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NYT Book Review: In ‘Hitler,’ an Ascent From ‘Dunderhead’ to Demagogue

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Gattsu25

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https://www.amazon.com/Hitler-Ascent-1889-1939-Volker-Ullrich-ebook/dp/B019B6TVZI


There's a book review that is making the rounds on social media because it, while it is about Hitler and never mentions any living politician, the review appears to be designed to draw parallels between the rise of Hitler and the rise of another politician.

The review can be found here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/28/books/hitler-ascent-volker-ullrich.html

Here are some choice quotes from the review that the Washington Post picked out:
Some have focused on the social and political conditions in post-World War I Germany, which Hitler expertly exploited — bitterness over the harsh terms of the Treaty of Versailles and a yearning for a return to German greatness; unemployment and economic distress amid the worldwide Depression of the early 1930s; and longstanding ethnic prejudices and fears of "foreignization."
Mr. Ullrich, like other biographers, provides vivid insight into some factors that helped turn a "Munich rabble-rouser" — regarded by many as a self-obsessed "clown" with a strangely "scattershot, impulsive style" — into "the lord and master of the German Reich."
His manic speeches and penchant for taking all-or-nothing risks raised questions about his capacity for self-control, even his sanity. But Mr. Ullrich underscores Hitler's shrewdness as a politician — with a "keen eye for the strengths and weaknesses of other people" and an ability to "instantaneously analyze and exploit situations."
Hitler was known, among colleagues, for a "bottomless mendacity" that would later be magnified by a slick propaganda machine that used the latest technology (radio, gramophone records, film) to spread his message.
A former finance minister wrote that Hitler "was so thoroughly untruthful that he could no longer recognize the difference between lies and truth" and editors of one edition of "Mein Kampf" described it as a "swamp of lies, distortions, innuendoes, half-truths and real facts."
He peppered his speeches with coarse phrases and put-downs of hecklers. Even as he fomented chaos by playing to crowds' fears and resentments, he offered himself as the visionary leader who could restore law and order.
Hitler increasingly presented himself in messianic terms, promising "to lead Germany to a new era of national greatness," though he was typically vague about his actual plans.
The unwillingness of Germany's political parties to compromise had contributed to a perception of government dysfunction, Mr. Ullrich suggests, and the belief of Hitler supporters that the country needed "a man of iron" who could shake things up. "Why not give the National Socialists a chance?" a prominent banker said of the Nazis. "They seem pretty gutsy to me."
Early on, revulsion at Hitler's style and appearance, Mr. Ullrich writes, led some critics to underestimate the man and his popularity, while others dismissed him as a celebrity, a repellent but fascinating "evening's entertainment."
Politicians, for their part, suffered from the delusion that the dominance of traditional conservatives in the cabinet would neutralize the threat of Nazi abuse of power and "fence Hitler in." "As far as Hitler's long-term wishes were concerned," Mr. Ullrich observes, "his conservative coalition partners believed either that he was not serious or that they could exert a moderating influence on him. In any case, they were severely mistaken."

Thanks to the Washington Post for pointing out this review.


 

entremet

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I mean Trump sucks but the comparison is beyond silly looking at the historical implications of Hitler's rise.

Using fear to win votes isn't a unique thing either.
 

Grizzlyjin

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I mean Trump sucks but the comparison is beyond silly looking at the historical implications of Hitler's rise.

We'll see. I would have said the same thing a year ago, but inviting political violence is absolutely a cardinal sin in American politics. Our entire political system is held up by the idea of a peaceful transition of power. And with Trump already drumming up the idea that the election will be rigged with zero evidence, that could be at risk.

It kinda goes beyond suck with him for that one reason. If we can't peacefully accept the results of our own democratic process, the whole house of cards comes down.
 

Suikoguy

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Uh... there is more in common with Trump than not.

Holy shit.
 

The Technomancer

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I mean Trump sucks but the comparison is beyond silly looking at the historical implications of Hitler's rise.

Six months ago I was there with you. I didn't want to use the word fascist to describe Trump because I thought it devalued the word

Now? I no longer think the comparison is flippant or funny. Trump has said things about the press, about the military, about how he wants to "run" America that I call fascist
 

entremet

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Why is it beyond silly?
Let's say Hitler came to power and became a mediocre politician and later forgotten?

Would the comparison matter? Not really.

Anytime comparisons to Hitler are brought up are due to his notorious and genocidal acts.

Separation of powers are not a thing?
 

Servbot24

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You don't even need a book specifically written about the comparisons. Read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, published in 1945. The parallels are striking.

Now of course I don't think that Trump would actually be Hitler, but he sure as hell would be oppressive and a mark of shame on the US.
 

GutsOfThor

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I remember when people were comparing Bush to Hitler I would always just shrug it off but reading those quotes and thinking about what's happening currently just gave me a sinking feeling in my stomach....
 

Glix

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Wtf with some of these posts??

Guys and gals, trumps name is never said. If people are drawing paralells, its because the review reads like trumps bio.

So to say its a "stretch to compare them" is nonsense. Its right there. No stretching needs to be done.

No one is saying Trump is gonna build death camps. They are just saying the man in the review sounds like Trump. Thats all. And its true.
 

Suikoguy

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I remember when people were comparing Bush to Hitler I would always just shrug it off but reading those quotes and thinking about what's happening currently just gave me a sinking feeling in my stomach....

The good news is, we are not in an economic depression and things are overall in a much better situation in the United States than things were in Germany at that time.
But it's certainly fucked up to consider how close we are to electing our own Hitler, and how high in the polls that Hitler is.
 
Sep 15, 2013
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We'll see. I would have said the same thing a year ago, but inviting political violence is absolutely a cardinal sin in American politics. Our entire political system is held up by the idea of a peaceful transition of power. And with Trump already drumming up the idea that the election will be rigged with zero evidence, that could be at risk.

It kinda goes beyond suck with him for that one reason. If we can't peacefully accept the results of our own democratic process, the whole house of cards comes down.
Listen to his answer to the final question of the debate. The fact it took him so long to say he'd support the outcome of the election, after prodding, should throw up red flags.

I don't want to have to fight in a civil war because no one took this monster seriously.
 

El Topo

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Is that the book from 2013? Don't think it got raving reviews in German press back then.
 

Jack Scofield

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Can you imagine white supremacists in 50 years with iron crosses, swastikas, and Pepes tattooed across their body?
 

Caja 117

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like Triumph the insult dog said "We are witnesing history folks, especifically Germany, 1934."
 

TheRedSnifit

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But Hitler was a good public speaker.

But Mr. Ullrich underscores Hitler's shrewdness as a politician — with a "keen eye for the strengths and weaknesses of other people" and an ability to "instantaneously analyze and exploit situations."

Yet another difference.
 

rjinaz

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Thankfully, Trump is dumber than Hitler



I tend to agree. Trump may have many of Hitler's qualities, but the smarts just aren't there. That and his wealth, when it comes down to it, is just as important to Trump as power is. He will only go so far.

That and Hillary will be beating him in just over a month anyway, I'm quite sure.
 

EmSeta

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Those comparisons with Trump are very loose and stretchy. Before we go too far down this rabbit hole, remember that right wingers were comparing Obama to Hitler the same way during his first election. And of course they could find comparisons. You can find all kinds of comparisons to anyone, if you're determined to find them.

Trump is horrible, no doubt. But the only thing these comparisons show is how ridiculous the political rhetoric is becoming in the age of the internet, IMO.

Many have compared Trump to Silvio Berlusconi - a much more apt comparison by any metric.
 
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You don't even need a book specifically written about the comparisons. Read Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, published in 1945. The parallels are striking.

Now of course I don't think that Trump would actually be Hitler, but he sure as hell would be oppressive and a mark of shame on the US.


I mean there are a few minor differences between Trump and Hitler, such as being personally in charge of a huge private army, living in a country that has been a democracy for less than 15 years in which a large portion of citizenry are longing for a return to the glory days of authoritarianism, leading a new and upcoming party instead of joining an old and very established one, competing against a disunited and ineffective political opposition, having a large number of sympathetic officials, politicians and judges who gave him a slap on the wrist prison sentence for personally leading a literal armed insurrection against the country, and publishing a book in prison about how it's his country and race's destiny to conquer the east, extinguish Poland and secure a vast, self sufficient territorial empire from Russia and take care of those troublesome Jews.

The comparisons seem implicitly flippant because Hitler isn't famous for being just some random, crazy, lying politician who wasn't taken seriously but then managed to claw his way into power. When somebody is comparing a politician's career path to Hitler's rise to power, that's got a lot of unspoken implications. Trump's terribleness certainly stands on its own without any need to draw strained comparisons to the Weimar republic in 1933 and Adolf Hitler. America is not in a similar situation, the institutions of America aren't similar, and Hitler has as many differences as he does similarities to Trump.

P.S. The Rise and fall of the Third Reich was published in 1960. Historians had barely had time to breathe by 1945.
 

Kathian

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I mean Hitler had thugs directly working for him; attempted to start a revolution once before; and due to German law was able to seize direct and total control.

Trump is a man who builds hotels; rambles through speeches and is trying to take control of an office who lets be honest has kept just as mad men in check.

People are too quick to make these comparisons. No different from calling Clinton Stalin with nothing but references to ruthlessness and paranoia.
 

benjipwns

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Germany had a clusterfucked political system too because the Communists, Socalists, etc. refused to form coalitions with each other. And instead spent their time arming their own militias to go fight on the street. The democratic aspects of it had collapsed before Hitler won and the democratic parties were ruling by decree since they couldn't pass legislation or govern traditionally.

A lot of the similarities being quoted all over are also true about most politicians. They lie, they repeat phrases, they talk about greatness for the country, they talk down to voters, they attack opponents, etc. Yeah, that's politics. Hitler was a politician too but he didn't fucking invent it.
 

KDR_11k

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Everybody talks about Goebbels, who is his Goering?

I mean Hitler had thugs directly working for him; attempted to start a revolution once before; and due to German law was able to seize direct and total control.

Most of that control grabbing was from "emergency" laws passed as a response to things like the Reichstag fire which was back then claimed to have been started by a Jewish terrorist. IIRC he was made chancellor on a gamble by Hindenburg thinking that such a silly demagogue could never handle the difficulties of a real office.
 

NimbusD

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Let's say Hitler came to power and became a mediocre politician and later forgotten?

Would the comparison matter? Not really.

Anytime comparisons to Hitler are brought up are due to his notorious and genocidal acts.

Separation of powers are not a thing?

Just because it's not possible, or much more difficult for a similar figure to do exactly what Hitler did, to the US, doesn't mean that people under similar circumstances aspire to similar means.

Ok, Trump? Not Hitler. Even if he wanted to be, he'd be pretty hard pressed, even if elected, to get away with making Mexican death camps. But does that mean he's not pulling pages out of the same game plan? Blame economic woes on foreign influence, specific groups of people that his supporters don't sympathize with all for personal gain...

At least that's how I take these comparisons. It's lessons from the past to view current politics. People wonder how Trump could possibly be so popular in spite of being a hateful, petty person? Well look at Hitler's rise and what he focused on to achieve his means. Again, of course it's not 1-1.
 

oti

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It kinda bumms me out that some people will believe all this book is for is to "throw shade" towards Trump.
 

benjipwns

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the Reichstag fire which was back then claimed to have been started by a Jewish terrorist.
Communist, van der Lubbe wasn't Jewish. And IIRC, most historians now basically agree that they framed a guilty man. Germany later re-convicted him for arson. Which seemed unnecessary since he had been dead for 30 years.

At least that's how I take these comparisons. It's lessons from the past to view current politics. People wonder how Trump could possibly be so popular in spite of being a hateful, petty person? Well look at Hitler's rise and what he focused on to achieve his means. Again, of course it's not 1-1.
Why not instead look at Nixon's? Or Wilson's? Or George Wallace? Or Obama? They're all Americans at least.
 

jtb

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Kakutani is an awful critic, one of the worst writers at the Times this side of Maureen Dowd...

but...

this is pretty good
 
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