Hitlerland American eyewitnesses to the Nazi rise to power

Andrew Nagorski

Book - 2012

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 startlingly fresh perspective on this heavily dissected era. Some of the Americans in Weimar and then Hitler's Germany were merely casual observers, others deliberately blind; a few were Nazi apologists. But most slowly beg...an to understand the horror of what was unfolding, even when they found it difficult to grasp the breadth of the catastrophe. The most perceptive of these Americans helped their reluctant countrymen begin to understand the nature of Nazi Germany as it ruthlessly eliminated political opponents, instilled hatred of Jews and anyone deemed a member of an inferior race, and readied its military and its people for a war for global domination.--From publisher description.

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Subjects
Published
New York : Simon & Schuster 2012.
Edition
1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed
Language
English
Physical Description
385 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (p. [365]-370) and index.
ISBN
9781439191002
143919100X
9781439191019
1439191018
Main Author
Andrew Nagorski (-)
  • "Nervous breakdown"
  • Up in the air
  • Whale or minnow?
  • "I will show them"
  • "Get out, and fast"
  • "Like football and cricket"
  • Dancing with Nazis
  • "A mad hatter's luncheon party"
  • "Uniforms and guns"
  • "On our island"
  • Feeding the squirrels
  • The last act
  • Afterword.
Review by Choice Reviews

This very interesting book examines the stabilization of post-WW I Germany and the rise of the Nazis through the eyes of American eyewitnesses. Intrepid US journalists and news correspondents flocked to Berlin, the artistic and avant-garde Mecca of Europe. The initial wave--Karl von Wiegand, Edgar Mowrer, etc.--eventually led to the appearance of such luminaries as Dorothy Thompson, Howard K. Smith, and Edward R. Murrow. Through their eyes, relationships, and apparently perfect knowledge of German, Americans watched Hitler's early backstairs political machinations, the rise of violent anti-Semitism, his bid for power, and expansion into neighboring countries. Most correspondents called for US vigilance and predicted future conflict. Sometimes, American participation altered events, as when Helen Hanfstaengl, wife of Hitler's Harvard-educated spokesman Putzi Hanfstaengl, reportedly prevented Hitler from committing suicide following the collapse of the 1923 Munich putsch by taking the pistol from his hands. Nagorski, veteran Newsweek bureau chief and current director of the East West Institute, has written an intriguing book, a timely companion to Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin (2011. Though Hitlerland, with its oblique reference to Disneyland, may sound playful, an awful reality was on the horizon. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. General Readers; Lower-division Undergraduates; Upper-division Undergraduates; Graduate Students; Researchers/Faculty; Two-year Technical Program Students; Professionals/Practitioners. A. P. Krammer Texas A&M University Copyright 2013 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In this obvious companion to Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, Nagorski, a three-time winner of the Overseas Press Club Award, surveys the Americans in Germany as Hitler started the march toward war. Essential for anyone interested in World War II. [Page 63]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Nagorski (director of public policy, EastWest Inst.; The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II) provides an insightful account of the views of Americans, including diplomats, journalists, authors, and expatriates, who resided in post-World War I Germany and witnessed the birth of the Nazi political machine. Much as in Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts, Nagorski uses both published and unpublished material to provide detailed personal versions of this grim period of history. While Larson mainly focuses on American ambassador William E. Dodd and his family, Nagorski provides experiences and perceptions from a wide range of figures, such as diplomat George Kennan, novelist Sinclair Lewis, later CIA director Richard Helms, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and future television anchorman Howard K. Smith. Nagorski effectively demonstrates how Americans present in Germany during the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich were deeply affected and how many in fact grasped the horrific global implications. VERDICT A compelling work for World War II history buffs or anyone who wants to understand how such devastating evil emerged while the world seemingly watched. [See Prepub Alert, 9/22/11.]—Mary A. Jennings, Sno-Isle Libs., Camano Island, WA [Page 113]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

This account by former Newsweek staffer Nagorski (The Greatest Battle) offers precise firsthand observations of Hitler and his place in history, beginning in the 1920s, as people tried to decide whether he could be dismissed as a nonentity or posed a serious threat to world order. For instance, one American journalist in 1932 called Hitler "effeminate" while also acknowledging the "little corporal's" ability to "smell the trend of mass feeling" of discontent. Nagorski draws on the writings and recollections of Americans who witnessed Hitler's meteoric rise; the result is a multidimensional view of the Austrian-born tyrant. The invaluable element of this character study of the enigmatic führer is the accumulative clout of the comments of famed American outsiders such as writers Sinclair Lewis and Thomas Wolfe; journalists Edward R. Murrow, Dorothy Thompson, and William Shirer; diplomat George Kennan; and aviator Charles Lindbergh, who called Hitler "a great man." Nagorski is drawing from the same well as Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts, while lacking its strong narrative center. But Nagorski's account is rich in anecdotal detail about how a man dismissed by many could hypnotize a nation and terrorize the world. 8 pages of b&w photos. Agent: Robert Gottlieb, Trident Media Group. (Mar.) [Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Documents the experiences of Americans living in Germany at the time of Hitler's rise to power, describing their growing realization of the horrors that were unfolding and how they helped both Germans and Americans to understand what was happening.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Documents the experiences of Americans living in Germany at the time of Hitler's rise to power including journalists, officials and historians, describing their growing realization or denial of the horrors that were unfolding and how they were responsible for helping both Germans and Americans to understand what was happening. 50,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Hitler’s rise to power, Germany’s march to the abyss, as seen by Americans—diplomats, military, expats, visiting authors, Olympic athletes—who watched horrified and up close.Some of the Americans in Hitler’s Germany were merely casual observers, others deliberately blind, a few were Nazi apologists. But most began slowly to understand what was unfolding, even when they found it difficult to grasp the breadth of the catastrophe.Among the journalists, William Shirer understood what was happening. Edgar Mowrer, Dorothy Thompson, and Sigrid Schultz, reporters, were alarmed. Consul General George Messersmith distinguished. Truman Smith, the first American official to meet Hitler, was an astute political observer. Historian William Dodd, who FDR tapped as ambassador in Berlin, left disillusioned; his daughter Martha scandalized the embassy with her procession of lovers, Nazis she took up with; she ended as a Soviet spy.On the scene were George Kennan, the architect of containment; Richard Helms, who rose to the top of the CIA. The writers Sinclair Lewis and Thomas Wolfe, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, and the great athlete Jesse Owens came through Germany; so did a younger generation of journalists—Richard Hottelet, Hans V. Kaltenborn, Howard K. Smith, and Ed Murrow.These Americans helped their reluctant countrymen begin to understand Nazi Germany as it ruthlessly eliminated political opponents, instilled hatred of Jews and anyone deemed a member of an inferior race, and readied its military and its people for a war for global domination. They helped prepare Americans for the years of struggle ahead.