Russell's Reviews > Defying Hitler

Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner
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it was amazing

One of the few accounts of Nazi Germany written by someone not persecuted by the regime, this memoir documents the loss of nationhood of the German people. It helps to explain one of the great puzzles of the age: why the German people allowed Hitler to achieve total control.

"The first country to be occupied by the Nazis was not Austria or Czechoslovakia. It was Germany. It was just one of their now so familiar tricks that they occupied and trampled on the nation in the name of 'Germany' itself - that was part of the mechanism of destruction."

As an Aryan, Haffner was for much of the time immune from the horrors afflicting so many people in that country, and he writes with great clarity of the decline of reason and humanity. Written in 1938-39, before the outbreak of the war, it describes the feeling of desolation of an exile - in Haffner's case, an exile yet living in his own country. What I found remarkable is that he viewed Hitler as completely depraved, bestial and abhorrent - and personally responsible for driving anti-Semitism - all before the terror of the regime was finally unleashed during the holocaust. This is compelling reading for anyone who is concerned about political oppression, corruption and tyranny: in other words, every human being.

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Reading Progress

March 14, 2015 – Started Reading
March 14, 2015 – Shelved
March 18, 2015 –
page 93
30.1% "Chilling insights on just about every page. When the author describes Hitler as repellant, monstrous and deranged it is easy to forget that this was written in 1938-39, long before the most notorious atrocities had been committed. It's a pre-holocaust view that frequently hints at the horrors that might come, and warns against complacency."
March 22, 2015 – Finished Reading

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