Hitler by Joachim Fest is a book I will be reviewing in segments and about which I will make few comments other than in this post. That is the plan, but plans are made in the absence of complete knowledge. As more things are found out, plans change. I am excited to see where my original idea goes. Posts related to this book will be in addition to my scheduled one book review per day, but “Parallelism” posts may not appear every day. For “normal” book reviews, I reserve rant privileges.
My short presentations about Hitler will be categorized as “Parallelism.” They will have a tag of “Parallelism.” They will have titles like “Parallelism (#).” This post is Parallelism One and describes how I want to run my mini-project. The project will end when I finish the book. I will not post a review of the entire book, but it should be easy to see my intent and bias should you follow the tag/category.
To understand why I would come up with this project, knowledge of a bit of my background will help.
Hitler, the dictator, bores me. The subject of his life, times, adventures, and crimes are perhaps more familiar to me than the average reader. Not only am I a baby boomer, but I was also born in Germany to a German mother (thus establishing citizenship) and an American civilian official in the military government. US government officials did not like my father’s choice of a bride, and he fought his way through a bureaucratic blizzard of paperwork to convince higher authorities my mother was a “Good German;” she may have heard rumors of atrocities, but she just followed orders like everyone else.
After my mother relocated to the US with my father and me, it became quickly apparent that the days of her following orders from anyone or anything was over. Like many returning war veterans, my father could not find a job, and he resorted to picking up some quick, ready money by joining the US Marine Corps Reserves. His military experience from WWII plus the additional domestic combat experience on the home front almost prepared him for the Chinese entry into the Korean War. Dad was off to do his duty, and I never lived with my father and mother as a family unit again. Nor did my brother. Or sister. Or another sister. Dad’s attempt at reconciliation produced unintended consequences for him. Mom was content to guilt Dad into retaining near 100% custody of four children along with the financial responsibility.
Most of our time as siblings (about 95%) was spent with my Dad. During those times, there was no doubt the United States was the greatest country in the world, my country right or wrong, there was prayer in the schools, and we saluted the flag as we recited the pledge of allegiance every day before class. I was Mom’s first child, and only I got the sage advice during the 5% off-again, on-again monthly visits. Germany and the Fuhrer had been betrayed by the global Jewish conspiracy. Germans were inherently the master race. I should never forget my German heritage. And, by the way, Hitler was not dead, and perhaps we could all get together sometime.
To say her indoctrination did not work is a gross understatement. I am sure Mom’s racial purity nerves were shocked when she knew of my marriage to my first wife, a Vietnamese, in a union that lasted twenty-five years and 100% of the time. Enough with the background, let’s look at the Fest book.
Joachim C. Fest was born in 1926 and died in 2006. He lived in Germany and witnessed everyday practical effects of Hitler policies. His father was a dismissed schoolteacher once the Nazis came to power in 1933. His family refused to force him to join the Hitler Youth, a brave move that lasted until 1939 when membership became obligatory. Fest joined the German Army, the Wehrmacht, to avoid the Waffen SS, a much-feared intelligence and paramilitary branch. Fest served in the German Army briefly until he managed to surrender in France.
Fest was the first German writer to produce a major biography of Hitler. A high number of historians held the widespread view that the cause of the rise of Hitler could be found in economics. Fest disagreed; he claimed that the German psyche had a “Great Fear” resulting from the devastation to Germany of WW I and the rapid rise of modernization which left Germans behind. They yearned for a more glorious and romanticized past. Modernity brought the ascension to power of Jews. Germans could not develop backward fast enough. Jews stopped them. In case they could not understand this, there was one man who articulated the voice of the people, Hitler.
Does this sound in any way familiar? As I read and listened to the Fest book, one not written by foreign researchers solely relying on secondary and tertiary sources, parallelism was a word that repeatedly came to mind. As I write each post with the Parallelism title, I will quote from Fest, a witness to history. The Fest quote will be followed by quotes appearing in the US media today. The posts will be without commentary (so I plan) and are only provided to provoke reader thought. They will be short because I don’t want to get hyper-academic (per Fest) or reproduce well-known absurdities from today’s media. If they are well known, why even mention them? To let you know that they were also identified in another disastrous era of failure.
This post will be the longest titled “Parallelism.” I’ll continue with such posts until the end of the book, or I abandon the project. But I will let people know if I do so. No ghosting.