1941: The Year Germany Lost the War

The Year Germany Lost the War

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About The Book

Bestselling historian Andrew Nagorski takes a fresh look at the decisive year 1941, when Hitler’s miscalculations and policy of terror propelled Churchill, FDR, and Stalin into a powerful new alliance that defeated Nazi Germany.

In early 1941, Hitler’s armies ruled most of Europe. Churchill’s Britain was an isolated holdout against the Nazi tide, but German bombers were attacking its cities and German U-boats were attacking its ships. Stalin was observing the terms of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, and Roosevelt was vowing to keep the United States out of the war. Hitler was confident that his aim of total victory was within reach.

By the end of 1941, all that changed. Hitler had repeatedly gambled on escalation and lost: by invading the Soviet Union and committing a series of disastrous military blunders; by making mass murder and terror his weapons of choice, and by rushing to declare war on the United States after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Britain emerged with two powerful new allies—Russia and the United States. By then, Germany was doomed to defeat.

Nagorski illuminates the actions of the major characters of this pivotal year as never before. 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War is a stunning examination of unbridled megalomania versus determined leadership. It also reveals how 1941 set the Holocaust in motion, and presaged the postwar division of Europe, triggering the Cold War. 1941 was a year that forever defined our world.

Excerpt
1941: The Year Germany Lost the War INTRODUCTION
On June 28, 1940, shortly after the German invasion of France and that country’s capitulation, Adolf Hitler visited Paris for the first and only time in his life. During the mere three hours he spent in the French capital, there was no victory parade. The ostensible reason was the fear of British air raids. But the German leader later offered another explanation: “We aren’t at the end yet.”

At that point, Hitler’s Germany had reached its apogee. It had already dismembered Czechoslovakia, annexed Austria, and conquered Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, culminating in its especially satisfying humiliation of France. The German military machine looked to be unstoppable.

Nonetheless, Hitler understood that his messianic dream of a new Germanic empire was only partially fulfilled. Three leaders stood in his way. Britain’s Winston Churchill, who replaced Neville Chamberlain as prime minister at the moment that France fell, was proclaiming Britain’s defiance and determination to fight back. The Soviet Union’s Joseph Stalin remained a de facto but uncertain ally since the signing of the Nazi-Soviet pact less than a year earlier, with neither tyrant completely trusting the other not to strike. And across the Atlantic, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was promising to keep the United States out of the conflict, but there was no doubt about his sympathy for an increasingly isolated Britain.

So instead of participating in military festivities in Paris, Hitler used the short visit as an opportunity to get a quick look at the city’s cultural landmarks.

Accompanied by his favorite architect Albert Speer and other aides, he drove directly to the Paris Opera, where an attendant took him on a tour of the empty, lavishly ornamented building. According to Speer, Hitler “went into ecstasies about its beauty.” Then the German delegation took in the Madeleine church, the Champs-Élysées, and the Trocadero before making another brief stop, this time at the Eiffel Tower.

The highlight of the tour, though, was Les Invalides, where Hitler lingered at Napoléon’s tomb. Pierre Huss of the International News Service was one of a small group of correspondents from Berlin who were allowed to witness the scene. The Nazi leader looked lost in his thoughts. “He folded his arms and murmured something we could not hear,” Huss recalled. “His lips moved, as if he were talking to himself, and once or twice he shook his head.”

Hitler came “out of his trance” and leaned forward on the balustrade to stare down at Napoléon’s tomb. “Napoléon, mein lieber, they have made a bad mistake,” he said. Huss admitted: “It startled me, standing there across from a live warlord and a dead emperor.” The correspondent also did not understand what Hitler meant.

The German leader promptly explained to everyone around him: “They have put him down into a hole. People must look down at a coffin far below them. . . . They should look up at Napoléon, feeling small by the very size of the monument or sarcophagus above their heads. You do not impress people if you walk in a street and they are on top of a building. They must look at something above them; you must be the stage and center of attraction above the level of all eyes.”

Hitler was applying the same principles of staging that had proven devastatingly effective at his rallies as he rose to power. In talking about Napoléon, he was also talking about himself. “I shall never make such a mistake,” he continued. “I know how to keep my hold on people after I have passed on. I shall be the Führer they look up at and go home to talk of and remember. My life shall not end in the mere form of death. It will, on the contrary, begin then.” H. R. Knickerbocker, another Berlin-based American correspondent, wrote that it would be wrong to dismiss the analogies between Napoléon and Hitler. “Hitler is the nearest thing to Napoléon since Napoléon,” he argued in his book Is Tomorrow Hitler’s?, which was published in 1941, after he had left Germany. He quoted a French colonel who had marveled at Hitler’s “miraculous sense of timing,” and explained to American readers that the German leader’s military successes were a result of the fact that he was “always right.” As if catching himself, Knickerbocker tacked on a caveat: “Well, nearly always.”

As far as Hitler was concerned, no qualifiers were necessary. On the evening when he returned from Paris to his temporary field quarters in a northern French village, he invited Speer to join him for dinner. “Wasn’t Paris beautiful?” he declared. “But Berlin must be made more beautiful.” Then he added casually: “In the past, I often considered whether we would not have to destroy Paris. But when we are finished in Berlin, Paris will only be a shadow. So why should we destroy it?”

While Hitler knew that he had not yet achieved total victory, his message was that it was coming soon—and Speer needed to start making preparations for a capital worthy of the new empire and its brilliant modern-day emperor. As Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel put it in the aftermath of the French campaign, Hitler had proven himself to be “the greatest military commander of all time.” By then, according to the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, the German people had convinced themselves that Hitler was their messiah or at least the equivalent of an Old Testament prophet who would “lead them to the Promised Land.”

To the growing ranks of the true believers, victory was no longer a question of “if” but “when.”

A competing narrative was beginning to take shape even before Hitler’s visit to Paris and his subsequent return to Berlin, where he was welcomed with cheers, strewn flowers, and the ringing of bells across the city. It was carefully crafted by Churchill, first in his speeches and then in his memoirs. Following the collapse of France and the spectacular evacuation of 338,000 British and Allied troops from Dunkirk by the Royal Navy and a flotilla of small boats, the prime minister rallied his countrymen with his famous speech on June 4, 1940. Facing a possible German invasion, he pledged to “defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets; we shall never surrender . . .”

But for all that imagery of resistance on land, the next battles were in the skies over England. There, in what became known as the Battle of Britain, Germany suffered its first defeat. The Luftwaffe could not cripple the Royal Air Force, which was bolstered by an influx of Polish, Czech, and Commonwealth pilots. Hitler thereby failed to gain the air superiority his forces needed to launch an invasion of that island nation. “Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization,” Churchill told the House of Commons on June 18, rallying his countrymen and all those who were seeking to liberate their occupied lands to make this “their finest hour.”

In many accounts of the war, this is presented as the critical period marking the end of Hitler’s string of victories and the beginning of the reversal of fortunes that would lead to Germany’s defeat. “The Second World War seemed to have been decided early—not in May 1945, but after less than a year, in June 1940,” wrote German historian Christian Hartmann. To a limited extent, this is accurate. The Battle of Britain was the first turning point—but it fell far short of a decisive one.

And despite Churchill’s insistence that he had always believed in victory, he was not immune to moments of doubt. In the largely overlooked recollections of Scotland Yard detective W. H. Thompson, his longtime bodyguard revealed one such occasion. Returning from his meeting with King George VI at Buckingham Palace on May 10, 1940, after Chamberlain had tendered his resignation and German troops launched their invasion of France, Churchill was uncharacteristically subdued.

You know why I have been to Buckingham Palace, Thompson?” he asked.

Thompson replied that he understood that the king had “at last” asked him to form a new government. “I only wish that the position had come your way in better times, for you have taken on an enormous task,” he added.

Churchill had tears in his eyes as he replied: “God alone knows how great it is. I hope that it is not too late. I am very much afraid that it is. We can only do our best.”

There was nothing inevitable about the subsequent sequence of events. As John Winant, who frequently traveled to London and would become US ambassador to Britain in 1941, pointed out: “You could not live in London in those early years and not realize how narrow was the margin of survival. It would have taken so few mistakes to bring about defeat. . . . There were many times in the early years of the war when you felt that the sands would run out and all would be over.”

In fact, Joseph Kennedy, Winant’s predecessor as ambassador, had not only advocated a policy of appeasement but also widely predicted that Britain would not be able to withstand the Nazi onslaught. After Poland fell in September 1939, Kennedy reported that military experts were not giving Britain, backed by its French ally, more than a “Chinaman’s chance” against Germany. Both in Washington and London, he was seen as “a defeatist,” and he kept predicting Britain’s demise even after his return to the United States.

Another foreign ambassador in London, the Soviet envoy Ivan Maisky, wrote in his diary on May 20, 1940, as France was collapsing: “The Anglo-French bourgeois elite is getting what it deserves. . . . We are witnessing the fall of the great capitalist civilization, a fall similar in importance to that of the Roman Empire.” Despite his close social ties with many top British officials, Maisky was relishing what he saw as Britain’s—and, by extension, the whole capitalist world’s—comeuppance.

As for the defeated French, most of their leaders saw no choice but to accept Hitler’s armistice, which meant nothing less than surrender. They not only predicted that Britain would follow their example but sounded eager for it to do so. The French military commander General Maxime Weygand offered a bleak prediction: “In three weeks, England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.”

Even some of Churchill’s staunchest supporters could not help but feel despair as the German blitzkrieg rolled across France. Conservative MP Harold Nicolson made a suicide pact with his wife, the poet and novelist Vita Sackville-West, securing poison pills they pledged to use if they were about to be captured by German invaders. In a letter to Sackville-West, Nicolson wrote that he did not fear that kind of “honourable death.” What he did fear, however, was “being tortured and humiliated.”

Churchill soon managed to lift the spirits of Nicolson and most of his countrymen, aided by the heroism and skill of the pilots who prevailed in the Battle of Britain. Their successes forced the indefinite postponement of Operation Sea Lion, the German plan for an invasion of Britain, in September.

Nonetheless, for the rest of 1940, the war could be described as an uneven stalemate. England had not collapsed, but waves of German bombers took part in the Blitz, dropping their deadly cargo on London, Coventry, and other cities. In the Battle of the Atlantic, U-boats and other German vessels targeted British ships, seeking to further isolate the lone holdout against the Nazi tide. On most of the Continent, the new German masters reigned supreme, unleashing a previously unimaginable reign of terror to subjugate the local populations. The decisive turning points had not been reached yet.

But they would be in 1941.

What transpired in that critical year set the trajectory that would lead to Nazi Germany’s ultimate destruction. It was the year of Germany’s “attack on the whole world,” as German writer Joachim Käppner put it. By the end of 1941, Hitler had taken almost every wrong decision possible. His early successes in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union that he launched in late June, had turned into the first defeat of the German army on the outskirts of Moscow. His decision to make mass murder and terror his weapons of choice, not just in the first stages of the Holocaust but also in his treatment of Soviet POWs and others in the newly conquered territories, were already beginning to work against him.

The leader who seemed to be so “gloriously right,” as the American correspondent H. R. Knickerbocker had put it earlier, was by then disastrously wrong.

What accounted for this stunning turnaround in the short span of one year? What possessed Hitler to gamble again and again, raising the stakes each time? Once it was clear that Britain was not going to be added to his list of quick conquests, he gambled on delivering a swift knockout blow to the Soviet Union. When that failed, he not only welcomed Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, but rushed to declare war on the United States, thereby putting an end to the efforts of isolationists such as Charles Lindbergh and the America First movement to keep their country out of the conflict. As a result, Churchill’s Britain could boast two new powerful allies: the Soviet Union and the United States.

And what possessed Hitler to pursue a policy of terror and enslavement as his armies scored their initial successes in the western Soviet Union, where many Soviet POWs and local inhabitants would have otherwise welcomed any invader who promised liberation from Stalin’s tyranny? One key part of that rule-by-terror approach was “the Shoah by bullets” carried out by Einsatzgruppen, special squads assigned the task of shooting Jews, Gypsies, and other “enemies” of Nazi rule. It was no accident that 1941 was the year when the Holocaust was set in motion, although the further coordination of the logistics was then left to the Wannsee Conference that took place on January 20, 1942.

To outsiders and even to some of his inner circle, Hitler’s actions in 1941 often looked like lunacy. With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that he had chosen a path that could only lead to the destruction of his country, his movement, and himself. But a “deranged monster” theory hardly provides adequate explanation for the fateful course he charted, or the mayhem perpetrated in his name. Nor does it explain the roles of the Allied leaders who benefitted from his key miscalculations and parlayed them into a strategy that led to victory in 1945.

World War II was much more than a clash of two opposing political and military alliances. It was at heart a worldwide struggle instigated by a man and a movement whose race-based ideology and inner conviction of infallibility defied common sense. Yet at the same time, it was propelled by a perverse internal logic based on a worldview that made perfect sense to its creator and his devoted followers.

Nineteen forty-one would prove to be the year when the war escalated into a truly global conflict, with Hitler scoring impressive short-term tactical victories while condemning his Third Reich to defeat. His actions also guaranteed that the Third Reich’s murderous policies would continue to take their toll right up until the end of the fighting, dooming millions. Finally, they allowed fellow mass murderer Joseph Stalin, his onetime ally-turned-foe, to dictate the shape of the postwar world, leaving Europe split into two antagonistic camps. This Cold War division remained frozen in place for nearly a half century afterward. That, too, was a legacy of 1941.

A personal note is in order here. During the many years that I worked as a Newsweek foreign correspondent based in cities such as Bonn, Berlin, Moscow, and Warsaw, World War II never felt like a distant abstraction. Its legacy remains a source of constant debate, its horrors a source of constant fascination. The latter raises fundamental questions not just about how someone like Hitler could have come to power but also about basic human nature. As a result, the books I have written since then all deal with various aspects of Hitler’s rise, the war, the Holocaust, and the search for justice afterward.

Each of those projects, along with my reporting for a broad array of articles earlier, helped provide me with research and interviews that I could draw upon for this book. In particular, the numerous interviews I conducted while working on The Greatest Battle, my book about the battle for Moscow, helped me emphasize the key difference between Hitler and Stalin in 1941: how Hitler’s megalomania led him to multiply his mistakes as the year progressed, while Stalin’s megalomania did not prevent him from charting a more calculated course to salvage his country and regime.

Given the passage of time, many of those who participated directly in these events are no longer with us, making my previous interviews all the more valuable. But even at this late date, I was able to find and interview some survivors from that era who I had not tracked down before. At the same time, the literature about World War II has kept growing, which meant that I could benefit from a variety of new studies with new perspectives.

My experiences as a foreign correspondent during the final years of the Cold War and the seismic upheavals that led to the collapse of the Soviet empire have prompted me to keep returning to a central theme: the role of the individual in history. History looks inevitable only in retrospect: in reality, it is shaped by the choices of both political leaders and their subjects, by the powerful and the dissidents—and, at times, by the element of pure chance.

In writing about contemporary events and recent history, I always look for the pivotal moments, actions, and decisions that produced the outcomes we now take for granted. An examination of those moments, especially if it includes a close look at the motivations of the key players, can shed new light on events that are often only partly understood.

In the broader histories of World War II, a single year’s significance can be hard to discern. This book is an attempt to bring the importance of 1941 sharply into focus.
About The Author
Milo Davis Photography

Andrew Nagorski served as Newsweek’s bureau chief in Hong Kong, Moscow, Rome, Bonn, Warsaw, and Berlin. He is the author of six previous critically acclaimed books, including Hitlerland and The Nazi Hunters. He has also written for countless publications. Visit him at AndrewNagorski.com.

Product Details
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (June 2019)
  • Length: 400 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501181115

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Raves and Reviews

“A lively, opinionated account of a critical year.”—Kirkus

"[A] thoughtful analysis of a critical year in WWII...Nagorski brings keen psychological insights into the world leaders involved."—Booklist

“[A} successful history…[Nagorski] is a clear and lucid writer whose account of this pivotal year will please history buffs.”—Publishers Weekly

'Nagorski’s book is a portrait of hubris and megalomania pitted against the emerging opposition. His chronicle sets the stage for how events led to the Holocaust, and foreshadows the postwar division of Europe, which ultimately led to the Cold War."Overseas Press Club 

"Andrew Nagorski ‘s vivid, incisive account shows how and why 1941 marked not just the beginning, but the beginning of the end, of World War II.”—William Taubman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Khrushchev: The Man and His Era and Gorbachev: His Life and Times

"In 1941, the seemingly all-powerful Adolf Hitler snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by making two fatal mistakes: declaring war on the Soviet Union and the United States. In his gripping, deeply researched account of this pivotal roller-coaster year in World War II, Andrew Nagorski masterfully shows how Hitler’s hubris and willful lack of knowledge about his powerful new foes led to the Nazis’ destruction and set the stage for the Cold War that still haunts us today.”—Lynne Olson, author of Last Hope Island and Madame Fourcade’s Secret War

“1941 must have been the bravest and stupidest year of modern times. With gripping narrative and eye-popping revelation, Andrew Nagorski shows us why character is destiny.”—Evan Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Being Nixon and Ike’s Bluff

“Andrew Nagorski has given us a vivid account of the year that shaped not only the conflict of the hour but the course of our lives—even now.”—Jon Meacham, New York Times bestselling author of The Soul of America

“Andrew Nagorski’s The Year Germany Lost the War is a seamlessly written and well-researched investigation of how Hitler bungled his geopolitical playing hand in 1941, thereby sinking the Third Reich before America even entered World War II. There is never a dull moment or lull in this fast-paced narrative. Highly recommended!”Douglas Brinkley, author of American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race and Chair in Humanities and Professor, Rice University

 

Praise for THE NAZI HUNTERS

"Nagorski is a veteran author and foreign correspondent whose Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power is the alpha to the omega of The Nazi Hunters. . . . [a] deep and sweeping account of a relentless search for justice that began in 1945 and is only now coming to an end.” (The Washington Post)

“Vivid, reader-friendly . . . Mr. Nagorski’s fine book is comprehensively informative and a highly involving read.” (Wall Street Journal)

“A thrilling nonfiction account of postwar justice. . . . Detailed, dramatic, and at times gripping.” (Salon)

“An epic tale . . . the book's main actors are painted with a complex but unsparing clarity." (Christian Science Monitor)

"A reminder of the fact that the Nazi trials of the last 70 years were never a foregone conclusion." (TIME)

 “A history that reads like an adventure story." (Florida Times Union)

“Far more intriguing than any Hollywood production. The proofs highlight every page of Andrew Nagorski’s The Nazi Hunters, a new study of the evildoers and how they were pursued. . . . [Nagorski] has a discerning eye and a gift for the revealing anecdote.” (City Journal)

The Nazi hunters, like their prey, are passing away. As Nagorski points out, that “is why their stories can and should be told now.” His book captures their work in vivid and detailed prose. For journalists, it provides the added enjoyment of reading about other people’s investigative tricks and tools. The Nazi Hunters stands as both a tribute to, and a record, of a unique handful of people who devoted their lives to justice. (Overseas Press Club)

"A comprehensive treatment of the dogged men and women whose heroic efforts restored a measure of justice to millions of murdered souls." (The Weekly Standard)

“The author provides fascinating insight into those who continued to pursue war criminals after the spotlight had faded.” (Library Journal)

“In a world that is, alas, awash in crimes against humanity, we have an urgent need to address these complex and controversial questions." (Jerusalem Post)

“An extremely valuable, highly readable book.” (Arizona Jewish Post)

“Andrew Nagorski’s The Nazi Hunters comes at a significant point, at the juncture between living memory and the historical record… His account is highly objective and balanced… It’s a narrative that will hold you, even if you’ve followed this story over the decades.” (The Dallas Morning News)

“A detailed look at the grim work of tracking Nazis over the decades since World War II. . . . absorbing.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“An admirably accessible and intimate narrative. . . . [Nagorski] reveals the differences in tactics, politics and personalities that have led to feuds among the Nazi hunters themselves. . . . for all their rivalries and failings, the Nazi hunters are saluted by Nagorski for their accomplishments: not just in helping to prosecute the most egregious of the perpetrators, but also in etching the details of Nazi crimes — beyond doubt or dispute — in the historical record.” (The Forward)

Andrew Nagorski has produced an important work—a well-written and revealing book about the darkest acts of World War II.” (Alan Furst, author of Spies of Warsaw and Kingdom of Shadows )

“The world failed the victims not only during the Holocaust but afterwards, as perpetrators were allowed to go on with their lives. A few determined Nazi hunters tried to bring justice. This is their story. It must be read.” (Alan Dershowitz, author of Abraham: The World's First (but certainly not last) Jewish Lawyer )

“Andrew Nagorski spins a gripping, historically urgent narrative in The Nazi Hunters. He demonstrates that how we deal with the most evil perpetrators among us, is as much about who we are as it is about the criminals. The Nazi Hunters is really about the present: are we willing to do the consuming and often thankless work of holding criminals from the Balkans to the Middle East and Africa accountable for unspeakable acts? This could not be a more timely reminder of the world's moral responsibility toward perpetrators of war crimes.” (Kati Marton, author of The Great Escape and Enemies of the People )

“A fascinating collective portrait of a variety of Nazi hunters. Some, Simon Wiesenthal and the Klarsfelds, are well known. But the most fascinating aspect of the book is Nagorski’s portrayal of less well-known figures: the Polish judge Jan Sehn, who first investigated the Nazi death camps; the German prosecutor, Fritz Bauer, who instigated both the capture of Eichmann and the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial; and William Denson, who convicted hundreds of the most notorious concentration camp guards.” (Christopher Browning, author of Ordinary Men and The Origins of the Final Solution )

“A war continued after World War II to bring its mass murderers to justice. Andrew Nagorski tells the story of the dogged search by some for the killers as well as the accommodations made by others to let this sordid chapter of history remain buried. Meticulously researched, superbly written, The Nazi Hunters is fascinating—disturbing, to be sure—but fascinating.” (Douglas Waller, author of Disciples and Wild Bill Donovan )

“Andrew Nagorski, author of the mesmerizing Hitlerland, has made a definitive and invaluable contribution to the historical record with his outstanding successor work, The Nazi Hunters. Integrating the diffuse strands of a great decades long drama before a vanishing window of history has closed, the author has crafted the fascinating and emotionally galvanizing narrative of the hunt for notorious Nazi fugitives ranging from Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele to the SS officers and concentration camp commandants who fled from the ashes of Germany's defeat in World War II. Not only an investigative and intelligence page-turner, The Nazi Hunters tells the story of an epic and global quest for justice rather than revenge.” (Gordon M. Goldstein, adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations and author of Lessons In Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam )

“The last former Nazis are dying out, and so, too, are those whose life’s work was to hunt them down. Nagorski tells their stories evenhandedly, uncovering a fascinating cast of characters from all over the world and placing their efforts in a broader perspective.” (Foreign Affairs)

"The Nazi Hunters is, variously, horrifying, informative, exciting and enlightening, but it must be read in small doses for there is so much in it to grasp." (Providence Journal)

Praise for HITLERLAND

“Andrew Nagorski has written an entertaining chronicle . . . Hitlerland brings back to life some early delusions about Hitler’s rise that now seem unthinkable. Any reader trying to puzzle out today’s world will be unsettled by the reminder of how easy it is to get things wrong.” (The Economist)

 “Riveting . . . this is a book that is full of things I never knew, and I found all of them interesting. It should be on everybody’s ‘must read’ list who is interested in history.” (Michael Korda The Daily Beast)

Hitlerland is a bit of guilty pleasure . . . fascinating.” (Washington Post)

“Compulsively readable and deeply researched.” (The Weekly Standard)

“Andrew Nagorski, a deft storyteller, has plumbed the dispatches, diaries, letters, and interviews of American journalists, diplomats and others who were present in Berlin to write a fascinating account of a fateful era.” (Henry Kissinger )

“Andrew Nagorski once again turns his perceptive, seasoned foreign correspondent’s eye to a dramatic historical subject. This eye—opening account of the Americans in 1920s and 1930s Berlin offers a totally new perspective on a subject we thought we already knew.” (Anne Applebaum, author of Gulag: A History )

“Andrew Nagorski’s Hitlerland is a fresh, compelling portrait of Nazi Germany, as seen through the eyes of a fascinating array of Americans who lived and worked there during Hitler’s rise to power. The extraordinary saga of Putzi Hanfstaengl, a Harvard graduate who became Hitler’s court jester, is just one of the many page turning stories that makes Hitlerland a book not to be missed.” (Lynne Olson, author of Citizens of London )

“The rise of Hitler and the Nazi state, one of the most consequential and profound narratives in all of world politics, receives compelling new treatment in Andrew Nagorski’s outstanding Hitlerland. By illuminating the disparate experiences of the era’s preeminent American diplomats, journalists, intellectuals and others, Nagorski has created an engrossing, harrowing and vividly drawn mosaic of eyewitness accounts to one of history’s most phenomenal catastrophes.” (Gordon M. Goldstein, adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations and author of Lessons In Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam )

“At times deliciously gossipy, at times thoroughly chilling, Hitlerland offers countless novel insights into Germany’s evolution from struggling democracy in the 1920s to totalitarian dictatorship in the 1930s. The intimate portraits from Hitler down add an almost tangible sense of the foibles, ambitions, insecurities and perversities of the relatively small top Nazi elite whose actions plunged our world into a catastrophe from which we are yet fully to recover. The Americans themselves come alive as a group of intense, enterprising journalists and diplomats faced with the greatest challenge of their lives.” (Misha Glenny, author of The Balkans 1804—1999 )

“Engaging if chilling. . . . A broader look at Americans who had a ringside seat to Hitler’s rise. It’s a fascinating cast . . . a fast—paced tale.” (USA Today)
 

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