Adolf Hitler

Adolf Hitler

Book - 1992
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Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Toland's classic, definitive biography of Adolf Hitler remains the most thorough, readable, accessible, and, as much as possible, objective account of the life of a man whose evil effect on the world in the twentieth century will always be felt.

Toland's research provided one of the final opportunities for a historian to conduct personal interviews with over two hundred individuals intimately associated with Hitler. At a certain distance yet still with access to many of the people who enabled and who opposed the führer and his Third Reich, Toland strove to treat this life as if Hitler lived and died a hundred years before instead of within his own memory. From childhood and obscurity to his desperate end, Adolf Hitler emerges as, in Toland's words, "far more complex and contradictory . . . obsessed by his dream of cleansing Europe Jews . . . a hybrid of Prometheus and Lucifer."

Publisher: New York : Anchor Books, 1992.
ISBN: 9780385420532
Branch Call Number: BIO HITLER TOLAND
Characteristics: xx, 1035 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


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May 11, 2019

We dwell on Hitler's sins to distract us from our own. Unlike Britain before, and the US today, he did not seek to dominate the world, but only to seize vast adjoining lands and remove the inhabitants, as we had done in preceding centuries.
--- Other biographers vie in disparaging Hitler, making his wickedness more malicious and denying any virtues. Each tries to see Hitler some new worse way, to find some new fault that other writers have missed. Failing that, they condemn the German people, or even all Gentiles. Shirer was so biased that he gratuitously called German women the ugliest in Europe. Some Holocaust writers endow Hitler with supernaturally evil power. Toland is more objective. His Hitler has no cultic aura.
--- Hitler was sociable and popular with early comrades, even kind and generous. He kept spartan quarters for years after becoming famous and powerful. He loved to spend evenings in the homes of married friends, hogging the conversation about his great plans and playing with the children. Women found him fascinating. Children adored the clever stunts he performed for them. To the end, he remained solicitous with loyalists and secretaries (thoughtfully giving them cyanide capsules).
--- Hitler read widely and had extensive musical knowledge. His youthful efforts included poetry, fiction, and an unfinished opera, words and music. He saw TRISTAN many times, and chose the climax of Liszt's "Les Préludes" as the theme for the invasion of Russia. He doubted that Himmler had sufficient artistic sensibility to succeed him as Führer.
--- Hitler had a strong lifelong interest in architecture, and was modestly successful as a painter of architectural scenes. It is standard for polemical biographers to ridicule his prosaic works, produced for sale and readily sold. If he had created monstrosities like the German Expressionists, critics would no doubt see signs of psychosis in them. Instead they mock his conventionality. His awkwardly rendered figures are often criticized by those who uphold the crazy cartoon-figures of the Expressionists. See Hitler's paintings on the web, compare them to the grotesque art that is now politically correct, and judge for yourself. (Look for churches and other buildings; many web pictures seem misattributed.) The pity is that Hitler abandoned painting for politics.
--- Toland thinks Hitler hated Slavs because of Princip. He stresses Hitler's reckless courage in WW1: he did NOT remain safe at HQ as some falsely claim.
--- Unlike US leaders, Hitler wrote his own speeches. He had spent years debating with comrades in rooming houses and charity homes, and had his points firmly in hand. His persuasiveness came from strong conviction, good organization, clear enunciation, and rhythmic, melodic voice (which later turned hoarse). In time, he developed smooth, compelling emotional transitions and retorts, shrewdly assailing opponents' inconsistencies. His long speeches were interesting and easy to follow. He called each listener to save the nation and punish those responsible for its plight. The whole production was a bravura stage performance. Hearers wept for joy at finding a redeemer. Those who had come to jeer, even Communists, were won over. Officials who sought to restrain him fell under his spell.
--- Jews of the time were commonly blamed both as plutocrats and Bolsheviks.
--- Though less than 1% of the German population, Jews had great prominence in business and commerce; they were held responsible for "interest slavery" and other economic woes. Hitler said God wanted him save the nation from Jewish materialism even as Christ scourged the money-changers from the Temple. The message changed with the audience; he told an American reporter he had no ill-intent toward rich Jews, but was concerned for Germans who were not Jews.
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