Hitler - Downfall

Keit

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There is no separate thread for Untergang/Downfall, so I hope it's ok to post about it here.

*Spoilers alert*

Yesterday I watched the movie and think it was very well done. Bruno Ganz did a superb job portraying Hitler, especially the aspects where the contrast between his psychopathic nature and seeming "care" for his close female entourage was particularly vivid. But this contrast is illusionary, because even this "care" is deeply pathological, where the biggest gift he could offer them was poison. In this it is similar to his "act of mercy" toward his dog by putting her down. Not to mention his refusal to allow evacuation of civilians, women and children from Berlin, by saying that they brought it on themselves.

The movie is based on the book by Traudl Junge, his young secretary. She wrote:

"I was 22 and I didn't know anything about politics, it didn't interest me", Junge said decades later, also saying that she felt great guilt for "...liking the greatest criminal ever to have lived."

She said, "I admit, I was fascinated by Adolf Hitler. He was a pleasant boss and a fatherly friend. I deliberately ignored all the warning voices inside me and enjoyed the time by his side almost until the bitter end. It wasn't what he said, but the way he said things and how he did things."

And it makes me wonder if Traudl's fascination with Hitler, including deliberate filtering of what she was observing, is similar to the dynamic of women who love psychopaths (and what about Eva Brown!?), while it applies to men as well, of course. There is a point in the movie where, while she knows that she has to run and leave the bunker, instead she says that she will stay with Hitler till the end. And later, when asked by her friend why she said it, she replied that she had no idea.

There are many similar examples where people who are perhaps generally caring, and yet complacent and willingly participate in crimes against humanity. Some out of ignorance, some out of loyalty, some out of fear, but many are completely brainwashed There is a mix of people who are under an influence of pathology, and people who are pathological themselves. For example, Magda Goebbels's story and conduct were downright scary. If by any chance she wasn't a full blown psychopath, she was an especially strong authoritarian personality who didn't see a point in living (including lives of her children) in the world without national socialism. There is a particularly creepy scene in the movie where after killing her children, Magda sits behind the table to play cards. And apparently it wasn't a dramatization.

Another was Albert Speer, Hitler's main architect. First time I heard about him was not long ago while watching "Lost Worlds - Hitler's Supercity" documentary. Wiki says that he was the one who apologized during Nuremberg trials and took responsibility. Downfall portrays him in a somewhat positive or at least neutral light, while he was one of the closest people to Hitler, and had a very active role in at least physical creation of the Reich. So, although it wasn't particularly capitalized, this movie is about choices.

All in all, I highly recommend this movie.
 

Laura

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I've watched it twice. It's amazing. One scene that gave me the creeps and which emphasized Eva Braun's denial was the party scene where they are drinking champagne and dancing while bombs are falling all around.
 

Smallwood

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I've watched it twice previously and I think it was pretty good (Hitler's rants were fun ;D), although I never really liked WW2 period from historical standpoint. It is a good movie, I think one of those which get better and better with each view. But I have to see it again to confirm that.
 

Keit

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Laura said:
I've watched it twice. It's amazing. One scene that gave me the creeps and which emphasized Eva Braun's denial was the party scene where they are drinking champagne and dancing while bombs are falling all around.

Yes, it was creepy. Coupled with Eva's remark about not knowing the man (Hitler) after spending 12 years with him, including hating his dog and hitting her were also telling. On the other hand, her total devotion to the man showed her to be a very disturbed individual. The question is, was her pathology a result of their relationship, or did she already exhibit pathological traits that were intensified by being with Hitler?

There is a new biography book by Görtemaker's claims that Eva Braun wasn't just "dumb blonde".

Berlin historian Heike Görtemaker has now taken on the task of correcting this image of Braun, by writing the first scholarly biography of Braun, published by the prestigious Beck publishing house. Several, lighter works on Hitler's mistress have preceded the new tome.

By taking a strictly academic approach, Görtemaker manages to dispense with many of the anecdotes that have amused and occasionally titillated readers. According to one of these stories, Braun allegedly complained, in the Führer bunker, about her constant arguments with Adolf about meals. Hitler, an adamant vegetarian, allegedly demanded that she eat only gruel and mushroom dip, which she found disgusting ("I can't eat this stuff").

According to another story, told by one of the dictator's secretaries, Braun would secretly kick Hitler's German shepherd Blondie, supposedly because she was jealous of the dog. She is said to have gloated over Blondie's howls after abusing the dog ("Adolf is surprised at the animal's strange behavior. That's my revenge.").[...]

The historian takes the character at the center of her book seriously, and in the material she has analyzed, there is credible evidence that Braun was more to Hitler than an "attractive young thing" in whom the dictator "found, despite or perhaps because of her unassuming and insipid appearance, the sort of relaxation and calm he was seeking," as Hitler's personal photographer Heinrich Hoffmann later claimed.

In his will, which Hitler drew up in 1938, Braun's name appeared immediately after that of the Nazi Party. Under the provisions of the will, the party was to pay her a substantial, lifelong pension, to be drawn from his assets. Propaganda minister and Hitler confidant Joseph Goebbels noted several times how much the dictator appreciated his mistress ("A clever girl, who means a lot to the Führer").

She was involved in the plans for the conversion of the Austrian city of Linz into the Führer's cultural capital, where Hitler, a native of Austria, planned to retire after the Nazi's final victory. And if he had had his way, Braun would also have survived the demise of the German Reich. He repeatedly asked her to leave Berlin in the final days of the war and fly to Bavaria. But Braun refused. Until the very end, Hitler spoke of her "with great respect and inner devotion," Albert Speer, Hitler's crown prince, said in his first statements to the Allies in 1945.[...]

Goertemaker said her work was part of a new body of research that shows women in the Third Reich were not only victims, as long believed, but also perpetrators.

Braun had a strong interest in photography and making films, and she also liked to be photographed. The photo albums and films of her that have survived depict her as a carefree, athletic and extroverted woman, who sometimes posed in her bathing suit and even filmed her sister when she went swimming in the nude. After the war, a former member of the SS complained that she did not conform to the "ideal of a German girl." According to the SS officer, Braun would start "making the initial preparations for all kinds of amusements" -- parties at the mountain hideaway -- shortly after Hitler's limousine had pulled away from the Berghof.

Such statements conform to the image of an apolitical entourage that everyone involved -- from lowly servants to luminaries such as Albert Speer -- described after the war, and into which Braun seemed to have integrated herself seamlessly. There was said to be a rule at the Berghof: that politics was not to be discussed in the presence of women. Instead, the topics of discussion were apparently fashion, dog breeding and operettas.[...]

Pure Politics

Biographer Görtemaker doesn't have any trouble introducing arguments against the exclusiveness of this version. A look into Braun's photo albums, which include pictures she took on Aug. 23, 1939, is enough to support this notion. On that day Ribbentrop, who had been promoted to foreign minister by then, was in negotiations with Stalin in Moscow over the partition of Eastern Europe between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Hitler wanted the alliance so that he could invade Poland. The photos show how tense and visibly restless he was while waiting for the outcome of Ribbentrop's talks with Stalin. It was pure politics, and Braun was there.

Görtemaker also believes that the woman at his side "shared Hitler's worldview and political opinions uncritically." The circumstances alone suggest that this was the case. Braun spent almost half of her 33 years in the company of fanatical Nazis.

It is well known that in 1939 Hitler spoke openly before the Reichstag of the destruction of European Jews -- and in his second will, which he wrote shortly before committing suicide, he once again underlined his hatred of Jews. It is hard to believe that Braun could have endured the 2,280 days between those two events if she hadn't been an anti-Semite herself. However, we will probably never know whether she tried to influence him in any way.

The Making of Legends


Braun was faithful unto death, and it was this unconditional loyalty that Hitler presumably valued in her above all else. "Only Miss Braun and my German Shepherd are loyal to me and belong to me," he is believed to have said near the end of the war, when Europe was in ruins and the murder of European Jews was already largely a fait accompli.

At that point, Braun had already decided to remain with the Führer. She even had someone teach her how to use a pistol when the Red Army had already advanced into Berlin. "We are fighting to the end here," she wrote from the Führer's bunker to her closest friend on April 22. "I will die as I have lived. It will not be difficult for me."
 

Laura

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She sounds like a veritable Myra Hindley to Hitler's "Ian Brady."
 

Deckard

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I wrote about this movie while ago here
http://www.cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php?topic=5437.0
I am still not happy with the way Stargazer "fixed" my original thread title :(
 

Deckard

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perhaps it deserves another thread but funny coincidence, just this very minute I finished watching Boy in Striped Pajamas.
It gives another insight from "the other side" same as The Downfall, make sure to prepare a lot of tissues, very emotional
 

Keit

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Several days ago I overheard TV advertisement for documentary about Haim Arlosoroff (famous zionist leader) that mentioned his relationship with Magda Goebbels. Searched the internet and found some interesting information about that. Magda looks like a typical example of authoritarian personality.

The only previous study of Magda Goebbels was written in 1978 by Hans-Otto Melssner, who had family connections with her. His father had been State Secretary to Hindenburg and continued to serve throughout the Nazi Era; his mother was an acquaintance of Magda’s: as a young man, he himself encountered Magda and Joseph Goebbels at social functions. Meissner relied for much of his information on Ello Quandt, the sister of Magda’s first husband, who was determined to portray Magda as the primary victim of Goebbels’s propaganda machine.

Klabunde follows Meissner in most respects, her chief innovation being the emphasis she places on Magda’s adolescent friendship with the Zionist pioneer Victor (later Chaim) Arlosoroff. ‘Nazi Chief Weds Jewess’, screamed the headline on one opposition paper when Goebbels, then merely the Gauleiter of Berlin, married Magda in 1931. This deliberately provocative - and erroneous - claim was prompted by her connection not to Arlosoroff but to her stepfather, Max Friedlander. Like that of a surprising number of key Nazi figures, including the leader himself, Magda’s parentage was contentious. She was born illegitimate (a fact glossed over by the gentlemanly Meissner), and, although her parents married a few months later, they divorced soon afterwards. Magda’s mother later married the Jewish Friedlander, whose name Magda took and to whom she was, by all accounts, devoted.

Friedlander was an assimilated Jew, but his observation of festivals such as Passover and Yom Kippur meant that Magda grew up with a degree of familiarity with Judaism. This was strengthened by her schoolgirl intimacy with Lisa Arlosoroff and her charismatic brother Victor. She became a member of Arlosoroff s Zionist youth group - a commitment which Goebbels subsequently found so threatening that, according to Klabunde, he was behind Arlosoroff s assassination in Tel Aviv in 1933.

Magda seriously contemplated a life with Arlosoroff and was devastated when, deeming her insufficiently dedicated to Zionism, he broke with her. Shortly afterwards, she was sent to finishing school, and, following a courtship straight out of a romantic novel, she married Gunther Quandt, a wealthy industrialist twenty years her senior. Many years later, the journalist Bella Fromm noted a comment she heard at a ball: ‘If rich Gunther Quandt had not come along, who knows where [Magda would] be now? Probably doing sentinel duty in front of a Palestine kibbutz, rifle on shoulder and an Old Testament password on her lips.’

Quandt was fabulously rich. One of Germany’s top industrialists, he successfully preserved his fortune through the hyperinflation of the 1920s and, later, the economic collapse of the Second World War. Magda, however, found that her romance soon palled. Quandt was cold and distant, and, although the couple had one son, she felt unable to share his life on any meaningful level. She established a far closer bond with her stepson, Hellmuth. The youth fell passionately in love with her, and, if he had not died of a botched appendix operation in Paris, where he had been hastily dispatched to study, Magda might have found herself playing Phaedra. As things turned out, she was to end her life in the role of an altogether different heroine from Greek tragedy.

After her divorce from Quandt, Magda was left young, beautiful, wealthy and intensely bored. The gap in her life was filled when, at the instigation of an aristocratic Nazi sympathiser, she attended an election rally at the Palace of Sport. She was swept up by the oratory of the principal speaker, Joseph Goebbels. She immediately joined the Party and became the leader of her local women’s group, an exotic figure among a membership of concierges and shopkeepers. She then volunteered her services at Party headquarters, where, after a chance meeting, Goebbels asked her to organise his private archive.

Magda was a great catch for the Nazis, bringing them an aura of respectability. She was an even greater catch for Goebbels, who was puny and misshapen with a deformed left leg. Hitler himself was enormously taken with her, remarking to one of his aides that she ignited feelings in him that had lain dormant since the death of his niece, Geli. Some commentators have suggested that Magda only married Goebbeis to gain access to Hitler; but, while cynicism may have been a motivating force in much Nazi conduct, it would not seem to have been a factor here.

Magda deeply admired Hitler and respected his sense of vocation, but she loved Goebbels, which was why she was so stung by his betrayal. Cynicism was certainly one of Joseph Goebbels’s principal character traits, just as lies were his stock in trade. Magda discovered this for herself when, while honouring her as his wife and the mother of his six children, he embarked on a series of extramarital affairs, notably with young actresses whom he held in his sway as the panjandrum of German cinema. These would have remained a matter of domestic rather than historical interest, were it not that Magda’s complaint to Hitler about the most serious of them - with the Czech film star Lida Baarova - led to Goebbels’s fall from favour. It was in a desperate bid to regain his position that he orchestrated the anti-Semitic horrors of Kristallnacht.

Goebbels’s anti-Semitism is a matter of public record; Magda’s is largely one of private conjecture. It is evident from her remarks to Ello Quandt that Goebbels had informed her about some of the horrors of the Final Solution. Although she would have had no power to moderate such a fundamental aspect of Nazi policy, it is clear that, even when she might have been able to exert some influence, she refrained. Not only did she refuse to lift a finger to assist a Jewish schoolfriend who appealed to her on behalf of her daughter (indeed, the formal letter of reply, which may or may not have been authorised by Magda, rebuked the woman for neglecting to add the requisite Sarah to her name), but she did nothing to save her stepfather, who, in the early days of the Nazi regime, was summoned to Goebbels’s office and never seen again. His precise fate remains a mystery, although recent commentators, including Klabunde, identity him with a Max Friedlander who died in Sachsenhausen.

Whatever the extent of her complicity in the Final Solution, Magda was a major beneficiary of the Nazi dictatorship. It was this that impelled her to take her own life on its collapse. She declared to Ello Quandt: ‘We who were at the summit of the Third Reich, we must take the consequences… Everyone else has the right to go on living, but we do not.’ She signally failed to extend that right to her children, for, in an act of matricide unparalleled since Medea, she murdered them in Hitler’s bunker shortly before she and Goebbels committed suicide.

The reasons for her action and the degree to which she was compelled by Goebbels remain matters of dispute. Some, such as Albert Speer, see her as entirely her husband’s agent; others, taking their cue from a party guest who claimed never to have seen ’such ice-cold eyes in a woman’, place the responsibility on Magda herself. Meissner believed that she was fortified by a Buddhist faith in reincarnation. Klabunde, in line with her more psychoanalytical approach, holds that she regarded her children as extensions of herself with no independent life.

Magda’s life is the stuff of myth and fairy tale: a first marriage out of Cinderella gave way to a second out of Beauty and the Beast, followed by a death out of Gotterdammerung. Klabunde’s account pays more attention to these romantic elements than to Magda’s public career. For example, she makes no mention of her war work. Almost alone of the leaders’ wives, she supported the government’s Total War policy by working in the Telefunken factory, even travelling there by tram so as not to alienate her colleagues.

Klabunde has an unfortunate love of atmospheric descriptions for which she can have no authority - whether it be the condensation on the mirror in Magda’s bathroom, to which the author appears to have privileged access, or the frequent smells by which Magda is assailed (’the stale smell that lingered in the air’ of Paris; ‘the smell of her perfume’, which ’still seemed to float through the room’, etc). Stylistic cavils aside, however, this is an engaging and lucid account of a supposed anomaly: a civilised, cultivated woman at the heart of the Nazi regime.
 

PopHistorian

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Laura wrote, "One scene that gave me the creeps and which emphasized Eva Braun's denial was the party scene where they are drinking champagne and dancing while bombs are falling all around."

Dancing as the ship goes down indeed. Wow, loads of full-tilt psychopathy and depravity of the ponerized on display here. When I think of how shortsighted and thoughtless patriotism is, I'll always remember Frau Goebbels' utmost expression of it.
 

seek10

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And it makes me wonder if Traudl's fascination with Hitler, including deliberate filtering of what she was observing, is similar to the dynamic of women who love psychopaths (and what about Eva Brown!?), while it applies to men as well, of course. There is a point in the movie where, while she knows that she has to run and leave the bunker, instead she says that she will stay with Hitler till the end. And later, when asked by her friend why she said it, she replied that she had no idea.

There are many similar examples where people who are perhaps generally caring, and yet complacent and willingly participate in crimes against humanity. Some out of ignorance, some out of loyalty, some out of fear, but many are completely brainwashed There is a mix of people who are under an influence of pathology, and people who are pathological themselves. For example, Magda Goebbels's story and conduct were downright scary. If by any chance she wasn't a full blown psychopath, she was an especially strong authoritarian personality who didn't see a point in living (including lives of her children) in the world without national socialism. There is a particularly creepy scene in the movie where after killing her children, Magda sits behind the table to play cards. And apparently it wasn't a dramatization.
I finished watching this movie today. It was sort of dark movie and hard to watch the merry making out of complete denial of the reality. All sorts of characters from "young follower" like Traudl to complete grandiose lunatic like Hitler and ponerised authoritarian followers to duty bound mindless soldiers who just follow orders. It is hard to imagine Traudl doesn't know the scope of atrocities. If she decides to leave the place, most probably she will end up in 5D, so she hung on.
Another was Albert Speer, Hitler's main architect. First time I heard about him was not long ago while watching "Lost Worlds - Hitler's Supercity" documentary. Wiki says that he was the one who apologized during Nuremberg trials and took responsibility. Downfall portrays him in a somewhat positive or at least neutral light, while he was one of the closest people to Hitler, and had a very active role in at least physical creation of the Reich. So, although it wasn't particularly capitalized, this movie is about choices.
I wondered about how many people in the Hitler's close circle didn't know what is happening. With the level of cruelty and absolute loyalty is a mandate, it is reasonable to assume that every body went along.
 

thorbiorn

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I began watching the movie, but had to stop and find out about the old lady that speaks at the beginning. She is Traudl Junge, and parts of her material published in a book went into the making of the film.

Traudle originally wanted to become a dancer, instead, she performed as a secretary for Hitler, became part of history, and offered commentary on it, some of which is included in the Wiki:
Of course, the horrors, of which I heard in connection of the Nuremberg trials; the fate of the 6 million Jews, their killing and those of many others who represented different races and creeds, shocked me greatly, but, at that time, I could not see any connection between these things and my own past. I was only happy that I had not personally been guilty of these things and that I had not been aware of the scale of these things. However, "one day, I walked past a plaque on the Franz-Joseph Straße (in Munich), on the wall in memory of Sophie Scholl. I could see that she had been born the same year as I, and that she had been executed the same year I entered into Hitler's service. And, at that moment, I really realised that it was no excuse that I had been so young. I could perhaps have tried to find out about things."
When she says: "I could perhaps have tried to find out about things." it is not an insignificant comment, considering the present state of the world and how many people have been controlled by the official narrative. Might questions to some of them be formulated as:

You say that global warming is the biggest problem, but have you tried to find out about things yourself?
You tell me mRNA injections to counter COVID are safe and that they are effective, but have you tried to find out about things yourself?
You claim that 9/11 and the Twin Tower and Building 7 collapse was caused by a couple of planes flying into the Twin Towers, but have you tried to find out about things yourself?
You believe the possibility of earth changes including cometary bombardment is just hysteria, but have you tried to find out about things yourself?

One can ask, though it would not suit on all occasions, and it is not that I imagine there are very many people who would take the hint, but there may be some and occasionally in the most unexpected places.

Ironically Junge would not have reached her insight if she had not gone through her experience. Perhaps she even knew it was important for her life to share it: The Wiki mentions:
"Junge died from cancer in Munich on 10 February 2002 at the age of 81,[15] reportedly having said shortly before her death, "Now that I've let go of my story, I can let go of my life."
The last expression makes me think that allowing people who are old or dying good opportunities to tell about their life can be helpful and allow them to make more meaning of their experience if they have not already done so.
 
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Turgon

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I finished watching this movie today. It was sort of dark movie and hard to watch the merry making out of complete denial of the reality.
Saw it last night and found it frustrating and infuriating watching how Hitler and his inner-circle became more unhinged in the final days and months before the Reich fell. No one wanted to admit the reality of the situation, namely that they had lost the war and the more the Russians closed in, the more the characters clung to their delusions no matter what. Even after Hitler committed suicide, seeing his generals continue on with refusing to surrender was beyond belief. This movie really highlights self-deception being taken to a pathological extreme.
 
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