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Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  1,270 ratings  ·  158 reviews
Hitler’s rise to power, Germany’s march to the abyss, as seen through the eyes of Americans—diplomats, military, expats, visiting authors, Olympic athletes—who watched horrified and up close. By tapping a rich vein of personal testimonies, Hitlerland offers a gripping narrative full of surprising twists—and a startlingly fresh perspective on this heavily dissected era.

Hardcover, 385 pages
Published March 13th 2012 by Simon Schuster (first published January 1st 2012)
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,270 ratings  ·  158 reviews

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Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book and a necessary read for anyone interested in this time period.

A series of opinion pieces, anecdotes and historical accounts from the 1920's up to the start of WWII as seen through the eyes of American journalists, reporters, correspondents and diplomats who were living, working and writing in Germany. Fascinating insights, some new thoughts and opinions I'd not yet heard of, as well as heart-wrenching accounts of what these people saw, witnessed and wrote about. To home on a post
Apr 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When I was taken into Phi Alpha Theta in the late 1980's, the speaker for the event was a German lady who experienced the Third Reich and the war as a young girl. Two things I remember to this day about her talk...

1. She had the opportunity to meet Hitler and shake his hand. She said that he had the most clear, deep blue and sincere-looking eyes that she had ever seen. They were such that one wanted to believe in and trust in any thing that he would offer.

2. Hitler's regime took her away from he
This was a fascinating story of the rise of one of the most evil men in all history. Moreso, it's the story of a country and a capital city itself, as well as individuals that saw firsthand the development of a political movement that has since become synonymous with terror and murder the world over. The Americans that lived and worked in Berlin in both the 20's and 30's had a definitive front row seat to history. It is a time and a place that probably none of us would care or even want to visit ...more
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-germany
While many books abound about the experiences of Americans in Paris and London during the 1920s and 1930s, there are correspondingly few books available about the experiences of those Americans who spent time in Germany from the 1920s to the early 1940s. This particular book stimulated my curiosity about some of these Americans --- journalists, military officers, writers, scholars, and diplomats --- one of whom first became aware as early as 1922 of a then insignificant nationalist, right wing p ...more
Lewis Weinstein
This is the first "research for my writing" book I am reading on Kindle. I have figured our how to highlight and record notes from a Kindle book. It actually works very well.

Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had been curious about Andrew Nagorski's Hitlerland since it came out, but until now had always held back because of its off-putting title. For some reason I found the term "Hitlerland" a bit too hip, and bit too sardonic (given the subject), with perhaps a whiff of lightweight revisionism. Wrong. Oh, I may have been right about the sardonic nature of the word, but as it turns out, "Hitlerland" (and "Naziland") were products of their time, and were definitely earned. The terms were coined, pro ...more
Oct 20, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Benny Hinn

Large chunks of this were so boring I had to stop and unglaze my eyes - reading about Josephine Baker will do that to me. But Nagorski, a former Newsweek journalist, does a decent job of synthesizing a large number of both published but long out of print memoirs, and unpublished contemporaneous manuscripts, of Americans living in Germany during Hitler's rise to power. These Americans were journalists, diplomats, embassy workers. Some of them, like William L. Shirer and a few others, saw Hitler f
Jun 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
An interesting approach to a much studied subject: the rise of the Nazis as seen by Americans living in Germany. It's interesting to see people both catching and missing the essence of what was actually afoot. It leads you to wonder: in your own life, would you recognize this kind of evil if it slowly unfolded around you?
Oct 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The rise of Nazi Germany is probably one of the most documented and researched periods of human history, but Andrew Nagorski's Hitlerland examines an overlooked chapter: the presence and perspectives of Americans living in Germany - journalists, diplomats, students and socialites who had privileged front row seats to the turmoil and instability of the Weimar Republic, who watched the Nazi party charm and muscle their way to power, who felt the earth shake as Adolf Hitler launched the world into ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Most people who are readers of German history immediately prior to WWII have read or should have read William Shirer's classic Berlin Diary which was written from his observations of the rise of the Nazi party. I would suggest that this book also be added to that list of "must-reads".

The author uses sources from telegrams, letters, diaries, interviews, radio broadcasts, official diplomatic reports, etc. to expand on Shirer's idea of eye-witness accounts of journalists and diplomats stationed in
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Could the U.S. have known what was coming, or is hindsight 20/20? That is a central theme--along with some mind-boggling photographs obtained by former "Newsweek" corro Nagorski--that makes this terrific book in the spirit of William Shirer's "Berlin Diary," stand out in a crowded field. I found "Hitlerland," to be superior to Erik Larson's "In the Garden of the Beasts," a recent bestseller about pre-WW II Berlin. While "Garden" focuses on Nazi-era U.S. ambassador William Dodd and his family -- ...more
Jan 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, history
This is a well-researched book about Americans in Germany before and during World War II. It won't answer the big question, though. Why did the Germans support Hitler? Why did they vote him into power? What did he promise them, and how did he so improve conditions once in power, that they were willing to put up with his obviously being nuts? Yeah, I know he blamed all the problems in Germany on the wealthy bankers (ie, Jews) and foreigners, and certainly things were economically awful after WWI. ...more
Delene H. Allen
Jan 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This well-written book proves that Andrew Nagorski thoroughly researched the Nazi Rise to Power in the 1930s. Essentially, this story covers the account of American correspondents prior to when Hitler launched his attack on Poland. Hitler wiped Poland out in four short weeks. The account covers how Nazi officials dealt with the embassy staff for the United States Consulate, and Nagorski shows readers 1930s Germany from the perspective of the embassy staff. I found the interviews with Hilter to b ...more
Steven Z.
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Hitlerland is a useful survey of the attitudes expressed by Americans who witnessed the rise of the Nazis to power from the 1920s onward and their reactions to Nazi policies in the 1930s. The author integrates a number of important Americans, ie; US Ambassador Wiiliam Dodd, the journalist William L. Shirer, George kennan, Dorothy Thompson etc in ascertaining what Americans thought concerning the events that they witnessed. If you want to get a flavor of what it was like for Americans in Germany ...more
Peter Schoenke
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This does a great job of giving a perspective of what it was like to see it all unfold. It was a little dry and not much of an overall story or plot, but some great episodes and worth the time and perspective.
Michael Arden
Nov 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In this superb history based on copious research, the author documents the large number of Americans who visited or lived in Germany during the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in the 1920s and '30s. They included the famous such as former President Herbert Hoover, aviator Charles Lindbergh, and author Sinclair Lewis, well-known journalists of the time, most notably William Shirer, author of THE RISE AND FALL OF THE THIRD REICH, many state department officials, including three ambassadors ...more
Mar 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
A well-written and interesting book on the Americans that witnessed Hitler’s rise to power and their differing perspectives on it. The book is a fairly easy read. Some of the stories have been well-documented elsewhere, while others are new, at least to me.

Nagorski brings together the recollections and experiences of all the Americans involved, although the context he provides is sometimes limited. It usually isn’t in-depth enough, but, then again, I assume the reader has at least a basic knowle
Lora King
Apr 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
As a history major, I feel compelled to read some good old non-fiction history books occasionally. Hitlerland is just that, a good peek at Germany during the period following WWI and the beginning of WWII. In contrast to Eric Larson's "In The Garden of Beasts" last year, which focused more on the US Ambassador Dodd's time there, this book pulls on the reporters who covered the events in Germany during this time period. Using reports, memoirs (published & unpublished)& interviews, Nagorsk ...more
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing

This is a brilliant book sharing the point of view of diplomats and Western journalists in Germany from the 1930'3 to 1942. Many quotes and diary accounts are included and I can say it is unlike anything I've read. Underneath each account is our realization of what was coming or the real danger in which these people found themselves. It's like a horror movie when we cry, "Don't open the door, don't go down the basement stairs". Hitler's hypnotic charisma was reported over and over again to exist
Drew Zagorski
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This was a very timely read in light of nations all over the world shifting to the right. Timely and eerie. Much here to consider - taking an objective step back - especially in America. It's almost laying out the playbook that the current American president is using. Now, I'm not saying he's Hitler, but much of the rhetoric, deflections, banning the press from the White House and using only those who are friendly, etc., look too similar to what happened in Germany from 1923-41 to not take notic ...more
Joe Schmidt
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I'm not sure where it started, but I seem to have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge about WWII and the unique series of events that led to it. This book was a perfect addition to my reading inventory because it gave me a new perspective about events that I have read about previously from authors in myriad positions and perspectives. I found it valuable to read about Europe's "march to the abyss" from the American angle and it helped me to learn about why isolationist America avoided that conf ...more
Bill Palmer
Jun 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
The focus is the American press correspondents and to a lesser extent the diplomatic corps posted in Berlin throughout the '20s and '30s and the time frame referenced by the title. This makes for good reading if for nothing other than the anecdotal accounts of those who, for example, had the opportunity to personally interview Hitler, attend parties and other functions with top Nazi brass such as Goering and Goebbels, and who had regular contact and interaction with the everyday German citizen. ...more
What's really fascinating is that even as Hitler seized power, turned Germany into a police state, annexed his neighbors and started a war, almost all of the American journalists and diplomats still refused to believe what was happening until the very end. To the point that many felt the need to lie about their initial impression of the Nazis and Adolf himself during and after the war.
Roger Briggs
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In these times the impressions of Americans living in prewar Nazi Germany and journalists doing their work on the scene could be instructive in resisting a similar fate now in Trumpland. A well written and documented history of those times.
Nan St.Michael
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very enlightening. Eerily similar to current life in the U.S.
This book should be required reading for everyone.
Lisa of Hopewell
Hitlerland, published in 2012, tells the story of journalists and diplomats, their wives and families present in Germany from not long before the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch and Hitler’s subsequent arrest, up until the U.S. entered World War II. Unlike great accounts, such as Rise of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer, this book looks at their perceptions at that moment with no gift of hindsight. Drawing on published and unpublished sources, that include observations by a very young John F. Kennedy ...more
Katy St. Clair
Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Illuminating reading during this fakata election season. This is the best book about the rise of Hitler through the lenses of American journalists. (Much better than Erik Larsson's.) We get a detailed picture of Adolf's personality and draw, or lack thereof, since so many people commented on how boring and plain he was in real life. The author fleshes out Martha Dodd, the daughter of the American diplomat, much better than Larsson did, too, though he seems to revel a bit too much in her sluttine ...more
William Rhodes
Aug 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historians have wondered how Germans followed Hitler over the abyss. Hitlerland attempts an explanation by using unusual source material: the prewar lives of correspondents and diplomats serving in Berlin. Some, who were attracted to a freewheeling uninhibited Berlin, developed a cultural bias that tolerated Nazi excesses. Some, who met Hitler as he rose to power, were dismissive and incredulous that this unimpressive man could rise to power. The truth dawned early for some but for others, aware ...more
R.S. Rowland
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and detailed accounts of diplomats, newspaper reporters and businessmen who visited Nazi Germany before and up to the start of WW2. Eye-opening accounts from diaries and interviews of the foreign visitors who interacted with everyone from Hitler on down the line of bureaucrats who floated in the top circles of the German government. The description of German Jews and their varying reactions to the escalating dangers is heart-rending.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you had visited Germany in the 1930s and met Hilter in person what would you have thought, without the benefit of hindsight?

Many US diplomats and journalists did. They then wrote without benefit of seeing the future. It is very interesting. The women often wrote that Hitler seemd to be a 'neuter', likely not to have ever had or have a sexual relationship with a woman. Hitler was described a effeminate. I never gathered that from the TV histories.
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What Key USA observers in Hitler's Germany Saw, Knew, Thought. 1 2 Jul 01, 2014 10:21AM  
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From back cover:
Andrew Nagorski, award-winning journalist, is 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 lives in Pelham Manor, New York.
“German nudists are the only successful rebels against Nazi control,” he wrote.” 0 likes
“Did he believe all that he said?' he asked. 'The question is inapplicable to this sort of personality. Subjectively Adolf Hitler was, in my opinion, entirely sincere even in his self-contradictions. For his is a humorless mind that simply excludes the need for consistency that might distress more intellectual types. To an actor the truth is anything that lies in its effect: if it makes the right impression it is true.'"

American journalist Edgar Mowrer on Hitler, 1933”
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