Esteban del Mal's Reviews > Hitler's Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life

Hitler's Private Library by Timothy W. Ryback
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Jun 13, 2009

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bookshelves: treadmill-to-oblivion, special-snowflake, non-fiction, furor-teutonicus
Read in June, 2009

What can a person's library tell you about him or her?

After reading this book, I still don't know; but this is an interesting examination of one of history's most infamous bibliophiles. (And sometimes downright creepy -- at one point, the author was examining a book from Hitler's library and discovered "tucked in the crease...a wiry inch-long black hair that appears to be from a moustache.")

Although only a small portion of Hitler's library survives, the relatively few remaining texts do allow for a snapshot, no matter however underdeveloped, of his interests. Predictably, books on pseudo-science, specifically focusing on race, shaped Hitler's early life. He had every German translation of Henry Ford's books on anti-Semitism, and was quoted as saying, "I regard Ford as my inspiration." Later, he superficially read Kant, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer (often taking them out of context, gleaning from their writings what he found “useful”) and mixed their works with contemporary crackpot mysticism in an effort to fashion National Socialism into a sort of quasi-state religion to counter materialism (the philosophical foundation of Communism). Think of the psychology behind those night rallies with big torches and all the pomp, the Führer elevated and framed by the Parteiadler for effect.

Just prior to, and during, WWII, Hitler -- already predisposed to weave the most disparate views into a perverse mosaic -- was surrounded by handlers who filtered the texts he would read to fit his already paranoid and rationalized worldview. Hence, books from sycophants and hangers-on of every stripe informed his "thinking." As the Soviets surrounded Berlin, Hitler apparently felt a kinship with Bismarck (whose biography he had read and re-read) and would draw parallels between their lives to the point that he would seize upon the most strained minutiae as proof of his theory (for instance, seeing the death of FDR as a harbinger of a long-sought fracture in the American-English-Soviet alliance akin to the death of tsarina Elizabeth and the resulting fissure of the alliance between Austria, France and Russia against Germany in 1861).

Then Hitler killed himself and his corpse was burned beyond recognition.

Page 68 has a typo, printing "the" twice in sequence.

Memorable Hitler quotes from the book:

"A leader can make mistakes, no question about that. But following a bad decision will achieve the final goal better than personal freedom."

"The victor will not be asked afterwards whether he told the truth or not."

"We are fighting in the far reaches to protect our homeland so that we can keep the war far away in order to spare us the fate we would suffer if it were closer."
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Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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Esteban del Mal Wow. 2009. Look at me. I was

Are you thinking about reading this, Brian? This review pretty much sums it up: no bright lights, but interesting nonetheless.

And thanks.

message 2: by David (last edited Dec 01, 2010 09:17AM) (new)


Wait. Was Nicholas Sparks writing in the 1920s and 30s?

message 3: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Sort-of related news article that may interest you:


message 5: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine I think that there is definitely interesting things in looking at personal libraries of psychos.

I was looking at some information on jim jones personal library and you can tell that someone is a bit off sometimes when they think it is reasonable to agree with both hitler and ghandi.

message 6: by Esteban (last edited Dec 01, 2010 11:25AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Esteban del Mal Hey, hey, hey. Hitler gave us the autobahn and VWs.

message 7: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine jim jones desegerated a lot of whatever town he lived in, I'm too lazy to look it up.

Esteban del Mal Jonestown. Don't drink the Kool Aid.

message 9: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine i hate kool aid

Esteban del Mal She is?

Desegregate the Kool Aid!

message 11: by Miriam (new)

Miriam 1122151 jim jones desegregated a lot of whatever town he lived in, I'm too lazy to look it up.

Somewhere in Indiana.

Esteban del Mal Jim Jones? Or are we talking James Jones and the writers colon(oscop)y he attended somewhere in the Midwest?

message 13: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine yeah jim jones. he also sold pet monkey's door to door. this is all in one of my reviews I forget which, I'll see if I can find it.

Esteban del Mal He sold monkeys? Door to door?

I am soooo joining his church.

message 15: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine yeah he also tried to save the international hotel (an apartment building for immigrant) by calling 5000 church members to surround the building.

Esteban del Mal I bet it worked! (Did it work?)

message 17: by Jasmine (new)

Jasmine for a year I think. then it got torn down, it's been rebuilt by now.

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