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Letters to Hitler Hardcover – 18 May 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press; Tra edition (18 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745648738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745648736
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 2.7 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 794,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"A valuable addition to the available sources. There is also a lot here for the general reader: the letters are often surprising in tone and content, and sometimes funny."
Literary Review

"A historic gem ... Eberle′s work is an interesting but chilling case study on how a seemingly educated and mature society can be manipulated to the point of blind fanaticism."
Morning Star

"Sheds a whole new light on life under the Nazis."
Daily Express

"An excellent example of the increased drive to portray history from the ordinary, everyday people – if that′s what Hitler′s followers could be called."
Review 31

"A history of the Third Reich at its most personal and individual; from the fawning letters of sycophants to desperate pleas for clemency from both active opponents and innocents swept up in terror ... an excellent book."
The Australian

"The letters have, like something from a Hans Fallada novel, the stamp of grimy, gritty truth."
The Age

"Gripping evidence on the relationship between Hitler and some ordinary Germans."
Australian Journal of Politics and History

"A unique and captivating view of one nation′s devotion to its dictator."
Deseret News

"This collection of letters to Hitler from ordinary Germans is full of fascinating and sometimes disturbing testimonies to the charismatic power of the Nazi dictator. It adds notably to our knowledge of the German people′s attitudes towards the Third Reich and its policies."
Richard J Evans, University of Cambridge

"This collection of letters to Hitler provides unique and fascinating insights into the social–psychological climate of the times. Here published for the first time in English, the long–lost letters from ordinary citizens read like voices from the past. Perhaps most strikingly they reveal loyalties to and support for a dictator and a regime we are still struggling to understand."
Robert Gellately, author of Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany

About the Author

Henrik Eberle is lecturer at the University of Halle.

Victoria Harris is a Research Fellow at King′s College, Cambridge.

 


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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kirsty Hewitt on 28 May 2012
Format: Hardcover
Letters to Hitler provides a selection of many thousands of letters which were sent to Adolf Hitler between 1925 and 1945. All have been recently discovered in the KGB Special Archive in Moscow where they have remained since the end of the Second World War.

The letters themselves were sent by a wide range of German citizens, ranging from children to teachers and from priests to businessmen. Strikingly but perhaps rather unsurprisingly, the majority of them are incredibly positive in their nature. Letters to Hitler clearly shows the levels at which people fell for the Nazi regime. A woman's league in 1931 sent a postcard to the Fuhrer which called Nazism `our wonderful movement' and many patriotic and idolatry poems from teenagers have been included. A letter written to `Uncle Hitler' on behalf of a four year old boy and five young children asking Hitler to become their godfather are among the more unsettling examples. There are also many letters from people of all walks of life thanking Hitler and worrying for his safety.

Letters to Hitler is split into three different sections which combine to cover the entire period of Nazi rule in Germany - `The Time of Struggle: 1924-1932', `Worship, Protest and Consent: 1933-1938' and `Crisis and War: 1938-1945'. Each of these sections are made up of several sub-sections which deal with such topics as `Expressions of Loyalty', `Wishes for the New Year', `Dissent' and `The Calm Before the Storm'. Each part of the book begins with a relatively broad introduction and every included letter has been explained and contextualised.

The first volume of these letters in English has been introduced by the editor, Victoria Harris, a Fellow at Cambridge University.
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Format: Hardcover
Since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, more and more archival sources relating to World War II have come to light. This book is based on a cache of letters to Hitler that had been stored in Berlin and were removed to the Soviet Union at the end of the war.

The majority of the letters in the book are either congratulations to Hitler, often on the occasion of his birthday, or requests--for anything from an autograph, to having Hitler become a child's godfather, to a grant of honorary German status. The congratulatory letters tend to be very similar and it becomes tedious to read them. It was telling, though, to read how precipitately the number of such letters declined from the late 1930s, and to read that in the seven weeks after the invasion of Poland that caused the declaration of war against Germany by Britain and France, Hitler received only 18 letters; a vivid contrast to the far-greater number of letters received on the occasions of the Austrian Anschluss or the annexation of the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia.

It's far more interesting to read the few letters reproduced here that are not congratulations or, essentially, fan requests. The one that most struck me was from Franz Ippisch, who wrote from Vienna immediately after the Austria was joined into the German Reich. Ippisch wrote that he and his family had been "entranced" by Hitler's "great and brilliant act" of the Anschluss, but were quickly disturbed to find that his Jewish wife would not be permitted to vote in favor of joining Austria to the Reich. Though Ippisch describes his wife as a faithful spouse, an excellent companion and mother and a dutiful German woman, he also refers to her "unfortunate Semitic descent.
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By Deira on 18 Sept. 2013
Format: Hardcover
Well, what to say about this book? I liked it very much. But because I'm very interested in German history, it is not easy to read so people who don't like serious books won't find it interesting. But for me it was big joy to read what simple people of Germany wrote to Hitler. It was something you'll never get to read at school.
I was also happy to find two letters from Lithuania. I was happy to see that author mentioned even some people from Lithuania who wrote to Hitler.
So, not much to say about this book. Some pages were boring, some interesting, some made me think how pathetic and crazy some people were to write such nonsences to Hitler when he didn't care at all about such idiots, and some people looked for benefits. So all book is full of different letters from different people, many of them sent poems: some sound stupid, some have good rhyme. So, this book s good if you want to know about simple people during WWII, to know what they thought and what they felt.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Best read in small increments 21 Oct. 2012
By deeper waters - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One of the things that struck me about these letters was the extreme sense of alienation so many people experienced and their desperation to be reassured, noticed and appreciated by and integrated into something grander and more important than they could ever be. Much of the tone and content was disturbingly congruent with the comments we hear coming from people today who have, through fear or oppression, have a poverty of thought, hope and independence. Not all of the correspondence was positive, raising the much pondered questions about what it was that allowed some people to resist while so many simply caved in. This book held more promise for me than it delivered and while it was an interesting and objective presentation of the attitudes and beliefs of the people of the time, it was not a book that I could warm up to.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Hitler Through Letters 2 Oct. 2012
By Robin Friedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With the end of WW II in 1945, Soviet armed forces seized a large quantity of letters from the Chancellor's Office in Berlin. Many of the files involved war crimes and were used during the Nuremberg trials. A substantial group of letters, however, consisted largely of private correspondence from individuals to Hitler. These letters remained unused for decades in Soviet archives until they recently were made available to scholars. In 2007,Henrik Eberle, a professor of Modern History at the University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, published a selection of the letters in German. In 2012, Eberle published the letters in English, with notes by Victory Harris, Research Fellow at King's College, Cambridge, and a translation by Steven Kendall.

The letters are written by a variety of individuals, most of them German but some from elsewhere. The writers range from children to the aged. The economic background of the writers ranges from the unemployed to farmers and laborers, to writers and artists, to aristocrats. Some of the writers are critical of Hitler to varying degrees but most letters show fervent admiration. The letters offer insight into the sources of Hitler's appeal as they discuss economic issues such as unemployment and inflation and the restoration of German pride following the 1919 Versailles treaty. Besides the incoming letters, the volume includes the apparent disposition of the letter. In some cases Hitler answered letters personally, but as would be expceted in most cases replies were written by staff. The letters frequently were simply put in the files without response. Harris writes in her introduction to the volume: "[t]he secretof the Third Reich's success during its height in the 1930s and early 1040s was Germans' sense that they could engage in a conversation with their leader,and that he was in some way listening."

The letters are arranged in three parts corresponding to the rise and fall of Nazism. Part I is captioned the "Time of Struggle" and covers the years from 1924, following the failed "Beer Hall Putsch" to 1932 as the party moved from the fringes to a position of strength. Part 2, "Worship, Protest and Consent" begins in 1933, with Hitler's appointment as Chancellor and continues through the years of peace ending in 1938. An interesting group of these letters deals with the annexation of Austria. Part 3, "Crisis and War" covers the WW II years from 1938-1945. During the war years, letters from the people become fewer. The latter letters in the collection focus more on military and political matters. For example, the collection includes a lengthy letter written in 1944 signed by a group of eight high ranking Generals, including von Rumstedt and Rommel. assuring Hitler of their continued loyalty following the defection of another high-ranking general, Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach to the Soviets. In many instances, the professions of loyalty were not well-founded. Another interesting letter in this group is by one Marie Schicklgruber, a distant relation of Hitler, who sought information and favors regarding her husband and son.

Harris' valuable running commentary accompanies the letters and offers a brief historical background of Germany during the years of Hitler. She places the correspondence in the context of the changing political situation in Germany and offers as well comments of the background of the writers. Her discussion is important towards understanding the volume.

The letters show a great deal about the individuals who wrote to Hitler. Many of the letters were written for Hitler's birthday, and enclosed gifts or requests for photographs. A surprising number of letters include poems or songs by their writers. There are a small number of letters from people with Jewish background, some of which indicate their wish to be loyal to the regime and asking for a modification of Nazi's blatant anti-semitic policies. Men wrote most of the letters but some of the longer and more interesting letters are from women. For example, the collection includes excerpts from a lengthy 1930 text, "The German Woman" that its author Elsa Walter sent to Hitler. Walter became a high-ranking Nazi woman in the early 1940's. Her text includes thoughts on the role of women, sexuality, economics, German culture, the Social Democrats, and more. Her letter is also laced with anti-semitism.

I learned a great deal from these letters and the accompanying commentary. In historical studies, letters such as those included in this volume must be used with caution. A small number of individuals wrote the letters to Hitler included in this book. Care must be used in extrapolating the views of people who took the trouble to write with the views of the far broader group of people who did not. That a person was moved to write personally to Hitler might itself be enough to suggest that the writer's views were firmer in some respects than his or her compatriots. In summary, it is valuable to have these letters available in a good translation with thoughtful commentary. But much broader historical sources need to be used to try to understand German people and their relationship to Hitler and the Third Reich. For this reason, the volume closes with a short bibliography for those who wish to read further.

Robin Friedman
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, but of limited value 2 Dec. 2012
By Maine Colonial - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, more and more archival sources relating to World War II have come to light. This book is based on a cache of letters to Hitler that had been stored in Berlin and were removed to the Soviet Union at the end of the war.

The majority of the letters in the book are either congratulations to Hitler, often on the occasion of his birthday, or requests--for anything from an autograph, to having Hitler become a child's godfather, to a grant of honorary German status. The congratulatory letters tend to be very similar and it becomes tedious to read them. It was telling, though, to read how precipitately the number of such letters declined from the late 1930s, and to read that in the seven weeks after the invasion of Poland that caused the declaration of war against Germany by the Allies, Hitler received only 18 letters; a vivid contrast to the far-greater number of letters received on the occasions of the Austrian Anschluss or the annexation of the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia.

It's far more interesting to read the few letters reproduced here that are not congratulations or, essentially, fan requests. The one that most struck me was from Franz Ippisch, who wrote from Vienna immediately after the Austria was joined into the German Reich. Ippisch wrote that he and his family had been "entranced" by Hitler's "great and brilliant act" of the Anschluss, but were quickly disturbed to find that his Jewish wife would not be permitted to vote in favor of joining Austria to the Reich. Though Ippisch describes his wife as a faithful spouse, an excellent companion and mother and a dutiful German woman, he also refers to her "unfortunate Semitic descent." He writes to Hitler to ask that he "set aside the disgrace of my wife's Jewish ancestry." Fortunately, Ippisch emigrated to Guatemala before finding out what was the more likely result of his wife's descent.

Truly striking letters like Ippisch's are few and far between in this collection. I suppose it's not surprising that a collection of letters to any world leader--even Hitler--would be largely pretty banal stuff and offer only limited insights into how ordinary Germans were caught up in Nazism. For more thoroughgoing studies of how ordinary Germans felt about Hitler and the Nazi regime and what they knew of the regime's actions and plans, I recommend books like Claudia Koonz's The Nazi Conscience and Robert Gellately's Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Interesting insight into German people and Nazi Politics 12 Nov. 2012
By Kortick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
'Letters to Hitler' edited by Henrik Eberle is a collection of letters written to Adolph Hitler by the German people. The letters were in the Soviet Archives for many years and were made public in a German printed book in 2007. This is an English version printed in 2012, and does not contain all of the letters in the original publication.

The book is broken down into 3 sections: 'The Time of Struggle 1924-1932', 'Worship, Protest and Consent 1933-1938', and 'Crisis and War 1938-1945'. Each letter is printed, then followed by an explanation of what the letter was about (some references need clarification at times) and whatever response was given to the writer of the letter. There are people who may think that these explanations following each letter is not necessary, and in some cases they are not, but having the information available is a plus. I feel better to have the information there if wanted then not have it if needed.

The letters range from birthday wishes to Hitler, asking for autographed pictures, invitations for Hitler to be godfather to a child, poems praising him and the Nazi party, requests for Hitler to help have someone released from a concentration camp, and suggestions as how to defeat the allies. Many letters included gifts as well. On very few occasions did a letter actually reach Hitler, most were handled by others. In the case of a woman who wrote to Hitler about her husband being wrongly accused of stealing from Stormtrooper funds and put in a Prussian jail, the letter actually made it to Hitlers attention and he instructed an investigation into the claims. The man was found innocent and released from jail. So as the book states 'despite the bureaucratic restrictions it was possible to make ones way into the proximity of the Leader'.

I found this to be a very interesting book. It is not a book read in one sitting, I do not believe it was meant to be one. I do hear the German version of this book is much better, but this book provides a great insight into the times of desperation and lack of hope that allowed a leader like Hitler, who knew how to use the 'cult of personality' to rise to power.

Not for a casual reader obviously, but for those who have interest in World War II or Hitler and the Nazi Party, this book provides information from a different angle: the german people themselves during the time leading up to, during and at the end of the war. It is the rise and fall of Hitler and the Third Reich in letters by German citizens.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Führer fan mail - an interesting historical footnote 25 Oct. 2012
By John Flora - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Letters to Hitler paints a vivid portrait of the cult of personality Adolf Hitler created for himself. The letters come from a recently discovered file in the KGB Archive in Russia and illustrate the profound grip Hitler had on the German people, especially the true believers who wanted him as a godfather to their children, sent him thousands of unsolicited gifts, and begged for an autographed photo or, for that matter, any kind of personal acknowledgment at all.
Among the most interesting, to me anyway, were letters written late in the war proposing wild ideas to defeat Allied air power, ranging from rockets that would deploy giant nets to ensnare whole formations of bombers, to steel cables shot into the sky to bring down low-flying aircraft, to the creation of high altitude sandstorms to foul aircraft carburetors and damage engine components.
Some of the letters included here devolve into long-winded screeds that invite the reader to skip ahead a few pages, but there are also some gems like the letters of gratitude from Austrians and Sudeten Germans for being included in the Reich.
If you're a student of the history of the Third Reich, Letters to Hitler will be a worthwhile addition to your library.
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