I’ve heard good things about Hitler by Marrin so I was a bit put off when the librarian handed me the book with a big “J” on the spine for juvenile. I needn’t have worried, though. Because Marrin directed his writing to young people, it is very clear and understandable. And it’s a far cry from the dumbed down history books that fill our public school shelves today.
Marrin does a superb job of setting the stage for Hitler’s rise to power. He clearly explains why Hitler was so popular and why most Germans were fooled by him. He describes how Hitler’s persuasive speaking skills sent young people into a frenzy of patriotism. There was nothing they would not do for their fuehrer.
In forming his totalitarian state, Hitler made Mein Kampf required reading in all the schools. Marrin called it a “nasty, mean-spirited book that was dull and repetitious and filled with thousands of errors in grammar and spelling.” (p. 51) But since it was the law for every German to own a copy, Hitler became a millionaire from the sale of the book.
Opponents ignored Mein Kampf as the ravings of crackpot. They were wrong – dangerously, foolishly, wrong, for the terrible thing is that Hitler was sincere. He meant what he said, every word, and he would carry out his threats when he came to power. No one should have been surprised, or claimed that he hadn’t been given fair warning of the savage world Hitler would create. Had Mein Kampf been taken seriously, it might not have cost so many lives - an estimated 125 lives for every word, 4,700 lives for each page, one million lives for each chapter. (p. 52)
Hitler’s desire for power led to a staggering number of deaths . We all know the 6 million figure for the Jews. But how many know that 20 million Russians died? Or that a deluge of Allied bombs on Hamburg, Germany killed 43,000 in two days? Two hundred thousand Germans and Americans died at the Battle of the Bulge.And in 1944, when a small group of army officers hatched a failed plot to kill Hitler, 5,000 people were killed and many others sent to concentration camps in retribution.
If you are interested in World War II this is a fascinating, articulate, and sobering look at the events that were orchestrated by one of history’s most famous villains.