Alternate History of Adolf Hitler
Screenplay by Alan Nafzger
LOGLINE: “Die Filmemacher” – The Adolf Hitler we know became the worst warmonger in history. In an alternative history, Adolf Hitler rejects politics for film and becomes the greatest German actor/filmmaker of all time. We see brief glimpses of his maniacal character as he weaves his way to destruction. Basically Hitler becomes the Charlie Chaplin of Germany.
In our reality, the Adolf Hitler became the worst warmonger in history. In an alternate reality Adolf Hitler becomes the greatest German actor filmmaker of all time. In this screenplay, Hitler reaches the status of our Charlie Chaplin, actor, celebrity and studio chief. His effect on politics is miniscule at best. We see brief glimpses of his maniacal character.
While far from sympathetic, Hitler vacillates between pro and anti-nazi loyalties. He is largely only a filmmaker who is caught in the middle of ’30s and ’40s German politics.
Hitler entertains millions with a unique dark comedy. This film is divided into three acts. One deals with Hitler’s early life and military career, the second looks at his rise to celebrity and the third act outlines his fame.
Born (1889, April 20) – Adolf Hitler is born in an inn in the Austrian village of Braunau-am-Inn. He is the third child of Alois Hitler and his third wife Klara, but the other two children had died in infancy. Adolf has a half-brother, Alois Jr, and a half sister, Angela, from Alois’ previous marraige. Adolf’s younger brother, Edmund, would be born in 1896. Another sister, Paula, would be born in 1896 and would outlive Adolf, dying in 1960.
Childhood games (1895) – Hitler’s family moves closer to the city of Linz and Hitler starts school in the village of Fischlham. He sees some of the first silent motion pictures imported from America. His teacher influences him and he acts in plays. Adolf quickly becomes the leader of his group of clownish boys who put on plays outside of school. He is highly influenced by his neighbor boy, who will later become a homosexual. Hitler is captivated and highly influenced by the effeminate neighbor.
They can’t get girls at this age to participate so the neighbor plays the part of women in the plays. Other boys enjoy games like “Cowboys and Indians” and organizes reenactments of the Franco-Prussian War, which Hitler and his group reject.
Swastika (1897) – Hitler attends a Benedictine monastry school in Lambach where he sang in the choir and had allusions of joining the priesthood. He sees the church chancel as another stage. He first sees the swastika there engraved into crests in the building’s walls. This “crooked cross” was an ancient religious symbol and was to become the symbol of his future film company.
Brother dies (1900, February 2) – Edmund dies of measles and the family is distraught, no-one more than Adolf. He is torn between his parents. The overwhelming love and affection Adolf receives from his mother is offset by the physical beatings and emotional distance he gets from his father. Alois wants his son to aim for a steady job in the civil service, but young Adolf refuses to set himself on a career path. He dreams of becoming an actor.
Alois sends Adolf to a technical high school in Linz where his grades and behavior take a sharp turn for the worse. Adolf grows a love of Germany and stories of heroic German men.
Father dies (January 3, 1903) – Alois dies suddenly of a lung hemorrhage at an inn where he had gone to drink his morning glass of wine. Adolf is forced to change schools because of “disruptive” behavior; which actually means he was picked on by the other boys. He leaves resolute to act.
Leaves school (1905 – 1907) – Hitler uses a lung ailment as an excuse to take time off from school and eventually drops out altogether. He spends his time going for walks, attending the theater in Linz, writing plays, designing theater sets and dreaming. Hitler makes no effort to get a job, he considers himself far beyond that.
Rejected (1907) – Hitler tries and fails to join a theater troop in Vienna. The leaders says he should focus on politics instead.
Mother dies (December 21, 1907) – Klara Hitler dies from breast cancer and Adolf is overcome with grief. He decides to move to Vienna and live off his inheritance and orphan’s allotment until he can get the attention and acceptance of the theater group. And outside the theater as a street performer, Hitler makes great progress with his art. In fact, many people planning on attending the theater are distracted on the sidewalk by Hitler’s pantomime. Feeling threatened by the competition, the theater group continues to refuse him and they do not allow him in the door.
Just scrapes by (1909) – Hitler runs out of money and moves into a homeless shelter in Vienna. There He becomes friends with another resident, Reinhold Hanish, who suggests the two can make money by making movies. Hanish has had a job as a photographers assistant and knows how to develop film. The two young men steal camera and film equiptment.
Hitler starts to film scenes of Vienna’s landmarks and the smooth-talking Hanish sells them to the film theaters. They sell enough to be able to move into Männerheim, a kind of flop house for men. But the partners eventually have a falling out over money and Hitler later has Hanish killed in 1938 at the height of this celebrity.
Hitler comes to despise Bolsheviks (old-school communists) and Jews, who he sees as a power and money hungry race.
Visits Great Britain (1912) Hitler visits his half brother, Alois Jr, who is living in Liverpool. Hitler is fascinated by Britain’s industrial strength and wants to keep living there, at one point renting an apartment of his own. But with only a few words of English, Hitler fails to find work acting and is forced to return to Vienna.
Munich (1913) – Hitler moves to the Bavarian capital of Munich, Germany, to avoid enlistment in the Austrian Army. The Austrian authorities demand he joins up in 1914, but Hitler fails the physical and is allowed to return to Munich.
War (1914) – Hitler joins a Bavarian regiment of the German Army after World War I breaks out. He serves in Belgium and France as a private. Hitler wins several awards for bravery including the Iron Cross First Class for saving his unit from being mistakenly shelled from behind by German artillery.
The details of the heroism are as follows. Hitler’s group moves up and overtakes an enemy trench. Hitler is traveling with a message back to the German artillery with instructions not to fire on the new position. But he suddenly finds himself surrounded by the enemy. Hitler convincingly fakes being blinded by gas; it is superb acting. He recklessly wraps a rag around his eyes and can barely see out. He draws his pistol and reveals himself 4 or 5 soldiers. They have compassion for him and don’t kill him. Suddenly when they are off their guard he shots each of them with his pistol. He chuckles and continues with the message to the artillery.
Wounded (October 7, 1916) – Hitler suffers a serious thigh wound at the Battle of the Somme. This was one of the bloodiest battle of the war and it left over one million dead. Hitler is sent back to Munich to recover and this is when he clips his moustache into its familiar form. This moustache will become his trademark as an actor and it will become the trait that most people use to identify him. As an actor, later in the firm Hitler looks much like Charlie Chaplin’s portrayal in “The Dictator”.
Rejoins his unit (March 1, 1917) – Hitler tries to entertain people in Munich as he recovers but the mood is somber and he volunteers to go back to the front and lives through rat-infested trenches and gas attacks. But he is popular and the only source of entertainment.
Blinded (October, 1918) – Hitler is really blinded in a British chlorine gas attack near Ypres soon before the end of the war. He is dismayed when Germany surrenders on November 11 with the Treaty of Versailles.
The treaty imposes harsh sanctions on Germany and Hitler, along with other nationalists, sees it as a “stab in the back” by influential German Jews and Marxists.
Attempts to enter politics (1919) – Back in Munich, Hitler becomes an army informer “weeding out” fellow soldiers who had supported Marxist uprisings in Munich earlier that year. Hitler discovers his talent for public speaking in several outbursts against the Jews at political meetings. By September Hitler is an army corporal investigating a group called the German Workers’ Party. He is impressed with the group’s anti-Semetic, nationalistic doctrine and joins up, becoming the seventh member of the party’s committee.
Steps forward (1920) – Hitler becomes a popular public speaker noted for his passionate tirades against the Treaty of Versailles, the Jews, Marxists and anyone he doesn’t like. Maladjusted ex-soldiers swell the party’s ranks. Hitler meets a man that convinces him to make propaganda films for the party. Hitler jumps at the opportunity to make films and stops informing. A man named Karl Fiehler takes the job of making speeches and eventually becomes the party leader. It is Karl Fiehler who will lead Germany to her destruction and Hitler is his man to film it.
Hitler is the center of several of the party’s propaganda films. One film demands the union of all Germans into a greater German Reich. Another film rejects the Treaty of Versailles. And a third film pushes the idea that no Jew be considered a German. The reaction of the public is positive and Hitler is loved, but the German people really don’t act on the politics. Hitler’s work is mistaken for entertainment and not propaganda. When the group is renamed the National Socialist German Workers Party (or Nazi Party) Hitler leaves and forms his own film company.
Der Führer ( July 29, 1921) – Hitler is the Führer (leader) of the Third Reich Film Corporation. At first this is a small and struggling effort. Later it will grow to be the largest film studio in Germany.
Beer Hall Kidnapping (November 8-9, 1923) – Hitler and his group of filmmakers need money for larger and larger productions and resport to defrauding investors. When things break down, Hitler and the studio employees take many of the investors hostage during a meeting at a beer hall.
Hitler is in an impossible situation. The next day the police rescue the investors. A firefight breaks out with the police and nine of his theater group and one police are killed.
Hitler narrowly escapes serious injury and is arrested. He is put on trial for fraud and kidnapping. Hitler uses the courtroom floor as a stage to perform. He uses the opportunity to push the NAZI nationalist agenda. A silent film is made and newspapers quote him at length he wins support across Germany. The judges begrudgingly find him guilty and sentence him to five years in Landsberg prison.
In his prison cell, Hitler performs in front of a mirror. He reads books, writes plays for films and then performs scenes in front of the mirror. When he leaves prison he has a very large stack of paper ready to film.
Freed (December 1924) – Hitler is released from prison after serving a little over a year of his sentence. Having learned from the mistakes of the Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler sets about gaining money to make film by legal means rather than through force. He then reorganizes his Third Reich Film Corporation. He makes several dark comedies.
Quiet years (1926 – 1929) – Hitler later describes this as one of the happiest periods of his life in which he spends his days dreaming about power and of Germany’s glorious future. He settles into a country house in Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps. He meets the daughter of his step sister Angela, the 20-year-old Geli Raubal, and quickly falls in love with her. He makes soft romantic films.
But events soon conspire to Bring Hitler down to earth. The Third Reich Film Corporation has reached true profitability. But the Wall Street Crash of 1929 causes panic and fear around the world. The Great Depression has begun and Hitler knows his opportunity has arrived. After a brief scare, Hitler learns that movie ticket sales are actually up.
Busy at work (1930) – Hitler works non-stop making the type of films that the people seem to want. They promise work for all, business prosperity and a return to Germany’s former glory. The people love them and their optimistic tone. In the September 14 elections his old political party (the Nazis) gain 107 votes in the German Reichstag, becoming the country’s second-biggest party. Hitler isn’t happy. He feels he is indirectly responsible for their success, but no one mentions him in the press and no NAZI comes to congratulate him.
Suicide (1931) – Hitler’s niece Geli, who has moved with him back to Munich, becomes increasingly depressed and isolated. The couple have many arguments and Hitler eventually confines her to the apartment when he is away. Around this time Hitler starts seeing another young woman, Eva Braun. Geli commits suicide in the apartment by shoting herself through the heart with his own pistol on September 18. Hitler is devastated.
Celebrity (1932-1933) – Hitler becomes a German citizen and make a film “Freedom and Bread”. This film propels Hitler to the very top of celebrity. Hitler strikes a deal to support his old friend the ambitious and now millionaire, Reinhold Hanish, in his bid to buy and build increasingly more theaters.
On July 31, 1932 the Third Reich Films becomes the biggest and most powerful film company in Germany but Hitler is still denied the company’s leading position. There is a period of backstabbing and corporate intrigue between Hitler and Hanish throughout the second half of 1932. Hanish becomes corporation’s chairman in December, but soon resigns (under threat) and Hitler is takes that position on January 30, 1933.
Later Hanish is found dead of mysterious circumstances. The audience will assume he was murdered by Hitler. We learn by watching the conflict between them over the control of the company that Hitler is capable of the task.
Nazi leader Karl Fiehler becomes the leader of Germany and the exact moment Hitler takes control of the film studio. Also important is that the studio owns a large string of theaters to show the films they make.
Fire (February 27, 1933) – The Nazis stage a fire at the German parliament in Berlin, the Reichstag. Karl Fiehler claims that communists are behind the arson and the SA and SS arrest, torture and execute thousands of communist supporters.
Hitler makes a film “The Fire” lampooning the Nazi ruse. In the film, Communists learn they are too be blamed and actually break into the building destroy the plumbing and flood and building before the fire can take hold.
Absolute power for Fiehler (1933) – On March 23 the Nazis’ “Enabling Act” passes in the Reichstag. This Act was officially called the “Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich” and effectively ended democracy, handing the dictatorship to Fiehler.
Almost immediately boycotts of Jewish-owned businesses are enforced and the Gestapo is formed in April. They first threaten Hitler and then simple bribe him to be make pro-Nazi propaganda films. Hitler agrees but makes no films he procrastinates.
The first mass burnings of books with ideas deemed “ungerman” take place in May. Hitler goes along with this because they are also burning the films of his competition, the Jewish filmmakers. Many of the Jewish owned theaters are confiscated and turned over to the Third Reich Film Corporation.
Purge (June 30 – July 1, 1933) – Fiehler stages a purge of the SA “brownshirts” in what’s called the Night of the Long Knives. The rowdy Nazi army was starting to become a problem for Fiehler. Its soldiers and leader Ernst Röhm saw themselves as part of a socialistic “people’s army” genuinely sympathetic to Soviet Russia. This wasn’t what Fiehler had in mind for Germany. He sends in his SS and dozens of brownshirts, including Röhm, are executed. The German Army and President Hindenberg hail the purge.
There are 85 members of the political opposition were assassinated, this consolidates Nazi power and quiets Hitler from any further dissent. Hitler makes several pro-Nazi films and shows them in his theaters.
President Hindenburg dies (August 2, 1934) – Fiehler announces a new “Führer law” to be voted on by the public in a plebicite. All German army officers and soldiers are made to swear a new oath of allegiance to him personally as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Fiehler wins the plebicite with over 90 per cent of the vote on August 19 officially becomes the Führer of Germany. Fiehler proclaims that there “will be no revolution in Germany for the next thousand years.”
Hitler makes a film, “Prelude to a Revenge”. This is a film about Germany taking revenge on the Western European powers, France and England.
1935 – Fiehler openly announces that Germany is ignoring the Treaty of Versailles and rearming.
1936 – Fiehler re-occupies the Rheinland area of Germany declared a demilitarized zone after World War I.
He tries unsuccessfully to forge an alliance with filmmakers in the United Kingdom.
Hitler makes a comedy movie about the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin.
1937, November 5 – Fiehler holds a secret meeting with his top military advisors, ordering them to make plans for the conquest of Eastern Europe and Russia.
1938 – Fiehler pressures Austria into unification with Germany (the Anschluss) and triumphs into Vienna on March 14.
September 30 – Hitler lampoons (on film) the “Munich Agreement” with the leaders of England, France and Italy. This act of so-called Allied “appeasement” paved the way for the German invasion of Czechoslovakia.
At the end of 1938 Fiehler is named Time Magazine’s “Man of the Year”, a dubious honor given to someone who “for better or for worse, …has done the most to influence the events of the year”.
1939, January 30 – Fiehler makes his so-called “Prophecy Speech” where he calls for genocide against the Jews.
-April 20 – It is Hitler’s 50th birthday and also the day of shooting the largest battle scene ever in German history history (about 50,000 extras took part). Hitler’s “The Battle of the Somme” is very profitable and Hitler buys an Alpine retreat, later dubbed the “Eagle’s Nest”.
1939, August 23 – Soviet leader Joseph Stalin accepts a Nazi Soviet pact of non-aggression called the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
– September 1 – Germany invades Poland, starting World War 2.
1940, May – Fiehler’s forces lash west, invading the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France.
– July – Fiehler orders the Luftwaffe to bomb English air bases as a prelude to a planned invasion. The German air force, the Luftwaffe, fails to win control of the skies in an airborn conflict known as the “Battle of Britain”. Fiehler then orders the bombing of English cities.
– August – Allied powers begin to bomb German cities and the Third Reich Film Company’s theaters are slowly destroyed. Over time, Hitler will have no buildings to show his film in.
– September — Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, comes to visit Hitler at his studio. He is first cajoled into supporting the government’s propaganda efforts and then he is threatened. Hitler is enraged and privately threatens to bring down the government and end the war with an anti-war film. After his rage he chooses to comply with Goebbels.
– September 27 – Fiehler signs the Tripartite Treaty with the leaders of Japan and Italy, which become known as the Axis Powers. German and Japanese guests come to study Hitler’s studio.
1941, June 22 – Fiehler breaks the Nazi Soviet Pact and starts Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia.
-December 2 – German troops come within 15 miles (24 km) of Moscow.
-December 11 – Fiehler declares war on the United States following the Japanese attach on Pearl Harbor.
1942 – German forces defeated at El Alamein in northern Africa.
1943, February – Fiehler’s 6th Army destroyed in the Battle of Stalingrad, turning the tide of the war.
1944, June 6 – D-Day landings in France. Some German leaders now see defeat as inevitable and start to plot against Fiehler.
-July 6 – An attempted assassination of Fiehler known as Operation Valkyrie takes place at his Wolf’s Lair headquarters in modern day Poland. Claus von Stauffenberg was one of the plot’s leaders. Fiehler’s reprisals result in the execution of about 5000 people. Hitler is on the list for arrest and execution but the orders are not carried out. Hitler agrees to live quietly at the Eagle’s Nest.
1945, April 12 – Hitler takes hope in American President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death. He hope that Fiehler will negotiate a peace with the US and the United Kingdom before Soviet troops overrun Germany.
Hitler makes his last film “The Dictator” about a heroic leader that in the end makes peace with the West to save Germany from the East. This film is largely projected onto the walls of collapsed German buildings and shows little profit.
Fiehler refuses to make peace with the West, believing the remaining German forces will be able to push the advancing Soviets back. They can’t.
One of Hitler’s top leaders Hermann Göring tries to assume leadership from the south of Germany. As flawed and heroin addicted as Göring is, Hitler sees him as a better alternative than Fiehler.
Göring gathered his friends, Hitler, Koller and Hans Lammers, the state secretary of the Reich Chancellery, and pulled his copy of Fiehler’s secret decree of 1941 from a safe. To all present, the wording was unambiguous—Göring was not only Fiehler’s designated successor, but was to act as leader if Fiehler ever became incapacitated. All agreed that by staying in Berlin, Fiehler faced certain death and had incapacitated himself from governing. Therefore, they believed, Göring had a clear duty to assume power as Fiehler’s replacement.
On 23 April, Göring sent a carefully worded telegram asking Fiehler to confirm that he was indeed to become the leader of Germany, in accordance with the 1941 decree. Göring added that if Fiehler did not reply by 22:00 that night, he would assume Hitler had lost his freedom of action and would assume leadership of the Reich as Fiehler’s deputy.
Upon the telegram’s arrival, Martin Bormann, who controlled access to Fiehler, seized upon it as evidence of ‘treason’ and Göring’s attempt to launch a coup d’etat. While Walther Hewel (Joachim von Ribbentrop’s liaison and a personal friend of Fiehler’s) attempted to justify Göring’s action by saying the bunker’s communications system could fail at any time and thus sever the command structure, Goebbels reinforced Bormann’s argument by agreeing that it smelled of a coup.
Hitler is filming a propaganda film for a new leader, when Göring is arrested. Hitler must abandon his equipment and run for his life.
Hitler escapes and runs back to the Eagle’s Nest. There is only a small staff there. Hitler once employed thousands making and showing film. It is a huge blow to his ego.
Hitler dictates his last will and testament on film and turns it into a political statement.
Hitler marries his long-time mistress Eva Braun.
The gasoline for the Eagle’s Nest generators is exhausted. And the radio’s cease to function. Hitler is totally isolated and fears for his life.
Fiehler commits suicide in the Führerbunker.
As cars approach the Eagle’s Nest, Hitler and Braun fear the worst and also commits suicide.
As the occupants arrive and discover the dead bodies, we learn the cars contain Hitler’s old friends and Third Reich Film Company employees. They were bringing good news of the end of the war.
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