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Defying Hitler  By  cover art

Defying Hitler

By: Sebastian Haffner
Narrated by: Robert Whitfield
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Publisher's summary

When the famous German author Sebastian Haffner died at the age of 91 in 1999, a manuscript was discovered among his unpublished papers. The book was begun in 1939, but with the advent of World War II, Haffner had set it aside. His family made the decision to publish it, and the book became a best seller in Germany in 2002. Spanning the period from 1907 to 1933, it offers a unique perspective on how the average educated German grappled with the rise of Hitler, the growing influence of Nazism, and a rapidly changing society.

Haffner's astute and compelling eyewitness accounts provide a broad overview of a country in a constant state of flux. He examines the pervasive influence of groups such as the Free Corps and the Hitler Youth movement that swept the nation. His own family's financial struggles illustrate the disaster that befell many of Germany's citizens during the apocalyptic year of 1923 when inflation devastated the country. The later peaceful but dangerously uninspiring Stresemann years contributed still further to Hitler's rise to power. This is an invaluable chronicling of day-to-day changes in attitudes, beliefs, politics, and prejudices.

A major best seller in Germany now available for the first time in English, Defying Hitler is an illuminating portrait of a time, a place, and a people.

©2000 Sarah Haffner and Oliver Pretzel (P)2000 Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart/Munchen. Translation © 2002 Oliver Pretzel

Critic reviews

"his is a gem of a book, with as much intellectual force as, say, The Diary of Anne Frank has emotional force....Essential reading about that fearsome era." (Booklist)
"[A] masterpiece...A series of vignettes that vividly convey the texture of life under an emerging totalitarian regime." (The New York Times Book Review)
"A vivid examination of just how Hitler's ascension affected an ordinary German....This intimate self-portrait stands with Victor Klemperer's two-part memoir, I Will Bear Witness, as evidence that the personal can offer insight into the political tragedy of Nazism." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Defying Hitler

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Great Listen

This book put a real human look at the german people under the nazi rule. It helped to answer the questions of why--why didn't they stop this monster that took over their country. It gave a great look into the time before WWII in Germany and how that shaped the thought of the people. Very Interesting thoughts that will make you ponder for days.

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9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome Stuff

I have read (and listened to) many things written about World War II, but I have never seen this kind of profound psychological insight brought to bear on how and why the Nazis happened to Germany.

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3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

The Best Book on Nazi Germany I've Read

My mother’s family is German and I have spent quite a bit of time in Germany and have German friends. Nazi Germany has long been something of a puzzle to me and I’ve read more than a few books about that time, trying to discover how that could have happened. Where was the rule of law, the public outrage, the resistance to atrocities… just how could this have happened?

A few days ago I obtained a copy of Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner, the son of a Prussian civil servant, who details the decent into madness by the German people and how it happened. If you are interested in a front seat view of how Germany became a Fascist state, this is the book for you.

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1 person found this helpful

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must read

very important book that outlines the changes in germany between both world wars and how the nazis gained power and got people to go along with their regime. the similarities to the raise of nazi Germany and covid America are uncanny.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Personal account from a German point of view

Excellent book, but at one point seems preachy and reflected in hindsight, the son of the author who had the boom published verified its authenticity. Still, I wonder? easy listen, read is British English rather than by a German which would have made the book better as an audiobook.

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    4 out of 5 stars

worth the listen

struggled to listen to it. heard it in bits and pieces. but glad I finished it. lots to think about and compare to current day going ons.

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Excellent book with great insight.

Will be requiring my kids to read. Have gained much knowledge on history and also insight into the repeat of some economic issues happening today.

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    5 out of 5 stars

captivating!

i found it to be relatable and truly captivating, i wish that he had continued further and i will Deffinately be relistening to it.

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