Defying Hitler: A Memoir

Defying Hitler: A Memoir

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Defying Hitler 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Haffner's first person account of everyday life in the midst of the most murderous regime in history does not contradict the more academic and inevitably less interesting histories of the Third Reich. 'Defying Hitler' is clearly an accurate, albeit an incomplete, memoir. What is truly original and instructive about Haffner's account is that it treats the subject of Weimar culture with an objectivity that is rare among liberal-minded commentators. Supposedly, the period between the end of World War I and the election of Hitler in 1933 was a celebration of freedom and an apotheosis of humanistic values: viz, the first democratic constitution in German history. The more complex reality, a reality that Haffner describes with such breezy clarity, was that the economic ruination of that period, most notably the out of control inflation and devaluation of the currency, set up a series of social divisions that could only spur resentment, hatred and the political extremism that came soon after. What I found most alarming was that the youth-glorification that made the young and agile culturally and economically supreme during Weimar also rewarded tricksters, con men, and frauds of every stripe. Indeed, the cruelty and joylessness of the period has been captured by many of Weimar's most famous artists. But Haffner's masterful style, his ability to witness and at the same time to participate in the events of his time without self-rigtheousness is the hallmark of a great memoir. I saw a connection between the youthful revelry of the 20's and the Hitler Youth, between the lampooning of morals and traditional values and the road to mass murder. Clearly, Haffner contributed much to our collective understanding and helped to correct the fundamental fallacy of treating any period in history as a constellation of ideas removed from what actually happened.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Haffner's history of the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany before World War 2 is very eloquently written and translated, and seems especially pertinent today. This book speaks volumes more than any history textbook's chapter regarding early twentieth century Germany. It is truly fascinating and enlightening seeing history told from a first person perspective.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was very insightful, it provides a look into how the Nazi policies affected people's personal lives.
Guest More than 1 year ago
"Official, academic history has nothing to tell us about the differences in intensity of historical occurrences," writes Sebastian Heffner in this fascinating memoir of Germany in the years 1914-1933. "To learn about that, you must read biographies of unknown individuals." For a very personal account of how the rise of Hitler affected one (non-Jewish) German, born in 1907, take his advice and read this book! He offers no apologetics, excuses, or self-pity. His repugnance for the Nazis is matched by his perceptiveness of how even Germans like him were being "made into" Nazis. It is quite compelling. I only wish he could have finished his story, which was interrupted by the outbreak of the war. The afterword by his son, who found the manuscript in a desk drawer after his father's death, "finishes" the story in a skeletal way, but the reader is still left yearning for more of Sebastian's insights.