H-German Media Forum on the miniseries:  Hitler: the Rise of Evil
 

May/June 2003


Introduction:

On May 18 and 20th, during the "May Sweeps" period, CBS broadcast a four-hour film in two episodes entitled Hitler: The Rise of Evil, starring Robert Carlyle as Adolf Hitler.  The project of making a film on such a topic is always fraught with difficulties, but this particular project provoked the criticism of Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League last August. Subsequently, the ADL issued a statement praising the final version of the film, although some CBS affiliates nonetheless chose not to air the broadcasts. Thus the film may be of interest to those following the continuing struggle for custody of the memory of the Third Reich in the US, and particularly to those who engage in scholarly studies of the media.
   
Additionally, this broadcast merits our attention for various reasons:
 
  • it is based in part on the first volume of Ian Kershaw's recent acclaimed Hitler biography
  • it is likely that many current and future students will see it
  • it is clearly being promoted by CBS as a ratings booster
  • CBS is pitching it at as an educational film, offering a "teacher's guide" to the film on its website
  • it will contribute to the public perception of Hitler and the history of the Third Reich in the USA
 
For these reasons, the film raises questions about how we, as academic historians, see our role in intervening in and finding a language to address this broad audience for history, a matter given weight recently by AHA president James McPherson's pronouncements on the public history/academic history divide.
   
H-German organized a discussion forum that sought to address these and other issues.  Below you will find the three initial reviews as well as three preliminary responses solicited by the editors.  Further comments follow in the order of their posting to the list.

Susan Boettcher
David Imhoof
Paul Steege
H-German Editors


Initial Reviews

Solicited Responses


Discussion

Thursday, 22 May 2003
  Jane Caplan "Hitler: The Rise of Evil"

view

  Clare Spark "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" view
  Eric Kohler "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" view
 
Friday, 23 May 2003
  Ronald Shearer "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" view
  Charles Maier "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" view
 
Saturday, 24 May 2003
  M.E. Menninger
Clare Spark
"Hitler: The Rise of Evil" view
 
Tuesday, 27 May 2003
  Robert Whealey "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" view
  Harold Marcuse
Daniel Macfarlane
"Hitler: The Rise of Evil" view
  Mark Cole "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" view
 
Wednesday, 28 May 2003
  Nathan Stoltzfus "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" view
 
Friday, 30 May 2003
  Merel Boers
Clare Sparks
"Hitler: The Rise of Evil" (history and mass media) view
 
Saturday, 31 May 2003
  Peter Utgaard
Robert Whealey
"Hitler: The Rise of Evil" (history and mass media) view
 
Sunday, 1 June 2003
  Clare Sparks "Hitler: The Rise of Evil" view
 
Monday, 2 June 2003
  Charlotte Opfermann
Robert Whealey
Merel Boers
"Hitler: The Rise of Evil" view

 


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