Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Hitler and America Hardcover – May 26, 2011
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"Hitler and America is an extraordinary book, chock-full of evidence and significant details about the complexity (and in some ways, the duality) of Hitler's consideration of the United States."—John Lukacs, author of The Hitler of History
About the Author
Klaus P. Fischer is Professor of History and Philosophy at Allan Hancock College and the author of Nazi Germany: A New History and History of an Obsession: German Judeophobia and the Holocaust.
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Many historians have claimed that Hitler hardly paid any attention to the USA in the 1930s. others added that the Fuhrer had only contempt for the Americans, whom he considered a mongrel people, incapable of a higher culture. These and many other theories are dispelled by this excellent and extremely well researched book which proves to what extent America was essential in Hitler's politics. He had a split image of America: on the one hand, he would belittle the American people, but on the other hand he had a lot of respect for their technological achievements as well as their industrial and organizational methods. He, for example, admired American techniques of advertising and had them embodied in Nazi appeals to the German people. Hitler also envied the power of America and hoped one day to equal it through conquests of living space in the East.
The first chapter shows that what Hiler knew about America, the "split-image", came from second-hand sources, from visitors there, such as Putzi Hanfstaengel, from the books of Karl May and other lesser known authors, of from what he saw in films, magazines and newspapers. He also gained some insight about the military preparedness of the Americans with the help of Friedrich von Botticher, who was the military attache in Washington.
Since this book is also about the way Roosevelt viewed Hitler, there are fascinating insights on this topic as well. FDR learned from his ambassador to Berlin that Hitler and his regime were becoming dangerous by the end of the thirties, especially after the secret conference held on November 5, 1937, when Hitler explained to the attendants there that his aims were to annex Austria and Czechoslovakia in order to secure Germany's eastern and southern flanks.
Professor Fischer does not attach great importance to the American-German Bund, led by Fritz Kuhn ,who was actually despised by the Fuhrer.
The following years, at least up to December 1941, were characterized by efforts made by Roosevelt to magnify the Nazi threat, for he wanted to convert the American people to an interventionist course. The president claimed that Hitler wanted to destroy America through an inside-job, sowing the seeds of suspicion, distrust and subversion.
Hitler regarded Roosevelt as a president surrounded by Jews, those people whom he, Hitler, hoped to exterminate forever after 1941. The available evidence suggests that Roosevelt knew about the final solution, but he did not know much, if anything, about it in detail, nor did he know what to do about it other than win the war.
Another point emphasized in the book concerns the attempts of Hitler to sow discord among the Allies, hoping that Roosevelt and Churchill, for instance, would end their friendship. Hitler believed that if a man other that Roosevelt had been president, he might have kept the United States out of the war and employed more effective economic remedies to cure the country of the Depression.
In contrast, Roosevelt saw the war as a moral clash between humane values of American democracy and the brutal nature of Nazi tyranny. The four freedoms doctrine of his was an attempt to universalize the doctrines of the Enlightment on which the American political experience had rested, while Hitler had a warped image of America, which was moulded by questionable sources which he bent to fit his own ideological frame of reference. This is why Hitler dismissed the American population as an international mishmash of peoples.
I would like to make one point about some chapters of this very important book.These contain an analysis of the relationship between the Big Three: Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill. The connection between them and the way Hitler saw America is not always clear. However, this does not detract an iota from this book's importance and deep analysis about the was the Nazi dictator regarded the USA. In fact, the superb way the book is written only proves that some professional historians still know how to write a narrative-cum-analytical history in an extraordinary serious, readable yet entertaining way.
Like the way the author portrays Hitler's knowledge and/or lack of concerning "Amerika". Also, his facts seem to hold up against previously read books of the same genre.
A worthy read.
Other reviewers here have treated this book as though it were some fount of intriguing new revelations or interpretations. In fact, that is the one thing it is not. What is true is that Fischer attempts to present his warmed-over narrative as such by knocking down various academic strawmen as he goes; but by this method he can persuade only the novices of academe. It is not remarkable to bash a secondary source from the 1960s through quoting a secondary source from the 1990s and pretending to be clever in so doing.
Rather than advancing any new theses, Fischer simply reproduces the interpretations of previous historians, on whose accounts he overwhelmingly bases his own; there are literally less than half a dozen references to unpublished primary sources in his notes, and none of them reveals anything of great importance. The vast majority of references are to the literature. Even here, there are some curious omissions; for example, he essentially ignores the substantial study by Robert Herzstein, Roosevelt and Hitler: Prelude to War -- Perhaps because this book largely covered the same topic as his own, only more comprehensively and two decades previously.
Fischer also falls prey to numerous errors, both petty and serious. Important parts of his narrative draw on sources now considered unreliable by historians. For example, he advances (p.9) the claim that Hitler regretted the defeat of the South in the Civil War, as he considered the slavocratic and racist Confederate social order morally superior by far to the amoral capitalism of the Yankee bankers. This is an interesting claim, and one that might well be true; certainly we can imagine Hitler saying such a thing. However, Fischer provides no source to support this claim. And even more unfortunately, the one primary source which attributes such sentiments to Hitler is the thoroughly discredited memoir by Hermann Rauschning, "The Voice of Destruction," which such a careful researcher as Ian Kershaw saw fit to dismiss wholesale when he penned his own Hitler biography.
In other words, Fischer either was unaware that the source he used was fraudulent, or used it anyway despite this knowledge. Otherwise, he would surely have explained in a note why he chose to rely on a source other historians almost unanimously dismiss. Instead, he obscured the source altogether; there is no reference, and Rauschning is not even mentioned in his bibliography! Whether this is incompetence or deliberate dishonesty, it reflects poorly on Fischer's academic integrity.
And this is far from his only error, either by omission or by downright wrongly relating a fact. His bulky bibliography is impressive, to be sure, but he has more or less completely failed to extract the substance of it. In at least some instances, the way he quotes a book offers the distinct impression that he has not read it very carefully at all. For example, he calls the book For the President, Personal & Secret: Correspondence Between Franklin D. Roosevelt and William C. Bullitt the memoirs of William Bullitt (p.314). In actual fact, it is, as the title quite correctly notes, a collection of Bullitt's letters, edited and published by his brother Orville years after his death. Has Fischer really read it, as he claims, or did he just lift a reference to it from some other author's work, hoping that no one would notice? Again, either way, we can certainly convict him of sloppy work. There are, as well, several more suspicious examples of similarly misunderstood titles.
So what is left, once we prune away these failings? A very pedestrian history of German-American relations in the Hitler-Roosevelt era, the ups and downs of which have been told many times before, and often better than here. Fischer simply follows the leader; and for those to whom style matters greatly, we might also note in passing that he generally writes in a droning tone that does nothing to improve the impression otherwise rendered.
The one praiseworthy thing in this book has been mentioned already: Its substantial bibliography, which lists a wide selection of titles in both English and German, primary as well as secondary sources. This will be of value, indeed considerable value, to the hard core of history enthusiasts who have the will to track down these obscure titles and read them for themselves. But to the general reader, this mediocre and error-prone book cannot be recommended. He is much better served picking up, for example, Herzstein's volume, which is presently available used at very reasonable prices. Or, for various other perspectives, see, for example, "Back Door to War" by Charles C. Tansill; "Prelude to Downfall" by Saul Friedlander; "Roosevelt Confronts Hitler" by Patrick Hearden.
Admittedly towards the end of the book the author veers back to German hopes and strategies to break up Stalin and the Anglo-Americans, he remains fixated on the personalities of Roosevelt and Stalin, with relatively little perspective from the German point of view.
Those interested in the title subject would be better serviced by Patrick Hearden's 'Roosevelt Confronts Hitler' or Holger Helwig's "Politics of Frustation"