9780297607625 / 0297607626

Defying Hitler: A Memoir





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About the book:

Bookstalls in Britain and Germany always seem to be laden with titles about the Nazi period, but Sebastian Haffner's Defying Hitler stands out from the crowd. Haffner's memoir is an account of one man's personal odyssey through the 1920s and 1930s as Nazism took hold amongst the German people.

When Hitler swept to power in 1933 Haffner was completing his legal training by day, and enjoying Berlin by night. Indeed, what makes Defying Hitler quite such compelling reading is that it shows just how insidiously Nazism crept into every facet of a well-heeled German's life: at work in the law library , at leisure in Berlin's carnivals and parks, and most poignantly and divisively of all, amongst friends and lovers.

Haffner also reveals how the Nazis first corrupted and then refashioned a version of German nationalism, and how they also dissolved the boundaries between public and private bourgeois morality by their insistence on complete 24-hour allegiance to the state. Perhaps only a member of the Prussian elite, such as Haffner, could write with such sensitivity about the loss of privilege, patriotism and privacy, but as a moral tale of how the extraordinary can so easily become the ordinary this is an eye-opener. It is not difficult to see why it has been a bestseller in Germany, and equally why Haffner, who fled to England in 1938, became part of the post-war German conscience. Even if you sometimes tire of the relentless output of books about the 20th century's blackest decade, this book should definitely go into your shopping basket. --Miles Taylor

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