Letters to Hitler published

This video is called Anniversary of Auschwitz liberation.

By Alan Lloyd in Britain:

Letters to Hitler

Edited by Henrik Eberle (Polity Press, £20)

Tuesday 28 August 2012

The KGB special archives in Moscow have recently thrown up another historic gem, in the shape of a large cache of letters sent to Hitler between 1925-45.

Removed by the Red Army from Berlin at the end of WWII, and now published for the first time in English, they allow us to see the appeal that Hitler held for Germans across the social spectrum.

To a certain extent the contents mirror the postbag of any politician insofar as there are requests for assistance over personal issues such as complaints about neighbours and requests for employment.

The cult of personality encouraged by the nazis also meant requests for photographs.

The widow of the car magnate Carl Benz thanked Hitler for one such picture, “in the evening of my life, with the satisfaction of knowing that Germany’s welfare is in safe hands.”

But what makes the letters particularly interesting is that though Hitler saw virtually none of them himself, the annotations from his staff give a clear insight into the mindset of the nazis.

These usually directed an acknowledgment, a few words of encouragement, or referral to an official for assistance but could also be a referral to the Gestapo.

With his nazi party gaining 37 per cent of the vote in July 1932 and signing the Enabling Act in 1933, allowing Hitler to assume the position of dictator, the letters of unconditional support and encouragement peaked.

Once the mass arrests and killings began, the sense of unease among a number of writers was palpable.

Included in the letters of protest is one from six young people in Blackpool urging the release of communist leaders Edgar Andre and Ernst Thalmann, both of whom were later murdered on Hitler’s orders.

The number of letters gradually tailed off until only the most fanatical continued to urge their support, pledging their lives for the fascist cause.

The book relates the fate of a number of the writers and many of them did indeed lay down their lives for Hitler.

Eberle’s work is an interesting but chilling case study on how a seemingly educated and mature society can be manipulated to the point of blind fanaticism, at such a ghastly cost.

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