Airs Sunday, August 25 at 8:00 PM on WVIZ/PBS
In the summer of 1931, a young lawyer called Hans Litten put rising political star, Adolf Hitler, in the witness box of a Berlin court. He wanted to expose Hitler’s hypocrisy and secret commitment to violence and shatter the Nazi party’s political respectability. In an audacious and hostile cross-examination, Hitler was forced to defend his beliefs, his ambitions, his methods and the essence of Nazism, in open court. Litten wanted to challenge the public as Germany and the rest of Europe seemed to be sleep-walking to fascism. If Litten’s warnings had been taken seriously, Hitler’s financial support might well have collapsed. There would have been no Nazi election victory. No Reichstag fire, no Third Reich, no Final Solution. Litten didn’t win, but Hitler never forgot and once the Nazis were in power, Litten was arrested and imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp where he ultimately committed suicide. A brave and complex individual, Litten was left-wing, Jewish, and passionately committed to the idea of justice. This documentary explores Litten’s personal story while also examining the broader historical and ethical debate. It discovers the consequences of Litten’s heroism both for himself and for those closest to him, tracking his tragic journey from court room to suicide.