Hansen (Politics/Univ. of Toronto; Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942-1945, 2009, etc.) examines how the German people—even the military—had had enough of Hitler’s mad schemes.
Col. Claus von Stauffenberg’s assassination attempt on July 20, 1944, did not manage to kill Hitler, but there were plenty of higher-up military officers who had hoped it would, and they waited anxiously for the outcome to see which way the political wind was blowing. Scholar Hansen employs his considerable knowledge of Allied movement into Germany at the close of the war to reveal where the pockets of resistance were located, especially in light of Hitler’s furious, scorched-earth endgame. Many military resisters like Stauffenberg came from the middle ranks, and the author describes them as “Bismarckian,” honor-bound and goal-oriented rather than sharing Hitler’s “nihilistic,” genocidal vision. They were fed up with Hitler’s centralization of military power, his amateur meddling and even, for those deeply Christian, appalled by the war of extermination of local populations in occupied territory. Others, like Erwin Rommel, knew the war was lost, and armaments minister Albert Speer, for reasons of power, actively circumvented many of Hitler’s decrees. As the Allied forces began to infiltrate Germany, the factors in building resistance were complex, but mainly, the Nazi command structure was breaking down. In Paris, Gen. Dietrich von Choltitz dithered, sparing the city from destruction. Southern ports of Toulon and Marseilles, although rendered German “fortresses” and ordered to be defended to the last man, were handed over to the Allies without total demolition, while the liberation of German cities, one by one, was frequently aided by civilian resistance of military command.
An authoritative, compelling study sure to raise hackles.