5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 18 February 2008
Initially, I was conditioned to buy this book for coursework. However, I must say, my history teacher could not have made a better choice.
Fest's style of writing is wildly entertaining, he draws you into the lives of the opposition (civilian and military), their dilemnas and consciences. He explores the resistance from the very beginning to give you a wider grasp of the Nazi's consolidation of power, and finishes with the incredible July Bomb Plot.
The general content deals with the Army's gradual demise through its fatal entrappment with the Night of the Long Knives, the oath, and the Blomberg and Fritsch affairs. He continues to explore the many attempts on the Fuhrer's life, such as the September Plot of 1938, leading up to Stauffenberg's startling introduction and involvement into the clandestine movement which eventually led to the events of the July bomb plot of 1944.
Fest's expertise will lead readers of all understanding through the hazy mists of the Nazi regime, my advice is only to try.
Did you know that German conspirators had attempted to communicate Hitler's plans for war to the Allies on numerous occasions as early as 1938? Did you know that 15 recorded assassination attempts had been made on Hitler's life before July 1944? No, I never used to either.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
This is a revealing and frustrating book about the internal German resistance to Hitler throughout the 12 years of the Third Reich. Revealing in that I had not realised how widespread was the opposition to Hitler, frustrating in that that opposition was rarely expressed in any concrete or organised way and fell prey to numerous problems. These included: ideological and practical differences between Hitler's opponents making united action very difficult to achieve; a reluctance to break military oaths of allegiance, often coupled with a mixture of admiration at Germany's territorial gains and horror at some of the methods used to achieve them, especially in Poland and the Soviet Union; unwillingness to oppose Hitler when he was very successful and popular with the German masses; and a philosophical reluctance to use unconstitutional or violent methods of opposition when any other means was clearly no longer relevant. Hitler also had an indecent amount of good luck, for example when a bomb was planted on his plane on a flight in the Soviet Union in March 1943, it simply failed to go off, probably because the heating on the plane failed; then soon afterwards a plot to throw a grenade at him failed because he left suddenly through a side door at an exhibition; and in the famous plot of 20 July 1944, first a second bomb that was available for use and would have almost certainly killed Hitler could not be primed in time because of a phone call at an inopportune moment that the leading plotter Stauffenberg had to answer; and second, the briefcase containing the bomb was placed by chance by someone not involved in the plot on the wrong side of a heavy table leg, thus lessening its impact. On such small chances can history turn; though whether it would have turned is moot, as the Allies were rightly intent on pressing on to unconditional victory and would not have accepted an agreement with a post-Hitler German government at that point (and arguably not at an earlier point as they were, probably less rightly, extremely sceptical about the motives of the German opponents of Hitler and doubtful of their chances of success). A fascinating read.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 1998
One of the things my sons and I have in common is an interest in World War II. I am interested in the personalities, one son is interested in battle specifics, one in the political ramifications, and the other in the over all picture. But in the past, they were united "against" me in one specific. They said that Hitler's generals who plotted to kill Hitler in July, 1944, did not begin their plot until they saw that they were going to lose the war. However, after reading Fest's "Plotting Hitler's Death" my sons and I all understand better what really happened--and we are now of the same understanding of this resistance. In his book "Hitler," Fest was quite contemplative, apparently trying to make sense of Hitler, his accomplishments and failures, and Germany's responsibility in bringing him to power. This introspection is lacking in "Plotting Hitler's Death." Perhaps that is because those who tried to get rid of Hitler compensated for those who brought him to power. Perhaps it is simply because it is a different tale to be told-a tale that Fest tells well. He rehearses in clear detail the events leading up to that July 20 th, the anxious and feverish moments before the explosion, the confusion following it, and the terrifying roundup and executions that followed. Fest points out that there was not one unified group or movement of resistance against Hitler; rather there were numerous groups that acted separately and often held differing views. Fest focuses on the three groups who were the only ones able to develop a strategy that posed a genuine threat to the regime. He follows them in his usual thorough manner. But this does not keep him from characterizing the very human natures involved, their determination and their indecisiveness, their fears and their courage, their plan and their failure. "Plotting Hitler's Death" brings an important clarity to one dimension of a tormented and confused era.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2006
The story of the German Resistance is not as well known as it should be. Here you have all the facts in one short book. It's an easy read, the equal of any thriller as one plot after another to kill or topple Hitler is dreamed up, only to fail, and also a good reference, containing all the facts, photographs and short biographies of all the main actors, a timeline, and a good index.
Reading this book, there were two things that amazed me. One is that Hitler seems to have led a charmed life. While unaware of the various plots against him, time and time again he avoided falling victim them, through sheer luck. The other is the way the German Resistance was ignored by the outside world, before, during and after the war.
I think there is a moral to the "story" in this book. Prior to the Second World War, almost none of the people who opposed Hitler realised just how dangerous he was. While they recognised that he was an evil person, and that his leadership was potentially disasterous, they all supposed that someone would do something about him before he did any real harm - the politicians, the businessmen, the military, the French or the British, the more sensible Nazis - obviously *someone* would stop him. While everyone waited for other people to do what they obviously ought to do, Hitler carried out his evil plans, unbothered by opposition.
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle." - Burke.