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Genre: eLearning Video / History
Know thy enemy. That's what the wisdom of history teaches us. And Adolf Hitler was surely the greatest enemy ever faced by modern civilization. Over half a century later, the horror and fascination still linger. No one is better able to explain the unexplainable about this man and his movement than Professor Thomas Childers. In these lectures, you will see what great teaching is all about.
Two Crucial Questions
Professor Childers has designed this course to answer two burning questions that have nagged generations for decades, ever since Hitler and Nazism were destroyed.
1) How could a man like Adolf Hitler and a movement like Nazism come to power in 20th-century Germany? An industrially developed country with a highly educated population, it lies within the very heart of Western Europe.
2) How were the Nazis able to establish the foundations of a totalitarian regime in such a short time and hurl all of Europe—and the world—into a devastating war that would consume so many millions of lives?
And the answers lead us to other questions:
Who voted for the Nazis and why?
How did the Nazis campaign?
What did they seem to stand for?
Why was there apparently so little resistance to them?
What made the regime popular at home?
How were Nazis able to seize control of the press, radio, courts, and police with so little trouble?
Can it happen again?
How can we make sure that it doesn't?
How did it all begin?
You start by exploring the catastrophic impact of World War I on Germany and how the war and the humiliating Treaty of Versailles crippled the Weimar Republic.
The Repercussions of the Versailles Treaty in Germany
Until the very end of World War I, despite enormous casualties in trench warfare and great sacrifices on the home front, Germany had appeared to be winning.
Then in November 1918, the roof suddenly caved in. To the shock of many Germans, Germany lost the war.
The new democratic government, the Weimar Republic, was forced by the victorious Allies to sign a humiliating treaty and begin its political life carrying a staggering burden. That treaty resulted in widened political divisions in German society, and created a setting for extreme nationalist movements to thrive.
There were short-term factors that contributed in Hitler's rise to power:
Grave economic problems confronted the Weimar government on which Hitler and his minions fed: chaotic hyperinflation of 1923, harsh stabilization of 1924, and the Great Depression
Deep cleavages—religious divisions, lingering regional loyalties, and growing social or class tensions—made nation-building in the new Germany difficult
The innovative modern campaign techniques Nazis used to exploit the economic hardships of the day: the first use in politics of exit polls, radio appeal, and use of aircraft by a candidate
The German voters who found the Nazis appealing.
Hitler in Power: The Third Reich
The second half of the course deals with the Third Reich—Nazism in power. These lectures answer the question of how President Hindenburg came to name Hitler as chancellor in January 1933, at a time when Nazi appeal was waning.
And they show how Hitler and his henchmen began systematically and ruthlessly breaking resistance, taking over the major institutions of state power and creating a totalitarian system of terror, propaganda, and pervasive regimentation.
Hitler's Wars: Why and How?
By 1935, with power now firmly in Nazi hands, the ideological core of the National Socialist movement began to reveal itself.
Professor Childers anatomizes Hitler's horrifying racial ideas and the policies adopted to transform those ideas into reality. He describes the Nazis' mounting repression of the Jewish population and the role of the SS in shaping and enforcing those amoral policies.
Hitler as Global Chess Player
Professor Childers next discusses Hitler's conduct of foreign policy between 1933 and 1939.
You will learn how Hitler outmaneuvered the apprehensive Western European powers and how and why he puzzled the world by entering into an accommodation with his deadly enemy, Stalin, on the eve of World War II.
You see why the Munich agreement was such an important turning point—the seeming triumph of National Socialism on the world stage.
The "Final Solution"
In his closing lectures, Professor Childers focuses on Hitler's war against the Jews from Mein Kampf to Auschwitz.
Hitler's war was not a traditional geopolitical conflict, not a grab for land and resources; it was a racial war as well. It is revealed most obviously in the ideological war against the Soviet Union.
Part of Hitler's motivating vision was to eliminate the enemy, the "Judeo-Bolshevist conspiracy." This meant not only a war of annihilation of the Soviet Union, it also meant the destruction of the European Jewish community.
Professor Childers shows how Hitler conducted his war against the Jews to the very end and how, after so much death and destruction, his evil empire itself was destroyed by Allied might.
1 The Third Reich, Hitler, and the 20th Century
2 The First World War and Its Legacy
3 The Weimar Republic and the Rise of the Nazi Party
4 The Twenties and the Great Depression
5 The Nazi Breakthrough
6 Hitler's Assumption of Power
7 Racial Policy and the Totalitarian State
8 Hitler's Foreign Policy
9 Munich and the Triumph of National Socialism
10 War in the West, War in the East
11 Holocaust—Hitler's War Against the Jews
12 The Final Solution
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