1933 by Philip Metcalfe

1933

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An unusual, almost novelistic, rendering of the ascendancy of Hitler to power in Nazi Germany, by free-lance writer Metcalfe. Metcalfe attempts a value-free narrative, letting the unfolding of events speak for themselves. By doing so, he hopes to demonstrate how (contrary to our hindsight view of the obvious evilness of Hitler) people in Germany could see the rise of the Nazis as just another in a never-ending sequence of political games. Metcalfe has sifted through the memoirs, letters, and diaries of five people--newly appointed American ambassador William Dodd; his daughter Martha (who accompanied him on his tour of duty in Berlin); Putzi Hanfstaengl (Hitler's Harvard-educated chief of foreign press); Bella Fromm (a Jewish society reporter); and Rudolf Diels (first head of the Gestapo). Intermingling their stories, the author writes a compelling, dramatic tale of Nazi consolidation of power while managing to garner new insights into the era. Metcalfe portrays Dodd as beleaguered, fighting off both American press accounts of extravagant ambassadors abroad (of which he was not one) and his impressionable daughter, whom he once referred to has his ""little Nazi"" (Hanfstaengl actually tried to marry Hitler off to Martha, until he realized that Hitler was practically a eunuch when it came to sex). Martha was impressed by Nazi panache, as displayed by Hanfstaengl (but she was also impressed by Communism--in 1957, she and her husband fled to Mexico, under indictment for Communist espionage). Metcalfe also documents the fact that the foreign press in Germany remained uncensored for the first year of Nazi rule, which should be an embarrassment to those who have long claimed that ""we didn't know."" By novelizing his work, Metcalfe heightens the drama of a year we are used to seeing in newsclips. A good change of pace from standard historical fare.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1988
ISBN: 093296687X
Publisher: Permanent Press