In this book written in early 1940 in England, Sebastian Haffner, a recent refugee from Nazi Germany, analyzed Hitler, the Nazis, the German population, and German ?migr?s. His purpose was to help the Allies wage ?psychological warfare? against Nazi Germany, to correct misconceptions about the Nazi regime, and to outline ?the foundation of future peace? in Europe.
?Sebastian Haffner's book is unmatched as a contemporary analysis of the Third ...
In this book written in early 1940 in England, Sebastian Haffner, a recent refugee from Nazi Germany, analyzed Hitler, the Nazis, the German population, and German émigrés. His purpose was to help the Allies wage “psychological warfare” against Nazi Germany, to correct misconceptions about the Nazi regime, and to outline “the foundation of future peace” in Europe.
“Sebastian Haffner's book is unmatched as a contemporary analysis of the Third Reich. It is quite remarkable that, writing in 1940, he could produce such acute insights into Hitler’s character and political hold over Germany” — Ian Kershaw
“ ... excellent analysis of Germany's ills ... Deutschland, Deutschland, über Alles, according to [Haffner], is no mere musical fantasy but a national mania, a fixation, which is driving the nation, not as some imagine, to a great and noble destiny, but to damnation ... This is a particularly penetrating study of a phenomenon whose like history has, perhaps, not ever been seen before.” — The New York Times (August 1941)
“Haffner's clear-sighted analysis, applied mainly to the dissection of his fellow Germans, also annihilates any claim by his contemporaries not to have known about Nazi crimes. The nature of Hitler's regime, he says, was well understood; all that is open to debate is the eagerness with which it was supported ... Apocryphally, Churchill told his cabinet to read this book so that they would understand the Nazi threat. We should do likewise to understand how close we came to ignoring it.”
— The Observer
“clear-sighted and perspicacious ... This brilliant journalist shows that it was possible to see and to hear and to draw one’s conclusions if one only had the will.” — Süddeutsche Zeitung
“An alarm call trying to awaken the British to the unique nature of Hitler and the Nazi regime ... Remarkably prescient” — J. G. Ballard
“A powerful and sustained text ... it explodes with rhetorical fireworks. Haffner produces a convincing picture of the Nazis, their numbers, their power and the destructive nihilism that united them” — Giles MacDonogh, BBC History
Sebastian Haffner was born in 1907 as Raimund Pretzel the last of four children. His father was headmaster of a Berlin school and a noted liberal school reformer. Pretzel studied law and received his doctorate in 1934. Although he was not Jewish he abandoned his planned career as a lawyer in public service when the Nazis came to power. Instead he worked as a non-political journalist.
In 1938 he and his pregnant fiancée, who was of Jewish descent and for that reason had been dismissed from her post as university librarian, managed to emigrate to the UK, where they were married. There he started to write a memoir about his youth in Weimar Germany and the rise of the Nazis. The book (Defying Hitler) was abandoned at the outbreak of war and replaced by another (Germany: Jekyll and Hyde) offering an analysis of Germany for the benefit of the allies. This book, published under the pseudonym Sebastian Haffner which he used for the rest of his life, procured his release from internment in the summer of 1940. In 1942 he became a journalist at the Observer and quickly made a reputation as a political thinker.
Haffner returned to Germany in 1954, initially as a correspondent for the Observer. There he became an important commentator on current affairs and a well-known television personality. In the 1960s he started writing historical books, mostly about 20th century German history, including The Ailing Empire: Germany from Bismarck to Hitler. His most important and successful book, The Meaning of Hitler, appeared in 1978. He retired in 1991 and died in 1999 aged 91.