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A psychohistory of Hitler reconstructed from his innumerable blunders on the battlefield, in foreign policy, in the planning and ordering of domestic affairs, in his terrible relations with his generals, and in his inability to foresee what underpinnings his envisioned ""Thousand Year Reich"" would need. Lewin, a British historian, says Hitler's obsession to be rid of what he conceived to be a conspiracy by ""international Jewry"" to rule the world through commerce and the banking system, committed the dictator to nothing less than the necessity to conquer the world. His major failing, says Lewin, was that he did not have the faintest notion of how much military might, administrative skill and planning such an audacious venture would require: "". . .For Hitler to have assumed that his Aryan overlords could have sustained hegemony on the scale he envisaged long enough for it to develop into anything worth the name of Empire was a radical failure of historical imagination. He was doomed before the first of his Panzer divisions moved."" Under Hitler, vaunted German efficiency became only a memory, a myth, as error compounded error. For much of the war, according to Lewis, the German government operated in a fashion near to chaos. Domestic policies were largely made according to Hitler's whims, with little thought to future consequences. For instance, Hitler believed women should be at home, making and raising babies, and he forced many thousands out of the professions and offices. But when the fighting on the Russian front bled his army white and his generals begged for replacements, Hitler refused to allow women to replace men in jobs on the home front. Lewin estimates that such a move could have freed three million men for the army. Lewin is a man of strong opinions and prejudices, which gives his history a tangy flavor and keeps his original analyses lively. Great for ""what-if"" hypothesizers.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 1986
Publisher: Morrow