International Campaign for Real History


Quick navigation

[Images added by this website]

Thursday 1 May 2003


Hitler at 1934 Party Rally
Hitler, friends, at 1934 Nuremberg Party Rally (from
David Irving, "Hitler's War" (Millennium Edition, 2002))

[GERMAN TV viewers to vote for greatest-ever Germans: some restrictions apply]

Germany to buy Great Britons TV format from BBC

By Andrew Gimson

(Filed: 01/05/2003)

GERMANY is to stage a version of the BBC's Great Britons series -- but has banned Hitler. The public broadcaster ZDF is to produce the series jointly with BBC Worldwide.

David Irving comments:

SO Germany, which has always boasted that it is the most democratic Germany that ever existed, is still having problems with the long shadow cast by the Führer.
   General Alfred Jodl, one of their great WW2 strategists, found while writing in his Nuremberg death-cell that he still could not decide if Hitler earned the title "The Great". I quoted this in the introduction to my biography, Hitler's War.
   Whatever governments may decree, public opinion is still fickle; it often differs cruelly from published opinion.
   The people vote in odd and clandestine ways -- and governments vote too: every ban imposed by Berlin, like this one, is a mark of recognition that the public, if free, might vote in the opposite sense to the regime. Perhaps it even serves as an outright challenge to do so.
   Equally, every footstep taken by the people up the Obersalzberg mountainside -- two millions every year -- to visit the now vanished ruins of Hitler's Berghof and his still existing teahouse on the summit is also, in its way, a gruesome vote in favour of the Führer.
   To make this point, I once asked, at a mass meeting in Passau, "One wonders how many people, fifty years from now, will take the trouble to go see where President Ernst von Weizsäcker once took tea!" -- a piece of lèse majesté which was greeted with roars of laughter and applause; and these too were in their way votes for That Man (and I don't mean ITMA's Tommy Handley).
   Meanwhile, the BBC has just announced a TV series to be based on a new public opinion poll: The 100 Most Hated Englishmen. No Downing-street ban here on mentioning the name of Tony Blair: It seems that our democracy is made of sterner stuff than Germany's.

IF German readers will assist, we will provide a link to the website where voting for Germany's Greatest can begin.

Members of the public will be allowed to vote for whichever German they most admire -- as long as their choice does not fall on their former Führer or any of his acolytes.

Germany is the first country to buy the format from the BBC, but a spokesman for BBC Worldwide revealed last night that France, Italy, Russia, India, Australia and the United States have also expressed interest in the format. Negotiations with the individual countries are at various stages, he said -- and there might even one day be a Greatest in the World series. "In 10 years' time, because of technology becoming more global, maybe there will be ways of doing it on a global scale, with partners all teaming up together." In Britain, the public were free to nominate any Briton they liked for the competition -- which was won by Winston Churchill -- but the Germans will face a restricted choice.

Instead of allowing the public to vote for whomever they choose, the programme makers will set up a panel of experts to choose 250 names.

The public will then be able to add another 50 -- non-Nazi -- names to the list before voting takes place, probably in July. The presenter has not yet been chosen.

Peter Arens, who is in editorial charge of the project at ZDF, said yesterday:

"We certainly won't allow National Socialists to be put up as candidates. We want people who were important and significant for German history or German culture, but certainly not convicted criminals or people who committed crimes against humanity."

Mr Arens denied that ZDF's decision was undemocratic, but German historians yesterday expressed dismay at the ruling. Professor Michael Stürmer, one of Germany's leading modern historians, said of the decision to exclude Hitler:

"That's bizarre. You've taken some of the fun and some of the drama out of the game.

"It's not that anyone can find the Nazis in any way agreeable or acceptable, but greatness is not about being nice or moral. If you follow [the great historian] Jakob Burckhardt, greatness is Caesar; greatness is Bonaparte."

In Berlin, Wilfried Rogasch, the historian, said there was absolutely no danger that Hitler would have won the competition: "I promise you, he would not figure among the first three. I'm not so sure about the first 10, because there are always silly young boys who want to provoke the public." Goethe, who, by general consent, is Germany's greatest writer, emerged yesterday as an early front-runner in the contest, with both Professor Sturmer and Dr Rogasch saying they would vote for him. ZDF confirmed that for the purposes of the competition, the definition of who is "German" will be loosely drawn, to include Austrians (except for Hitler and his cronies) and the many great figures in German culture who chose to leave Germany, including Karl Marx, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud and Marlene Dietrich.

The wide definition of Germanness also means there will be no need to decide which of Germany's sublime list of composers -- including Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Wagner -- belong more to Austria than to Germany. It will be surprising if several of them are not found in the final 10. Otto von Bismarck, who created and then dominated the united Germany in the second half of the 19th century, is certain to attract some votes from German conservatives, but he, too, is seen by so many as such a pernicious figure that he has little chance of winning.

Among post-war German Chancellors, Konrad Adenauer, Willy Brandt and Helmut Kohl will all attract some support, though Mr Kohl's reputation has suffered since the disclosure of the corrupt financial dealings by which he maintained his grip on power.

Sporting stars such as the footballer Franz Beckenbauer, the tennis players Boris Becker and Steffi Graf, and the racing driver Michael Schumacher, may well out-poll the politicians. The contest will also be a test of the popularity of the model Claudia Schiffer, now that she is married to a Briton.

Meanwhile, the exclusion of the Nazis creates a problem about how to treat the East German Communists, who were opposed to the Nazis. Many Germans, however, regard them as murderers because of the deaths of East Germans shot while trying to escape across the Berlin Wall.


© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2003.



Free download: David Irving, Hitler's War
Outrage as German town, Bitterfeld, lists Hitler as 'honorary citizen'
© Focal Point 2003 e-mail:  write to David Irving