Hitler: The Rise of Evil
Hitler - The Rise of Evil.jpg
Approx. run time150 min.
GenreBiographical film
Distributed byCBS
Written byJohn Pielmeier
G. Ross Parker
Directed byChristian Duguay
Produced byJohn Ryan
Ed Gernon
Peter Sussman
StarringRobert Carlyle
Stockard Channing
Peter O'Toole
Peter Stormare
Thomas Sangster
Editing bySylvain Lebel
Stephen R. Myers
Henk Van Eeghen
Music byNormand Corbeil
CinematographyPierre Gill
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
Release dateMay 18, 2003

Hitler: The Rise of Evil is a TV miniseries that aired in two parts in May 2003 on CBS, and was produced by Alliance Atlantis. The film explores Adolf Hitler's rise and his early consolidation of power during the years after World War I and focuses on how the embittered, politically fragmented and economically buffeted state of German society following the war made that ascent possible. The film also focuses on Ernst Hanfstaengl's influence on Hitler's rise to power.

The film's subplot follows the struggles of Fritz Gerlich, a German journalist who opposes the rising National Socialist German Workers Party. He is portrayed as to fulfill the essence of the quotation attributed to[1] Edmund Burke,[2] which is displayed at the beginning and at the end of the film:

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."



The story revolves around Adolf Hitler, from his childhood with his authoritarian father Alois and beloved mother Klara, to his life as a destitute student trying to pursue a career as an artist. It also documents his gradual embrace of anti-Semitism; the film portrays Hitler as becoming a committed anti-Semite after a Jewish colonel goes back on his word to recommend him for the Iron Cross.

Hitler is then shown to join the German Workers' Party and befriends Ernst Röhm, leading to the Munich Beer Hall Putsch and finally his quest to become Chancellor of Germany.

In this film, Hitler's rise is attributed to Ernst Hanfstaengl, who finances his cause and provides him with political connections. Hitler is shown to harbor romantic feelings for Hanfstaengel's wife, Helene. Hitler's friendship with Röhm is also well highlighted — including the latter's homosexuality — as well as his relationship with his niece Geli Raubal, and her mysterious death.

The film ends with Hitler becoming President of Germany in 1934 and declaring the "1000-year Reich" as his voice is drowned in the chants of "Sieg Heil" from an adoring crowd.

Historical inaccuracies and criticismEdit

Originally, famed Hitler biographer Ian Kershaw had been on board as a consultant in the production of Hitler: The Rise of Evil. However, Kershaw found the miniseries to be rife with falsehoods and historical inaccuracies regarding Hitler's life, and so chose to have his name removed from the project.[3]

At the beginning of the film, Hitler's father Alois Hitler is shown dying in front of a young Hitler and Hitler's mother at their home after a meal. In actual fact Hitler's father died when he went out for his usual morning drink at his local inn, The Gasthaus Stiefler.

Hitler's mother's doctor, Dr. Eduard Bloch is portrayed as a Hasidic Jew. In reality, like most Jews in Linz at the time, Bloch was fully assimilated into Austrian society.

One scene shows Hitler beating his dog during World War I. This scene was criticised by historians, and there are no sources that state that Hitler ever beat any animal. Most researches show the opposite: Hitler was an animal lover (as shown by his fondness towards his dog Blondi) and the Third Reich had the first animal protection laws in the world.[citation needed] See Animal welfare in Nazi Germany.

Hitler was awarded the Iron Cross for repeated acts of bravery in front line service, and not for the cynical political reasons given in the film. Additionally, there are multiple issues with military awards. For example, Erich Ludendorff is shown wearing a Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross. This exclusive medal has been awarded only twice, but Ludendorff was not a recipient. Furthermore, the German Army at the time did not wear Ribbon bars, as is depicted in the film.

Hitler arrived in Munich in May 1913. In the film he is shown arriving and proceeding directly to the Feldherrnhalle on August 1, 1914.

In a scene depicting his first meeting in 1919 with the German Workers' Party, he said he "didn't drink". This is not true. He certainly diminished his alcohol intake after coming out of Landsberg Prison in 1925, but he would occasionally drink beer and wine.

One brief scene shows Hitler forcefully kissing his niece, Geli. Though he was very close to her, there are no historical documents which say that Hitler actually ever had a sexual relationship with his niece.

In the Bürgerbräukeller with the start of the Beer Hall putsch, Hitler is shown easily walking up to the podium. In fact, it was so packed with people, it took him (and his immediate supporters) some time to force their way through.[citation needed] Most of the events of the Beer Hall putsch are incorrectly depicted in the film.

Other notable inaccuracies include:

  1. Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels are minor characters in the story, and so their contributions to Hitler's success is, for the most part, unexamined
  2. Ernst Hanfstaengl is given a prominent role, while Heinrich Himmler is not depicted.
  3. Erich von Ludendorff is portrayed in the film as an ignorant, fatuous old man, with whom Hitler severed ties. However, according to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer, Ludendorff abandoned Hitler, even refusing to accept a Field Marshal's baton.
  4. Kurt von Schleicher's role in Hitler's rise to power is largely glossed over. Gregor Strasser, Hitler's competitor, was also not portrayed with much importance.
  5. Dietrich Eckart was a huge influence on Hitler until the Munich Beer Hall putsch of 1923. Hitler dedicated the second volume of Mein Kampf to Eckart. He is not portrayed or mentioned in the film. In Göring's first appearance in the film, he utters Dietrich Eckart's words regarding leaders.


Ed Gernon, the executive producer, was fired for comparing the climate of fear that led to the rise of Nazism to the war on terrorism.[4] Gernon, an executive vice president at Alliance Atlantis, the production company behind Hitler: The Rise of Evil, was let go after more than a decade with the company. CBS said that his "personal opinions are not shared by CBS and misrepresent the network's motivation for broadcasting this film".

Associates claimed that CBS was prompted to act by a New York Post article that claimed the comment was a sign of Hollywood’s anti-Americanism and stated that Gernon had said President George W. Bush should be looked at “through the prism of Germany’s psychopath.”[5]

It basically boils down to an entire nation gripped by fear, who ultimately chose to give up their civil rights and plunged the whole world into war. I can’t think of a better time to examine this history than now.

—Ed Gernon


In Australia, the film was aired on the Seven Network. The network initially used a promotion which went as follows:
Boy 1: "When I grow up, I want to be a fireman." (shows drawing a fire truck)
Narrator: "Every child needs encouragement..."
Girl: "When I grow up, I want to be a nurse." (shows drawing of a hospital)
Narrator: "But what if you encouraged the wrong child?"
Boy 2: "When I grow up, I want to be much, much more..." (shows child violently drawing a Nazi flag)

The advertisement then proceeded to show the trailer for the film. After some review, the network decided that it was inappropriate to use such a tone to promote a film about Hitler, so the initial scenes were removed and the standard trailer was shown.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit

Filmed in Barrandov Studios (Prague) Sabaton - Attero Dominatus


  1. Boller, Jr., Paul F.; George, John (1989). They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, and Misleading Attributions. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-505541-1. 
  4. Producer fired for view on Bush
  5. ‘Hitler’ producer Gernon fired

External linksEdit

de:Hitler – Aufstieg des Bösen es:Hitler: El reinado del mal fr:Hitler : la Naissance du mal no:Hitler: The Rise of Evil uz:Hitler: Yovuzlikning chiqishi pl:Hitler: Narodziny zła sv:Hitler - Ondskans natur zh:希特勒:惡魔的崛起

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