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Defying Hitler: A Memoir (2000)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0312421133, Paperback)What was it about Germany that made the rise of Adolf Hitler and his murderous regime possible? That troubling question has occupied many fine minds over the last six decades, few more lucid and thoughtful than the late historian and journalist Sebastian Haffner. In this book, drawn from a manuscript he did not live to complete, Haffner examines the social and cultural conditions that made Germany ill-equipped for democracy and ripe for totalitarianism. Among these, Haffner writes, were a generational war between an apathetic adult population and a youth "familiar with nothing but political clamor, sensation, anarchy, and the dangerous lure of irresponsible numbers games"; a fatal fondness for the winner-and-loser dichotomy of sports and a rage for spectacle and entertainment; a resignation through which ordinary people came to "adapt to living with clenched teeth, in a manner of speaking," rather than stand up in protest. In that climate, Haffner--who left Germany just before World War II broke out--suggests, Nazism was almost an inevitability, against which he, too, tried to withdraw into "a small, secure, private domain," like so many others of his time and place. An important eyewitness account, Haffner's book deepens our understanding of how small missteps can lead to tragic ends, and how nations can be led into chaos. --Gregory McNamee
(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 20 Apr 2011 18:17:12 -0400)
"When the German historian Sebastian Haffner died in 1999 aged 91, his son discovered the manuscript for this book hidden in a chest of drawers. It had been written in 1939 in England but abandoned when the war broke out. The reasons which made Haffner put it aside - its rawness, its revelations, its closeness to the events it describes - are precisely what makes it such compelling reading today." "This memoir of growing up in Berlin between 1914 and 1933 shows how his generation of German youth were seduced by Hitler and the Nazis. The First World War turned Sebastian Haffner, aged seven in 1914, into a fanatical jingoist. The numbing shock of defeat in 1918 is followed by the confusion of revolution and republic, and then the hyperinflation of 1923. The currency is stabilised but, as the 1920s continue, the Weimar Republic fails to capture the imagination of the Germans - whose capacity for private happiness, Haffner believes, has been fatally sapped by the events of 1914-1924. Under the illusion of normality, the Nazi revolution is steadily gaining ground."--BOOK JACKET.
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