THE WAR PATH: Hitler's Germany 1933-1939 by David Irving

THE WAR PATH: Hitler's Germany 1933-1939

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One cannot read David Irving's latest book without wondering how long the public will continue to pay for the same old facts served up in a rather slapdash, journalistic fashion. For all his reliance upon interviews, diaries, and other primary sources, Irving (author of the controversial Hitler's War) presents nothing of substance that has not been said repeatedly before. His interpretation, which admittedly is rather hard to extract, seems dubious and trite. Essentially he claims that in the years between the Chancellorship and the invasion of Poland, Hitler's foreign policy alms never changed, although his timetable was accelerated by a growing sense of Iris own mortality. Assumed here, of course, is the simplistic notion that Hitler was in absolute, personal control of his government, of outside events, and even of historical forces. Meanwhile the author's outrageous assertions not only fly in the face of most major studies, but are poorly documented and confusingly presented. Thus, for instance, we are informed that ""Hitler's first power base in 1933 was. . . the workers,"" a curious conclusion based, it seems, on the fact that the Nazi labor organization eventually had 30 million members. But this was after years of Nazi rule and the exercise of terror. In another place the course of the Nazi rise is compared to the French Revolution with a glibness that astounds. Later, Irving baldly states that Hitler cared little about his public image: ""He desired neither present publicity nor the acclaim of posterity."" This is based upon one sentence of Hitler's which Irving seems to have swallowed without a moment's hesitation. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Irving claims that Hitler's relations with women were quite normal; that he was a humanitarian, given to suspending the death penalty on occasion; etc. And although such statements are usually linked to a primary source, there is hardly any exposition of the evidence in the text; the reference is given briefly in the back, with no account taken of the controversial nature of Irving's conclusions. This is unfair to his readers, since those unfamiliar with the terrain might accept Irving's questionable version as gospel.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1978
Publisher: Viking