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Hitler's Valkyrie: The Uncensored Biography of Unity Mitford Hardcover – 1 Oct 2013
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It makes an interesting addition to the Mitford legacy. --The Good Book Guide, Jul-Aug 15
About the Author
David R. L. Litchfield is a writer, journalist, and documentary filmmaker. He has written for "Rolling Stone," " Tatler," and the "Times."
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No doubt Unity Mitford was a nazi, as were majority of the rest of her largely unpleasent family - only some serious PR saved them after the war; this is already well established . But I am no surer if she was Hitlers lover than before I read the book. She doesn't actually meet Hitler until you are 53% of the way through the book. Taking into account the epilogue, probably less than 40% is actually about her "relationship", which amounts to probably not much more than an adoring fan or border line stalker on her side & bemeaused "star" on his. Some of It is quite well written, other parts feel like tabloid journalism with too many exclamation marks. Overall I don't feel I gained anything in my search for balanced knowledge of Adolf Hitler.
I did wonder if this was a self publishing effort as it badly needed an editor.
Prime movers here of the Unity apologia, it is argued, were the Mitford family themselves and the fans of her sisters' celebrity novels who wanted to cast Unity as a somewhat dumb ingenue aristocrat, desperate for attention, who somehow got mixed up into becoming a close member of the inmost circles of the Nazi party. Litchfield instead presents a far more knowing and capable anti-Semite whose deliberate pursuit of a relationship with Hitler was more of a meeting of like-minds than the actions of a perpetual adolescent.
Where it is at its weakest as a biography is probably that like most biographies of Unity the primary evidence is dependent on what people say Unity said to them, rather than anything written by the subject herself - though unlike many biographies of Unity this one doesn't pussyfoot around, or otherwise try to minimise, the sheer vitriol of her published writings about Jews.
Are the author's own family - who grew up in the same village with the Mitfords - or aristocratic German sources - who moved in the same Nazi circles in the 1930s - more or less reliable than Unity Mitford's own family? To some extent that is the choice the reader faces. Though most fans of the Mitford girls tend to give credence to a surprising level of objectivity in the Mitford family's memories and views of Unity that would make a professional historian raise their eyebrows rather sharply.
Where it is probably most interesting is in the argument that the roots of Unity's passion for Hitler and her anti-Semitism, lay in her family background, and the prevalence of extremist ideas of Aryan supremacy during early twentieth century Britain that have largely been forgotten about. Rather like the strength of Fascism in 30's Britain where vicious, aristocratic thugs like Oswald Moseley marched their supporters through the East End to attack Jews and socialists, this is a period that has largely been elided from our history. (Though see Martin Pugh's Hurrah For The Blackshirts!: Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the Wars (Random House, 2006)which shows quite how strong Fascism was, especially among the British aristocracy.) However, such arguments aren't really elaborated in a scholarly enough way or in enough depth in this biography and in pointing out the Wagner connection between the Mitford parents and Hitler, for instance, there is too much taken for granted and not explained for most English, rather than German readers. You have to know what the social meaning of Wagner was in the period or indeed how well-known his notorious views on the Jews were to see why naming your daughter Valkyrie would be meaningful in 1914.
In conclusion then this certainly has value as a counter-blast to much of what has been written about Unity Mitford, but it could have been a rather better and more closely argued account of what Unity Mitford stood for in terms of British society.
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