Not too long ago I finished reading the biography of Hitler by John Toland. I enjoyed this book very much because it went far beyond other books I
have read in humanizing Hitler. In some respects Hitler was a great guy. People liked him. He took good care of his relatives, with a couple of
notable exceptions and stayed in contact with his musician friend Kubizek well after he became Chancellor.
Some people thought he was a crank during his youth and army service. Others admired him or thought he was an OK guy, "one of the guys" as a matter of
He liked children. He liked dogs. He charmed the ladies. He won the loyalty of men. He was the champion of a a certain segment
of the German
And he led Germany into an unprecedented catastrophe.
His story is fascinating and Toland does an outstanding job of telling it. I am aware of scholarly criticisms made of the Toland book. He is alleged
to have taken some liberties in recreating certain situations, where he purports to relate the thoughts going on in the heads of some of the
The great strength of the book is the result of two circumstances that were not operative, at least not to the same degree, with Shirer's The Rise
and Fall of the Third Reich
, Allan Bullock's Hitler a Study in Tyranny
or Kondrad Heiden's Die Fuhrer
, all of which I have read.
Those two circumstances were many more research interviews with people who knew Hitler in official, social, and familiar circumstances and the
emergence of many more documents than could be used in writing the earlier books.
In Toland's book, he has a report being given to Hitler by Himmler, I believe, summing up the progress of the program of the "final solution" to the
, toward the end of the war, when it was obvious that Germany was not going to be able to achieve the objectives which Hitler had
set for the country.
The figure, said by Toland to have been given to Hitler personally was six million. Obviously, these figures could have been fudged, particularly
toward the end of the war.
I am at work at the moment so I can't actually consult the book to give precise chapter and verse.
This is the sort of thing that even the Nazis, who were generally good record keepers, could get wrong by some percentage, but in my opinion, based on
their acknowledged skills in just about any technical area you might name, the percentage of error might be at most, the very most, in fog of war and
Of course Jews were liquidated in different ways in different places. There was a lot of bureaucratic liquidation involving strokes of the pen on
documents, rather than the death of the body of the person being liquidated. One of the Gauleiters, whose name escapes me was well known for
bureaucratic liquidations and for classic Germanic reasons. It was quick, cheap and efficient. It allowed him to maintain competitive numbers with
other Gauleiters while avoiding the costly and troublesome business of actually killing people. He wasn't able to carry this on for too long.
I believe one thing is certain, though. It was Hitler's intention to exterminate all of the Jews in Europe, with the exception of people who for one
reason or other could be exempted either because they had connections or because they were too important.
How successful they actually were in this is a subject for serious, scholarly people. My two cents worth.
edit on 28-8-2011 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)