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I'm watching "World War 2" show and narrator said:

This was fertile ground for a new breed of rabble rousing right wing politicians.
Among them Adolf Hitler.
Hitler HAD BEEN born in Austria. He HAD FOUGHT bravely as a soldier...

Why past perfect (had been, had fought) and not simple past was used?

marked as duplicate by michael_timofeev, user140086, ab2, Hellion, JEL Jan 27 '16 at 23:14

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He's speaking of a certain (past) moment in time. In that moment in time, Hitler was (apparently) already dead, so verbs referring to his deeds must be in the past perfect tense.

Let me change that to simple past:

This was fertile ground for a new breed of rabble rousing right wing politicians. Among them Adolf Hitler. Hitler was born in Austria. He fought bravely as a soldier...

This doesn't sound all too well because he used the simple past to refer to "the time when the ground was fertile for a new breed of..." etc. So he must use a tense that goes further back into the past to explain what happened before those events.

Hope I explained myself.

  • So, the main reason is not just a moment in past, but the past perfect was used just to emphasis that one event (Hitler born) happened before other (when ground was fertile), right? But, would this be a mistake if he would has used simple past? – theateist Jan 27 '16 at 0:28
  • Yes, but it was also necessary for the writer to use a tense that would allow them to refer to a time before the time that they'd already referred to using the simple past, that is, the past perfect. It's a little bit confusing to explain, sorry. – Fausto NA Jan 27 '16 at 0:30
  • I've understood the usage of past perfect. But, again, would it be a grammatical mistake if he has used simple past? – theateist Jan 27 '16 at 0:47
  • It would have simply meant something else: it would have implied that Hitler fighting bravely as a soldier and being born in Austria were events contemporary (as in coincident) to the new breed of right wing politicians appearing. – Fausto NA Jan 27 '16 at 0:50

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