Here’s the premise. There’s a new television series where a troupe of intrepid researchers comb the far corners of the globe seeking to unlock a mystery that has plagued the public imagination for decades and prove once and for all the whereabouts of a legendary beast.
Bigfoot you ask? No, Adolf Hitler.
The poster boy for consummate evil and the face and symbol that launched a thousand high- and low-brow paperback thrillers is back on prime time and the History Channel has him. Like the gaggle of Bigfoot hunters, the Hitler Hunters in the History Channel’s aptly-titled “Hunting Hitler” series experience the same percentage of success as their kindred researchers whose quarry is a little taller and a little furrier.
Every indication from the first episode seems to point only to them (maybe) finding Hitler’s man-cave in South America and little else. If I were the king of cable programming I would move this off a history channel and to an entertainment platform.
It’s a stretch and a half to speculate Hitler — decrepit and psychologically broken in his reinforced concrete hole in the ground listening to the violent sounds above of his 1,000 year reich coming to pieces 988 years short of the mark — managed to survive. To suggest, as these Hitler hunters do, that he somehow popped up out of that same hole and evaded 6,250 Soviet tanks, 7,500 Soviet airplanes, 41,600 Soviet artillery pieces and 1.5 million Russian soldiers is a disbelief I refuse to suspend.
Granted, it was the conspiracy du jour the grassy knoll-types obsessed over from 1945 until 1963, when those types actually had a grassy knoll to divert their gaze.
Whether or not he escaped, which he didn’t, is rendered moot by the relentless march of time, and also makes the researchers highlighted in the series “Hunting Hitler” look a little bit foolish. Whereas I, in a case of self-reporting, do still tenuously hold to an inkling of a possibility that there exists some form of undiscovered North American great ape, I never bought the story that Hitler took a powder and safely passed through the Soviet stranglehold on Berlin.
The truth, just like the overwhelming scientific proof of the lone gunman in Dallas in 1963, is not always what we want to hear. Hitler in chains being paraded through the streets of Berlin would have been a spectacle to see, it was obviously a spectacle his decision to kill himself was aimed at avoiding.
Hitler, it appears, enjoys a perennial springtime. Just Google “Adolf Hitler.” Besides probably inadvertently putting yourself on a myriad of governmental watch lists, you will see an instant tally of 34,600,000 results.
The History Channel and the former Military Channel would be dark three quarters of every day if it wasn’t for some kind of Nazi themed content, whether it be hidden Nazi gold, secret Nazi weapons or “fill in the blank” Nazi. There were obviously other cultures that went off the moral rails in full throated insanity before the Nordic rage that seemed to exist in Germany found its outlet much the same way an active lava tube inside a volcano eventually finds the weakest part of a mountain.
But Nazi Germany was the first modern version where film and photographic images chronicled every barbaric step. World War I obviously had access to film but the more sophisticated motion picture film industry which preceded the Nazi regime and the television age that followed it, guaranteed this war’s images of black-uniformed jack booted Waffen-SS men with skull and crossbones on their hats and lightning bolts on their collars would “live” on to disturb and mesmerize generations to come.
Maybe if there was a History Channel around for the Punic Wars we’d have the all-Scipio the Younger channel as well. A total war with extremely destructive weaponry and tens of millions of civilian deaths all seeming to spring from the demented spirit of an Austrian watercolorist continues to haunt us.
Hitler is invoked almost daily in political speech. The last Republican president and the current Democratic president have both been compared to him. A candidate who wants to be president was recently asked his opinion on infanticide as it related to a “baby Hitler.”
Adolf Hitler is kind of a get-out-of-jail-free card for us. When I say us, I mean sinners. Who hasn’t thought, “Well, at least I’m not as bad as Hitler.”
True, most of us are not as bad as Hitler … thank the Lord. And the Church, thank the Lord again, has always taught, though sin is always bad, there are gradations and there is a difference between stealing a candy bar and sending six million innocents to their deaths.
Using an evil template to make us feel better about ourselves is not conducive to a healthy spiritual life. And because Hitler and Nazis are so easy to portray in movies and television as total evil, one can just as easily fall into the trap and think total evil is so 1940s and that we “moderns” now understand things are always not so black and white. ... Another disbelief we suspend at our peril.
And as far as the “Hunting Hitler” researchers finding irrefutable proof that Adolf made it to Argentina, I think we have a better chance of securing tickets to the live Bigfoot exhibit next year in Central Park.
Robert Brennan has been a professional writer for more than 30 years, including many years in the television industry.