Hitler's First War MOBI ´ Hitler's First ePUB

Hitler's First War Perhaps no individual in modern history has received intensive study than Adolf Hitler His many biographers have provided countless conflicting interpretations of his dark life but virtually all agree on one thing Hitler's formative experience was his service in World War I Unfortunately historians have found little to illuminate this critical period Until nowIn Hitler's First War award winning author Thomas Weber delivers a master work of history a major revision of our understanding of Hitler's life Weber paints a group portrait of the List Regiment Hitler's unit during World War I to rewrite the story of his military service Drawing on deep and imaginative research Weber refutes the story crafted by Hitler himself and so challenges the historical argument that the war led naturally to Nazism Contrary to myth the regiment consisted largely of conscripts not enthusiastic volunteers Hitler served with scores of Jews including noted artist Albert Weisberger who proved heroic and popular than the future Fhrer Indeed Weber finds that the men shunned Private Hitler as a rear area pig and that Hitler himself was still unsure of his political views when the war ended in 1918 Through the stories of such comrades as a soldier turned concentration camp commandant veterans who fell victim to the Holocaust an officer who became Hitler's personal adjutant in the 1930s but then cooperated with British intelligence and the veterans who simply went back to their Bavarian farms and never joined the Nazi ranks Weber demonstrates how and why Hitler aggressively policed the myth of his wartime experienceUnderlying all Hitler studies is a seemingly unanswerable uestion Was he simply a product of his times or an anomaly beyond all calculation Weber's groundbreaking work sheds light on this puzzle and offers a profound challenge to the idea that World War I served as the perfect crucible for Hitler's subseuent rise


10 thoughts on “Hitler's First War

  1. Susan Susan says:

    Many historians and biographies have attempted to explain how the Great War ‘made’ Hitler In this exhaustive book the author attempts to explain what WWI meant to Hitler how it affected his views and what happened to the men who fought alongside himHitler was uick to volunteer for the war and joined the List Regiment in Bavaria He had hoped to be sent to Britain – to invade ‘perfidious Albion’ but found himself sent to Lille Interestingly I never realised that England and Germany had never met on a battlefield before WWI but certainly this book shows how the demonization of enemies did affect Hitler’s views in ways that changed his attitudes in the Second World War For example his experiences mean that he was always impressed by the British soldiers but did not take the French army seriously Such insights are fascinating and make this a very interesting bokAlthough Hitler’s regiment fought in major battles such as Ypres the Somme and Passchendale Hitler himself was a dispatch runner Of course this was a dangerous job but front line soldiers in the trenches would have seen his role as easy by comparison Usually the despatch runners had rooms in local towns and separated from most of the men outside his own colleagues Hitler later often embellished the danger he was under Seen as eccentric lacking social skills notably he was not put in charge of other men he was always an outsider – he lurks or perches on the edge of photographs did not mix socially with other men but sketched and walked while they drank and womanised and so was not sympathetic to low morale and disliked dissentAlthough Hitler did make some relationships among his fellow dispatch riders there is you perceive a distance between Hitler and the other men in his regiment The stories of what happened to his colleagues in later years is interesting Some of course took advantage of their previous relationship with him while other men he fought alongside were forced to leave Germany because of anti Semitism The next book by this author “Becoming Hitler” looks at his transformation after WWI to becoming a political leader I look forward to reading on as this book offered some real insight into how Hitler developed his bizarre theories and how his time in WWI affected him


  2. Adam Adam says:

    This is one of the most interesting books that I have ever read about Adolf Hitler and I have read a great many Not only does it successfully demolish a number of myths about this German private who served in World War 1 ‘WW1’ and then later destroyed so many innocent lives as well as most of Europe To summarise it would be difficult but let me attempt to list some of the many things that I found fascinating in this superbly researched book by Thomas WeberHitler’s bravery and activities in WW1 are examined minutely He was so insignificant a personality during the war that there were few records relating to such an unimportant figure in that terrible war Weber uses the records of and the memoirs of those who belonged to the Bavarian regiment which Hitler joined in 1914 to explore effectively a number of points including Hitler’s reputed bravery Many of Weber’s sources antedate Hitler’s accession to the German Chancellorship in 1933 and are therefore undistorted by the Nazi’s manicuring of Hitler’s military record After 1933 much was done to hide the truth about Hitler’s real role during the struggle for the Western Front in France and Belgium For it appears that Hitler had little to be proud about and he must have known that revealing the truth would have helped demolish the myth that helped bring him support from the German peopleWeber describes vividly the terrible conditions that front line soldiers had to endure in the trenches during the often brief time before they succumbed to bullet shells grenades and disease For the most part of Hitler’s wartime career he was not on the front line He was a regimental dispatch runner working for the regimental headuarters which were always well out of the firing line In addition he spent his nights in comfortable well protected dry uarters uite different from those ‘enjoyed’ by soldiers on the front line; their uarters in the mud was a living hell Granted Hitler must have been at some risk as he dashed from headuarters to command posts well behind the lines but this risk was insignificant compared to those in the trenches and shell craters on the frontIt is well known that Adolf Hitler received the Iron Cross Virtuous as this may seem this medal was awarded far often to those working in regimental headuarters than to those whose lives were at grave risk on the front line It came as a surprise to learn that Private Hitler was awarded his Iron Cross by his Jewish superior office a man who some years later had to flee from Germany to save his own lifeIt is commonly understood that Hitler was forced to leave the theatre of warfare when he was temporarily blinded near the end of WW1 What is not so well known was that the hospital at Pasewalk in Berlin to which Hitler was sent was not an ophthalmic hospital but a psychiatric one For Hitler’s blindness was not physical but psychosomatic This fact was well suppressed in Nazi GermanyWeber examines some factors that some have thought may have been relevant to explaining the brutality of the Nazis and their armed forces in the ‘30s and ‘40s One of these anti Semitism does not seem to have been a significant aspect of life in Hitler’s regiment Brutalisation of combatants during WW1 is also shown not to have been significant in causing what was to follow when Hitler came to power Weber explores this thoroughly Thirdly Weber demonstrates conclusively that the politics of those in Hitler’s regiment bore little correlation with those who were to support Hitler later Few combatants in Hitler’s regime became enthusiastic supporters of Nazi politics Of course I am drastically simplifying what Weber writes so elouently and in great detailAfter the war Hitler was reluctant to leave his military ‘family’ and remained in his regiment His activities during the left wing revolutionary period in post 1918 Munich were Weber reveals ambiguous At first a supporter or sympathiser with the Communist revolutionaries he later became involved in counter revolutionary intelligence activities It was whilst snooping on one particular party that threatened the integrity of Bavaria that Hitler became attracted to that party and joined it This marked the true beginning of his political career Something that particularly interested me in Weber’s book was his freuent references to the small town of Ichenhausen This rural town where many of my ancestors lived during the 18th and 19th centuries had a large Jewish population A number of the Jewish members of Hitler’s regiment were from Ichenhausen Weber charts their various fates after the Treaty of Versailles was signed As Ichenhausen’s Jewry has been well documented Weber was able to use this town to illustrate many aspects of the involvement of Jewish soldiers in WW1 and its aftermath He makes freuent reference to the autobiography of Arnold Erlanger whom I knew well His father Levi one of Ichenhausen’s Kosher butchers fought in Hitler’s regiment and was eventually ‘rewarded’ by being killed in the Holocaust Ichenhausen also illustrates well how some Catholics reacted adversely to Hitler’s attempts to alienate the German gentiles against the Jews Although the Catholics were essentially anti Semitic they valued their Jewish neighbours as being fairer in business than the agricultural cooperatives with which they could also do business Weber is uick to point out that in other parts of Bavaria notably in Nuremburg Jews could expect little or no sympathy from their gentile neighboursNot only does this book explore and re explore aspects of Hitler’s early life that have hitherto been accepted uncritically but also it gives a most revealing insight into the everyday nitty gritty of military life on the Western front during WW1 I have read this book as an interested amateur with no specialist knowledge I am in no position to assess Weber’s information and sources professionally but I feel that his account is honest and likely to be reliable Until someone else with his level of scholarship challenges what he has written I believe that this book deserves to be read by anyone with even the slightest interest in the history of 20th century EuropeReview by the author of “Scrabble with Slivovitz” an account of life in Yugoslavia during its final 2 decades


  3. lärm lärm says:

    I've started reading this book in October 2011 but didn't finish it By now i forgot why it made me give up so I gave it a second chanceLet's see what bugged me to be continuedOk third and final attempt If i fail this time Thomas can shove his book in a tiny spot that rarely sees the sunWhat's wrong with this book? Is it too academically? No Is the languagestyle used by Weber too hard for a simple man like myself? NoIt's actually a well written accessible entertaining bookIt's just that every few pages i get the impression that Weber is trying so hard to prove a point that it actually sounds like he's full of shtFor example if he claims that 50% of the jews in the regiment did this that and it turns out to be 3 guys out of 6 in a complete regimentwe've got a credibility issueIn fact every time he uses statistics to make a point i have some serious doubtsThe post war survey in Germany on sympathy for Hitler was based on the answers of some 700 peopleOn a population of a few million people any conclusion drawn out of that research should be treated with the highest caution Sociologists will disagree but in my opinion it’s all rubbishWhen he claims only a small percentage of the List regiment was made out of volunteers and the overall uality of the recruits sucked big time he wasn't lying he was actually kicking in an open door I have no problems with that but when he claims that the army took every single men who could walk because they were desperate he is taking his own opinion for truth In august 1914 the Germans were actually doing pretty well on the front and there was no sign of despair The great late and sorely missed Karel Van Het Reve wrote an essay on Freud and Sherlock Holmes where he pointed out that it is perfectly possible to draw the right conclusion using wrong arguments Weber is pushing the envelope by drawing conclusions out of a lack of evidence He starts off by admitting that few evidence is left on Hitler’s life during WW1 What we know is what is written years after the war when Hitler was a politician on the rise By reconstructing the history of the List regiment Weber tries to check the accuracy of those post war biographies hagiographies By comparing what Hitler says in Mein Kampf with the actual history of the List regiment Weber successfully destroys a lot of popular myths However when he tries to attribute certain ualities to Hilter where there is no actual evidence he sinks to the level of trash journalism There are no accounts of Hitler being either brave or a coward in the official history of the regiment not in the least because at that time he was nothing but a common soldier and only the very bravest got mentioned We just don't know what happened with Adolf during the battle of Geluveld All we know is that he survived Weber however concludes Hitler was a coward who managed to dodge bullets better than some of his comrades Evidence? Nothing From a scientific point of view a very bold statement I know we all want Hitler to be a coward but even with the most hated man of the 20th century only the truth should matterOk so Weber got on my nerves than once but is the entire book rubbish? Nope on the contrary When Weber sticks to simply telling the history of the List regiment he delivers an absolute masterpiece a must read This is the story of the common man who got sucked into a war he didn't believe in This is not about generals this is about 20 year old men who had to undergo the worst of modern warfare More than once a private told his officer to fuck off or simply deserted It reminded me a lot of the books of Sven Hassel where soldiers fought because they had no other choice but they were only loyal to their friendsI think Weber focusses too much on the myths that Hitler created in Mein Kampf Anyone with the slightest intelligence knows that Hitler told a fairy tale about the war to serve for his own purposes It's simply impossible to mobilize the masses if you keep on emphasizing that war is hell This book is crammed with anecdotes and that's what makes it so interesting My personal fave is the one about Max Amann being a raving madman who tells everyone to watch out for payback time once Hitler is in power Well he wasn't wrong about that Hitler turned out to be a vindictive little shit Even though he kept boring people with how good the List Regiment was he didn't mind having his opponents killedThat's my boy Anyway this book deserves 5 stars for writing the history of the small man in the great war Too bad he tried to sueeze in some sociology statistics and a fair bit of bolloxStill I recommend reading it


  4. Mark Mark says:

    Adolf Hitler stands today as the First World War’s most famous enlisted man This is not just a conseuence of his subseuent role as the Fuhrer of the Third Reich but because Hitler founded his political career on his experiences during the war asserting that it was his service in it which shaped his beliefs and drew him into politics Numerous biographers have seconded his claim by presenting his time in the trenches as the catalyst for the radicalization of an artist of previously vague political opinions But is it true?To answer this uestion Thomas Weber looks in detail at Hitler’s service as a soldier in the 16th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment RIR commonly known as the List Regiment after its first commander Julius von List Initially consisting of recruits from Munich and its surrounding countryside it was the unit in which Hitler served from his enlistment at the start of the war until he was mustered out at the end of it With Hitler’s own thin documentary record from this period having been exploited thoroughly by other biographers Weber turns instead to a previously unutilized resource the records of the regiment itself This makes the bulk of his book as much a history of the List Regiment as it is an account of Hitler’s service from it as Weber infers liberally from it in drawing his conclusions about his subjectAs part of this effort Weber addresses a number of misconceptions that emerged about Hitler’s service Foremost among them is his rank Weber notes early on that Hitler’s promotion in 1914 was not to the rank of corporal or lance corporal but to Gefreiter which was still within the rank of private Indeed Hitler was never at a rank or a position of command as he preferred to remain a dispatch runner for the duration of the war While Weber notes that these runners often took risks that reuired considerable bravery he dismisses much of Hitler’s reputation on this score as exaggerated As a regimental runner he faced fewer hazards than runners at the battalion or company level who spent far time at the front and were exposed to the dangers of trench warfare as a resultThis underscores one of Weber’s key points in this book which is Hitler’s detachment from the experiences of most of the others in his regiment As a regimental dispatch runner Hitler was exposed far often to the officers at the regimental headuarters behind the lines than he was to the men fighting in the trenches Because of this he was insulated from the growing disaffection the rest of the men of the 16th RIR whose morale eroded steadily over the course of the war Weber sees this as a key factor in Hitler’s embrace of the “stab in the back” myth after the war as he never appreciated the depths of his comrades’ discontent with the war and their desire to be done with itWeber’s account of the List Regiment and Hitler’s service in it takes up three fifths of the book with the rest of it taken up with an extended exploration of the veterans’ postwar experiences and their reaction to Hitler’s rise He is particularly good at detailing how Hitler and the Nazis exploited his wartime service especially his Iron Cross which Weber notes was likely awarded to Hitler because of his proximity to the officers in a position to make such recommendations rather than any especially distinguished example of heroism and the lengths they went to defend his portrayal of it against any criticism Weber also details their varied responses to the Nazis’ antisemitism which he describes to buttress his central argument that Hitler’s radicalization was not born of his service in the war but a reaction to Germany’s treatment in its aftermathWith its extensive research and careful debunking of the legends that have developed around Hitler’s First World War service Weber’s book is a masterpiece of scholarship Yet his writing suffers from repetition particularly with his reflexive seizure upon even the smallest details as proof of the validity of his main arguments It makes for a book that is far tendentious than it needs to be as the uality of Weber’s research usually speaks for itself Even for those uninterested in Hitler Weber’s book serves as a fine regimental history one that chronicles how the men in an otherwise unremarkable unit responded to the strain of a debilitating struggle


  5. Ronald J Schulz Ronald J Schulz says:

    Answered my uestions about how those who served with him saw him No hero never a corporal just a private who refused the responsibility of promotion because he would have to lead on the front Most of his comrades saw him as a “rear area pig” running messages only BEHIND the lines Interesting how many of them became victims of the Nazi rise to power if they didn’t sanitize their memoirs of WWI and make him a mythic hero The truth behind his Iron Cross the Jewish officer who finally recommended him What became of him and the many other Jews who served with Hitler is answered here


  6. Gayle Gayle says:

    This book presents an in depth account of how Hitler spent WWI an account which is at odds with the way these 4 years have typically been portrayed Instead of being a fearless runner in no man's land and the horrible trenches Hitler was often than not closer to headuarters and was despised for that fact by the men who did the actual running His Iron Crosses 1st 2nd classes were actually the result of patronage The author marshals convincing evidence that decorations were often given to staff and admin types than to those actually fighting this most stupid of all wars Hence Hitler's ability to gain 2 awards without demonstrating any conspicuous bravery Hitler always said he found true comradeship for the first time in his life while in the List Regiment The author carefully debunks this myth with an examination of Hitler's relationships with his fellow soldiers He does not seem to have formed any real close friendships with the other men The lack of bonds is also shown by the way Hitler avoided reunions and his intimidating treatment of the members of the List Regiment when he came to power It has been a month since I finished the book but as I recall only a few of them became committed Nazis and none was in the top echelon of the party for the most part these veterans were silenced if Christian If they were Jewish they were in danger than other members of the List Regiment The irony of the last fact is that it was a Jewish officer who recommended Hitler for the Iron Cross 1st class Fortunately he and his family escaped to the USAAnother fascinating fact uncovered is Hitler's immediate post war flirtation with communism He was actively involved with a soviet in Munich This is in variance with the usual depiction of the Nazi Leander's commitment to the extreme right from the end of the war People forget that socialism was part of the party's official name Hitler had no love for the pre war system as it had rejected him He could have just as easily taken up with the Communists as the embryonic Nazi party However he was able to see the way the wind would blow and drifted away from the Communists After he gained power people who knew these facts were silenced one way or another One of the interesting facts to be revealed in this book is how poorly trained and unprepared the common soldier was on both sides Truly these men were cannon fodder Another one is that he was diagnosed as a psychopath while being treated for being gassed He should have been sent to asylum Again this medical record was disappeared as were people who knew about it The author's style is clear and concise He provides not only a revised view of this period in Hitler's life but also a good background on the position of Jews in Imperial Germany They had ever reason to think of themselves as Germans first and secondly as Jews just as a Lutheran German would think of themselves I finished this book with great sadness Of all the millions who died why did no bullet or illness find Hitler between 1914 18?l


  7. Forrest Link Forrest Link says:

    Weber pursues an interesting line of inuiry specifically seeking to debunk the myth that Hitler's experience in WWI shaped his weltanshauung This notion arises from the fact that Hitler made brilliant use of a fawning media once he was in power and his propaganda sought to validate the often fanciful accounts of his war experiences as recounted in Mein Kampf By making the assumption that Hitler's close companions in the war who were of similar economic social and geographic backgrounds ought to have had been similarly affected and influenced by the war Weber shows that in fact WWI was not nearly as transformative an experience as has been believed Men of the List Regiment did not on the whole turn into rabid anti Semitic nationalists and those who did acted years later out of opportunismThe book suffers however from swathes of disorganized and poor writing While nobody wants to defend Hitler multiple digressions on his unctuous character and the ineuity of Iron Cross awards are not valuable additions to the book's thesis Better editing would have made this much persuasive


  8. Simon Dobson Simon Dobson says:

    This is a great addition to the biographical literature on Adolf Hitler that attempts to shed light on one of the least understood periods of his life the First World War While this is commonly felt to have been one of the most formative periods of Hitler's life the author makes a reasonably convincing case that most of what is claimed about the period is actually an invention of Nazi or anti Nazi propaganda I say reasonably convincing in that the record is so incomplete as to make any conclusive determinations problematic but the author had integrated the writings diaries and histories of Hitler's brothers in arms some previously unexplored to make a very useful contribution to our understandingThe book is a repetitive at a small scale and could have benefited from better copy editing


  9. Susan Paxton Susan Paxton says:

    Possibly the most important book written on Hitler so far this century Weber did a great job tracking down evidence that proves Hitler's account of his World War I service was greatly exaggerated and in fact the brave front soldier of Nazi legend was or less what American troops in Vietnam would have described as a REMF More records survive from World War I than might have been expected and Weber uses them ably here along with diaries other first person accounts and sociological research to paint a vivid portrait not only of Hitler but the 16 Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment's war and after war The paperback edition includes a valuable postscript with even new information Valuable reading and a great contribution to scholarship


  10. Fishface Fishface says:

    This is an interesting read clearly carefully researched I am not normally a student of the Hitler story arc and almost everything in here was news to me Goes pretty deeply into the future Fuhrer's experiences in the Great War the book almost tracks his war experiences day by day and how they did or did not shape his later policies This book needed a final copyedit and at times I wished the author would back up his conclusions a little clearly I also wished for some definitions of the author's terms he seemed to treat anti Semitism and racial anti Semitism as two different phenomena without saying what he thought the differences were between the two But this was uite an informative read otherwise


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