Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Man Who Crossed Hitler - The Story of Hans Litten

The Man Who Crossed Hitler is a 2011 BBC film set in Berlin in the summer of 1931, dramatising the true story where lawyer Hans Litten subpoenas Adolf Hitler as a witness in the trial of some Nazi thugs. Hitler has formally renounced the use of political violence, and the young lawyer sees a chance to expose the Nazi leader's deceptions to the German establishment, thereby discrediting both Hitler and the Nazi Party.The film was given an alternative title Hitler on Trial which was used when the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States aired the work.

Hans Achim Litten (June 19, 1903 – February 5, 1938) was a German lawyer who represented opponents of the Nazis at important political trials between 1929 and 1932, defending the rights of workers during the Weimar Republic. During one trial in 1931, Litten subpoenaed Adolf Hitler, to appear as a witness, where Litten then cross-examined Hitler for three hours. Hitler was so rattled by the experience that, years later, he would not allow Litten's name to be mentioned in his presence. In retaliation, Litten was arrested on the night of the Reichstag Fire along with other progressive lawyers and leftists. Litten spent the rest of his life in one Nazi concentration camp or another, enduring torture and many interrogations. After five years and a move to Dachau, where his treatment worsened and he was cut off from all outside communication, he committed suicide. A number of memorials to him exist in Germany, but Litten was largely ignored for decades because his politics did not fit comfortably in either the west or the communist postwar propaganda. Not until 2011 was Litten finally portrayed in the mass media, when the BBC broadcast The Man Who Crossed Hitler, a television film set in Berlin in summer 1931.

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