Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Narrative Warfare: Speaking of Literally Hitler, "Hunting Hitler" Returns

Last year, the History Channel aired a new documentary series entitled "Hunting Hitler". It builds upon this MysteryQuest episode from 2009:

I don't know how this played out behind the scenes such that we got the series, but we got it and last year began one of the most bold attempts at revising the mainstream historical narrative I've seen in my lifetime:

Armed with 700 pages of recently declassified FBI documents, twenty-one year CIA veteran Bob Baer and war crimes investigator Dr. John Cencich begin a worldwide investigation into what happened to Adolf Hitler at the end of WWII. First stop on their hunt is a small town in Argentina with mysterious Nazi ties where an FBI report places Hitler residing three-and-a-half months after he was believed dead.

Hunting Hitler Season 1 Episode 1 (S01E01) The... by AncientWorld

Am I saying you should watch this series? Yes, I am, and the primary reason here is because this is a masterclass in multi-level Narrative Warfare. You are not only seeing someone show you an attack on an established historical narrative being attempted, you are also seeing how a media production uses its control over what you see and hear to lead you to the conclusions it wants you to draw regardless of the facts and evidence put before you.

An FBI cold case that has laid dormant for 70 years, leads a group of world-renown investigators on the ultimate manhunt to finally answer the question: Did Adolf Hitler survive World War II? In early 2014, the FBI declassified hundreds of confidential documents showing Hitler may not have committed suicide, but rather escaped to South America after the fall of Germany. A memo from J. Edgar Hoover himself states, "American Army officials in Germany have not located Hitler's body nor is there any reliable source that will say definitely that Hitler is dead”. Armed with the most cutting edge technology and these newly released FBI files, the team will approach this case like a modern death claims investigation. Whether they are investigating a mysterious Nazi lair deep in the Argentinian jungle or diving for evidence of a missing U-Boat that could of shuttled Hitler to South America, our team will focus on the tried and tested tenants for solving a fraudulent death case: follow the money, where was the subject last seen, eyewitness reports, make contact with known associates, and forensics. With declassified worldwide intelligence providing a wealth of new clues and modern technology never before available, we reopen this world famous cold case in hopes of solving the mystery surrounding the demise of one of the biggest criminals of all time.

I mean no perfidy on the part of the individuals on screen, or even on the part of the production company or the History Channel. What I want you to comprehend as you watch this is to pay attention to the fact that you do NOT control what you see or hear. There is no doubt that countless hours got cut and will never been aired because it makes for bad television and isn't relevant to the points being made. There is no doubt that much behind-the-scenes happenings occurred that never got recorded at all, but nonetheless made the recorded parts possible. The very nature of working in this medium requires it.

An FBI cold case that has laid dormant for 70 years, leads a group of world-renown investigators on the ultimate manhunt to finally answer the question: Did Adolf Hitler survive World War II? In early 2014, the FBI declassified hundreds of confidential documents showing Hitler may not have committed suicide, but rather escaped to South America after the fall of Germany. A memo from J. Edgar Hoover himself states, "American Army officials in Germany have not located Hitler's body nor is there any reliable source that will say definitely that Hitler is dead”. Armed with the most cutting edge technology and these newly released FBI files, the team will approach this case like a modern death claims investigation. Whether they are investigating a mysterious Nazi lair deep in the Argentinian jungle or diving for evidence of a missing U-Boat that could of shuttled Hitler to South America, our team will focus on the tried and tested tenants for solving a fraudulent death case: follow the money, where was the subject last seen, eyewitness reports, make contact with known associates, and forensics. With declassified worldwide intelligence providing a wealth of new clues and modern technology never before available, we reopen this world famous cold case in hopes of solving the mystery surrounding the demise of one of the biggest criminals of all time.

The United States of America just concluded one of the most vicious campaigns for the Presidency that we've ever seen. The entire mainstream media establishment, especially those purporting to be objective and reliable neutral arbiters of information, revealed themselves as biased as an institution and abused their position to deliberately shape political and cultural narratives intended to throw that election to whom they wanted in the White House- and if not for the media-savvy of the President-Elect they would have succeeded. Such practices did not start there, did not end there, and are not confined there.

Bob Baer and John Cencich return with new experts and new technology to examine Hitler's possible escape from every angle. Armed with 14,000 declassified files from international intelligence agencies, the team opens new lines of inquiry in their investigation that spans thousands of miles. They return to Berlin, where Lenny DePaul and Sascha Keil discover an unknown fifth exit from Hitler's Fuhrerbunker. Knowing that Hitler had access to another way out of the bunker, they begin investigating areas that could have served as a makeshift runway out of Berlin. Meanwhile, Tim Kennedy and Alasdair Brooks, historical archaeologist, reunite with Daniel Schavelzon at the mysterious Nazi lair in Misiones, Argentina. They discover a new building that could be more than just a hideout--it could be a military compound!

The point is this: this is a storytelling medium, and this series is telling you a story. Good storytelling makes the facts subordinate to the needs of the plot. Ethical non-fiction storytelling merely refrains from lying to you; it still curates what facts are put forth, when, how, and to what degree of exposure. Without access to that same evidence, or some other independent verification, you cannot ever be wholly confident of what such a program presents; entertain, but don't accept.

And that leads me to another, next-level point I want you to face: the machinery running the world run on facts, but the men at the levers run off narratives. This is why feelings don't care about facts; narratives, at their core, hit at the level of Rhetoric in order to persuade the masses- and this continues to be the way things get done because that's what's proven to work time and again.

"Hunting Hitler" immediately plays on the emotional beat of "They lied to us! Those bastards!" while maintaining "Hitler is The Worst Evil Ever!" so that what facts they present are far more likely to be taken in and accepted. The talk they give about what they do or how they do it is reassurance of competency to the audience, nothing more, again to make what they present easy to trust and accept.

All without either allowing you access to what they're using to base their factual claims, or any independent verification thereof.

Now, again, watch the series- and pay attention to the emotional tells in the series' presentation of information. Now that you can being to see how they emotionally prepare you before they hit you with the narrative plot twists, and then want you to accept their factual claims while you are emotionally open to having your views shifted. Forewarned is forearmed.

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