PBS’ ‘Rise of the Nazis’ Aims ‘to Show How a Democracy Can Unravel’

Rise of the Nazis
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PBS’s Rise of the Nazis is a riveting look at Adolf Hitler’s ascent to Führer of the Third Reich. How, in less than four years, did Germany turn from a liberal state into a murderous dictatorship that would soon set the world ablaze?

Focused on the pivotal period between 1930 and 1934, this three-part documentary — as gripping as any fictional thriller — aims “to show how a democracy can unravel,” says executive producer Julian Jones, and “to help viewers understand what may have motivated the key players’ actions and beliefs.”

This cautionary tale is told via astute historians (one notes that a general’s name aptly translates as “to sneak” or “to creep”), telling re-creations and a judicious use of chilling archival footage.

In the opener, backroom deals among politicians of the Reich, including WWI hero President Paul von Hindenburg, open the door to onetime fringe player Adolf Hitler gaining power as chancellor, and heroic attorney Hans Litten tries to expose the thuggery of the Nazi movement.

Rise of the Nazis PBS

(Credit: PBS)

Later, we see how Hitler brings all of Germany under Nazi control. Says Jones: “We should not take democracy for granted. It’s important we learn from this period of history so we can stop it from ever happening again.”

Rise of the Nazis, Docuseries Premiere, Tuesday, November 10, 9/8c, PBS (check local listings at pbs.org)