HITLER by Rainer Zitelmann


The Policies of Seduction
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An English translation of a monumental and controversial new study of the politics and policies of Hitler’s Third Reich,

written by a respected journalist from Die Welt.

Most studies of the Nazi regime, taking the bloodiest war and one of the most brutal massacres in history as its most vivid

accomplishments, have concentrated on the military and racial depredations of that perverse commonwealth. The Nazi crimes were

so monstrous that it is impossible to consider Nazi politics dispassionately, and difficult even to apply to them the usual

hypotheses of political science. Zitelmann understands this attitude well, yet he argues it has resulted in a historiography whose

flaws are so profound that German academics are unable to explain just how Hitler managed to win a democratic election in the

first place. The tendency among left-wing historians to view Nazism as essentially reactionary and bourgeois is misguided,

contends Zitelmann, because it obscures the extent to which National Socialism was indeed a revolutionary party that represented

a break with the political status quo of the period and offered large numbers of German workers and peasants what looked like

a real opportunity to shape their own destinies. Nazi economic policy, for example, was highly regulated, permitting private

property but placing severe restrictions on the accrual of profit and the disposition of surpluses. Nazi labor and family policies

were paternalistic, offering a safety net of guaranteed employment—or, in the case of mothers, exemption from employment—in

exchange for disciplined productivity. Nazi investment in the national infrastructure of roadways and housing was a model of

efficient state investment.

Although much of Zitelmann’s text is slow-moving and pedantic, relying too heavily on statistics and footnotes, his main

point—that a true understanding of Hitler’s rise to power must take closer account of the policies he promised and pursued—is

bound to generate debate.

Pub Date: Feb. 15th, 2000
ISBN: 1-902809-03-3
Page count: 540pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2000


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