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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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The Man Who Crossed Hitler – Hans Litten Vs. Adolf Hitler: To Stop A Tyrant

Ian Hart as Adolf Hitler

Accompanying Hayhurst's original period drama is a 60-minute documentary that combines expert interviews and original archive material to explore the extraordinary story of Litten himself.

Hans Litten Vs. Adolf Hitler: To Stop A Tyrant reveals the fascinating truth of Hans Litten's life and work, the circumstances which prompted Litten to take such an extraordinary risk with his own safety and reputation, and the fate that awaited him after his historic moment in the Berlin courtroom.

So what drove a 29-year-old lawyer with his whole career ahead of him, to challenge fascism so directly, pursuing the man at the top and forcing Hitler to account for the violence of his massive private army?

Germany at the time was a young democracy, riven by economic failure and political chaos as economic failure and the weaknesses of Weimar democracy prompted many to take direct political action on the streets. The dividing line between direct action and paramilitary violence became blurred and one night in November 1930 a group of Nazi paramilitaries, known as "Storm 33", opened fire on a private gathering of workers at the Eden Dance Palace in a poor neighbourhood of Berlin.

At the time of the attack, the Sturm Abteiling, the Nazi party's paramilitary wing, had 150,000 members, significantly larger than the official German army. Berlin was traditionally a left-wing city and the Eden Dance Palace victims' advocate, Hans Litten, believed he could use a criminal prosecution to end the rise of the Nazi party by exposing the ultimate source of Storm 33's violent actions.

1931 was a pivotal year in the story of Hitler's rise, the last moment it might all have been averted, as Litten came so close to achieving.

This moving and remarkable study of courage, politics and humanity combines original archive material and interviews with Litten's friends and family and survivors from the street-fighting political landscape of 1930s Berlin and historians and lawyers to illuminate Litten's tactics and choices. The documentary also explores more of Litten's story after the trial, his arrest and torture by the Nazis, and his courage in the concentration camps as Hitler's first political prisoner.

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