“I had a dog like you once. She couldn’t get it into her head who her master was. She was stupid. Don’t be stupid.” - Hitler

Hitler: The Rise of Evil


(The Camera begins in the back of the room – now filled with perhaps 60 listeners – as Drexler makes an introduction.)

DREXLER: It is my pleasure to introduce to you our guest speaker for the evening. Many of you may remember him from his comments at our last meeting. Please welcome Herr Adolf – (checking his notes) – Hitler.

(There is no applause as Hitler takes the podium. He is incredibly nervous, already sweating profusely. He clears his throat and begins – his voice barely audible.)

Hitler: the Rise of Evil

HITLER: When I was a boy, I heard –

(Beside him, Drexler whispers:)

DREXLER: Louder.

(Hitler takes a breath and speaks somewhat louder.)

HITLER: I heard the story of the Holy Grail, and how it could only be found by one who was pure of heart.

(He pauses to survey the room. His audience is none too attentive – of the people present, twenty are listening. The others talk among themselves, drink their beer.)

HITLER: Indeed we have a history of purity in this country – there’s never been a nation like ours.



(As the Camera continues circling the room, Hitler addresses yet another party meeting, attended by perhaps a hundred people. Only slightly more confident, he is still reading his speech from the notes he made. Perhaps a quarter are listening to him – a few get up to leave. Hitler must practically shout over the ambient noise – people chatting among themselves, ordering beer and food.)

HITLER: But we have fallen on hard times – our military in tatters, our economy collapsing – but our problem isn’t weakness or poverty, it’s indifference.

(Looking up he sees the indifference in this very room – men gossiping, drinking, eating, laughing at each other’s jokes – pay little or no attention to him. Losing patience he puts down his prepared speech and erupts in anger, improvising:)

HITLER: Is anyone listening?! That’s the problem nowadays, isn’t it?! NO ONE CARES!!!

(People look up, beginning to pay attention.)

HITLER: No wonder we’re approaching extinction! Everyone loves their gossip, their beer –



(Standing by a newsstand, Hitler passes out fliers to passing PEDESTRIANS, fliers which invite them to come hear him speak. As he does so he notices -)

HITLER (O.S.): – but no one cares about their country!

(- an article in the Communist Voice: “Pride As A Weapon!”)

HITLER (O.S.): Pride is a weapon –



(The Camera continues circling the room – now filled with several hundred people, Fritz Gerlich among them, listening as the speech flows on. The Ticket-Taker is especially impressed.)

HITLER: – a sword to wield against our enemies! Don’t be deceived – they are strong, stronger than we are. And it’s not the French or the English I’m talking about – our enemies live among us! The Socialists, the Communists, the foreign invaders who have come to our country to destroy our factories and take over our lives!

(Applause. Hold on Gerlich.)

GERLICH (O.S.): In the six months since the Communist government was put down, the new German democracy has given birth to dozens of political factions –



(Gerlich dictates to Frau Schmidt.)

GERLICH: – and none is growing more rapidly than the German Workers’ Party, newly dubbed the Party of the National Socialists –



(A Communist Speaker wearing a red armband and speaking on a lamppost is attacked by the Ticket-Taker, torn from his post, and chased down the street.)

GERLICH (O.S.): – whose fiery speaker Adolf Hitler preaches against the influence of foreign invaders. His rhetoric is contagious.

HITLER (O.S.): And who among them are the filthiest –



(The Camera continues its swing around the beerhall, this time filled with five hundred people.)

HITLER: – greediest, most diseased? Who alone are responsible for the moral decadence that riddles our society?


(Hitler picks up the cue without a breath.)

HITLER: Yes, the Jews, who call themselves Germans, but who are now and who have always been unwelcome and unwanted! And they are everywhere!

(This remark gets the crowd cheering, applauding, whistling and stomping their approval – which fuels Hitler’s fire.)

HITLER: Invading our government, stripping us of our savings, raping our families and our heritage!

(Suddenly something clicks inside him and his passion, raw and exuberant, almost sexual in its intensity, takes over.)

HITLER: My friends, I tell you, this is war – a war that is soon to turn! The invaders will become the victims!!!

(Wild enthusiasm. Hitler smiles – the deeply-satisfied smile of a man who has achieved orgasm, whose life has finally found a direction.)

The Story

This is the story of the fall and rise of Adolf Hitler, from his birth through his triumphant appointment as Chancellor of Germany, and the people who aided him, fought him, defended him, vilified him.

The Backstory

It’s no secret that this was a troubled production. I was brought in to do a complete rewrite on the script after CBS had greenlighted the movie and the original writer was fired. Never have I worked on a show that had so many cooks in the kitchen, all of them talented, but not necessarily at working with each other. The film was already in pre-production by the time I handed in an outline. I was hired in September – I had until the end of October to turn in a new draft of four hours. That deadline was moved to mid-November, then mid-December, and I didn’t turn in my last scene until the end of January. I spent five weeks in Prague writing and re-writing and re-re-writing, and to tell you the truth I was so exhausted I had no objectivity whatsoever regarding the pages I was churning out.

Why was it such a mess? When CBS announced the movie in June of 2002, they simply didn’t expect the negative reaction they received in the press. The media was all over this one – the anti-Defamation League condemned the very idea of doing a movie about “Young Hitler” (as CBS so insensitively promoted it). “Are we going to see him dating?” asked one cynical reporter. To the very end overwrought passion led to unfortunate decisions: Producer Ed Gerlich was fired after the film’s completion for making a political remark regarding freedom of speech that was scripted for him by others (and which – by his firing – proved the point he was trying to make.) Eventually the Anti-Defamation League praised the finished product to the sky, and many of the reviewers were quite complementary – it even received an Emmy nomination. But several people commented on how much better it could have been if so many people hadn’t been looking over, analyzing, and re-analyzing every creative decision. How right they were. The final film turned out to be quite fine, something I’m very proud of. But oh, what it could have been….