Thursday, April 19, 2012

Adolf Hitler's WW I exploits—Nazi propaganda myth

Research reveals Adolf Hitler's heroic Great War exploits were a Nazi propaganda myth | Mail Online:
Adolf Hitler's heroic exploits during the First World War were an invention of the Nazi propaganda machine, new research has revealed.
The Nazi leader served as a messenger on the Western Front during the war and was awarded the Iron Cross for carrying messages.
He claimed in his autobiography, Mein Kampf, that he 'looked death in the eye' and risked his life 'probably every day' while he served as a messenger on the Western Front.

But a new book, Hitler's First War, by German historian Thomas Weber, reveals that Private Hitler was often stationed outside of the most dangerous areas and was rarely in the 'midst of the bombardment', as he claimed.
The book is not new, as this article claims. It was first published in November, 2010. Amazon describes the book.
Perhaps no individual in modern history has received more 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 now.

In 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 more heroic, and popular, than the future Fuehrer. 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 in 1918.

Through 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 1930s 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 experience.

Underlying 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 is a member of the history department at the University of Aberdeen, where he teaches European and International history.

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