08. October 2012

Nico Hofmann and Jan Mojto to film Thomas Weber’s Hitler biography “Hitler’s First War”

Cannes, 8 October 2012. Following worldwide event hits such as Dresden, Storm Tide!, Operation Valkyrie, Hindenburg and The Tower, Nico Hofmann and Jan Mojto are planning an international serial TV production about Adolf Hitler. At the TV trade fair MIPCOM in Cannes, the managing directors of teamWorx Fernsehen & Film and EOS/Beta Film announced that the eight episode series will be based on the biography “Hitler’s First War” by the renowned historian Thomas Weber. The scholar vividly describes Hitler’s time as a soldier in World War I, and evaluates previously unexamined documents about the List Regiment, in which Hitler served. Published last year, these documents triggered a new discussion about the interpretation of Hitler’s persona. Author and director is Niki Stein, whose latest film “Rommel” (also produced by teamWorx) attracts great public interest even before its first airing. The screenplay is co-authored by Hark Bohm.

The series (8x1 hour) begins with World War I in 1914 and ends with Hitler’s death in 1945. By exposing key formative moments, turning points, and antagonists, the project also pinpoints certain revealing “leaps in radicalization” made by Hitler during the decisive phase of the preparations for the Holocaust. “Even with all the previous attempts to shed light on the Third Reich, the war and the genocide, Hitler himself remains mysteriously vapid,” says Thomas Weber, an acknowledged Hitler expert and scholar who works at the Universities of Aberdeen and Harvard, and serves as historical adviser for the TV project. “Our self-imposed benchmark for a new series on Hitler must be to change this. Only by taking Hitler’s skills of self-invention seriously, his talents and weaknesses, his cool savagery but also his outright personal charm as well as the social bonds he forged in the course of his very special path of life – only if we do all this, and do it without stripping him of the tremendous impact he had on so many Germans, only then can we hope to get to the bottom of the eerie interplay between Hitler and the Germans.”

Asked whether it is possible to treat Hitler in a fictional mode for television, Nico Hofmann replies: “We think it is, particularly after Joachim Fest’s Hitler biography and Oliver Hirschbiegel’s ‘Downfall’ Thomas Weber’s detailed, well-founded research allows for a new, critical introspective look into Hitler’s psychological background and his evolution into a malevolent seducer. Precisely this seductiveness – which also reached into the bourgeois classes as well – is at the center of this eight-part serial concept that the award-winning filmmakers Niki Stein and Hark Bohm are currently writing. As with our ‘Rommel’ production, the entire project will analytically reproduce the latest state of historical research. Ensuring this authenticity is not only our team of historical advisers, but foremost Thomas Weber’s book, which is widely seen by scholars as a milestone in the historical work on Hitler.”

In order to guarantee an interpretation of Hitler’s persona that is as inclusive as possible and that corresponds to the latest state of research, distinguished specialists will participate in developing the subject. Next to the historians Thomas Weber and Ralf Georg Reuth, the film team will also be profiting from the expert advice of Jonathan Steinberg (University of Pennsylvania, Fellow of Cambridge University), the international expert on recent Jewish history.

Jan Mojto: “With Nico Hofmann we now share twelve years of cooperation with almost 30 programs. Many of them were of sensitive nature and have turned out to be emotionally intriguing and historically acclaimed. Audiences today start to watch premium television in the series format and the series format allows to create a more complex world. Eight years after Bernd Eichinger’s and Oliver Hirschbiegel’s feature and miniseries Downfall we will now go to the origins. I think the time is right to create a series on Hitler out of Germany in English for the international audience.”

Nico Hofmann and Jan Mojto also announced two other historical serial projects: “Berlin Kurfürstendamm” depicts the story of three young women in Berlin’s tumultuous 1950s and will be the first one in a cycle of Berlin-based post-war series. The screenplay will be written by Annette Hess, author of the award-winning TV series “Weissensee.”  The second series “The Doctors” plays out in the late 19th century in the world-famous Charité Clinic in the center of Berlin. Grimme Award-winning author Dorothee Schön is working on the multi-episode project.