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World War I (1914-1918)

'The Decent One' traces grim history of Nazi Himmler

'The Decent One' traces grim history of Nazi Himmler

Vanessa Lapa's documentary, "The Decent One," brings the epistolary form to documentary, using narrated excerpts from a trove of top Nazi Heinrich Himmler's diaries and letters — including those of his wife, Margarete, his parents and even eldest daughter Gudrun — to create a sort of how-did-he-get-here slice of grim history.

Himmler's rise as the 20th Century flowered was a benchmark of sorts for Nazism's ascent: A lonely middle-class kid emboldened by a fascistic sense of race and nationalism — references to "humans and sub-humans" abound — turned into an ideal lieutenant for a tyrannical demagogue like Hitler.