“She was not an avid Nazi. She just didn’t care and looked away. That’s what I think makes her guilty.”
— Florian Weigensamer, co-director of A German Life (2016), the story of Joseph Goebbels’ 105-year-old personal secretary Brunhilde Pomsel, one of the last surviving witnesses to the Nazi regime’s Berlin end game in 1945.
My father raised me on tales of World War II, during which he found himself in the Pacific Theater for three years. Perhaps because of this experience, his major subsequent interest was with wartime events occurring in Europe, a place he never saw.
My own obsessions were different: Europe and World War I prior to my father’s war, and the Cold War after it. I’m not even sure there was such a thing as World War II. To me, an 80-year war began in 1912 in the Balkans and ended (maybe) in the 1990s, when the Yugoslav civil war finally cooled.
Still, on occasion I’m prone to his generation’s fascination with Hitler and all things Nazi, and it’s strange to have missed The Goebbels Experiment (2005) until now.
This highly recommended documentary’s narration is drawn entirely from the diaries of Goebbels, so if you’re unfamiliar with his life and career, a refresher might be in order.
From the Revealing Journals of a Propaganda Mastermind, by Jeannette Catsoulis (New York Times)
… At a time when much of our news and entertainment media is controlled by a handful of corporations, “The Goebbels Experiment” is a cautionary reminder that equal access to the machinery of ideas may be society’s most critical goal.