THIS WEEK sees me in Munich and Berchtesgaden, where I’m helping the legendary Danish TV presenter Peter Ingemann film a three-part series about Stalin, Hitler, and Churchill for Kompagniet. (I’m doing the Hitler bit, obvs.)
For UK viewers, it’s hard to know how to place Peter – he’s been a presenter for well over two decades, including the likes of the Danish version of Bake Off, and does his own travel show in which he bimbles around Denmark on a moped. And he LOVES history. So what does that make him in UK terms? I’m not sure, but with 200,000 Instagram followers in a country of just 6,000,000, he’s a BIG name.
What’s great about filming in Munich is that you HAVE to be shown partaking in the local fare if you are going to convincingly tell the early story of the Nazi party and Hitler’s rise to power. What that means is regular infusions of beer, pretzels, and – what a friend evilly calls – penis soup, but is of course the incomparable Weisswurst.
All this was enjoyed at the legendary Hofbräuhaus, which was where, on 24 February 1920, Hitler rose to the stage and presented his vile 25-point programme to some 2,000 people at an event that can be regarded as the de facto birth of the Nazi party.
Today, it seems strange to be making merry at such place, but when you’re filming documentaries about horrible things, you can’t just sit there in reverential gloom all the time.
Besides, the Hofbräuhaus has been in existence since 1596 – some 426 years – whereas the Nazi party was around for just 25 years, which makes the beer hall much closer to enjoying a one thousand year history than the Third Reich ever managed.
After a – cough – light lunch, we filmed outside 16 Prinzregentenplatz, where Hitler lived with Geli Raubal, and we told the sad story of how she shot herself in September 1931.
It seems extraordinary that Hitler survived the scandal – just imagine if today the girlfriend of major party leader was found dead in her boyfriend’s apartment, seemingly shot by his own firearm, and, to cap it all, was not only twenty years younger than him, but also his half-niece. Yup – that guy wouldn’t be leader for long. And yet Hitler survived and would be Chancellor of Germany just over fifteen months later.
After discussing all that, there was only one thing to do – find a bar. Except there were none open where Hitler lived, so Peter and I instead bought a couple of bottles of beer and enjoyed them on a park bench.
It was at this point that I explained to Peter we were following in a noble British tradition of public daytime drinking, although back home the normal beverage for such a tipple is Carlsberg Special Brew, which, he was amazed to learn, was first brewed in 1950 by his fellow countrymen in honour of Winston Churchill. I was delighted to teach an old Dane a new trick, and I’m hoping he will include this alcoholic nugget in his episode on Churchill.
Tomorrow sees us in Berchtesgaden – stand by for some amazing pictures if the weather is as good as today.
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