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Dear Uncle Adolf

Release Year:   2010
Studio:   First Run Features
Format:   Colour & B/W; NTSC
Rated:   Not Rated
# of Discs:   1
Running Time:   60 m
DVD Release Date:   August 23, 2011

Director:   Michael Kloft
DVD Features:   In English & German with English subtitles
E: Top Picks Rating:   7/10

First Run Features Write-up:
More than any other documents, it is the personal private letters written by the German people to Adolf Hitler that provide the most intimate details of the Third Reich. A treasure of more than 100,000 such letters was recently found, hidden in a secret Russian archive.

The uncensored letters, which include declarations of loyalty, love letters and the occasional words of protest, reveal the true feelings of the German people – their hopes, longings and fears.

As one man wrote in April 1932, a day after elections made Hitler an unstoppable force: “We only want Adolf Hitler as leader, as dictator. We National Socialists want to see a ban on all newspapers that inject poison into our Fuehrer, to see Jews classified as what they are…We will give our blood to Adolf Hitler! Take an iron hand and fulfill your programme with a dictatorial will. Do not negotiate but act!”

Women who wrote particularly ardent letters were monitored by the Gestapo as Hitler feared that his cult of personality could lead to a destabilisation of home life in the Reich. As his power became absolute, so the tempo of the letters increased. Like a seismograph, they reflect the changing mood in Nazi Germany, and the highs and lows of the German spirit, from 1932 to 1945.

Jon Ted Wynne Review:
I will never cease to be amazed at how documentaries about the Second World War still manage to find a new angle to make the subject matter fresh. That’s exactly what DEAR UNCLE ADOLF manages to do.

The world has learned that it is simplistic to excuse the rise of National Socialism in Germany by saying “Hitler was a monster.” If so, how can the allegiance of an entire country be explained?

If one believes, rather, that Hitler was a man who did monstrous things, the answer becomes more believable. The inherent discomfort of such a statement, however, begs examination. That is the premise of DEAR UNCLE ADOLF.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but how could anyone at any time describe Hitler as avuncular? Yet an entire country worshipped him as their saviour. Men wanted to emulate him, women wanted to bear his children and the children wanted him to be their uncle.

The material for this film came about when a secret Russian archive was discovered containing some 100,000 letters written to Hitler by the German people. Only a very small percentage of these letters were critical. The majority were fan letters of the most extreme kind.

The sheer charisma of the man is evident from the words of admiration and love that pour forth in these letters. Surely Hitler was a gifted man—in oratory, politics and manipulation. The fact he used his abilities in the pursuit of absolute evil is perhaps the greatest blight on the 20th-Century.

The value of this film is that it serves to remind us that when such an individual comes along—and Hitler is by no means the only one—society must never allow them absolute freedom and blind loyalty. Accountability even at the highest level of class, celebrity and achievement must never be allowed to slide.

DEAR UNCLE ADOLF is full of archival photos and footage showing Hitler interacting with his adoring populace. It is incredibly unsettling to see children, especially, revering their dear “uncle” the way most children revere Santa Claus.

Hearing the actors voice reading the letters (as well as seeing the actual handwritten pages) adds to the viewer’s discomfort.

What’s more, the letters are presented pretty much chronologically, through Hitler’s rise to power to his downfall. The unswerving loyalty of many of the letter writers is deeply unsettling.

DEAR UNCLE ADOLF is a necessary addition to anyone’s library of films about the scourge that was the Third Reich.