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Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand Hardcover – September 18, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; First Printing edition (September 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195369882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195369885
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #906,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"Hett has written a riveting account of Litten's life."--Jewish Book World


"Hett's well-researched history is an excellent introduction, and a creepy reminder of the insidious power of evil."--Dick Cady, ForeWord Magazine


"Hett adroitly explains the workings of the Weimar legal system and challenges the conventional wisdom that the German legal profession was, prior to 1933, so right wing that its transition to Nazism was an easy and logical step.... Recommended for all libraries."--Library Journal


About the Author


A former trial lawyer, Benjamin Carter Hett is now Associate Professor of History at Hunter College and the author of Death in the Tiergarten. He lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

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Crossing Hitler was a very interesting read, and I am highly recommending this book.
Terri
In "Crossing Hitler," Benjamin Carter Hett provides an excellent character study of Litten and reveals the tragic martyrdom he underwent at the hands of the Nazis.
H. F. Gibbard
The book also provides a good deal of historical insight into pre-Nazi Germany and an excellent historiography of the "Hans Litten" story.
William J. Romanos

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand" is a biography of Hans Litten, a crusading German lawyer whose life ended prematurely at Dachau concentration camp in 1938, seven years after he pressed Adolf Hitler into a fit of rage on the witness stand at the Eden Dance Palace Trial. A recent revival in interest and regard for Litten in Germany has led to some sanitizing of his character and politics, which author Benjamin Carter Hett attempts to dispel. He presents a picture of a complex and radical man, a champion of the downtrodden, intolerant and inflexible, anti-Weimar Republic, anti-Nazi, anti-democratic, sympathetic to Communists but not one of them, who believed in the law, which he used to advance social and political consciousness in the volatile last years of the Weimar Republic.

Hett doesn't dedicate much space to Litten's personal life, if, indeed, he had a personal life. He was an obsessive man for whom everything revolved around the goals he pursued in the courtroom. There is detailed coverage of Litten's role and Hitler's difficulty in the 1931 Eden Dance Palace Trial in which four Nazi stormtroopers were accused of the attempted murder of three people at a Berlin party, a trial that may have sealed Litten's fate years hence. A year later, Litten was expelled from court for politicizing another trial of Nazi stormtroopers, this time for a violent clash with the communist Combat League Against Fascism. The book then follows Litten's movement through a series of prisons and concentration camps as a political prisoner after he was arrested in 1933.

Hans Litten is an interesting, if not likeable, man who had an important career at a pivotal time and place in history.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Luke Waygood VINE VOICE on October 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
To be honest, I usually read fiction, especially sci-fi/fantasy and occasionally thrillers with WWII links (Enigma, Black Cross, The Shadowman). Enigma was a work of pure fiction, based on the premise that the Third Reich had expanded, survived and become a permanent fixture on the European landscape.

My apologies for mentioning another book. However, the reason why I do so, is because Crossing Hitler is a biography of Hans Litten, who put Hitler on the witness stand in the Eden Dance Palace trial of 1931. What few realize is that Litten's questions had the potential to cause Hitler to pejure himself (thus throwing him in jail) and fracture the Nazi party. Indeed, it takes little imagination for an "alternative history" sci-fi reader such as I, to wonder what would have happened if such a thing had come to pass? How many lives would have been spared? How much destruction avoided? How different would the world now be?

This is the concept that intrigued me into deviating into the realm of non-fiction.

The book really delves into Hans Litten's personality, beliefs and motivations. It looks closely at his life both from childhood right up to his death in Dachau concentration camp - the ultimate price paid for humiliating Hitler. Likewise, it looks closely at those who surrounded Litten, and the consequences of their association with him. To give him credit, Hett (the author) did a fantastic amount of research for the book, basing the arguments he provides largely on documented historical fact, backing it up with notes at the end citing the exact references.

Likewise, while the author clearly is familiar with other biographies of Hans Litten, he strives to fully understand this brave lawyer and uses historical facts to justify his views.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In 1931 the Nazi party hadn't gained complete control of Germany and Hitler's mad shadow hadn't begun to complete plunge Germany in darkness. Han Litten had the Nazi party on the stand when four of Nazi stormtroopers were accused and tried for attempted murder and assault. Litten did what would in retrospect be unthinkable by many people--he put Hitler on the stand. Hitler desperately sought the support of the German middle class and decided to distance himself from some of the more extreme behavior from the Nazi party. Hitler wanted to be seen as someone who was using the political and legal system properly to deal with issues within his party and outside of it. Litten knew differently. The prosecuting attorney called proceded to grill Hitler on the stand about his association with the Nazi party, what he knew and condoned managing to make the future Furher furious with Litten. Bravery has its cost even when we don't see the outcome of our actions or others.

Litten who esposed left wing political causes and embraced his Jewish heritage found himself in constant conflict with the Nazi party and what they were attempting to do in Germany. The result once Hitler took power was that Litten was thrown into Dachau first as a political prisoner and, later, because of he was a Jew. Hitler had Litten tortured, humiliated and tried to defeat him. All the while Litten held on to the knowledge of that he was on the side of right and that eventually Hitler would get his due.

A fascinating biography, Crossing Hitler is well researched and written by Benjamin Carter Hett. Hett knows his history--he is an Associate Professor of History at Hunter College and also knows the law having practiced as a former trial lawyer.
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