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The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic
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The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  1,720 ratings  ·  261 reviews
A riveting account of how the Nazi Party came to power and how the failures of the Weimar Republic and the shortsightedness of German politicians allowed it to happen

Why did democracy fall apart so quickly and completely in Germany in the 1930s? How did a democratic government allow Adolf Hitler to seize power? In The Death of Democracy, Benjamin Carter Hett answers these
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published April 3rd 2018 by Henry Holt and Company
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Jill Hutchinson
This is a thought-provoking book which follows the political situation of Germany immediately after the end of WWI. The Kaiser has abdicated and fled to Holland and the military and various political groups are left with the task of remaking the government into a form which is acceptable to them, the people, and the demands of the Versailles other words, starting from scratch.

The book begins with the Reichstag fire which was the turning point that truly changed the course of events
Pam Cipkowski
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is required reading for anyone who fears the events occurring in our country today. I always thought the comparisons between the current administration and Nazi Germany were hyperbole, but it is shocking how certain actions and behaviors today parallel those in the days of the Weimar Republic, which is the period in Germany between the end of World War I, and the Nazi Party and Hitler’s seizure of power in 1933.

One of the many interesting points Hett makes is that Hitler was an unremarkabl
The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic by Benjamin Carter Hett, is an account of the slow demise of democracy in Weimar Germany throughout the post-WWI and pre-WWII era. The book begins by examining two myths in German history - one of the November 1914 spirit of unification in Germany, as the state began preparations for war. The second is the stab in the back myth, which examined Germany's loss in WWI and the eventual revolution that would overth ...more
May 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

Most books, movies or tv shows about World War II revolve around Hitler and the genocide of 6 million Jewish people. And they mostly tell it from an American or British viewpoint. We dont often get the German viewpoint and we dont often get any information about Germany before the rise of Hitler and the Nazis.

The Death of Democracy is about how political shortsightedness and cowardice led to the rise of the Nazis and eventually Hitler. The German people are often looked down on by the
Mal Warwick
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
How democracy died in Germany is the subject of a penetrating new historical study of the Weimar Republic and the political turmoil that wracked the nation in the early years of the Great Depression. Hunter College history professor Benjamin Carter Hett brings new evidence to light that exposes old myths and reassesses the roles of the politicians and military officers who were prominent in German politics in the 1920s and early 1930s.

As Hett notes, "the end of the Cold War brought major advance
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I didn't realize how much I needed to read this book until I read it. I was always fuzzy on the details of how Hitler came to power, but his rise was always presented as so inexorable that I guess I just sort of accepted that all of Germany went crazy.

This book is dire and depressing and terrible, but it still inspired hope in me, because I realized that of course Hitler's takeover of Germany was a process during which many people made many decisions that could have gone another way--if they jus
Anne Morgan
Apr 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
How Hitler was able to come into power in Germany has always been an interesting debate. What could have been differently? How much of our debates are 20-20 hindsight versus what was actually seen and known at the time? Could something like that ever happen again? Benjamin Carter Hett's The Death of Democracy: Hitler's Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic is the latest look into the Germany of the 1920s and 1930s and an attempt to understand what happened.

Unfortunately, for as
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a history focusing on the Nazi seizure of power in Germany. I have been reading it in conjunction with the Winkler book on German political history, since it nearly overlaps between the two volumes at ther transition. The focus is from the shift away from a parliamentary cabinet to a presidential cabinet leading eventually to the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor and then the story of the Nazi consolidation of power through the emergency decree, the process of coordination, and finally ...more
Casey Wheeler
Four out of Five Stars

I received a free Kindle copy of The Death of Democracy by Benjamin Carter Hett courtesy of Net Galley  and Henry Holt and Company, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my fiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus pages.

I requested this book as I have read a number of books on World War II and the rise of Nazi Germany. The description
Craig Pearson
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
As a historian I was very interested in the subject of this book. I expected with the premise of losing democracy in Germany that there would be a general discussion of the history of Germany and the life of Adolph Hitler and it was. The problem was the wordiness of the discussion. The story just did not flow.
Susan Paxton
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this concise but important new book, Hett takes into full account the most recent and up to date scholarship on Weimar, including sources not yet translated into English. Hett intelligently concentrates not on the Nazis, as most books do, but on the entire political arc of Weimar Germany, particularly the conservatives who thought they could use Hitler and then dispose of him. It is said - the quote is attributed to Twain but that is almost certainly wrong - that history doesn't repeat, but i ...more
Oct 19, 2018 rated it liked it
How could Hitler become the leader of a democratic country that was so advanced in the arts, science and liberal ideology? Having just visited this beautiful country this question haunted me. Could it happen here?

Benjamin Hett's book is a detailed account (often too much detail) of how a country can politically transform in just a few years. It was a complexity of circumstances, misguided and egotistical politicians and extreme left and right ideology. The presumed harshness of the Treaty of Ver
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, world-war-ii
Very well written book. Scary and to the point about how easy it is to lose democracy and how much work it is to be a citizen of a democracy.
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the most comprehensive book I've read about the Weimar Republic. Published in 2018, I felt comfortable reading this not only as a thorough analysis of how the Weimar Republic failed and the Nazis came to power, but also as a book that takes into account the unavoidable comparisons one makes between this era and the current era in our world. Hett isn't explicit about it, and as my professors are fond of saying, history never repeats itself exactly -- but THEMES repeat themselves, and the ...more
Keith Gandy
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book gives helpful insights into the political players and circumstances that played a role into what would escalate into one of the greatest tragedies in history. The "behind the scenes" documentation of what was the perfect storm that led to the flood gates being opened for evil to reign is a warning to all future generations.

All nations and its present and future citizens should be diligent students of history so that it does not repeat under their watch. The first thing that is sacrifi
Kristy Miller
This book is not in any way about modern American politics. At the same time, this book is absolutely about modern American politics.

In his book, Hett breaks down how democracy died in the Weimar Republic. Starting with how the end of WWI established Weimar, Hett shows how prejudices, bitterness, longstanding rivalries, fear, and a refusal of facts lead to the rise of Nazism. Hitler and his flunkies worked these feelings with aplomb, manipulating their way in to reach, and then killing the last
Cary Lackey
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very well researched and written book about an enduring historical political question: how did a reasonably well-educated and modern society fall for a demented and dangerous charlatan like Hitler?

The author, a history professor and attorney, explored the political system in place in Weimar Germany after the end of WWI, and how its well-meaning structure (a multi-party legislature as a check on the executive, until the executive figured a way around it) was the seed of its ultimate destruction.
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
“For many liberals, the election outcome cast the viability of democracy itself into question. For how could democracy work if it dependent on such voters? It was “monstrous”, said one liberal newspaper, “that so many millions of voters in this highly civilized country” had backed “the commonest, hollowest and crudest charlatanism”.

The quote is from September 1930 but of course could quite easily have been written in response to any number of populist political events in the past few years. The
John McDonald
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Benjamin Carter Hett, an historian, has written an account, designed for lay consumption, showing that far more than a timid, complacent German population brought Hitler to power and kept him there. He convincingly demonstrates that forces emanating from the grinding economic problems forced on Germany after World War I and a dispirited political hierarchy, together with Nazi terrorism, created conditions that allowed Hitler to topple the unstable Weimar Republic and install himself as both Chan ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Of course there is one overriding reason for an American in 2018 to be interested in this book. The
Weimar Republic quite successfully brought Germany back from defeat and humiliation after the Great War. But big business wanted to bring down the unions and abolish fair treatment for workers, the army wanted more and more money for more and more weapons, farmers hated the multinational trade deals they thought were bankrupting them and bringing German agriculture down. Upstanding rural Germans he
Matt MacFarline
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other-history
Because Hitler and the Third Reich have become synonyms for evil and far-right extremism (and rightly so), it has become common and popular in the West, following WWII, to draw comparisons from one's political opponents to this genocidal regime (maybe not-so-rightly-so). Thus, if you, like I, approach this book with a healthy, skeptical dose of "why do we need another book on the collapse of democracy in interwar Germany", I believe you will be pleasantly surprised.

I will take it one step furth
Matt Bender
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Focuses on the key events and people of the Weimar Republic without digressions in a page turning, compact account.

Dispels common conceptions that led to Hitler’s rise, such as depression or reparations, while also focusing on the psyche of the German nation and its post WWI leaders.

Lays out well the Nazi propaganda victories and their rapid rise to prominence through synchronizing their message with rural Protestant voters. Later the book describes the consolidation of power throug
Mickey Mantle
May 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The people of a Nation descend into political bickering. Too many political parties. Too much division in a society. A longing for a one united people. The BIG LIE becomes totally or partially believed because everyone knows small lies are obvious, but there might be some "truths" contained in the outrageous lie.
The descent into irrationality of a divided Nation.
No political compromising is a death knell.
A rebellion against Globalization.

I have reflected upon this book for a few days. So many wa
B. Rule
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a superb condensed account of the fall of Weimar democracy and the rise of Nazi autocracy. Of course history doesn't repeat itself, but it certainly echoes. And the clangor of those echoes is almost deafening right now: Hett describes a robust, urbane democracy that was nonetheless riven with internal divisions, affected by an immigration crisis, and possessed of a political culture more consumed with winning at all costs rather than seeking an ameliorating influence on factionalism.

Nov 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Took me forever, but that isn't a bad thing. The political maneuvering of the 1920s and 1930s isn't my favorite topic, but the parts of the book that reveal the thinking and attitudes of the Nazis are worth the work. The blatant disregard for the truth, the stifling of opposition, the fomenting of is all disgustingly familiar. When I was much younger, I really thought "it can't happen here". Such naiveté. It can and does happen anywhere. The playbook of tyrants is short and ugly. ...more
Jan 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
I've been on a kick to learn more about the Weimar Republic and have found this book a great political overview of the transition between a Germany freshly on the heels of WWI, a desire to build a democratic system, and the trends and forces that lead to Hitler. A very readable book overall, although I'll be reading other books to better understand the culture of the Weimar Republic, not just the politics and economics of the short lived system. ...more
Richard Thompson
May 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
There is a lot of detailed historical information in this account of the end of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler. There were more names, places and events than I could possibly begin to remember and a thoughtful anaylsis of how and why it happened. But I like this kind of information overload. If I read several books on the same subject with this quality, I begin to feel by the third one that I have really learned something.

One of the scariest parts of the story is how the rightist par
Mark Lisac
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's depressing reading but an informative close-up study of a period whose general outlines are fairly well known. Hett does a good job of surveying the many strands of development that led to the collapse of the republic and the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. It's rather surprising, then, that he lands rather unconvincingly on a simple conclusion: "More than anything else, the Nazis were a nationalist protest movement against globalization." That formulation looks like a retrofitting of current ...more
JP Mitton
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Top notch account of the Nazi seize of power and why and how a civilized democracy such as post WWI Germany could turn into a dangerous totalitarian regime. Some lessons to think about for current liberal democracies, especially after the recent threat to democracy on display in the US.
Brett Rohlwing
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
The parallels, man...the parallels...
What year is it again?
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Benjamin Carter Hett, a former trial lawyer and professor of history at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, is the author of Death in the Tiergarten and Crossing Hitler, winner of the Fraenkel Prize.

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38 likes · 7 comments
“The key to understanding why many Germans supported him lies in the Nazis’ rejection of a rational, factual world.” 7 likes
“The cynical dishonesty of the Nazis’ propaganda received a significant boost from the cult of irrationality that drove their followers: the contempt for, indeed the revolution against, Enlightenment standards of rationality.” 5 likes
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