In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson explores several crucial years in Berlin through the eyes of the US ambassador and his family. Their experiences serve as both a cautionary tale about the insidiousness of evil and a harbinger of the hard realization that the rest of America was forced to make in a few short years.
In 1933, George Messersmith, US Consul General in Berlin, awaited the naming of a new ambassador amid increasing brutality, fanaticism, and corruption under the Nazi regime. Messersmith was frustrated that no one back home realized how bad it was. Most US officials figured that Adolf Hitler would become more moderate over time. Their chief concern was getting Germany to pay back $1.2 billion owed to US bond holders in the aftermath of World War I. Hitler talked of paying, but Messersmith thought he was just buying time to re-arm Germany....
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