A book by a University of Aberdeen historian is to be turned into a major television series.
Hitler’s First War, by Professor Thomas Weber, will be dramatised for an international audience. It has been announced that France’s largest TV network has purchased the series which the Berlin-based UFA-Fiction produces for RTL in Germany.
The 10-hour series, to be called Hitler, will trace the Nazi leader's life from the end of World War I up to World War II and the Holocaust.
It will be based on Professor Weber’s research and he will act as historical advisor for the production by the Berlin-based UFA-Film, which was behind the Emmy-winning Generation War, and Beta Film,, the producers of the Oscar-winning Downfall.
Hitler’s First War challenges the belief that the First World War politicised, radicalised, and ‘made’ Hitler, presenting a Hitler who returned from the trenches of the First World War in a confused state of mind and with political attitudes that were fluctuating between ideas of the Left and the Right.
In writing the book, Professor Weber traced some remarkable new sources in order to reach his conclusions, including the relatives of the Jewish officer, Hugo Gutmann, who proposed Hitler for the Iron Cross, They also include secret service files on Fritz Wiedemann, who went on to become the Fűhrer’s personal adjutant in the peacetime years of the Third Reich but later fell out with the Dictator, and files on Karl Mayr, one of Hitler's first patrons who later tuned against him. It will be through the interaction of Hitler, Mayr, Wiedemann, and Gutmann between 1918 and 1945 that the series will portray Hitler and his interaction with German society anew.
Professor Weber said: “It is a privilege to see my book and the research behind it dramatised in this way for a large TV audience.
“Over the years a great deal has been written about Hitler but so little of this focused on his life in the years of the First World War. Hitler’s First War uncovered many myths in regard to his service and motivations following the conflict. More importantly it demonstrated how Hitler’s lies about his war years became political tools in his hands for the rest of his life.”
“The TV series will be an opportunity to demonstrate through the interaction of Hitler, Wiedemann, Gutmann, and Mayr what the mechanisms of his success were. The series is also a great opportunity to demask Hitler. We all think we know what Hitler looks like and what he sounded like. Yet in reality we only know the Hitler that Nazi propaganda wanted us to see - there is only one secret sound recording of Hitler where we experience an unchoreographed Hitler, who sounds very different indeed from the Hitler we all think we know.
“I hope the dramatisation can bring the ‘real’ Hitler to the fore; and by doing that we can understand much better how Hitler operated and could be so successful. The point is of course that this is not based on speculation but on meticulous research and by translating that research into images and sound we can destroy the images based on propaganda that are in all our heads and thus trigger new discussion about Hitler historically and what he means for the present.”
Production for the TV series is set to begin in 2016.