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Sympathy for the devil

By daring to portray Hitler intimately on film, "Der Untergang" reveals the power of fiction to upset moral judgement. Germany still can't take it

By Edward Skidelsky   December 2004

Der Untergang, a new film about the last 12 days of the Third Reich, has made cinematic history. For the first time in Germany, Hitler and other leading Nazis have been depicted fictionally. A fierce debate has arisen about the rights and wrongs of such a depiction. Is it another sign of Germany’s much coveted “return to normality”? Or does it instead mark the loss of some kind of historical and moral sensitivity? Will the Third Reich eventually become, like ancient Rome, so much fodder for the entertainment industry?

As so often happens, the film itself has almost disappeared beneath…

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