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Young Hitler Hardcover – 26 Apr 2010
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'Based on thorough reading and extensive research this novel...fits the acknowledged historical facts as known to date, while at the same time leaving space for individual interpretation.' --From the Foreword by Dr Klaus A. Lankheit, leading academic expert on Hitler, Institute for Contemporary History (Institut für Zeitgeschichte), Munich
About the Author
Claus Hant is a German scriptwriter and the creator of a detective series that ran on prime time for over a decade and made German TV history with its audience figures: Der Bulle von Tolz. Hant has also written cinema films, his latest being Der groA e Kater, starring Bruno Ganz (Downfall). For Young Hitler, Hant researched the life of the young man who was to become 'The Fuhrer'. Not unlike the detective of his TV series, Hant asked inconvenient questions about certain uncommon events in the early life story of his subject. After years of intense research and incorporating the latest findings of historical science, a storyline emerged that puts young Hitler's personal development into a new and unexpected perspective. English writers James Trivers and Alan Roche assisted Hant in producing the original English version of the book.
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Hitler is seen through the eyes of his friend Martl (a character who is really an amalgam of four friends of Hitler during his salad days).
The scenes where Hitler makes his immortal pronouncements are already cinematically staged. Picture, if you will, Hitler being offered a cigarette and his response, "Thank you, dear, but smoking kills everyone, not just the racially inferior."
There are many such scenes portraying Hitler as a personality - a son fearful of his mother's death, being infuriating and irritating, quoting philosophers, being reckless, demanding and unreasonable, and of him being unnervingly prescient and prophetic while explaining his theories ...
Hitler comforts his dying comrade Frederick in the battlefield:
A huge pool of blood had collected around his crotch. I knelt down beside him. "You're going to be okay," I lied. "It's not as bad as it looks.'
"Really," he groaned, gritting his teeth from the agonizing pain.
"I'll get you a medic!" I scrambled back up the bank to look out over the field. But there were no medics, just freshly dead bodies.
"Dolferl! [Hitler's nickname] I screamed.
He turned and with his head cocked inquisitively, he ran back.
"Just be calm," Dolferl told Frederic, crouching down. "Have you ever read Schopenhauer?"
"Only a little," Frederick admitted.
"In The World as Will and Representation, Schopenhauer talks of a leaf that is afraid to fall of the tree in autumn," said Dolferl, calmingly. ` "Foolish leaf!" says Schopenhauer, "where do you think you're going? And where do you think the new leaves will come from? Where is the oblivion you so dread? It is part of you!"
"Where's the medic?" Frederick asked.
Yet another challenging scene for any Hitler-playing actor:
"I'm not afraid of death," Dolferl said, staring me straight in the eye.
" `If death seems so cruel because we dread the thought of not existing, then we would have to dread the time before we were born as well. Our non-existence after death can't be any different to our non-existence before we were born. An eternity passed before we were born but that doesn't sadden us at all ...' "
"That's the beauty of Schopenhauer," he said , took the gun out of his holster, pointed the barrel at his temple, and cocked it.
"Dolferl!" I screamed. "What are you doing?"
Slowly, he lowered the gun, un-cocked it and put it back.
"As long as you have an exit strategy," he said, "you will always be okay."
As well as cinematic story-telling, its appendix on racism, anti-Semitism and the mystical background of the Thule Society are a historian's delight. The psychological insight too is rewarding: "For Hitler's career to succeed, three prerequisites had to be fulfilled:
1) a nation longing for a new beginning after defeat in a war, famine, revolutionary turmoil, national humiliation and economic chaos;
2) a man convinced of his `mission' beyond all doubt; and
3) a group of believers who were awaiting just such a man.
Indeed. The Hitler Phenomenon could happen to any Western industrial nation. We have been warned.
A hugely entertaining and informative read that puts forward some compelling reasons as to how Hitler became the genocidal maniac he did.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Linz highschool. He is 14 years old,and there he is standing in the top row--an ordinary looking boy devoted to his mother and wary of his father. Surely,in his wildest dreams he could not have imagined that because of a fateful conjunction of historical misadventures and the seismic folly of World WarI, he would emerge not so many years later as Germany's psychopathic Pide Piper--leading it and much of the world into a hell of paranoic hate and systematic butchery.
This preposterous turn of events is even more strange when one considers Hitler in his late teens and early twenties; and now we have just the book for the task: Claus Hant's "Fact/Fiction" novel, "Young Hitler."
Rooted in exhaustive research and flood-Young Hitlerlighted by a novelist's imagination, Hant's portrayal of the young man loafing about Vienna, the lover of Wagnerian opera, the shiftless, flophouse dwelling mediocre "artist" driven by impossible dreams of supreme grandeur--how did he seem to others, what ideas was he besotted with (rabid antisemitism?,no,not yet),and finally, like some wicked act of alchemy, what transformed this unstable ne'er-do-well into the Fuhrer of the future?
With all of this Hant deals superbly. Especially illuminating is his portrait of Hitler as a young soldier on the Western Front in the charnel house of World War I. He was insanely fearless, twice wounded--and totally happy. It's in his war experience that we see the shaping of the future Nazi leader.
"Young Hitler" is a happy marriage of History and Fiction, a most welcomed addition to our understanding of a fantasist turned absolutely malign.