Oliver Stone says Hitler 'is an easy scapegoat'

Director Oliver Stone unveiled details on his latest, a 10-hour doc series on Showtime called Oliver Stone’s Secret History of America. Well, the secret’s out: The show will include reexaminations of some of history’s biggest villains. “Stalin, Hitler, Mao, McCarthy — these people have been vilified pretty thoroughly by history,” Stone said at the TCA. “Stalin has a complete other story… Not to paint him as a hero, but to tell a more factual representation. He fought the German war machine more than any single person. We can’t judge people as only ‘bad’ or ‘good.’ Hitler is an easy scapegoat throughout history and its been used cheaply. He’s the product of a series of actions.” Insert record-scratch noise here.

Stone is a lightning rod for political controversy, and the guy knows what he’s doing: Gee, do you think telling a room full of reporters that you’ve “been able to walk in Stalin’s shoes and Hitler’s shoes to understand their point of view” might get your show some coverage? Hint: It’s working!

Buzz-baiting aside, Stone also said that he doesn’t want to “put out conventional History Channel product,” which is actually something I and other geeks can get behind. The genre of historical TV doc has gotten seriously stale — the last time anyone really shook it up was 2006’s 10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America, so we’re more than due for a fresh take. Stone’s insistence that he feels “empathy” for his subjects just makes me even more curious.

What about you, PopWatcher history buffs? Will you watch a Stone-made show?

Image credit: James Porto/SHOWTIME

Comments (60 total) Add your comment
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  • Chichi


    • JamesTKirk

      i have studied Alexander the Great extensively in college. His version of events in the movie were so unfounded and speculative. I love his work but his accuracy of history in favor of storyline really hindered Alexander. I hope he does a better job with this.

      • JamesTKirk

        sorry should read “inaccuracy” instead of accuracy.

      • Caligula

        i would have thought you were more a student of Tiberius

  • crispy

    I can’t wait for his next documentary: Osama bin Laden Just Wanted a Pony

  • shakespeare

    Stone is a communist, just like Michael Moore. Anyone who watches that show is a monkey!

    • Curt

      Oh, please. Give me a break. Stone is an entertainer. He makes **entertainment** not text books. Comparing him to Michael Moore is nuts. Moore is a politically-oriented whackjob. Stone is an entertainer. But, know what? You sound just like the very type of person who should watch a program that presents an alternative point of view of certain historical persons. Lumping Stalin and Hitler into the same bunch makes more sense that lumping Stone and Moore together.

    • Anne

      Why do so many right-wing nut jobs immediately accuse people they don’t like of being unpatriotic communists?! Please. I don’t particularly like Michael Moore or Olive Stone either, but I wouldn’t accuse them of being communists. And, even if they were, who cares?! Stop being McCarthy.

    • Everton Carter

      Don’t mince words bones, what do you really think?

    • Caligula

      shakespeare – i can see you’re a thinker

    • Matt

      And what’s wrong with Communists? There are many very patriotic Communists right here in the U.S.

    • Edmund

      Me thinks thou could have waxed more poetically.At least he isn’t romantacizing Himmler. Who could have produced History Channel’s nauseating attempt to argue Oswald was acting independantly as a “lone shooter”.

  • Curt

    I’ll give it a shot.

  • Nobama 2012

    What a typical, idiotic, liberal way of thinking. “Sure, he was responsible in the attempted genocide of an entire race and the murdering of millions, but he’s really a good guy…” What an absolute DORK! Anyone who willingly supports this type of trash should be ashamed of themselves. All of his movies sucked anyways.

    • Drew

      I don’t think he is saying he was a really good guy, I didn’t see that in the story anywhere, then again I don’t have my glasses on this morning.

      • Nobama 2012

        OK, so you tell me what this Stoner is trying to say:

        Hitler is an easy scapegoat throughout history and its been used cheaply. He’s the product of a series of actions…


    • Joe

      Yes, because when one thinks of liberalism, one immediately associates it with apologizing for Hitler.

    • rerun

      Well nobama (clever name by the way), I think that’s what we wait for the series to show us. I don’t think Drew has watched yet to be able to give you an answer.

    • Rheanne

      Since when are American liberals sympathetic to Adolph Hitler? That is just patently absurd.

    • Caligula

      good point nobama! everyone knows liberls are always making excuses for hirler, stalin, and h1n1

  • Drew

    Im a monkey, i’ll give it a shot!!!

  • steve balmer

    no one can question oliver stone’s intelligence, immagination, courage and integrity, based on the body of his work. in america, inside is out, upside is down, bad guys succeed, and good guys lose.

    • mel k

      bad guys succeed? is that why germany won the war? i thought that eventually the bad guys lose? whatever.

      • Everton Carter

        Well I guess that depends on who you think the bad guys are and how long you’re prepared to wait for the “eventually” to happen. I guess the bad guys behind the assainations of King, Malcom X, Kennedy et al could be said to have lost when America got a Black President, although I’m sure you could find plenty who’d say not yet. Of course it doesn’t help King and co any either way.

        Then there ar situations where it’s nigh on impossible to know who the good guys and bad guys are! Innocent bystanders yes? Good guys or bad guys? Israel and Palestine etc. Who is good there? Both sides attack where they KNOW they will likely kill non combatants, children and the elderly. I know it’s far more complicated than that but don’t you wish that people could just say, “you did some bad things to us; we did some bad things to you. Done , let’s just getto a place where we don’t have to fear for our kids making it home from school alive.”

  • Mike

    Think of me what you will, but I don’t care to take a more nuanced look at Hitler and Stalin. I’m grateful that Russia helped the Allies defeat Germany in WWII, but that does not negate 10 million deaths by forced famine in Ukraine. I don’t care if this is simplistic. They were monsters. I don’t have any need to understand their actions any further than that.

    • rerun

      America also killed millions of Native Americans. So do you feel the same way about us?

    • Everton Carter

      You need to understand what motivates people, or you can easily have them sneak up on you and suddenly there’s a new “Hitler, or a new Stalin.

      Stalin was responsible for millions of Deaths; but the hundreds of thousands of people from the USSR who fought and died, in greater numbers than any other ally, shouldn’t be forgotten or dismissed out of hand because of the policies of their leaders, because of their belief in the Dialectic; and that sacrificing millions of their own people to reach the Marxist – Communist “utopia” was acceptable.

      What’s important is NOT to think of them as just cartoonish monsters. That way leads to the rise to power of more evil or unemotional men. You have to realise how these people got to power and how to spot the signs that this “charismatic speaker”; or that “man of the people” is actually an evil killer like Hitler, or a man willing to sacrifice an unlimited number of lives in order to reach what seem like worthy goals.

      I’m not putting either them up as examples of gentle caring men, just saying that they are different in both the reasons the allowed or commissioned the deaths of hundreds of thousands, of millions, of people; so it MAY, if done correctly, give more of an insight into how they became the people they were and how they “fooled” so many people into giving them power. It’s important to know about the role Britain played in the African slave trade for sure but you should also learn the part that the Britain, in particular her Navy, played in stamping out the slave trade. Does that change of policy the fact that slavery is / was reprehensible and should never have been adopted by Britain and the other powers who bought slaves from the various African slave traders? Of course not, but it does give you a rounder perspective on the whole thing.

      Labelling people as monsters is easy and whilst in many ways I wish there was a hell just so that Hitler can suffer there for eternity I do see the potential of a deeper study of the man behind the monster. Surely at some point every has asked “how on Earth did he ever get into power?”. Think of all the mass murders we’ve seen around the world since Stalin died? Could more have been done to stop these murderers, usually seen as liberating heroes when they 1st take power, from taking power?

      Oh I agree it’s most likely a publicity drive and a successful one at that.

    • Karina

      I would say that it were the Allies who helped USSR defeat Germany, because in summer of 1944, when the Allies at last invaded Normandy, Soviet Army already freed USSR’s territory and moved to Poland. But it’s question of semantics.

      Please don’t listen to stupid political propaganda, use your brain sometimes. During the famine not only Ukrain was affected but also vast regions in both European and Siberian part of Russia. The famine was forced but the aim was not Ukrain, the aim of this blood-minded program was to break system of individual farmers all over the country and to induce system of collective work instead.

      Reality is much more complicated than Fox News.

      • Everton Carter

        Indeed it is complicated, although sometime it seems that ending conflicts is made far more complex than need be.

      • Brian WIlkins

        No kidding? Much more complicated than FOX news? Wow, we must be talking about something really complicated. Like walking and chewing gum at the same time?

  • steve balmer

    hitler is a product of the historical context of his time, as much as bush and obama are. america is where germany was right before WWII.

    • mel k

      how is mass genoicide a product of historical context? didn’t he initiate the mass genoicide? since he put all of this in motion isn’t he responsible for that historical context for which he lived in? his history was shaped by his personal actions and decisions. he wanted to be evil so he was. there is no going around it. you are an idiot if you believe anything else. ask the soldiers who discovered the concentration camps if hitler was a product of circumstances, espccially since he created those circumstances. you might want to take a world history class too because we are not where germany was before WWII. We are not recovering from a depression caused by WWI. recession and depression are two very different things.

      • Karina

        I think all Stone wants to show is that there were some people, corporations, governments and their decisions and actions which allowed Hitler to became Hitler.

  • Kelly

    I am liberal and I do not agree with Stone, so stop lumping us all together. Hitler was a bad guy – evil to the core; I think that we can all agree. I just think that Stone is trying to not to see it in such a “good” or “evil” approach – but, he shouldn’t be taking that approach on Hitler. Of course there are other stories having to do with Hitler’s life (his attempt to be an artist for example), but there are no excuses for what he did. Period.

  • chris

    Apparently he needs attention and this is the only way he can get it. Opportunistic is what they call him and I think there is no limit to what he would do to be in the limelight no matter what the cost. They are absolutely correct about this being a plot to get people to tune in. NO THANKS!

  • Mira

    Apologism for Mao. Lovely. If anything the world is too ignorant of just how evil and bloody the guy was. I’ve never liked anything Oliver Stone has done, and no, I certainly won’t being watching one minute of this.

    • Everton Carter

      I don’t think there’s apologism here. I hope I get to watch it and find out. If there is then all concerned should be ashamed called to explain THEIR actions. You can’t explain away or mitigate Stalin or Hitler or Mao for the people they killed, but you can explain WHY they killed them. They don’t appear to have been sociopaths who lucked into power, that means they had reasons for killing other than just for kicks or a lack of understanding of the value of life. What those reasons were and how they were able to convince others that they were good reasons comes from an area we don’t allways see. think of all the leaders who turned out to be mass murderers but were supported or legitimised by various world powers like Britain and America: could a deeper understanding of who Hitler and Stalin etc really were have helped prevent those men gain power? Men who genuinely believe that killing off a few million people will mean the country runs better as there are enough jobs, enough food etc for the remaining population. I don’t know but again I feel, if done correctly, a show like this “could” have merit.

  • MartinSA

    Hitler was a bad guy. There is no excusing his actions with the Holocaust. However, it is fascinating to note the circumstances that brought him to power. For most Americans, he just sprouted from nowhere with his racism and hate language. However, Hitler was very much a product of his time when compared to a broader perspective of German History and cultural identity (which can be argued as the core of WWII back to the politics of 1860s Prussia)–themes that have very valid analogs to the evolution of the US as a nation and the development of its own identity (Manifest Destiny and the Indian Question). If Stone is approaching his documentary from that perspective, it might be fascinating to watch it from that perspective. Heck, even a simple look on Hitler’s personnal ethics and morality compared to Churchhill’s ethics and morality may be worth studying in the context of US values.

  • Jeanne

    Commie pinko liberal here! I’d just like to say that Oliver Stone is a whackjob, one who is desperate for attention. Margaret got it right when she called him out for buzz-baiting. That’s all this is. Maybe if we all ignore him for long enough, he’ll (finally) go away.

  • Curt

    Any potential television program that can cause this much discussion, this much dissension, this much discussion, in just a few hours ***deserves*** to get made.

    • Curt

      Yeah, I see that I typed “discussion” twice… I meant for the last one to be “debate” but all the excitement and flurry induced me to press “Post Comment” before I proofed the post.

    • Everton Carter

      Well if nothing else it’s getting people thinking about Hitler, about Stalin and Mao. Given our (humanity’s continued ability to overlook the attrocities perpertrated in countries that have a financial benefit or other “carot” for us to chew on that can’t be a bad thing.

      Oh as stated above there are plenty of countries that we concsider “good” America, Britain & Austrailia for example who have attempted physical or cultural genocide in the not too distant past

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