Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand

Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand

by Benjamin Carter Hett, Leonee Ormond
     
 

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During a 1931 trial of four Nazi stormtroopers, known as the Eden Dance Palace trial, Hans Litten grilled Hitler in a brilliant and merciless three-hour cross-examination, forcing him into multiple contradictions and evasions and finally reducing him to helpless and humiliating rage (the transcription of Hitler's full testimony is included.) At the time, Hitler was

Overview

During a 1931 trial of four Nazi stormtroopers, known as the Eden Dance Palace trial, Hans Litten grilled Hitler in a brilliant and merciless three-hour cross-examination, forcing him into multiple contradictions and evasions and finally reducing him to helpless and humiliating rage (the transcription of Hitler's full testimony is included.) At the time, Hitler was still trying to prove his embrace of legal methods, and distancing himself from his stormtroopers. The courageous Litten revealed his true intentions, and in the process, posed a real threat to Nazi ambition. When the Nazis seized power two years after the trial, friends and family urged Litten to flee the country. He stayed and was sent to the concentration camps, where he worked on translations of medieval German poetry, shared the money and food he was sent by his wealthy family, and taught working-class inmates about art and literature. When Jewish prisoners at Dachau were locked in their barracks for weeks at a time, Litten kept them sane by reciting great works from memory. After five years of torture and hard labor-and a daring escape that failed-Litten gave up hope of survival. His story was ultimately tragic but, as Benjamin Hett writes in this gripping narrative, it is also redemptive. "It is a story of human nobility in the face of barbarism." The first full-length biography of Litten, the book also explores the turbulent years of the Weimar Republic and the terror of Nazi rule in Germany after 1933. [in sidebar] Winner of the 2007 Fraenkel Prize for outstanding work of contemporary history, in manuscript. To be published throughout the world.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Hett (history, Hunter Coll.) analyzes the career of Hans Litten (1903-38), a prominent anti-Nazi lawyer. Hett describes how Litten, the son of a Protestant mother from an old Prussian family and a Jewish father who converted to Lutheranism, actively identified with both his Christian and his Jewish roots yet broke with his parents politically. For example, many of his friends were German Jews active in Socialist politics, while one of his favorite intellectual pursuits was the study of Christian art. While Litten despised the German Communist Party, he defended communists who fought street battles with Hitler's storm troopers (SA). During the prosecution of four SA men in 1931, Litten forced Adolf Hitler to the witness stand, embarrassing the Nazi Party at a critical time in its quest for electoral respectability. Hett adroitly explains the workings of the Weimar legal system and challenges the conventional wisdom that the German legal profession was, prior to 1933, so right wing that its transition to Nazism was an easy and logical step. After 1933, Litten was sent to a concentration camp, where after years of abuse he committed suicide. Recommended for all libraries.
—Frederic Krome

From the Publisher
"Hett has written a riveting account of Litten's life."—Jewish Book World

"Hett's well-researched history is an excellent introduction, and a creepy reminder of the insidious power of evil."—Dick Cady, ForeWord Magazine

"Hett adroitly explains the workings of the Weimar legal system and challenges the conventional wisdom that the German legal profession was, prior to 1933, so right wing that its transition to Nazism was an easy and logical step.... Recommended for all libraries."—Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199743780
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
09/18/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
1,117,631
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

A former trial lawyer, Benjamin Carter Hett is now Associate Professor of History at Hunter College and the author of Death in the Tiergarten. He lives in New York City.

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