In six separate sketches, German journalist Knopp (German Unity, not reviewed) explores the relationship that Goebbels, Göring, Himmler, Hess, Speer, and Dönitz had with Hitler. Each chapter reveals how every one of these “henchmen” played a specific role in the Führer’s carefully planned Wagnerian opera of world domination and mass genocide. The author intelligently balances key biographical information of each underling, while simultaneously postulating the very nature of each man’s fascination with Hitler. Knopp’s work seems to zero in on the peculiar similarities of deity worship, which emerge in men whose egos and personalities are as different as night and day from each other—from the flamboyant, power-hungry Göring to the conniving, articulate Goebbels to the “half school master, half crackpot” Himmler. The only chapter that seems out of place is the one on naval commander Karl Dönitz, whose devotion to Hitler seems purely functional compared to the ideological and spiritual marriage that Hitler seemed to share with the other five (all of whom shared a deeply rooted vein of anti-Semitism and a glorification of the Teutonic race).
A well-documented and disturbing look into the mind’s eye of the willing executioners of their Führer’s “divine vision.”