Books by Ralf Georg Reuth

GOEBBELS by Ralf Georg Reuth
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

Impressive, well-translated (from the German) life of the notorious Nazi propaganda chief and anti-Semite, much of it drawn from new sources. To tell the story of Goebbels—a leading architect of Nazi style, and the man perhaps closest to Hitler—Reuth (a reporter for the Frankfurter All-gemeine Zeitung) uses material uncovered from Staasi files and personal papers owned by a Swiss attorney. Goebbels's nightmarish childhood in a poor, hard-working Roman Catholic family is nicely explicated, and the author shows how the boy—repeatedly ill and rejected by schoolmates and his mother (who considered her son's clubfoot to be a divine punishment)— discovered books while in the hospital for a failed operation. Reuth captures Goebbels as a young, liberal socialist and aspiring writer, willing to lie and steal, fascinated with drama, his work dominated by Nietzsche and Spengler and his personal life dominated by a taste for women above his station. Similarly, the author captures post WW-II Germany, and how this desperate country—in which no kind of ability, industry, or talent was a guarantee against poverty—nurtured Goebbels's search for a savior who could galvanize the stricken Volk and satisfy his own personal longings as well. Hitler is shown doing with Goebbels what he did with all his followers—giving the future propaganda minister belief and energy, then stripping him of convictions and reducing him to a slave (albeit an effective one), whose campaign to launch a pro- Nazi newspaper proved to be a master-stroke of media manipulation generations ahead of its time. Before long, Goebbels, who'd studied under Jews he liked and respected, became under Hitler's rule the ``twisted dwarf'' of Kristallnacht. A harrowing account that focuses clearly on the man and his long degeneration rather than on his politics. (Thirty-three b&w photographs—not seen) Read full book review >