Book Review Thursday: 1924: The Year That Made Hitler


In a sane world it would seem a serious mistake to draw attention to and republish Mein Kampf, Adolph Hitler’s autobiography first published in 1925.  For years the book was purposely kept off the shelves of bookstores and libraries, thought to have been too dangerous for the general public.  The copyright, held by the state of Bavaria, finally expired in December 2015.

In late February 2016 the Washington Post reported the newly republished book, now heavily annotated to explain Hitler’s comments, was ranked number two on Der Spiegel’s bestseller list.  It seems fortuitous that this book by Peter Ross Range was released in late January 2016, perhaps serving as a counterbalance.

Heaven knows the voluminous tomes which could be (and have been) written about Adolph Hitler.  Range chose to focus on a brief period in Hitler’s life to give us a glimpse into the mindset of the monster who later perpetrated so many horrific crimes against humanity.

Hitler spent most of 1924 in prison after being tried for treason as a result of his attempted beer hall coup in early November 1923.  The “prison” was hardly what one would imagine for a prisoner accused of such crimes.  Instead, his private quarters and the year he spent there made it seem more like an extended spa vacation.  After being sentenced to five years in prison for his failed coup attempt, the judge immediately reduced the sentence to approximately six months (if he behaved himself).

Hitler, surrounded with like-minded prisoners, enthralled the captive audience with his speechifying in the weeks before the trial.  However, following the trial he set himself to make best use of the incarceration by devoting much of his time to writing Mein Kampf.  After studying material such as American Henry Ford’s anti-Semitic publications and receiving a new Remington typewriter he was prepared to put his philosophy on paper.

By the time Hitler was released in the fall of 1924, Mein Kampf was ready for publication, and as the saying goes, the rest is history.  Range’s use of Hitler’s own rhetoric gives readers a crystal clear look into the mind of one of history’s most despicable characters.  It made me wonder whether Hitler would have gotten as far as he did had he not been such a “silver-tongued devil”.

In the current political climate, I believe this book should be regarded as a cautionary tale.  As citizens we need to consider what is true and good and what is rhetoric and empty promises.  Anyone interested in the period leading up to World War II and Adolph Hitler’s rise will find this book a compelling read.  To paraphrase Edmund Burke, “those who haven’t studied and learned from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Rating:  ★★★★

Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!

  © Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2016.

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