THE HITLER VIRUS by Peter Wyden

THE HITLER VIRUS

The Insidious Legacy of Adolf Hitler

KIRKUS REVIEW

The enduring pox of Hitlerism and the whole National Socialist disaster lives on, as documented here by Wyden’s posthumous account.

Although Wyden (Stella, 1992, etc.) would love to understand what motivates people to revel in the legacy of Hitler, here he simply tries to delineate the structures that keep his extremism alive in Germany more than half-a-century after his death. There are, of course, the local neo-Nazi parties and skinhead groups that have spawned numberless hate crimes, in this case focusing on foreigners as the inferior element that needs to be erased. There are also the apologists, the Hitler-wasn’t-all-bad proponents of the made-the-trains-run-on-schedule school. And there is the plain fascination with abomination that keeps the Führer’s name on peoples’ lips and brings them down in droves to visit the “Eagle’s Nest.” Of course, as Wyden points out, it didn’t help much that Adenauer was allowed to stock his postwar government with old-school Nazis, nor did the CIA and the Vatican contribute to the demise of Nazism by aiding in the escape of war criminals. These Wyden expects, but the revisionist historians really appall him—from respected university professors like Ernst Nolte (trying to cast a kinder light on the concentration camps) to cranks like David Irving and Fred Leuchter (who fancy that the Holocaust is all a hoax). A resurgence in Nazi memorabilia, celebrations on Hitler’s birthday, as well as the vicious attacks carried out against Kurdish and Turkish immigrants to Germany are ample evidence to Wyden that the Nazi mindset keeps perking along in Germany. Fortunately, countering these retrogressive tendencies, Wyden also finds numerous examples of Germans revealing the still-hidden complicities of townsfolk with persecutions and concentration camps (in Dachau, in Passau) and a national government coming around to taking a stand against the mentality that breeds hate crimes.

An interesting if somewhat singleminded study.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-55970-532-9
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2001




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