This one’s for you if you want to learn more about Hitler.
Almost all of the time, I choose a book from my evergrowing list of books to read, which consists of those I’ve read about or been told about or are the go to book on a topic I want to explore. But very occasionally a book just jumps at me in a shop and I take a crazy spontaneous, lacking in recommendations risk. (As you can tell I like to live on the edge). This was one such book. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised it was published in 1973. It’s quite cool to read a book about something relatively recent, that is missing events of the last 40 years! Although I hate criticising books, I have to say I found the middle section of this book a bit dull but I think that’s because of when it wa published and the fact that I feel like it was a bit of a repeat of what you learn in school history. However it was very interesting on Hitler’s non existent life outside of politics, his aims from his time in office, and how he went about things. As ever, I can’t really do it justice in prose so here are my best/most interesting/thought provoking quotes from it.
“the entire edifice of his ideas was based on a fallacy- the fallacy that the 1918 revolution had been the cause of defeat. In fact it had been its consequence.” p13
“He refused to think beyond, or to make provision beyond, his own life-span…With that decision, however, he placed himself under a time pressure that was bound to lead to precipitate and inappropriate political decisions.” p18
“He took the decision, against what was then still the overwhelming majority of the military experts, to create integrated, independently operating armoured divisions and tank armies.” p31
“But it would possibly be more correct, and certainly more important, to see not capitalism but individualism as the opposite of socialism.” p38
“Achievements belong to one person. Successes always involve two- and the success of the one is the failure of the other.” p52
“They [politicians] do not know the entire play in which they have the short scene, they cannot and do not even wish to know it; they merely act as the moment seems to bid them.” p75 Here the author is comparing the majority of ‘successful’ politicians who he thinks act pragmatically with historically less successful left wing politicians who act ideologically, thinking of their role in the long term. Note this is not particular to Hitler, but a general point.
“until the misconceptions in these ideas are clearly separated from what was more or less correct about them, the correct elements are in danger of being made taboo simply because Hitler also thought so.” p77
The author summarises Hitler’s whole ideology “The actors of history…are the nations, history itself consists of their wars, their rivalry for living space and world domination, and so for that struggle they must be perpetually rearmed; not only militarily and ideologically but also biologically, i.e by raising their racial quality” p81
“Hitler has at least one thing in common with Marxism- the claim to be able to explain the whole of world history from one point of view.” p85
“states do not exist principally for the purpose of waging wars, but, on the contrary, for the preservation and safeguarding of the external and domestic peace of their inhabitants, no matter whether these are nationally homogeneous or not.” p87 contrast with p81.
Hitler ignored the fact that “Since the industrial revolution prosperity and power have no longer depended on the size of one’s territory but on the state of one’s technology” p88
“To Hitler the political thinker war was the norm and peace the exception. He realised that peace could serve the preparation of a war. What he did not realise was that war must always serve the conclusion of peace.” p112/3
“Hitler in 1945 did give orders for anything that was still standing in Germany to be blown up and for the German nation to be deprived of any chance of survival, in other words to be punished by annihilation for having proved incapable of conquering the world.” p120
“Hitler had always had two goals- Germany’s domination over Europe and the extermination of the Jews. He had failed in the former. Now he concentrated on the latter.” p121
“To Hitler, during the last three and a half years of war, the war had become a kind of race which he was still hoping to win. Who would reach his goal sooner, Hitler with his extermination of the Jews or the Allies with their military overthrow of Germany?” p145
“During those weeks the Germans were like a woman whose lover suddenly reveals himself as her would be murderer and who runs screaming to her neighbours for help.” p161 Hitler’s cruelty towards the end of the war made the German people look forward to the arrival of the Allies.