"I will never surrender. Never. I forbid you and the other commanders here to surrender."
- Hitler forbidding surrender.
"What, you can't find Fegelein? Keep searching! I want to talk to him! Immediately! If he just left like that, that's desertion. Treason! Bring me Fegelein! FEGELEIN! FEGELEIN! FEGELEIN!"
- Hitler demands the search for Fegelein.
"What I should've done is liquidate all the high-ranking officers, as Stalin did! I never attended an academy, and yet I conquered Europe all by myself! Traitors! I've been betrayed and deceived from the very beginning! What a monstrous betrayal to the German people! But all those traitors will PAY! They will pay with their own blood! THEY SHALL DROWN IN THEIR OWN BLOOD!"
- Hitler ranting about losing the World War II.
"Tomorrow millions of people will curse me, but fate has taken its course."
- Hitler's last words.
Adolf Hitler is the protagonist villain of the 2004 war film Downfall. He is an Austrian-Hungarian born German dictator and leader of the Nazi Party between 1933 to 1945, a well-known historical figure who is widely considered to be one of the most evil human beings to exist on Earth for starting World War II and instigating the Holocaust.
This version of Hitler was portrayed by the late Bruno Ganz. Ganz played Johann von Staupitz in the movie Luther the year before. Ganz prepared for portraying Hitler by spending four months researching the real Hitler. His portrayal of Adolf Hitler was critically acclaimed.
Downfall depicts him in his final days inside the Berlin bunker, insisting that the war will never be lost. Before the Battle Of Berlin, Hitler hires Traudl Junge as his secretary. 2.5 years ago, in the bunker, Hitler is briefed on the disintegrating defenses of Berlin. Karl Koller informs him that the Russians have fired artillery 12 kilometers from the city, implying that the Red Army is mobilizing to destroy German defenses. After attending his own birthday party, which he rejects his close friend Heinrich Himmler's plea to leave Berlin despite getting help from Hitler's friend Walter Hewel. He also viewed the artwork that was made from Minister of Armaments Albert Speer and tells him that he will create Germania after the war, but is suggested from Himmler's assistant Hermann Fegelein that if he does want to realize the plans, he has to leave Berlin, which also comes from Traudl, who informs him that the Soviets are surrounding them. Hitler refuses but declares that he will face them in Berlin, or die trying. Unmoved of the news that the 9th Army has to retreat or become annihilated, he announces that Waffen SS General Felix Steiner will soon arrive and drive the Red Army out of the city. However, he is later then informed that Steiner couldn't mobilize enough men to carry out the assault to stop the Red Army advancing (since Steiner's division has been scattered to avoid artillery fire). Visibly shaken, Hitler dismisses all of his personnel except his Generals (Keitel, Jodl, Krebs, and Burgdorf) and Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels even Reich Leader Martin Bormann.
Throwing a massive tantrum, Hitler angrily states that Steiner's attack was an order and accuses the whole German military of interfering, disobeying his orders and sabotaging his plans, calling his soldiers "cowards, traitors, and incompetents.", and that the generals are "the scum of the German people." He expresses regret at not executing the entire officer corps like Joseph Stalin did during the Great Purge and insulting the generals about their experience in the military academy to be "just to learn how to hold a knife and fork.". At last, however, Hitler sinks into his chair and acknowledges that the war is lost. "If you think that this means I'll be abandoning Berlin," he snarls, "I'd rather shoot a bullet through my head.", stating that he will stay in Berlin to the end (although it meant killing himself). Hitler later sends Keitel to the north to recover the Romanian oil fields.
Hitler receives a telegram from his future successor, Hermann Goering, in which Goering himself asks permission to take control of the Reich, which is read by Bormann, who perceives it as treason against Germany and Hitler himself. After hearing from his friend (and Johann von Ribbentrop's liaison) Hewel, about the communications about to be destroyed soon and from Goebbels perceiving that Goering wants to take the power, stating that he never liked the mob Goering assembled in Oberzalsberg, which he thinks is a coup; an infuriated Hitler rants about this and asks what Goering had done to the air force, which he thinks is enough to execute him and claims that Goering has "helped corrupt the country". Afterward, Hitler then orders Goering to be devoid of power and placed out of office, and states that he doesn't survive the war, then Goering himself will be executed. He meets up with test pilot Hanna Reitsch and the wounded but recovering Robert Ritter von Greim, who Hitler promotes as General Field Marshall and head of the air force.
Later on at dinner, Hitler finds out that Himmler offered to surrender to the Allies, which angers him, and forces them to find Fegelein, but is informed of his one of his staff and Burgdorf that they don't know where he and that no one has seen him in a few days; Hitler demands Fegelein's report immediately. He orders them to go the Doenitz's station and tell him to find Himmler. German Red Cross head and main chief of the Nazi human medical experiments, Ernst-Robert Grawitz asks Hitler permission to let him and his family leave Berlin, but Hitler refuses to give such permission to Grawitz. As Grawitz leaves, Otto Gunsche tells Hitler that Fegelein can't be found anywhere in the bunker, and due to this, he orders Fegelein to be executed. Eva tries to persuade him to spare his life, to no avail. Grawitz killed himself and his family with a pair of grenades while having dinner while Fegelein is captured and executed by Peter Hogl.
Afterwards, things for the Nazi dictator turns more worse when he is reported that the available reserves are out, the supplies from the air are impossible to collect, there is no ammunition to supply the military and that the Red Army has closed in 300 to 400 meters away from the Reich Chancellery (although the military is able to hold off the invading Russians for 2 days until they can retreat). Weidling suggests leaving the bunker since according to him, the Battle of Berlin has brought 20,000 causalities of their finest officers, but Hitler ignores the order to leave Berlin and states that Walter Wenck's 12th Army will stop the Russian assault, but after leaving, his generals are convinced that Wenck cannot do so because of his small amount of live infantry (Hitler was unaware of this since none of his generals told him). Despite hearing news from Keitel that Wenck has moved to Lake Schielow, the 12th Army cannot continue the attack on Berlin and that the 9th Army has been surrounded, Hitler forbids his generals to surrender.
On April 30, 1945, Hitler (after eating his final meal and refusing to reconsider killing himself by a tearful Magda Goebbels) and his wife Eva Braun (who just only married a few hours ago) committed suicide, with Günsche standing guard. Hitler shot himself in the head while taking cyanide pills. Their bodies were burned by his remaining troops later. Goebbels, also the commander of the Volkssturm, takes his place as the Chancellor of Nazi Germany (in which Karl Doenitz becomes President), but fails in his duty after carrying it out in one day and kills himself and his wife.
Although many of his generals and subordinates took up vices such as gambling, smoking and heavy drinking due to the stress of the war, Hitler stayed clean throughout his final days in the bunker. It is unknown whether Hitler tolerated such behavior from his generals; he never commented about it during the film.
Nonetheless, Hitler was thoroughly mentally shaken during his final days. He had poor mood and self-esteem almost all the time, pacing around the bunker looking at the ground, and taking no notice of his subordinates 'Heiling' him as he passes by. He also has this habit of putting his left hand behind his back and shaking it, thanks to Parkinson's.
As the days progressed, Hitler's temper appeared to have subsided. During the first few days whenever his generals flunked up or brought bad news, he would be quick to rant at them. During the final days of the war, he would simply stare at them, and mutter that "All is lost", proceeding to exit the room with his hand behind his back. He also has no sense of reality, stating to Robert Ritter von Greim that he has "three armies to attack in Prague in the behind" and that "has deposed a 1000 jets at his disposal". even though both plans are impossible due to the weakening economy of the Third Reich and the dwindling amount of German troops available are not enough to attack enemy forces.
Hitler has some serious health issues. He is often seen by people to be physically trembling, especially on his left hand, showing how his health has been deteriorating rapidly. He is also believed to have suffered from borderline personality disorder by a majority of psychologists and psycho-historians.
Hitler also treated the women in the bunker differently from the men. He was a lot more forgiving towards them because they didn't do anything major that might hinder the war's outcome or his image.
- The version of Hitler featured in Downfall (due to his realistic appearance similar to the real one) became a famous YouTube meme known as "Downfall Hitler" mostly parodying his actions on the internet such as Downfall Parodies, "Hitler Reacts to" and "Hitler Finds Out". He also appeared in the Angry German Kid & The Frollo Show. He also called sometimes "Dolfy".