Where Ghosts Walked / Edition 1

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The capital of the Nazi movement was not Berlin but Munich, according to Hitler himself. In examining why, historian David Clay Large begins in Munich four decades before World War I and finds a proto-fascist cultural heritage that proved fertile soil later for Hitler's movement. An engrossing account of the time and place that launched Hitler on the road to power.
Munich was the birthplace of Nazism and became the chief cultural shrine of the Third Reich. In exploring the question of why Nazism flourished in the 'Athens of the Isar', David Clay Large has written a compelling account of the cultural roots of the Nazi movement, allowing us to see that the conventional explanations for the movement's rise are not enough. Large's account begins in Munich's 'golden age', four decades before World War I, when the city's artists and writers produced some of the outstanding work of the modernist spirit. He sees a dark side to the city, a protofascist cultural heritage that would tie Adolf Hitler's movement to its soul. Large prowls his volatile world of seamy basement meeting places, finding that attacks on modernity and liberalism flourished, along with virulent anti-Semitism and German nationalism. From the violent experience of the Munich Soviet, through Hitler's failed Beer-Hall Putsch of 1923 and on to his appointment as German chancellor in 1933, Large unfurls a narrative full of insight and implication.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
An American historian explores the interplay of culture and politics that favored the rise of Hitler in the city he transformed into the headquarters of the Nazi movement.

Large (History/Montana State Univ.), author of five previous books about modern German history and editor of another two, is one of the figures helping to reestablish narrative history as an intellectually respectable genre. His new book tells the story of Munich as the scene of Nazism's birth and rise. When Hitler—who had failed to establish himself as an artist in Vienna—arrived in Munich in 1913, the city had a reputation for bohemian and avant-garde culture, which accommodated Hitler's image of himself as a rebel. But he also thought of the city as an emphatically German setting, as opposed to international and multiethnic Vienna. Against the background of this inner contradiction in Munich's double identity—xenophobic backwater and progressive metropolis—Large constructs his grim tale, which includes Munich's violent experiment in communism (191819), Hitler's thwarted Beer Hall Putsch (1923), and his brutal rise to the German chancellorship in Berlin (1933). His tale ends with the entry of American soldiers into the defeated Bavarian capital, but Large also appends an epilogue in which he ponders, among other things, the Allies' problematical policy of "denazification." According to Large, General Patton, the military governor of Munich and Bavaria, believed that denazification was ill advised, for "ex-Nazis no longer presented a danger in comparison with the communists. Postwar Allied policy, he declared, was persecuting `a pretty good race' and opening German lands to `Mongolian savages.' " Eisenhower relieved Patton of his duty, but his policy of tolerance toward former Nazis prevailed.

A readable, informative, and solid book. Large does not startle us with new discoveries or ideas, but he does look at this piece of history from a unifying perspective that is both illuminating and significant.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393038361
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/1996
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 436
  • Sales rank: 1,478,651
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

David Clay Large is professor of history at Montana State University and the author of Berlin (2000) and Where Ghosts Walked: Munich’s Road to the Third Reich (1997).

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Table of Contents

Introduction: "Athens on the Isar"
1 Germany's Bohemia 3
2 The Great Swindle 43
3 Red Munich 76
4 Birthplace of Nazism 123
5 To the Feldherrnhalle 157
6 "The Dumbest City in Germany" 195
7 Capital of the Movement 231
8 Babylon on the Isar 268
9 Gotterdammerung 311
Epilogue: Reckoning with(out) the Past in the "World City with Heart" 347
Notes 363
Index 395
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