Hitler's First War: Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List

Hitler's First War: Adolf Hitler, the Men of the List Perhaps no individual in modern history has received intensive study than Adolf Hitler His many biographers have provided countless conflicting interpretations of his dark life, but virtually all agree on one thing Hitler s formative experience was his service in World War I Unfortunately, historians have found little to illuminate this critical period Until nowIn Hitler s First War, award winning author Thomas Weber delivers a master work of history a major revision of our understanding of Hitler s life Weber paints a group portrait of the List Regiment, Hitler s unit during World War I, to rewrite the story of his military service Drawing on deep and imaginative research, Weber refutes the story crafted by Hitler himself, and so challenges the historical argument that the war led naturally to Nazism Contrary to myth, the regiment consisted largely of conscripts, not enthusiastic volunteers Hitler served with scores of Jews, including noted artist Albert Weisberger, who proved heroic, and popular, than the future F hrer Indeed, Weber finds that the men shunned Private Hitler as a rear area pig, and that Hitler himself was still unsure of his political views when the war ended inThrough the stories of such comrades as a soldier turned concentration camp commandant, veterans who fell victim to the Holocaust, an officer who became Hitler s personal adjutant in the s but then cooperated with British intelligence, and the veterans who simply went back to their Bavarian farms and never joined the Nazi ranks, Weber demonstrates how and why Hitler aggressively policed the myth of his wartime experienceUnderlying all Hitler studies is a seemingly unanswerable question Was he simply a product of his times, or an anomaly beyond all calculation Weber s groundbreaking work sheds light on this puzzle and offers a profound challenge to the idea that World War I served as the perfect crucible for Hitler s subsequent rise Weber pursues an interesting line of inquiry, specifically seeking to debunk the myth that Hitler s experience in WWI shaped his weltanshauung This notion arises from the fact that Hitler made brilliant use of a fawning media once he was in power and his propaganda sought to validate the often fanciful accounts of his war experiences as recounted in Mein Kampf By making the assumption that Hitler s close companions in the war who were of similar economic, social, and geographic backgrounds o Weber pursues an interesting line of inquiry, specifically seeking to debunk the myth that Hitler s experience in WWI shaped his weltanshauung This notion arises from the fact that Hitler made brilliant use of a fawning media once he was in power and his propaganda sought to validate the often fanciful accounts of his war experiences as recounted in Mein Kampf By making the assumption that Hitler s close companions in the war who were of similar economic, social, and geographic backgrounds ought to have had been similarly affected and influenced by the war, Weber shows that, in fact, WWI was not nearly as transformative an experience as has been believed Men of the List Regiment did not, on the whole, turn into rabid anti Semitic nationalists and those who did acted years later out of opportunism.The book suffers, however, from swathes of disorganized and poor writing While nobody wants to defend Hitler, multiple digressions on his unctuous character and the inequity of Iron Cross awards are not valuable additions to the book s thesis Better editing would have made this muchpersuasive Many historians, and biographies, have attempted to explain how the Great War, made Hitler In this exhaustive book, the author attempts to explain what WWI meant to Hitler, how it affected his views and what happened to the men who fought alongside him.Hitler was quick to volunteer for the war and joined the List Regiment in Bavaria He had hoped to be sent to Britain to invade, perfidious Albion, but found himself sent to Lille Interestingly, I never realised that England and Germany ha Many historians, and biographies, have attempted to explain how the Great War, made Hitler In this exhaustive book, the author attempts to explain what WWI meant to Hitler, how it affected his views and what happened to the men who fought alongside him.Hitler was quick to volunteer for the war and joined the List Regiment in Bavaria He had hoped to be sent to Britain to invade, perfidious Albion, but found himself sent to Lille Interestingly, I never realised that England and Germany had never met on a battlefield before WWI, but certainly this book shows how the demonization of enemies did affect Hitler s views in ways that changed his attitudes in the Second World War For example, his experiences mean that he was always impressed by the British soldiers, but did not take the French army seriously Such insights are fascinating and make this a very interesting bok.Although Hitler s regiment fought in major battles, such as Ypres, the Somme and Passchendale, Hitler himself was a dispatch runner Of course, this was a dangerous job, but front line soldiers in the trenches, would have seen his role as easy by comparison Usually, the despatch runners had rooms in local towns and, separated from most of the men outside his own colleagues, Hitler later often embellished the danger he was under Seen as eccentric, lacking social skills notably, he was not put in charge of other men , he was always an outsider he lurks, or perches, on the edge of photographs, did not mix socially with other men, but sketched and walked, while they drank and womanised, and so was not sympathetic to low morale and disliked dissent.Although Hitler did make some relationships among his fellow dispatch riders, there is, you perceive, a distance between Hitler and the other men in his regiment The stories of what happened to his colleagues in later years is interesting Some, of course, took advantage of their previous relationship with him, while other men he fought alongside were forced to leave Germany because of anti Semitism The next book by this author, Becoming Hitler, looks at his transformation after WWI, to becoming a political leader I look forward to reading on as this book offered some real insight into how Hitler developed his bizarre theories and how his time in WWI affected him This is one of the most interesting books that I have ever read about Adolf Hitler, and I have read a great many Not only does it successfully demolish a number of myths about this German private who served in World War 1 WW1 and then later destroyed so many innocent lives as well as most of Europe To summarise it would be difficult, but let me attempt to list some of the many things that I found fascinating in this superbly researched book by Thomas Weber.Hitler s bravery and activities i This is one of the most interesting books that I have ever read about Adolf Hitler, and I have read a great many Not only does it successfully demolish a number of myths about this German private who served in World War 1 WW1 and then later destroyed so many innocent lives as well as most of Europe To summarise it would be difficult, but let me attempt to list some of the many things that I found fascinating in this superbly researched book by Thomas Weber.Hitler s bravery and activities in WW1 are examined minutely He was so insignificant a personality during the war that there were few records relating to such an unimportant figure in that terrible war Weber uses the records of, and the memoirs of those who belonged to, the Bavarian regiment, which Hitler joined in 1914, to explore effectively a number of points including Hitler s reputed bravery Many of Weber s sources antedate Hitler s accession to the German Chancellorship in 1933, and are therefore undistorted by the Nazi s manicuring of Hitler s military record After 1933, much was done to hide the truth about Hitler s real role during the struggle for the Western Front in France and Belgium For, it appears that Hitler had little to be proud about, and he must have known that revealing the truth would have helped demolish the myth that helped bring him support from the German people.Weber describes vividly the terrible conditions that front line soldiers had to endure in the trenches during the often brief time before they succumbed to bullet, shells, grenades, and disease For the most part of Hitler s wartime career, he was not on the front line He was a regimental dispatch runner working for the regimental headquarters which were always well out of the firing line In addition, he spent his nights in comfortable, well protected, dry quarters quite different from those enjoyed by soldiers on the front line their quarters in the mud was a living hell Granted, Hitler must have been at some risk as he dashed from headquarters to command posts well behind the lines, but this risk was insignificant compared to those in the trenches and shell craters on the front.It is well known that Adolf Hitler received the Iron Cross Virtuous as this may seem, this medal was awarded faroften to those working in regimental headquarters than to those whose lives were at grave risk on the front line It came as a surprise to learn that Private Hitler was awarded his Iron Cross by his Jewish superior office, a man who some years later had to flee from Germany to save his own life.It is commonly understood that Hitler was forced to leave the theatre of warfare when he was temporarily blinded near the end of WW1 What is not so well known was that the hospital at Pasewalk in Berlin to which Hitler was sent was not an ophthalmic hospital but a psychiatric one For, Hitler s blindness was not physical but psychosomatic This fact was well suppressed in Nazi Germany.Weber examines some factors that some have thought may have been relevant to explaining the brutality of the Nazis and their armed forces in the 30s and 40s One of these, anti Semitism, does not seem to have been a significant aspect of life in Hitler s regiment Brutalisation of combatants during WW1 is also shown not to have been significant in causing what was to follow when Hitler came to power Weber explores this thoroughly Thirdly, Weber demonstrates conclusively that the politics of those in Hitler s regiment bore little correlation with those who were to support Hitler later Few combatants in Hitler s regime became enthusiastic supporters of Nazi politics Of course, I am drastically simplifying what Weber writes so eloquently and in great detail.After the war, Hitler was reluctant to leave his military family , and remained in his regiment His activities during the left wing revolutionary period in post 1918 Munich were, Weber reveals, ambiguous At first, a supporter or sympathiser with the Communist revolutionaries, he later became involved in counter revolutionary intelligence activities It was whilst snooping on one particular party that threatened the integrity of Bavaria that Hitler became attracted to that party, and joined it This marked the true beginning of his political career Something that particularly interested me in Weber s book was his frequent references to the small town of Ichenhausen This rural town where many of my ancestors lived during the 18th and 19th centuries had a large Jewish population A number of the Jewish members of Hitler s regiment were from Ichenhausen Weber charts their various fates after the Treaty of Versailles was signed As Ichenhausen s Jewry has been well documented, Weber was able to use this town to illustrate many aspects of the involvement of Jewish soldiers in WW1 and its aftermath He makes frequent reference to the autobiography of Arnold Erlanger, whom I knew well His father Levi, one of Ichenhausen s Kosher butchers, fought in Hitler s regiment and was eventually rewarded by being killed in the Holocaust Ichenhausen also illustrates well how some Catholics reacted adversely to Hitler s attempts to alienate the German gentiles against the Jews Although the Catholics were essentially anti Semitic, they valued their Jewish neighbours as being fairer in business than the agricultural cooperatives with which they could also do business Weber is quick to point out that in other parts of Bavaria, notably in Nuremburg, Jews could expect little or no sympathy from their gentile neighbours.Not only does this book explore and re explore aspects of Hitler s early life that have hitherto been accepted uncritically, but also it gives a most revealing insight into the everyday nitty gritty of military life on the Western front during WW1 I have read this book as an interested amateur with no specialist knowledge I am in no position to assess Weber s information and sources professionally, but I feel that his account is honest and likely to be reliable Until someone else with his level of scholarship challenges what he has written, I believe that this book deserves to be read by anyone with even the slightest interest in the history of 20th century Europe.Review by the author of Scrabble with Slivovitz , an account of life in Yugoslavia during its final 2 decades I ve started reading this book in October 2011 but didn t finish it By now i forgot why it made me give up so I gave it a second chance.Let s see what bugged me to be continued Ok, third and final attempt If i fail this time, Thomas can shove his book in a tiny spot that rarely sees the sun.What s wrong with this book Is it too academically No Is the language style used by Weber too hard for a simple man like myself No.It s actually a well written, accessible, entertaining book.It s j I ve started reading this book in October 2011 but didn t finish it By now i forgot why it made me give up so I gave it a second chance.Let s see what bugged me to be continued Ok, third and final attempt If i fail this time, Thomas can shove his book in a tiny spot that rarely sees the sun.What s wrong with this book Is it too academically No Is the language style used by Weber too hard for a simple man like myself No.It s actually a well written, accessible, entertaining book.It s just that every few pages i get the impression that Weber is trying so hard to prove a point that it actually sounds like he s full of sh t.For example, if he claims that 50% of the jews in the regiment did this that and it turns out to be 3 guys out of 6 in a complete regiment,we ve got a credibility issue.In fact, every time he uses statistics to make a point, i have some serious doubts.The post war survey in Germany on sympathy for Hitler was based on the answers of some 700 people.On a population of a few million people, any conclusion drawn out of that research should be treated with the highest caution Sociologists will disagree but in my opinion it s all rubbish.When he claims only a small percentage of the List regiment was made out of volunteers and the overall quality of the recruits sucked big time, he wasn t lying, he was actually kicking in an open door I have no problems with that, but when he claims that the army took every single men who could walk because they were desperate he is taking his own opinion for truth In august 1914 the Germans were actually doing pretty well on the front and there was no sign of despair The great, late and sorely missed Karel Van Het Reve wrote an essay on Freud and Sherlock Holmes where he pointed out that it is perfectly possible to draw the right conclusion using wrong arguments Weber is pushing the envelope by drawing conclusions out of a lack of evidence He starts off by admitting that few evidence is left on Hitler s life during WW1 What we know is what is written years after the war when Hitler was a politician on the rise By reconstructing the history of the List regiment, Weber tries to check the accuracy of those post war biographies hagiographies By comparing what Hitler says in Mein Kampf with the actual history of the List regiment Weber successfully destroys a lot of popular myths However, when he tries to attribute certain qualities to Hilter where there is no actual evidence, he sinks to the level of trash journalism There are no accounts of Hitler being either brave or a coward in the official history of the regiment, not in the least because at that time he was nothing but a common soldier and only the very bravest got mentioned We just don t know what happened with Adolf during the battle of Geluveld All we know is that he survived Weber however concludes Hitler was a coward who managed to dodge bullets better than some of his comrades Evidence Nothing From a scientific point of view a very bold statement I know we all want Hitler to be a coward but even with the most hated man of the 20th century only the truth should matter.Ok, so Weber got on my nervesthan once but is the entire book rubbish Nope, on the contrary When Weber sticks to simply telling the history of the List regiment, he delivers an absolute masterpiece, a must read This is the story of the common man who got sucked into a war he didn t believe in This is not about generals, this is about 20 year old men who had to undergo the worst of modern warfare More than once a private told his officer to fuck off or simply deserted It reminded me a lot of the books of Sven Hassel, where soldiers fought because they had no other choice, but they were only loyal to their friends.I think Weber focusses too much on the myths that Hitler created in Mein Kampf Anyone with the slightest intelligence knows that Hitler told a fairy tale about the war to serve for his own purposes It s simply impossible to mobilize the masses if you keep on emphasizing that war is hell This book is crammed with anecdotes and that s what makes it so interesting My personal fave is the one about Max Amann being a raving madman who tells everyone to watch out for payback time once Hitler is in power Well, he wasn t wrong about that Hitler turned out to be a vindictive little shit Even though he kept boring people with how good the List Regiment was, he didn t mind having his opponents killed.That s my boy Anyway, this book deserves 5 stars for writing the history of the small man in the great war Too bad he tried to squeeze in some sociology, statistics and a fair bit of bollox.Still, I recommend reading it

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