Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Though it takes several liberties with facts and motivations, The Hitler Gang is a reasonably absorbing chronicle of Hitler's rise to power. An obscure German corporal in WW1, Adolf Hitler (played by Robert Watson, better known for his comic portrayals of Der Fuhrer), embittered by the Versailles treaty, joins a minor-league politcal party called the National Socialists. With the help of some clever "spin doctors" like Joseph Goebbels (Martin Kosleck) and Heinrich Himmler (Luis van Rooten), Hitler takes the Nazis over from the ineffectual Captain Roehm (Roman Bohnen). Arrested for such political imbroglios as the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler is sentenced to a short prison term, during which he writes his manifesto "Mein Kampf." Quickly enlisting the support of other disenfranchised losers, Hitler becomes a force to conjure with, finally winning political respectability when a senile General Von Hindenburg (Sig Ruman) appoints him to a choice political post. With the death of Hindenburg in 1933, Hitler is able to completely dominate the German government, whereupon he immediately embarks upon indoctrinating Germany's youth in the "glories" of Nazism, slaughtering his political enemies, and fomenting the second World War. Though the film was made in 1944, it ends on a note of hope, assuring the audience that Hitler and his minions could not long endure the Allied counterrattack (the filmmakers were far less certain of this than they would be some six months later). Understandably propagandistic, The Hitler Gang cannot be termed 100 percent accurate: For example, Hitler's persecution of the Jews is depicted as a cynical political tactic rather than the end result of deep-set European anti-semitism, while the death of his niece Geli Raubal (Pobly Dur) is misrepresented as a murder rather than a suicide. But considering the lies that were being spewed forth by the Nazis on a daily basis, the few factual gaffes in The Hitler Gang are eminently forgivable. The film's only real drawback is Robert Watson's two-dimensional portrayal of the title character, though even such accomplished actors as Alec Guinness and Derek Jacobi have found Hitler a virtually unplayable part.
military, war, battle-fatigue, campaign, enemy, gangster, Germany, history, hospital, imprisonment, leader, life, national, Nazism, portrait, prison, release, suffering, writing, power