Thursday 10 Jul 2014
Bringing this remarkable true story to life, Ian Hart (Five Daughters) and Ed Stoppard (Upstairs, Downstairs) lead an all-star cast in The Man Who Crossed Hitler, a revealing one-off drama that tells the true story of a Jewish lawyer who challenged Hitler – and paid with his life.
In the summer of 1931, with Germany on the brink of economic collapse, and the city of Berlin turning into a paramilitary war-zone, the audacious young prosecutor Hans Litten (Stoppard) chose to summon a star witness to a trial of Nazi thugs. In spite of the risk to his own safety and against the advice of those who love him, Litten forced rising political star Adolf Hitler (Hart) to make a sensational appearance in the witness stand of Berlin's central criminal court.
Litten aimed to expose the true character of Hitler and his politics to the German public, to reveal his hypocrisy and his violent ambitions, and in doing so, halt the electoral success of the Nazi Party.
In a humiliating and hostile cross-examination, Hitler was forced to account for his political beliefs, his contempt for the law and his desire to destroy German democracy. For a brief moment, Hitler's political future was genuinely in the balance.
Hitler survived the ordeal, but it was a close encounter which he never forgave and for which Litten paid a heavy price.
The supporting cast includes Bill Paterson as judge Kurt Ohnesorge, Anton Lesser as Litten's friend and left-wing journalist Rudolf Olden, Sarah Smart and John Hollingworth as Litten's close confidants Margot and Max Furst – and Ruth McCabe as Hans Litten's mother.
The Man Who Crossed Hitler has been commissioned by Martin Davidson, Commissioning Editor, History and Business and the BBC executive producers are Cassian Harrison and James Hayes. The producers at Hardy Pictures are Susan Horth and Lucy Bassnett-McGuire and the director is Justin Hardy. The drama was written by award-winning writer and producer Mark Hayhurst.
The original drama marks the latest high-profile drama Hardy Pictures has produced for the BBC; other titles include Spanish Flu: The Forgotten Fallen, starring Bill Paterson, Charlotte Riley and Mark Gatiss, which earned Bill a BAFTA nomination in 2009. Hardy Pictures have an award-winning track record creating factual drama from true stories, including the Bafta-nominated Relief Of Belsen, starring Iain Glen and Corin Redgrave, and innovative period crime series City Of Vice for Channel 4.
The Man Who Crossed Hitler further demonstrates the BBC's commitment to providing a broad range of compelling history content across all channels and platforms and to developing the genre.
The Man Who Crossed Hitler is also simulcast on the award-winning BBC HD channel, available through Freesat channel 109, Freeview channel 54, Sky channel 169 and Virgin Media channel 187.