Synopses & Reviews
A unique and compelling eyewitness account of Germany between the wars.
A huge bestseller in Germany, Defying Hitler is a memoir about the rise of Nazism in Germany and the lives of ordinary German citizens between the wars. This fresh and astute account offers a unique perspective on this era of twentieth-century history.
Covering the years from 1907 to 1933, Haffner's personal memories form the basis for questioning, analyzing, and interpreting much of Germany's history. His eyewitness account of groups such as the First Free Corps -- the right-wing voluntary military force set up to suppress communism during the revolution of 1918 -- which would provide training for many of the later Nazi storm troopers; the Hitler Youth movement, which swept the nation; the apocalyptic year of 1923 when inflation crippled the country; the peaceful Stresemann years; and Hitler's coming to power all contribute to the portrait of a country in a constant state of flux. Sebastian Haffner elucidates how the educated average German grappled with a rapidly changing society, while chronicling day-to-day changes in attitudes, beliefs, politics, and prejudices.
Available for the first time in English, this highly illuminating work is a unique portrait of a time, a place, and a people.
“An astonishing memoir...vividly convey[s] the texture of life under an emerging totalitarian regime... [a] masterpiece.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A masterpiece...has more to say about the enduring enigma of Hitlers Reich than almost anything else in the voluminous modern literature on the subject.” —Commentary
“Haffner is like the guide of Dantes Inferno, tracing the slow descent into Nazism in intimate detail...Compelling... Fresh, immediate, and wonderfully personal...An absorbing book.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“The prophetic insights of a fairly young man...help us understand the plight, as Haffner refers to it, of the non-Nazi German.” —The Denver Post
Written in 1939 and unpublished until 2000, Sebastian Haffners memoir of the rise of Nazism in Germany offers a unique portrait of the lives of ordinary German citizens between the wars. Covering 1907 to 1933, his eyewitness account provides a portrait of a country in constant flux: from the rise of the First Corps, the right-wing voluntary military force set up in 1918 to suppress Communism and precursor to the Nazi storm troopers, to the Hitler Youth movement; from the apocalyptic year of 1923 when inflation crippled the country to Hitlers rise to power. This fascinating personal history elucidates how the average German grappled with a rapidly changing society, while chronicling day-to-day changes in attitudes, beliefs, politics, and prejudices.
About the Author
was born in Berlin in 1907. In 1938 he emigrated to England and a few years later began writing for The Observer
. He returned to Germany in 1954 and became the best-selling author of, among other works, The Rise and Fall of Prussia, From Bismarck to Hitler,
and The Meaning of Hitler.
He died in 1999.
Oliver Pretzel, the translator of this work, is the son of Sebastian Haffner. He was born in 1938 shortly after his parents' arrival in England and was educated in England and Germany. He is a mathematics professor at Imperial College, London, and is married with three children.