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Berlin 1933 - diary of a big city
Press propaganda photo: Children with swastika flags in a scene from the documentary ‘Berlin 1933 – Diary of a Big City’. © Scherl/Süddeutsche Zeitung/RBB/dpa

It’s certainly not the first TV documentary about the seizure of power by Hitler and the National Socialists 90 years ago. But director Volker Heise manages to give it a special look.

Berlin: It all starts out pretty harmless. At the beginning of January 1933, the Berlin doctor Willi Lindenborn had little to do in the clinic, except a little stress with his girlfriend. Because from her point of view, she eats, drinks and smokes too often at her expense. everyday life.

But in politics, many suspect that the Weimar Republic is faltering. Reich President Paul von Hindenburg sounds grim on New Year’s Day. “God has often saved Germany from deep anguish,” he shouts to the citizens. “He won’t leave us now either.”

A new perspective on the year 1933

These are the first scenes of the film “Berlin 1933 – Diary of a Big City”, which will be screened at Arte on Tuesday (8:15 p.m.) and the following Saturday (January 28, 8:15 p.m.) at RBB. Director Volker Heise, who has already directed a similar gigantic project with “Berlin 1945 – Diary of a Big City”, uses diaries, letters, newspapers and historical images to create a contemporary historical mosaic of the year when Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists arrived. turn on. It is certainly not the first documentation of German trauma 90 years ago. However, Heise manages to create a new perspective in the two-part film totaling 180 minutes.

His work dispenses with recreated scenes, historical explanations and classifications. Viewers experience the year day by day through the eyes of contemporaries trying to make sense of events, unaware of the disastrous ending. Protagonists such as the young doctor Lindenborn or the housewife Clara Brause stand out with their diaries along with observations by diplomats, trade unionists and journalists. In between, over and over again Hitler and his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. The important is next to the banal, as in real life.

The montage of historical images is new. Since there was no film material suitable for regular people’s diary entries from the start, Heise had his team search the archives for everyday scenes that, at least symbolically, illustrated it. In addition, the propaganda scenes of massacre of the Nazi uniforms, the masses stretching their rights, the athletes doing gymnastics synchronously.

It all happened so incredibly fast

Above all, the format of the diary leaves an impression – everything happened incredibly quickly. On January 28, 1933, the newspaper “Tempo” reported plans to make Hitler, who was the only one who did not have a majority with his NSDAP, chancellor, with the support of the non-party Franz von Papen and the German nationalist DNVP. On January 30 the time has come.

On February 1, Hindenburg dissolved the Reichstag and scheduled new elections for March 5. On February 4, freedom of the press was restricted, at the end of February 50,000 SA and SS men were appointed auxiliary policemen and leading opponents and intellectuals were arrested, including the writers Erich Mühsam and Carl von Ossietzky, who also they have their opinion. in the movie. The Reichstag fire, the restrictions on fundamental rights, the boycotts of Jewish shops, the online unions, the burned books, all in the first 100 days of this nascent dictatorship.

“The speed is amazing,” said director Heise a few days ago at the film’s presentation in Berlin. “You can see that correctly, since the National Socialists are always one step ahead of the others. In such a situation, those who are superior “are the most violent and the most radical.” dpa

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