Netflix Documentary Series Explores The Most Evil Men In History

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

Philosopher and writer George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Unfortunately, a majority of younger Americans are already forgetting the details of the world’s not-so-distant past: the atrocities of World War II and the man behind it. Whether it’s because they weren’t taught the grim details, or they’ve failed to remember it, it doesn’t matter, but Netflix is aiming to fix this problem with the release of the documentary series, Hitler and the Nazis: Evil on Trial.

A Troubling Statistic

Hitler and the nazis

A 2020 survey conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany revealed troubling statistics: 63 percent of American millennials and Gen Z do not know that 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, and 48 percent couldn’t name a single concentration camp or ghetto. This is exactly why Hitler and the Nazis was produced—to present this critical history in an engaging and accessible manner for younger viewers.

History Retold So We Don’t Forget

Hitler and the nazis

Hitler and the Nazis is a six-episode series that meticulously traces Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power and the key milestones of WWII. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger, the docuseries blends traditional documentary elements with innovative storytelling techniques. In addition to interviews with historians and archival footage, the series features actors reenacting significant moments, leading the series to feel a bit like a silent film.

Hitler’s Rise To Power

Hitler and the nazis

One episode of Hitler and the Nazis dives into Hitler’s early life, revealing a young man who longed for fame and recognition. Born in Austria, Hitler aspired to be a renowned artist but was rejected by Vienna’s top fine arts institute due to his inability to paint people. His years in a men’s shelter, where he sold paintings copied from postcards, further shaped his worldview, steeped in blame and the prevalent anti-Semitism of Vienna at the time.

The fifth episode of Hitler and the Nazis offers a stark examination of the Nazis’ systematic extermination of Jews. Boston College historian Devin Pendas discusses the horrific decision-making process that led to the establishment of extermination camps. 

Nazis Confronted With Their Crimes Against Humanity

Hitler and the nazis

As Hitler and the Nazis explained, initially, Nazi officers were executing Jews directly and coping with the psychological toll of their murders through heavy drinking. The leadership sought a more “efficient” method to protect their officers’ well-being, leading to the establishment of the camps and the infamous Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942, where the “Final Solution” was formalized.

Hitler and the Nazis also highlights how the full extent of the Holocaust remained largely hidden until the Nuremberg Trials. It was at that time that footage of the atrocities, captured by filmmakers like Roman Karmen, John Ford, and Budd Schulberg, was shown, shocking the world. Pendas notes the chilling reactions of the defendants, many of whom appeared indifferent despite being confronted with the evidence of their crimes.

Hitler And The Nazis: Evil On Trial On Netflix

Hitler and the nazis

Berlinger hopes that Hitler and the Nazis will not only educate but also serve as a stark warning about the fragility of democracy and the dangers of authoritarianism. Through its vivid recounting of the Holocaust and WWII, the documentary emphasizes the capacity for ordinary people to commit horrific acts under certain conditions, a lesson of extreme importance for today’s younger generations.

By presenting this crucial history through a compelling and accessible lens, Netflix aims to bridge the knowledge gap and foster a deeper understanding of one of the darkest chapters in human history. Stream Hitler and the Nazis: Evil on Trial on Netflix.