Last Stop Vienna

Overview

Germany in the 1920s, in the early days of Hitler and the Nazi party, was a country plunging into darkness and violence. Andrew Nagorski has written the story of a doomed generation, of evil, hopelessness, sexual perversion and murder that set the stage for the ultimate destruction of a society. But in a stunning denouement, a young Nazi brownshirt, acting out of passion and revenge, changes the course of history.

Karl Naumann, a German ...
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Last Stop Vienna: A Novel

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Overview

Germany in the 1920s, in the early days of Hitler and the Nazi party, was a country plunging into darkness and violence. Andrew Nagorski has written the story of a doomed generation, of evil, hopelessness, sexual perversion and murder that set the stage for the ultimate destruction of a society. But in a stunning denouement, a young Nazi brownshirt, acting out of passion and revenge, changes the course of history.

Karl Naumann, a German teenager who has lost his father and brother in World War I, has tried to find a place in a defeated, demoralized and anarchic Berlin. Impressed by the returning veterans who refuse to lay down their arms and fight running battles with communist revolutionaries, and alone and adrift on the streets, he is recruited to their cause and camaraderie. He is sent to Munich, where he works his way up the ranks to become one of Adolf Hitler's bodyguards, a storm trooper.

The new movement is increasingly split between Hitler and rival leaders, including Karl's mentor, Otto Strasser, a real-life Nazi activist. As the schism within the party widens, the battles intensify and Hitler asserts his dominance, Karl must determine where his loyalty lies. He has fallen in love with a nurse, Sabine, whom he marries, but he is infatuated with Hitler's young niece, Geli Raubal, who is caught up in a deeply disturbing sexual relationship with her uncle.

Obsessed by the seductive and elusive Geli, Karl is startled by what he sees through her of the dark core of Hitler's personality. When Geli finally summons up the courage to leave her uncle, it is too late. Soon after, she is found dead in their apartment, a gun in her hand, allegedly a suicide. Karl believes that Hitler has murdered her. He follows him to Geli's grave in Vienna where their final confrontation takes place. Last Stop Vienna presents a chilling and suspenseful look at what might have been.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nagorski imagines a fascinating alternate ending to Adolf Hitler's ill-fated affair with his niece, Geli, in this fast-moving, riveting debut novel about a naive young stormtrooper who inadvertently becomes the fuhrer's romantic rival. After losing his brother in WWI, Karl Naumann joins the fledgling vigilante group that eventually becomes Hitler's notorious brownshirts. Despite his delicate appearance, Naumann instantly takes to the violence of the job. Working with Hitler's pamphlet publisher, Otto Strasser, Naumann rises through the ranks, and shortly after meeting Hitler, finds himself chaperoning Hitler's precocious teenage niece during a couple of brief outings. Naumann responds to Geli's playful flirtation; before long he finds himself infatuated, despite his recent marriage. The affair seems innocuous, but when Hitler begins to monopolize his young niece's attention with his twisted erotic demands, Naumann realizes that his life and Geli's are in danger. Naumann's interior monologues can be stiff ("my return to Berlin was not at all as I had envisaged it"), but Nagorski paints a complex portrait of a vengeful young man incapable of resisting his own base impulses, yet ultimately guided by a strong sense of compassion and justice. A former Berlin bureau chief for Newsweek, Nagorski captures the city faithfully, convincingly imagining the to and fro of everyday life in the 1920s. The book offers a fascinating account of the power struggles between Hitler and rival Nazi leaders, but focuses primarily on the small events and individual actions that lay the foundation for Nazi rule. Agent, Marshall Klein. (Jan.) Forecast: Nagorski's reputation as a journalist-he is the author of two nonfiction titles (The Birth of Freedom; Reluctant Farewell) and the recipient of two Overseas Press Club awards-should whet interest in his fiction debut. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An early Brownshirt gets involved with Hitler's niece and alters the course of history. National Socialism's lean days in the 1920s, when the party wasn't yet just Hitler, provide the background for this debut from Newsweek International senior editor Nagorski, whose nonfiction The Birth of Freedom (1993) dealt with eastern Europe's reemergence. Here, young Berliner Karl Naumann drifts away from the wreck of a household haunted by the death of his older brother in the Great War and by an abusive father. In the chaos wreaked by that war, the handsome and uneducated but intelligent youth is just confused enough to drift to the National Socialists, attracted by the party's patriotism and dedication to the little man. Influenced by real-life party activists Otto and Gregor Strasser, Karl finds family feeling and a mission in the Free Corps, a paramilitary organization run by Otto that, as the S.A., would become part of Hitler's organized thug troops. Karl is happy to leave Berlin and the scene of his young sexual frustrations in order to be closer to the heart of the party in Munich. There, in a city much more attractively German than polyglot Berlin, Karl becomes involved with Sabine, a pretty, nonpolitical nurse, and works his way from the fringes of the party to real activism as a Youth Corps leader. Hitler is very present, and Karl sees much of him, observing and sometimes falling victim to the future Führer's magnetic oratory. But the oratory is less compelling than the attractions of Geli, the daughter of Hitler's half-sister and a permanent attachment of the household. There are camping trips with the jugend and communist-bashing sessions with the S.A., but even though Karl marriesSabine, his heart is less and less in the party and more and more obsessed with the luscious Geli-as, it becomes obvious, is her creepy half-uncle. The history and thoroughly believable up-and-down career of an early Nazi fall victim to a strange "what if?" anticlimax. (For another fictional rendering of Hitler's "love" affair with the gorgeous Geli, see Ron Hansen's Hitler's Niece, 1999.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743237505
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 12/31/2002
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.42 (h) x 0.99 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Nagorski

Andrew Nagorski is an award-winning journalist, and Vice President and Director of Public Policy at the EastWest Institute, a New York-based international affairs think tank. During a long career at Newsweek, he served as the magazine’s bureau chief in Hong Kong, Moscow, Rome, Bonn, Warsaw and Berlin. He is the author of four previous books and has written for countless publications. He lives in Pelham Manor, New York.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2003

    fascinating! definitely a must-read!

    What a remarkable look at how someone could¿ve been swept up by the early Nazi movement! Seeing things from the perspective of the fictional character, Karl Naumann, I could somehow begin to understand how a person could possibly be swayed into participating in the most monstrous of events. Karl¿s love life was equally intriguing, the sex scenes quite stimulating (to say the least!), and Hitler¿s perversions were both repulsive and engrossing. I love the way Nagorski wrote this book so eloquently, in a language that drew me right in and kept me comfortably reading throughout. He¿s an exceptional writer who tells quite a story, while at the same time, gives you a detailed history lesson of a period that¿s always of interest¿and his brilliant plot is definitely an original way of once again bringing this era to life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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