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Defying Hitler: A Memoir

Sebastian Haffner

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Prose: non-fiction, History, 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000

An absolute classic of autobiography and history - one of the few books to explore how and why the Germans were seduced by Hitler and Nazism

Sebastian Haffner was a non-Jewish German who emigrated to England in 1938. This memoir (written in 1939 but only published now for the first time) begins in 1914 when the family summer holiday is cut short by the outbreak of war, and ends with Hitlers assumption of power in 1933. It is a portrait of himself and his own generation in Germany, those born between 1900 and 1910, and brilliantly explains through his own experiences and those of his friends how that generation came to be seduced by Hitler and Nazism. The Germans lacked an outlet for self-expression: where the French had amour, food and wine, and the British their gardens and their pets, the Germans had nothing, leading to a tendency towards mass psychosis. The upheaval of post-WWI revolution, factionalism and inflation left the Germans addicted to excitement and action: Hitler provided this, and more.

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Sebastian Haffner

Sebastian Haffner was born in 1907 in Berlin. He emigrated to England in 1938 and wrote for the OBSERVER for many years. He returned to Germany in 1954, where he became a prominent journalist and historian, writing for DIE WELT and STERN. He died in 1999.

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