Which explains why thousands of Germans decided to commit suicide after Hitler took his own life. There is one scene where a nurse breaks down, asking Hitler to reconsider killing himself and to lead them again into an imaginary victory. The sequence though that accurately portrays the hypnotic state of the German people during those times takes place when a young eager boy enlists in the army, preparing himself for a cause he mistakenly believes in, and then begins to wise up after seeing the repercussions of the war and the Third Reich's policies. Hitler created this bubble for the Germans to reside in and feel free and natural in to unleash their hidden barbarism and gradually erase in the process their individualistic distinction between right and wrong.
Downfall doesn't attempt to make us sympathize with Hitler and I didn't come out feeling any kind of pity for him; but by emphasizing Hitler's humanism, we come to realize that a man like Hitler was no exception, or a fluke in history. There have been many Hitlers before and will be many more as long as there are leaders like him who are controlled by their own narcissism, believing that the only means to change the world for the better is solely through their own questionable, self-righteous visions.
Finally, the film doesn't try to find excuses for Germans at that time and their actions. Germany, just like many other nations in history, wanted a leader to guide them and grants them the sense of security every citizen requires from its leader, employing any required measures. You don't have to think too long to find similar nations in this so-called civilized world of today, using almost the same practices and recycling the whole tragedy all over again.

Clic here to read the story from its source.