Defying Hitler: A Memoir and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more

Buy New

Sign in to turn on 1-Click ordering.
Buy Used
Used - Very Good See details
Price: 1.79

More Buying Choices
Have one to sell? Sell yours here
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Start reading Defying Hitler: A Memoir on your Kindle in under a minute.

Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here, or download a FREE Kindle Reading App.

Defying Hitler: A Memoir [Paperback]

Sebastian Haffner
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
Price: 6.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
You Save: 3.00 (30%)
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o
Only 5 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
Want it tomorrow, 3 Aug.? Choose Express delivery at checkout. Details


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition 4.49  
Hardcover --  
Paperback 6.99  
MP3 CD, Audiobook --  
Unknown Binding --  

Book Description

1 May 2003
Sebastian Haffner was a non-Jewish German who emigrated to England in 1938. This memoir (written in 1939 but only published now for the first time) begins in 1914 when the family summer holiday is cut short by the outbreak of war, and ends with Hitler's assumption of power in 1933. It is a portrait of himself and his own generation in Germany, those born between 1900 and 1910, and brilliantly explains through his own experiences and those of his friends how that generation came to be seduced by Hitler and Nazism. The Germans lacked an outlet for self-expression: where the French had amour, food and wine, and the British their gardens and their pets, the Germans had nothing, leading to a tendency towards mass psychosis. The upheaval of post-WWI revolution, factionalism and inflation left the Germans addicted to excitement and action: Hitler provided this, and more.

Frequently Bought Together

Defying Hitler: A Memoir + The Coming of the Third Reich: How the Nazis Destroyed Democracy and Seized Power in Germany + The Third Reich in Power, 1933 - 1939: How the Nazis Won Over the Hearts and Minds of a Nation
Price For All Three: 27.87

Buy the selected items together

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix; New Ed edition (1 May 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842126601
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842126608
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

Product Description

Amazon Review

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Congratulations all round as this has just won the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Non-Fiction 2003. Oliver Pretzel, Sebastian Haffner's son,is enjoying a well-earned holiday in Mexico before he retires from his position in the Maths department at Imperial College so his son, Sebastian Haffner's grandson, was on hand to accept the award and pose for pictures with lovely Zadie Smith who also won the Fiction Award. Needless to say, we made sure that Zadie went home with a copy under her arm. Obviously this is great timingfor the paperback, and we are working with Colman Getty who handle the PR for the prize to maximise this. Already we've seen an article in the INDEPENDENT, and a feature on FRON ROW. There has also been a piece in the DAILY MAIL and THE JEWISH CHRONICLE. Finished copies are now in - and don't forget this comes with 6 new chapters, a revised afterword and the full version of chapter25 (April 1. 1933) which was discovered at the same time as these chapters. These were discovered in March 2002 by a young historian working on SebastianHaffner's papers in the German state archives. As Oliver Pretzel says: 'The manuscript now really is, I believe, in its final form, as my father abandoned it in 1939. Although still incomplete, the book also has a more satisfactory ending. Instead of the earlier final note of unreal bliss, it now concludeswith a powerful close-up of Nazi methods in action.' Pick of the Week in theSunday Times: "Haffner has written a painfully honest and effective account of how the best in German culture was so swiftly destroyed." "Tells exactly how Hitler and the Nazis managed to subject an entire nation to their evil will." Daily Express "Graphically describes how a generation of German youth wasseduced by Hitler and the Nazis." Sunday Telegraph "With the belated but highly welcome publication of this book Haffner has had the last word in his struggle to be a German in Nazi Germany." FINANCIAL TIMES

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

3 star
2 star
1 star
4.9 out of 5 stars
4.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
The author became a respected writer and as a young man in Germany held, as he makes clear, right wing views - but not extremist ones that came to be adopted by Hitler and the Nazis. For much of the book, his tone is matter of fact, descriptive of his upbringing. The writing is clear - the book is deceptively easy to read, which makes it all the more of a shock to feel the horror that Haffner himself felt at the way political events were developing. The analysis towards the end of the book is astonishing - inasmuch as it made me realise how this young man understood that his beliefs in decency could be so destroyed - helped by willing ordinary people, who convinced themselves of the 'right' of what was happening. I have never read anything quite so simply convincing to try to explain the reality of Hitler and how people were drawn into acceptance of what took place. I urge readers to sit down with this remarkable book and be transported into pre-war Germany and then be brutally awakened into what happened.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Throughout my adult life, I have often wondered how the Nazis could have come to be so powerful in a country which, to the casual observer, seemed so 'civilised'. How could the German people have been taken in by Hitler, allowing him to become so powerful when most felt he was repulsive and inappropriate? Even more, how could so many of these people then be persuaded to commit such horrendous atrocities in the name of the Third Reich and Aryanism?
Sebastian Haffner will, I think, begin to give you the answer in this book. The Germanic culture is without doubt different form the British and events during and after the First World War were very significant in creating an attitude amongst those who were to eventually 'run' Germany in the 1930s and 40s. How many of us are aware that there was a revolution in Germany after WW1?
Mr Haffner was undoubtedly someone who had enough of a conscience, was intelligent and independent enough to have been able to think for himself when the Nazis were so successfully terrorising the majority of Germans into following them. You will see that he too was very aware of the manipulation, introduced by the emerging Nazi party, to acheve it all.
To be able to read an ordinary man's account of the rise of Nazism was, I found, fascinating. His insights, perceptions and feelings as to why and what was happening around him are rivetting.
Above all, this is a book you can read. Haffner's style is moreish; the more you read the more you want to keep going.
It is only a pity that the book ends so suddenly because he never finished it.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
It is unusual to find such well-written personal accounts that deal with the biggest question of Hitler's rise to power: why did normal Germans become Nazis, kill and wave flags for Hitler the psychopath?

This is important for todays climate, there are chilling parallels between the 'war on the jews' and the current 'war on muslims'. This article ([...]) discusses the apparent similar hysteria sweeping across the USA. It begins with a quote from Haffner:

"There are few things as odd as the calm, superior indifference with which I and those like me watched the beginnings of the Nazi revolution in Germany, as if from a box at the theater...Perhaps the only comparably odd thing is the way that now, years later...."

Haffner's memoir's offer a powerful insight into just how good people became bad and how we can protect ourselves from being swept up into the current insane Wars justified for the 'moral good' but the reality is as disturbing as the world the Nazi's created.

For further reading any books on Ponerology are useful additions to understanding the dynamics of evil taking over a society
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defying Hitler 29 Oct 2002
I'm 52 years old (born 1950), and grew up after WW2. The movies of my childhood focused on this period and I guess that something in my subconscious stuck - and now I find that I have an interest it. I have read many of the major books about this conflict and thanks to Amazon I discovered this book. I would rate this book as one of the best I have ever read. if you get it and read it you will eventually get to page 141 and read chapter 26. It only lasts for 5 pages, but (as the book says, if your a serious reader)you will find this to be one of the finest pieces of writing on modern history. Not clasical or anything else like that, but human, heartfelt, and true. I only wish I could tell the writer that he turned out to be right!!!!!!!!!
But he's dead now.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'must read ' book 7 Oct 2009
A contemporary account of life in Germany between WWI and WWII as seen through the eyes of a young, middle-class, law student. You will learn and understand more about how the Nazis came to power from this book than from a dozen history text-books.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitler explained 3 Sep 2008
The subtitle of this book might well be "Hitler for Dummies" in that it is so concise and well written (without being high brow), that you can read it in half an afternoon and feel that you now know all that is essential to know about Hitler. Of course you will not win "Mastermind" after having digested the tome, but you can certainly hold your own in most discussions about the Führer and what he was all about.
Personally I prefer to read books in their original language (in this case German), but I'm sure an English translation will not leave you disappointed.
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book - would give it 6 stars if I could. READ IT.
Amazing book - best I've ever read on the why and how of Nazi Germany. He explains - from the perspective of an ordinary, educated German at the time - exactly how the Nazis came... Read more
Published 1 day ago by mumof3darlings
5.0 out of 5 stars comment
An outstanding book and a must read for anyone trying to understand how such a dangerous ideology of Nazism could ever have gained traction within what had been a proud and great... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mina Bowater
5.0 out of 5 stars An explanation of how one man, Adolf Hitler, was able to dominate an...
Having lived in Germany for 11 years and having many German friends, I have found it difficult until now to understand how an earlier generation in that great country came to fall... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Peter
5.0 out of 5 stars Defying Hitler - Sebastian Heffner
The original book in the German language has been elegantly translated by Sebastian Heffner's son. The book provides a very interesting insight into the turbulent times during... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars History made personal
Sebastian Haffner gives a very good description of the Nazis' rise to power, from the personal experience of a young middle class man. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Klaus
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating historical overview
Fascinating, personal and honest account about a key time in history that I did not know much about, the focus is usually the second world war not the politics leading up to it. Read more
Published on 8 July 2012 by Maddy
5.0 out of 5 stars How Were the Nazis Possible?Why Didnt You Stop Them ?
These are questions asked by the post war generation of their parents.Reading this book may well give them some answers to these questions. Read more
Published on 19 Oct 2011 by Wingate
4.0 out of 5 stars An answer of sorts
This book has been the answer to my main question about Hitler and the Third Reich. I always wanted to know why so many people, some very clever and well read, went silently behind... Read more
Published on 23 July 2010 by Sontee
5.0 out of 5 stars A memoir with huge explanatory power
Haffner became a well-known historian but this memoir was written in England when in exile and was not published until 2000, after his death, becoming a bestseller. Read more
Published on 30 Dec 2009 by Martin White
5.0 out of 5 stars Germany as the first Nazi-occupied land
Sebastian Haffner gives a chilling account of how, after the exhilarations and traumas of 1914-33, an advanced land fell into the hands of totalitarianism. Read more
Published on 23 Sep 2009 by Mr. Terence H. Edwards
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category