Pulp Non-Fiction: The Sins of their fathers

It is said that those who fail to be disciples of history are doomed to repeat the errors of the past. This lesson is not lost on Guido Knopp, head of ZDF's history department....
December 1, 1997

It is said that those who fail to be disciples of history are doomed to repeat the errors of the past. This lesson is not lost on Guido Knopp, head of ZDF’s history department.

Hitler’s Henchmen, Knopp’s earlier 6 x 1 hour series, debuted in October in 40 countries, to eight million viewers in Germany alone, where it was the market leader the night it aired. Knopp has plans for two more eight-hour series on the faces behind the Third Reich.

The trilogy promises to be memorable. While the first six hours focused on the highest echelon of the Nazi party, Hitler’s Henchmen II: The Perpetrators, will be an eight-part look at those who worked behind the scenes. ‘Our motivation was to show the second rung, the second tier of the dictatorship, and ask the question: Were those people criminals, or were they ordinary Germans? Why did they think and act like they did?’ explains Knopp. ‘The series is supposed to show the whole spectrum, not only the actual criminals like Eichmann and Mengele, but also the people who would have acted differently under a different regime – like Rommel.’ The series is an examination of the motivation behind the often overlooked power-brokers of the Nazi empire.

Being German gave Knopp special insight into the material, some of which has been revisited time and again by other producers. ‘We are nearest to the eyewitnesses, and the archive material, as well as the psychology in general and the history,’ says Knopp. ‘This is the history of our parents and our grandparents, and we are all post-war children. We cannot be held responsible for Hitler, but we are responsible for remembering him so that it will never happen again.’

Produced by ZDF in cooperation with arte, The History Channel and Australia’s sps at an average of 500,000 marks per hour, the series premieres spring 1998.

Hitler’s People, the third installment in the trilogy, will take a look at the bystanders and the lowest-level perpetrators of the Nazi regime. The 8 x 1 hour production should be ready for fall of 2000.

In this report:
-Spotlight on Seventh Art
-The Sins of their fathers
>-Bright Lights, Big City
-Mothercorp and Itel go long

About The Author
Managing editor with realscreen publication, an international print and online magazine that covers the non-fiction film and television industries. Darah is an award-winning journalist who has spent over two decades covering a wide range of issues from real estate and urban development to immigration, politics and human rights, primarily with The Vancouver Sun. Prior to joining realscreen, she was editor of Stream Daily, realscreen's sister publication covering the dynamic global digital video industry. She also served a stint as a war reporter in Afghanistan for television and print, and was a national business blogger with Yahoo Canada.