Peter Ross Range. 1924: The Year That Made Hitler. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, January 26th 2016. 336 pp.
4 out of 5
This was an enjoyable read on history. The author in the beginning of the book mentioned about how few historical works have focused on this important critical year for Hitler and his rise to fame and recognition in 1924. I can see that there is truth to his claim; as I think back to my previous readings on the Nazi and Hitler there’s more discussion about Hitler’s rise to power situated in the 1930s rather than his turning point in the 1920s.
While the book does focus heavily on 1924 the book also gave a good background of events and personalities leading up to 1924. Part of that is exploring Hitler’s youth, his war experience and his post-war years. I also found it helpful that the author explained the political climate after the war and also the differences of political attitude in various geographical location in Germany. For instance I did not understand what Bavaria was even though I have heard of the area before from other works on World War Two. Readers will get a better understanding of the political outlook of those who were the leaders of the German state of Bavaria in which its leaders were heavily anti-communists and fascists leaning. It is in the capital of Bavaria name Munich that Hitler staged his infamous Beer Hall Putsch. The Beer Hall Putsch in November 1923 was Hitler’s failed attempt at a coup against the government in Munich. The book is very detailed concerning what happened. Previously I had thought the matter was a small incident but I didn’t realized that the Nazis during the attempted coup was able to hold hostage a large number of people at the beer hall which include important and prominent members of Bavarian society and government. Seizing the beer Hall Hitler and his fellow Nazis held Kahr, Lossow and Seisser as hostage and even had them commit in overthrowing the present government and having their blessing for a new one. While the crowd was wild at first Hitler’s speech turned the crowd from being hostile to wild support. The original plan was to install a new government of Bavaria and eventually the Nazis would march towards Berlin itself; their plan was based upon what the Italian fascist movement was able to accomplish as their template. Of course the attempted coup was frustrated by Bavarian authorities who were additionally concerned what the incident would mean in terms of the national German army and authorities invading and crushing Bavaria.
After Hitler’s capture the book then track Hitler’s year in prison. I didn’t know how light of a prison term Hitler had that year for his participation with the coup. Again this is an example of how the book was wonderful in giving the readers an understanding of what was going on. Apparently political prisoners during that time were treated better than the typical prisoners and Hitler was able to have his own room and lived in luxury compared to other prisoners. Since Bavaria have authorities that leaned more to the right rather than Communists we also see a double standard that the authorities had towards how they handle prisoners of Communists and the Nazis. They had more in common with the Nazis ideologically and so they were more sympathetic. But it gets quite bizarre where even during the trial of those involved with the Beer Hall coup was allowed to give long political speech and defame the prosecuting attorney without any repercussions. Strangely even the judge was sympathetic towards the Nazis. Here the book record how Hitler was able to stand out among his co-conspirators and how he later overshadowed them all even though some of them were originally more prominent than Hitler before the affair began. Hitler’s rhetorical abilities soon won the attention of the journalists covering the trials and sadly Hitler’s rise to prominence began in 1924. With international recognition Hitler would soon use this new found political capital for his advantage when he was released from prison at the end of 1924. The book also discussed Hitler’s infamous work titled Mein Kampf and how Hitler wrote it in prison and its impact.
This was an enjoyable and informative read. I recommend it.
Further Christian Thought: I know there’s been some comparison made by some of Hitler with President Donald Trump. I think its a bit of a stretch and that comes from knowing more the historical situation in which Hitler arises. There is a difference and I think its over the top to compare Trump with Hitler. At the same time reading this book made me think of how dangerous some who glorify Hitler are today. Reading this book also made me realize just how dark and evil some people are. It is heavy. It is also shocking to read of the antisemitism not only of Hitler but of his contemporary in Germany. Yet we also know from Scripture that antisemitism has not run its full course yet, leading up to the return of the Lord.