Defying Hitler by Sabastian Haffner

Published 1999 Picador


“Written in 1939 and unpublished until 2000, Sabastion Haffner’s memoir of the rise of Nazism in Germany offers a unique portrait of the lives of ordinary German citizens between the wars. Covering 1907 to 1933, his astute and compelling eyewitness accounts provide a portrait of a country in constant flux; from the pervasive influence of the Free Corps, the precursor to the Nazi storm troopers, and the Hitler Youth movement that swept the nation, to his own family’s financial struggles during the apocalyptic year of 1923 when inflation crippled the country and contributed to Hitler’s rise to power.”


There are some books that belong on every shelf, that should be required reading. Defying Hitler is one of those books, in my humble opinion. This is not like any other book I’ve read on the subject (I am a history buff/nerd and have read more that I can count.) There are no bullet points on major economic factors or the Paris Treaty that most history books give you when trying to explain the rise of fascism. This book is a sociological account from an average German man of the time. Only this man was staunchly anti-Nazi. Although he was anti-Nazi, his memoir shows how Nazism crept and overtook every aspect of daily life in Germany, and answers the question in some ways “how” Nazism was able to penetrate so deeply, rather easily into society as a whole. Defying Hitler is as relevant today as it was in 1939 and will be in another 70 years. Reading this book reminded me of the crucial importance of the individual and safeguarding the very basic of freedoms.


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