Synopses & Reviews
For the first time in one enthralling book, here is the incredible true story of the numerous attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler and change the course of history.
Disraeli once declared that “assassination never changed anything,” and yet the idea that World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust might have been averted with a single bullet or bomb has remained a tantalizing one for half a century. What historian Roger Moorhouse reveals in Killing Hitler is just how close–and how often–history came to taking a radically different path between Adolf Hitlers rise to power and his ignominious suicide.
Few leaders, in any century, can have been the target of so many assassination attempts, with such momentous consequences in the balance. Hitlers almost fifty would-be assassins ranged from simple craftsmen to high-ranking soldiers, from the apolitical to the ideologically obsessed, from Polish Resistance fighters to patriotic Wehrmacht officers, and from enemy agents to his closest associates. And yet, up to now, their exploits have remained virtually unknown, buried in dusty official archives and obscure memoirs. This, then, for the first time in a single volume, is their story.
A story of courage and ingenuity and, ultimately, failure, ranging from spectacular train derailments to the worlds first known suicide bomber, explaining along the way why the British at one time declared that assassinating Hitler would be “unsporting,” and why the ruthless murderer Joseph Stalin was unwilling to order his death.
It is also the remarkable, terrible story of the survival of a tyrant against all the odds, an evil dictator whose repeated escapes from almost certain death convinced him that he was literally invincible–a conviction that had appalling consequences for millions.
"Although Hitler took his own life, there was no shortage of people who wanted, and attempted, to do it for him throughout his political career. Drawing on newly opened archives in Germany and elsewhere, British historian Moorhouse (Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City) casts a wide net, chronicling failed assassination attempts by disaffected individuals in the early days of Hitler's reign, such as radical university student Maurice Bavaud, whose three easily thwarted tries in November 1938 got him guillotined; the efforts of a British group of James Bond like spies armed with, among other things, 'exploding rats'; and the well-known attempts of German officers, such as Hitler's architect Albert Speer. Moorhouse also brings to light little-known would-be-assassins, such as members of the Polish underground. Most of the assassination attempts Moorhouse describes failed because of poor planning; others fell victim to circumstance, while some may simply have been rumors, making for a compelling web of research, intrigue and conspiracy theory. Accessible prose, suspenseful narration and ample historical context make this a page-turner for WWII buffs as well as anyone with a passion for the underbelly of political power in one of the last century's darkest regimes." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Roger Moorhouse studied history at the University of London and is currently reading for a PhD in modern German history at the University of Strathclyde. He was co-author with Norman Davies of Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City and is a regular contributor to BBC History Magazine. He is married with two children and lives in Buckinghamshire, England.