The Nazi menace Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, and the road to war

Benjamin Carter Hett

Book - 2020

"Berlin, November 1937. In a secret meeting with his top advisors, Adolf Hitler proclaims the urgent necessity for a war of aggression in Europe. Some conservatives are unnerved by this grandiose plan, but they are soon silenced, setting in motion events that will lead to the most calamitous war in history. Benjamin Carter Hett, the author of The Death of Democracy, his acclaimed history of the fall of the Weimar Republic, takes us from Berlin to London, Moscow, and Washington to show how a...nti-Nazi forces inside and outside Germany came to understand Hitler's true menace to European civilization and learned to oppose him. Drawing on original sources in German, English, French, and Russian, including newly released intelligence documents, he paints a sweeping portrait of governments under siege, populated by larger-than-life figures like Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Neville Chamberlain, Franklin Roosevelt, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Vyacheslav Molotov. The Nazi Menace evokes a time when the verities of life were subverted, a time marked by fake news, cultural unrest over refugees, and the challenges of national security in a consumerist democracy. To read Hett's book is to see the 1930s-and our world today-in a new and unnerving light."--

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Subjects
Published
New York, New York : Henry Holt and Company 2020.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
xxiii, 388 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN
9781250205230
1250205239
Main Author
Benjamin Carter Hett (author)
  • Part One:
  • Crisis.
  • Reich Chancellery, Early Evening
  • The Meaning of Gleiwitz
  • "In the Circle of Guilt"
  • "We Are Looking for a Program"
  • "He Feels It Here"
  • "Rather Concerned re: Future"
  • Scraping at the Bars
  • Part Two:
  • Munich.
  • "That Is What I Want to Have!"
  • "Out of This Nettle, Danger"
  • "Living at the Point of a Gun"
  • "A Dissemination of Discord"
  • Part Three:
  • War.
  • "I Have to Tell You Now . . ."
  • These Are Prussian Officers!
  • Let Us Go Forward Together
  • Epilogue: "The End of the Beginning".
Review by Library Journal Reviews

In this follow-up to his acclaimed book on the Weimar Republic, Hett (history, Hunter Coll.; Graduate Ctr., City Univ. of New York; The Death of Democracy) looks at the Nazi regime that followed. In the preface, Hett states that his objective is not to provide a comprehensive narrative of the era; but rather, to portray the exemplary events in four major powers (Germany, Britain, the United States, and the USSR) from late 1937 through the first two years of World War II. Despite a recent democratic wave after the First World War, democracy was in peril as totalitarianism proliferated around the world, most notably in Germany. Initially, the world's democracies were slow to respond to Nazism. That shifted in 1941, with the Atlantic Charter, signed by the United States and Britain, which set aims for peace. Thought provokingly, Hett notes that commonalities between the 1930s and today, with an increase in nationalism along with media used by skilled politicians to manipulate the masses. Moreover, he suggests that lessons learned by dealing with the Nazi regime could be applied today. VERDICT This compelling work is highly recommended for those interested in World War II or in the history of fascism.—Dave Pugl, Ela Area P.L., Lake Zurich, IL Copyright 2020 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In this crisp and well-researched account, Hunter College history professor Hett (The Death of Democracy) portrays the lead-up to WWII as a "crisis in democracy" during which Allied leaders struggled to articulate an "open and international" world vision in response to the rise of totalitarianism. Hett highlights how the redrawing of central and eastern Europe following WWI inflamed ethnic tensions, and argues that the Great Depression "accelerated the trend toward authoritarian politics" across the region. He documents domestic pressures, including organized labor's anti-immigrant stance, that contributed to President Roosevelt's initial downplaying of the plight of German Jews, and traces the growth of Winston Churchill's commitment to democracy through the 1930s. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union used new media technologies to weaponize propaganda, Hett explains, noting that Orson Welles's War of the Worlds broadcast both revealed the power of radio to incite mass movements and influenced American and British efforts to sway public opinion in favor of confronting Hitler. Hett wisely introduces each chapter with vivid sketches of historical figures, including R.J. Mitchell, designer of the Spitfire fighter plane, and American journalist Dorothy Thompson, humanizing his analysis of political and military developments. This history makes a solid contribution to the understanding of the driving forces behind WWII. (June) Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

The author of The Death of Democracy presents a narrative account of the years leading up to World War II, examining the racial conflicts and challenges to democracy that compromised Europe's early response to growing Nazi extremism. 40,000 first printing. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Berlin, November 1937. In a secret meeting with his top advisors, Adolf Hitler proclaims the urgent necessity for a war of aggression in Europe. Some conservatives are unnerved by this grandiose plan, but they are soon silenced, setting in motion eventsthat will lead to the most calamitous war in history. Benjamin Carter Hett, the author of The Death of Democracy, his acclaimed history of the fall of the Weimar Republic, takes us from Berlin to London, Moscow, and Washington to show how anti-Nazi forces inside and outside Germany came to understand Hitler's true menace to European civilization and learned to oppose him. Drawing on original sources in German, English, French, and Russian, including newly released intelligence documents, he paints a sweeping portrait of governments under siege, populated by larger-than-life figures like Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Neville Chamberlain, Franklin Roosevelt, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Vyacheslav Molotov. The Nazi Menace evokes a time when the veritiesof life were subverted, a time marked by fake news, cultural unrest over refugees, and the challenges of national security in a consumerist democracy. To read Hett's book is to see the 1930s-and our world today-in a new and unnerving light."--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A panoramic narrative of the years leading up to the Second World War—a tale of democratic crisis, racial conflict, and a belated recognition of evil, with profound resonance for our own time.Berlin, November 1937. Adolf Hitler meets with his military commanders to impress upon them the urgent necessity for a war of aggression in eastern Europe. Some generals are unnerved by the Führer’s grandiose plan, but these dissenters are silenced one by one, setting in motion events that will culminate in the most calamitous war in history.Benjamin Carter Hett takes us behind the scenes in Berlin, London, Moscow, and Washington, revealing the unsettled politics within each country in the wake of the German dictator’s growing provocations. He reveals the fitful path by which anti-Nazi forces inside and outside Germany came to understand Hitler’s true menace to European civilization and learned to oppose him, painting a sweeping portrait of governments under siege, as larger-than-life figures struggled to turn events to their advantage. As in The Death of Democracy, his acclaimed history of the fall of the Weimar Republic, Hett draws on original sources and newly released documents to show how these long-ago conflicts have unexpected resonances in our own time. To read The Nazi Menace is to see past and present in a new and unnerving light.