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At Hitler's Side: The Memoirs of Hitler's Luftwaffe Adjutant Hardcover – February 19, 2006

3.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Originally published in 1980 in von Below's native Germany, this English translation is sure to become an important memoir for those studying the Nazi war machine. In 1937, von Below was a 20-year-old pilot when he was selected by Hermann Goering to be the Luftwaffe's adjutant on Hitler's personal staff. Von Below held this position and was near Hitler most of the time until he fled Berlin in the waning days of April 1945, the last of Hitler's staff to escape the doomed bunker. Written without his diaries and notes, which were lost in 1945, von Below's memoir will be most enticing for military historians studying the strategic thought of Hitler and his generals. He chronicles the repeated controversies between Hitler and his generals on all aspects of the war the Russian front, mat‚riel production, tactical objectives and future plans. Hitler's continued anger with Goering over the Luftwaffe's ineffectiveness in protecting the Reich from Allied bombing is readily apparent, as are the arguments over holding ground on the Russian front. The Hitler who emerges from these pages is a wise, perfectly rational war leader betrayed by others who failed to do his bidding. This view alone will make for great controversy. Von Below also states that he never heard a word about the concentration camps or the liquidation of European Jews, a claim that seems dubious at the very best. After a bomb meant for Hitler exploded on July 20, 1944, von Below claims that Hitler seemed to sense the Reich's fate. The memoir ends abruptly, with notes added throughout by the translator to clarify or identify factual errors. Despite the editors' efforts, Holocaust deniers may still use the memoir for fodder. 45 photos not seen by PW.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Von Below, who served as Hitler's Luftwaffe (air force) adjutant, here seeks to provide an intimate glimpse into the decision-making process of the Nazi military leadership. Since the author's personal diaries were destroyed at the end of World War II, his memoir (originally published in Germany in 1980) is based on his reconstruction of events, not his contemporaneous reactions. The details, in particular the dates, are so specific that he obviously researched the events very thoroughly. The result is not so much a glimpse of the inner workings of the German high command as a brief history of the war from the perspective of someone who witnessed it at the highest levels and then interspersed this history with his remembered observations and occasional references to surviving correspondence. The book is troubling in that von Below is still enthralled by Hitler's military insights and attempts to place blame for German military blunders on someone other than Hitler. And naturally, despite his being close to Hitler almost every day, he knew nothing about the Final Solution. Although some military enthusiasts and specialists might glean some useful information from this book, it cannot be recommended for a wide audience. Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Greenhill Books; First edition (February 19, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853674680
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853674686
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel J. Cragg on August 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Von Below was Adolf Hitler's Luftwaffe adjutant for eight years, from 1937 to the very end of the war. As such he held many intimate conversations with Hitler and in this well-written (and very well translated) memoir, he claims to have had Der Fuhrer's confidence. That he remained in this job for 8 years is proof enough of that fact. Von Below's portrait of Hitler on the job is very different from the raving single-minded maniac usually portrayed in movies and popular biographies. Von Below claims that if one knew how to approach Hitler one could reason with him and even get him to change his mind. By this account Hitler was a hard-working, dedicated, charismatic and intelligent leader who was often misled by his subordinates. Von Below claims to have known nothing about the mass murders committed by the Nazis. He also claims to have had serious misgivings about Hitler's war strategy; and he writes that he was well aware of the shortcomings of the Luftwaffe. As a pilot himself, I tend to believe him outright on this point, but otherwise I don't know how much of the insight he claims to have had into strategic matters might have been colored by hindsight. In any event, he was never able to convince Hitler although he writes that many times he did express his doubts to Der Fuhrer, who always heard him out. Compare this book with the memoir written by Hitler's pilot, Hans Bauer. Both men, knowing the end was inevitable, stuck it out and for that we must admire their courage and dedication. I don't think they remained with Hitler in Germany's doomed capital because of some lemming-like compulsion to destruction ingrained in the German psyche, but because of their personal devotion to Hitler.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
George Orwell once wrote that "the hatred the Spanish Republic aroused in dukes, playboys, millionaires and what-not" was sufficient cause for believing it had right on its side. The reaction of the two men quoted by Amazon (see above) towards this book is sufficient cause for reading it. Such people view all firsthand accounts from Hitler's regime in terms of "does he say what we want him to say, or doesn't he? Does he admit to knowing about the concentration camps, or not?" One could scarcely have a narrower view or miss the point more completely.

AT HITLER'S SIDE is the most emotionally honest, and least politically correct, of all the memiors written by survivor's of Adolf Hitler's inner circle. The author, Colonel Nicholaus von Below, served as Hitler's air force adjutant from 1937 until 1945, and as a result was one of the priveleged few who enjoyed a "view from the top." That is not to say that he always felt priveleged or enjoyed the view: Below was clearly a man who wished on occasion he were an ordinary Luftwaffe pilot. Certainly his job involved a lot more than just briefing "Der Fuehrer" on technical air force matters, but therein lies the story.

Like most of the people around Hitler, Below's "real" job was not listed in his job description. He seems to have been an unofficial representative of the rank-and-file officers in the Luftwaffe - that is to say, a spokesman for the Luftwaffe itself rather than for Goering, who was despised and hated by most of his men for his vainglory, bullying, and incompetence.
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Format: Hardcover
This book doesn't present anything groundbreaking about Hitler, but it s particularly valuable for its picture of what it was like to live around Hitler for many years. As part of Hitler's personal staff, especially for such a long time, Below's experiences were obviously unique and would be interesting to anyone interested in WWII or Hitler. It present an insider's view of what was going on at Hitler's headquarters. In many cases (he claimed) he was not in the know. Below wrote that it was only later, after the war, that he found out the full extent of the atrocities. This was probably true, as it was with many members of his personal staff, who lived isolated lives with Hitler, who never spoke directly about it. Below does say, however, that he finds it inconceivable that Himmler would have exterminated Jews without Hitler's knowledge. Himmmler would not have informed Hitler about the details, writes Below, but Hitler certainly gave his go-ahead. It's little passages like this one that make this book interesting to read, if one is interested in the subject.
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Format: Hardcover
Von Below's memoir is refreshing to the degree that he doesn't engage in the usual de rigeur Hitler-bashing nonsense which has been all too common with individuals once closely associated with him. The author was Germany's air force adjutant assigned to Hitler and won his confidence and trust; they engaged in many intimate conversations about personnel, policy, armaments and their development, and much more. He has a great deal of information in his reminiscences which reveal a Hitler that until the later period of World War Two was thoughtful, open-minded, tolerant of dissenting views, and often willing to reconsider his own. This is hugely different from the usual picture that has come down to us through wartime and postwar propaganda.

Von Below also shows that as the war entered its later stages, Hitler became almost paranoid, angry, stubborn, and far less tolerant of dissent than
heretofore, due to stresses and pressures that few men have ever had to endure. The important contextual matter that the author brings to his readers are his observations that Hitler's generals often disobeyed his orders or engaged in sabotage. This of course fed into H's paranoia and dramatically altered the behavior and interactions between H and his entourage. The author additionally shows that many of the decisions and attitudes taken by Hitler were made without much in the way of alternatives. The short-sighted policy of 'unconditonal surrender' adopted by the Allies left few options open to Germany's leadership even if many of them failed to see this until too late.

On the negative side, the text reads almost as if it were chopped in numerous places; I don't know if the original German edition had greater or more complete material.
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