Unlike Alan Bullock, whose Hitler: A Study in Tyranny he criticizes, Herzstein aims at a psychological and sociological...

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ADOLF HITLER AND THE GERMAN TRAUMA 1913-1945: An Interpretation of the Nazi Phenomenon

Unlike Alan Bullock, whose Hitler: A Study in Tyranny he criticizes, Herzstein aims at a psychological and sociological study of ""the dialectic interaction between idea and reality, between the man and his nation."" It sounds promising and it's an approach currently being pursued by any number of academic historians. But Herzstein fails to deliver. Hitler was swept to power by ""the existential despair prevalent in German society"" (whatever that means), by the bankruptcy of the reactionary right, by the terrible economic crisis, by the disillusionment of German youth and by the masses' lust for a mystical, retrogressive tribalism. Hardly a new interpretation of Germany's economic and moral condition during the Weimar years; more like the old cliches. Herzstein borrows a little from everyone; from George Mosse on Hitler's Jewish policies; from Ernest Nolte and Franz Neumann on Hitler's wooing of the industrialists; from William Sheridan Alien on how the Nazis seized power in one fairly typical German town. He argues that both politics and economics fail to adequately explain the Hitler phenomenon; poor demented Rudolph Hess with his astrology and his diets is more relevant, is ""symbolic of the German trauma."" Nihilism and atavism in short, with the Fuhrer ""sounding a primeval mating call"" to a degenerate people eager for ""mind-obliterating rape."" Simplistic and derivative.

Pub Date: April 1, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1974