Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

TV review: The Man Who Crossed Hitler

BBC2

    Ed Stoppard (left) and Ian Hart
    Ed Stoppard (left) and Ian Hart

    There is nothing more gripping than a good courtroom drama. But how about a courtroom drama where the star witness is Adolf Hitler and the man cross-examining him is a Jewish lawyer?

    Mark Hayhurst's intelligent film portrayed Hans Litten, the lawyer who in 1930 really did interrogate Hitler in a Berlin court, as a brave and audacious man. Despite threats against himself and his family, Litten thought it was worth bringing Germany's future leader to the stand to prove that a Brownshirt attack on a nightclub had been authorised by the leaders of the Nazi party.

    The utterly believable script prompted wonderful performances from Ed Stoppard as Litten and from Bill Paterson as the craven judge Ohnesorge. Ian Hart managed to pull off Hitler – always a tough gig – catching the right balance between fanaticism, rage and self-important pomposity.

    From the start, the fear provoked by the Nazis was palpable. Litten's father wanted to stop his son from taking Hitler on in court. "We gave you the most precious thing a Jew could have in Germany - a baptism," he pleaded.

    Litten's plan was to show up Hitler for his hypocrisy in agreeing to submit to the rule of law while setting his stormtroopers on his political adversaries at every
    opportunity. Litten's failure to receive the backing of Ohnesorge meant that an important opportunity to discredit Hitler was missed.

    Three years later, the Nazis were in power and Litten was among the first to be rounded up. After five years in Dachau, he committed suicide in 1938. Had Litten kept quiet as his father had wanted, he would still have died - with the rest of the Jews in the death camps. Germany could have done with a few more like him.

Features

I couldn't cope without Shabbat

Rachel Creeger

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I couldn't cope without Shabbat
Features

Arts Agenda

Anonymous

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Arts Agenda
Features

You didn't always have to be Jewish

Michael Freedland

Thursday, May 19, 2016

You didn't always have to be Jewish
Features

Making art from an intimate ritual

Charlotte Oliver

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Making art from an intimate ritual
Features

The man behind the masks

Charlotte Oliver

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The man behind the masks
Features

The power of humour and how to spot a Jew

Ashley Blaker

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The power of humour and how to spot a Jew
Features

'I always felt something was missing'

Charlotte Oliver

Thursday, September 15, 2016

'I always felt something was missing'
Features

Making up her own YouTube success

Lianne Kolirin

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Making up her own YouTube success
Features

Me? Well, I am a good Jewish joker

Mark Maier

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Me? Well, I am a good Jewish joker