Sunday, August 21, 2011

Hans Litten: The man who annoyed Adolf Hitler

A new drama tells the story of a Jewish lawyer who confronted Hitler 80 years ago - earning the dictator's life-long hatred. So who was Hans Litten?

In the Berlin courtroom, Adolf Hitler's face burned a deep, furious red.

The future dictator was not accustomed to this kind of scrutiny.

But here he was, being interrogated about the violence of his paramilitary thugs by a young man who represented everything he despised - a radical, principled, fiercely intelligent Jewish lawyer called Hans Litten.

The Nazi leader was floundering in the witness stand. And when Litten asked why his party published an incitement to overthrow the state, Hitler lost his composure altogether.

"That is a statement that can be proved by nothing!" he shouted.

Litten's demolition of Hitler's argument that the Nazis were a peaceful, democratic movement earned the lawyer years of brutal persecution.

He was among the first of the fuehrer's political opponents to be rounded up after the Nazis assumed power. And even long afterwards, Hitler could not bear to hear his one-time tormentor's name spoken.

But although he was among the first to confront Hitler, Litten remains a little-known figure. more