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Hitler's Thirty Days To Power: 1/1/1933: January 1933 Paperback – 26 Aug 1997
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About the Author
Henry Ashby Turner, Jr., is Stille Professor of History at Yale University. He is the author of the definitive German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler and Germany from Partition to Reunification, among other books. He lives in Branford, Connecticut.
Top Customer Reviews
The most interesting chapter is the last in which he discusses whose to blame and projects what could have happened if von Schleicher had behaved in a more politically astute fashion. Most likely, the Republic would have fallen anyway, a military dictatorship installed, and possibly war; but with none of the devastation that Hitler brought to the world. It's a fascinating study, and although I usually hate those "what ifs" in history books, in this case I can't help but wish "what if." How different the world would look today. And Ashby Turner doesn't let the Germans off so easily. He makes them culpable, after all they did elect the Nazis in quite large numbers.
The book is, however, a bit complicated at times and you really need to be familiar with the characters and the issues to get the most out of it. But if you make the effort to read through, you will not be disappointed.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Important details for several scenes in my new novel-in-progress, tentatively titled "Choosing Hitler."
I also strongly agree with much of Mr. Turner's conclusion that Hitler's appointment was not inevitable, but rather the result of luck and of the flaws and mistakes of a handful of men. In that respect, Mr. Taylor agrees, at least in part, with William Shirer's belief that so much of history is random.
And yet in one crucial way I found this book lacking: its portrayal of two of the principal players: Hindenburg and Schleicher, both of whom reluctantly accepted political power not to fulfill a love of power, like so many politicians do, but to save the Weimar Republic and to stop Hitler.
And so, here's my two cents:
Part of the problem is that Mr. Turner's devotes so little time to what happened before the crucial month of January 1933. For example, he hardly mentions that Germany faced very real threats from a civil war, a communist takeover and an invasion on their Easter border. (Because of the last threat, Schleicher felt he had no choice but to try to use the Nazi paramilitary to strengthen German's small military.)
Also, Mr. Turner states that Hindenburg's military career, before the World War One, was unexceptional. From what I read, Hindenburg was very well-respected in the military. Also, he was one of the few generals who predicted that, if Russia invaded, they would do so in the Masurian Lakes region. He therefore he studied the terrain, and railroads of the region and was well prepared when he arrived and took command at Tannenberg. (During the Great War he proved to be a very capable, defensive commander who, unlike other generals, cared for the lives of his men.) Furthermore, Mr. Turner ignores the reality that Hindenburg hated being forced to govern by presidential decree, which he properly felt was a threat to the republic.
Schleicher, on the other hand, hated Hitler and deeply cared about the working man and their economic plight; yet we never read about his compassion in this book. (Yes, Mr. Turner is right: Because of a lack of documentation, we know relatively little about Schleicher. I don't believe we should, therefore, assume almost the worst about him and view him in a one-dimensional light.(His plan to try to bring Strasser into the government and hopefully split the Nazis was realistic and almost worked.)
During the final years of the republic Hindenburg and Schleicher were lodged between rocks and hard places, especially because they had to work with so many petty partisan politicians.
IMHO, to truly understand history we must look beyond events and into the often complex personalities of the men and women who shaped and lived it. Settling for simple characterizations, and then for easy answers to the predicaments they faced, limits our understanding.
Yes, Hindenburg and Schleicher were flawed - like most of us - and made crucial mistakes. After all, they had no playbook to go by. So, in light of what unfolded, should they be forgiven?
Mr. Turner and most people don't think so. I'm, however, not so sure.
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