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Hitler: The Missing Years Ernst Hanfstaengl Arcade Publishing 1st Arcade Ed edition

7th July 2013 History Books 21 Comments

Ernst Hanfstaengl was born in 1887 to German and American parents. He was educated at Harvard, but eventually moved to Germany, where he met a young Hitler at the very beginning of his political rise. After turning down Hitler’s invitation to continue as his foreign press secretary, he returned to the United States, where he worked with the American government against the Nazi regime. He died in 1975.

John Toland was an American author and historian best known for his Adolph Hitler: The Definitive Biography and The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire 19361945, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. He died in 2004. –This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

An intimate friend of Adolf Hitlers who turned against him during the Nazi rise to power delves into the character of one of historys most evil dictators.

Of American and German parentage, Ernst Hanfstaengl graduated from Harvard and ran the family business in New York for a dozen years before returning to Germany in 1921. By chance he heard a then little-known Adolf Hitler speaking in a Munich beer hall and, mesmerized by his extraordinary oratorical power, was convinced the man would some day come to power. As Hitlers fanatical theories and ideas hardened, however, he surrounded himself with rabid extremists such as Goering, Hess, and Goebbels, and Hanfstaengl became estranged from him.

But with the Nazis major unexpected political triumph in 1930, Hitler became a national figure, and he invited Hanfstaengl to be his foreign press secretary. It is from this unique insiders position that the author provides a vivid, intimate view of Hitlerwith his neuroses, repressions, and growing megalomaniaover the next several years. In 1937, four years after Hitler came to power, relations between Hanfstaengl and the Nazis had deteriorated to such a degree that he was forced to flee for his life, escaping to Switzerland. Here is a portrait of Hitler as youve rarely seen him. 0

Hitler: The Missing Years

The Hitler I Knew: Memoirs of the Third Reich’s Press Chief

A member of Hitler’s staff who monitored foreign press for the dictator, Dietrich began this memoir within months of Nazi Germany’s defeat. The audience clearly on Dietrich’s mind was the German people, to whom, as a Hitler associate, he felt obligated to offer an explanation of the author of their trauma in 1945. There are sound reasons why Dietrich’s recollections (which were originally published in the 1950s; this is the first American edition) never became as well known as Albert Speer’s Inside the Third Reich (1970). Long on philosophy and anecdotes, Dietrich’s narrative and factual utility to a historian would be limited. Nevertheless, his character observations accord with historian Ian Kershaw’s biography and so may engage general interest in what Hitler’s haunts and habits were like. Amid details about physical surroundings, Dietrich imparts the tedium of listening to Hitler’s repetitive nocturnal monologues, from which palaver Dietrich theorizes a dual personality of superficial affability concealing aggressive willfulness. However postwar Germans reacted to Dietrich’s portrait, his work shows present readers an insider’s first-draft exegesis of Hitler. –Gilbert Taylor

The chilling memoir of Hitlers press chief.

Up to the last moment, his overwhelming, despotic authority aroused false hopes and deceived his people and his entourage. Only at the end, when I watched the inglorious collapse and the obstinacy of his final downfall, was I able suddenly to fit together the bits of mosaic I had been amassing for twelve years into a complete picture of his opaque and sphinx like personality. If my contemporaries fail to understand me, those who came after will surely profit from this account.Otto Dietrich

When Otto Dietrich was invited in 1933 to become Adolf Hitlers press chief, he accepted with the simple uncritical conviction that Adolf Hitler was a great man, dedicated to promoting peace and welfare for the German people. At the end of the war, imprisoned and disillusioned, Otto Dietrich sat down to write what he had seen and heard in twelve years of the closest association with Hitler, requesting that it be published after his death.

Dietrichs role placed him in a privileged position. He was hired by Hitler in 1933, was his confidant until 1945, and he workedand clashedwith Joseph Goebbels. His direct, personal experience of life at the heat of the Reich makes for compelling reading.

The Hitler I Knew: Memoirs of the Third Reich’s Press Chief

  • 21 responses to "Hitler: The Missing Years Ernst Hanfstaengl Arcade Publishing 1st Arcade Ed edition"

  • Suraj Rao
    5:28 on July 7th, 2013
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    I read this book a few years ago and a lot of it came back to me when I watched the T.V. movie on CBS recently. These “missing years” (i.e. the early years before Hitler came to power) aren’t really “missing” (there is plenty of information out there on Hitler’s ascent to power) but are told from an insider’s perspective. As Hitler biographer John Toland states in the inside jacket of this book, “Ernst Hanfstaengl and his family were in my opinion closer to Hitler than any other family during those crucial [early] years.” Hanfstaengl met Hitler in 1921 when he was drawn to the ambitious politician during a speech in a Munich beer hall. He befriended Hitler and became his foreign press secretary only to become disillusioned by Hitler’s increasingly fanatic and anti-Semitic rhetoric accompanying and following the release of Mein Kampf.

    In the Missing Years, the reader gets insight into the early organization of the NSDAP and the emergence of Hitler’s mass appeal. Hanfstaengl explains the way Hitler could express the thoughts of his audience: “Many a time I have seen him face a hall plentifully sprinkled with opponents ready to heckle and interject, and in his search for the first body of support, make a remark about food shortages and domestic difficulties or the sound instinct of his women listeners which would produce the first bravos” (68). As to Hitler’s political strategy, Hanfstaengl states, “He did not make a revolution to acquire power, but acquired power in order to make a revolution” (172).” As to the Jewish question, Hitler, at one point, told Hanfstaengl “I need the Jews as hostages” (211).

    Hanfstaengl was close to Hitler, so much so that he received the jealous wrath of the other members of Hitler’s inner circle. Hitler enjoyed listening to Hanfstaengl play the piano, so Hitler’s other disciples played the radio full blast when he arrived or, as in the case of Goebbels, play recordings of Wagner or Hitler’s own speeches for Hitler to prevent any influence Hanfstaengl might have (192).

    The most intriguing part of the book is the gossip on Hitler’s bizarre behavior around women, including Hanfstaengl’s wife. This seedy information includes Geli Raubal and Hitler’s pornographic drawings (163). Readers may be skeptical over some of the accounts (he admits to hearing some of the accounts third hand) but I, for one, would not be surprised if they were all true. This book does not have an index, which is a little irritating when one is trying to look up information, but the chapters are fairly short (16 chapters, 308 pages).

  • Sheryl Bigney
    6:40 on July 7th, 2013
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    Ernst Hanfstaengl was a part of Hitler’s inner circle from the period of 1921-1937 when he was forced to flee for his life from the Nazis after his relations had almost completely deteriorated. It is from this perspective that we see an intimate account of the megalomaniac, Adolf Hitler. Hanfstaengl has combined wonderful writing with significant pieces of history to produce this reliable book–and a tremendously interesting and enjoyable one at that!

  • trenkts
    8:36 on July 7th, 2013
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    This book is excellent. It describes Hitler like no other book. All to often books describe Hitler in such language people forget he was just a human. The books view him as a super demon walking the earth. People forget that he was a man, and an elected leader. He was in charge of a Christian nation. The nation that was the home of the Protestant movement.

    The book’s author was a second teir guy. You can see that in the pictures in the book. He is the second layer in the pictures behind the historical big wigs like Goebels, Goering and others. He saw Hitler almost daily. The author writes about the day to day Hitler. Few others can offer such insight. This information reminds you he was just a human, not a demon. Most people will find that very troubling. You can see how Hitler’s habits were as much of the problem as anything else. You will see both a mad man and a genius at the same time. This day to day description makes you feel like you are in the bunker with Hitler, but the author wasn’t.

    A worthwhile book for any serious student of history.

  • Someday
    12:49 on July 7th, 2013
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    First let me say I’m a counselor by trade and have always been interested in how one man was able to convince millions of educated rational people to perform the most horrible and disgusting tasks in human history.

    For that reason, for me, this book was five stars due to its authors ability to self reflect on what happened in a way I have only seen from Speer, Guderian, and Rommels “secret letters”.

    I have to say I was fully expecting just another book from a low IQ Nazi who would have been nothing but a bully and common laborer in competitive society. Nothing wrong with that unless you raise unprepared individuals armed only with loyalty as their sole qualification to national office and total power.

    While there are some wacky bits I must say I can now understand why Goebbels was so jealous and fearful of this man. (given his paranoia and bizarre Hitler relationship) This is not just another “I Knew Hitler” book as some have been unreadable. (eg secretary’s & butlers)I strongly recommend this book for novices, but this book saves its greatest gift to long time scholars of the Reich.

    Just when you think you have sifted through all the information, you find one big nugget of fairly genuine human reflection. On this subject, humanity is all to rare.

  • RobCrusoe
    14:51 on July 7th, 2013
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    It is common to dismiss Hanfstaengl’s account of his years with Hitler as a biased story written by a Nazi who had fallen out with his leader. However, almost all those who remained close to Hitler and survived (Strasser, Ludecke and various servants and so on) tell very similar stories. There is, in fact, an entire literature on Hitler which deals with his relationship, for instance, with Geli Raubal, the story of the pornographic pictures for which he was blackmailed. This material is almost always dismissed (by Kershaw, for instance, who has done an excellent biography) as being suspect or irrelevant whereas other material which has similar provenance is used quite happily. Why this should be, I don’t really know. The picture drawn by Hanfstaengl in this book is far more ‘human’. He promotes the notion that Hitler changed radically after Geli’s violent death and this is intelligently countered by Ron Rosenbaum in Explaining Hitler — however, Hitler’s terror of the power that was suddenly to become reality (and therefore a responsibility) is more likely to have ‘changed’ him. Whatever the reasons for the change, books like this provide an insight where the political intersects with the personal and for me much of Hitler’s ‘mysterious’ behaviour later (including his bad military decisions) can be explained through studying books like this. None of the others appear to be in print and the Ludecke, which I think is the best, is scarcely mentioned (not at all in Explaining Hitler). It certainly contradicts the more or less agreed story which Kershaw, in the tradition of other excellent biographies, repeats. It could be that novelists and writers like Primo Levi have more to tell us now than historians. If your idea of Hitler is of a powerful superman leading a great nation into a massive war, then you probably will be disappointed by this book and the others like it. If you see him as a lucky, psychopathic nerd, as I do, then this book will help you understand a bit more about the personality of the man whose carefully manufactured myth somehow touched the soul of Germany, debased the myth and stained the soul. Five stars for being unusual, but, of course, it must be taken with a certain scepticism, so four stars… Highly recommended, however, to anyone seriously interested in understanding how a civilised nation can find itself voting a monster into power. I think it could happen to any of us. To some of us it has already happened. It can happen in America. It can happen in Britain. Germany, Russia, Poland, Italy, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Roumania and other European countries with a record of humane political progress until ‘everything changed’ into rule by a dictator and a police state. It comes upon us suddenly, if we aren’t watchful democrats. The constitutions of many of those countries were not so different to those of America or Britain, say, and we should never congratulate ourselves that such things could not happen to us. The subtle ways in which such events occur is shown in this book. It is a lesson we all need to remember.

  • liferaft
    16:36 on July 7th, 2013
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    This book from Ernst Hanfstaengl was very insightful. He was in close contact with Hitler and his innercircle for sometime. He discusses Hitler’s behavior and personality. Hanfstaengl has much to tell since he was in close proximity to Hitler during the early years of the Nazi Party. Anyone that’s interested in Hitler should read this highly informative and readable account. I learned quite a bit from reading it. I recommend this book.

  • Brandon Jones
    22:13 on July 7th, 2013
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    A reasonable purchase for those seeking all insights into the personality of one of world history’s notable evil doers.

    However, one should keep in mind that the author, Otto Dietrich, worked for Hitler and promoted his war aims. Only after the fact, he writes as if he was a quiet observer, a virtual non-participant. He is one who slides around but never confronts the enormity of the Holocaust and his own enabling role in the beastly régime.

    It is worthwhile remembering what Howard K. Smith wrote about Mr. Dietrich in ‘Last Train from Berlin” (1942) at p. 106: “Dr. Dietrich was always a bold spokesman, given to hazard his reputation, or goodly parts of it, cheaply. He loved to make daring statements and bold predictions; and revelled in superlatives. Once he made the famous declaration that the German press was the freest in the world and the German public the best informed of all peoples; an utterance which, early in the war established him as an unconscionable ass…”

  • Frank Leo
    23:44 on July 7th, 2013
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    Hitler’s Press Chief by Otto Dietrich is a good book. It gives deep insight into the workings of Hitler’s thinking. If you have read the other books written by Hitler’s inner circle (Younger, Kemka, Schroeder, Linge, etc.) you will have a pretty good idea of who this fellow was. This book however is written by a well educated man and he gives deep thought to his subject Adolph Hitler. His book develops well thought out insight into Hitler the man, the politician and the leader who created such misery for so many people.
    If you have an interest in the subject this is an excellent book to read.
    Kurt Seraphine

  • adam gold
    3:08 on July 8th, 2013
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    Many have tried to figure out what made Hitler the way he was and why he did what he did. Otto’s book reveals the dual nature of his troubled mind. He was a true Jeckyl/Hyde mixed with an egomaniac. It will surprise many people that Hitler spent years rebuilding Germany and endearing his people to him. Did he plan all along his conquest of Europe? Or did something snap? This is unclear. There certainly were influences in his life that fed his racial beliefs and in creating the Reich. But there seems like there must have been more. What troubled, or destroyed, his mind? Something as a youth? Perhaps more troubling is how easy his people went along with him. Politicians of our day still use the same emotional factless pleas to entrance people and they still fall for it. People who think a Hitler couldn’t happen again should carefully reconsider. No one in Germany would have believed you if you had told them where Hitler was about to lead them. The rise of Nazis didn’t happen in some backwater, third world nation. The author at times condemns Hitler and at times explaining why he and others followed him and how things would have went well if only Hitler’s two-sided nature did not destroy him. He may have been trying to account why he supported Hitler after he went mad, by pointing to positives he saw before that point. However, it doesn’t seem that he knew all of Hitler’s history and strange influences. This book isn’t about battles or campaigns or the evil Hitler inflicted, but a study of the man himself by another man that followed him for years. A fascinating warning from history about what men in power can do. See also Inside the Third Reich.

  • Just the F
    11:08 on July 8th, 2013
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    I have read many memoirs written by those close to Adolf Hitler to try to understand the relationships Hitler had with those around him on a daily basis – I expected this to be much the same as the other; however, I was wrong. While Detrich does tell stories about his encounters and relationship with Adolf Hitler, he spends a great deal of time analyzing Hitler and those around him. It should be pointed out that the author wrote this book with a plan that it would not be published in his lifetime; therefore, his critical analysis of his former boss – Adolf Hitler – was not an attempt to distance himself from the Nazi leader to save his hide. It is clear that he wrote this book for posterity, and so that others might understand the personality that was Hitler.

    While completely different than the other memoirs I’ve read by Hitlers’ Secretaries, Valets, Chaufer, Etc., it was just as important in trying to understand how such a Psychotic as Adolf Hitler could lead a nation and continent down the path of utter destruction. For those who’ve read and enjoyed books by others in the Nazi Heirarchy, this will be a wonderful addition to that library. I also strongly recommend this book for anyone trying to understand the enigma that was Adolf Hitler!

  • Johnny Levis
    18:58 on July 8th, 2013
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    There are many, many books about Hitler (as I know from experience), and this is one of the best. It is partly biography and partly analysis of Hitler’s personality, behavior, and success as a politician. Dietrich was obviously an intelligent, perceptive, and thoughtful man. One remark that I found particularly enlightening was “Hitler had a technique for presenting false or highly debatable premises…, giving them the air of being indisputable, obvious facts. Building upon these premises, he could then prove to the listener … whatever he wished to prove. …By means of this trick, along with the suggestive force of his oratory and the deep conviction he put behind his words, no matter what he was saying, he was able to reassure and encourage those who had dealings with him.” A great many of our present politicians are following in this expert’s footsteps.
    If you think you might want to read one book about Hitler, I suggest that this be your choice.

  • privacy
    22:11 on July 8th, 2013
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    This is a very informative and interesting book. Ernst Hanfstaengl was in very close proximity to Hitler and his innercircle for several years, until Hitler eventually froze him out. Hanfstaengl gives you knowledge into Hitler’s personality and behavior that makes for some very insightful reading. He tells how he and other people around Hitler tried to steer him away from his negative ways. The author also talks candidly about Joseph Goebbels. Since Hanfstaengl was very close to Hitler in the early years of the Nazi Party, he has much to say about the future leader of Germany. This is one book that should be read by anyone interested in Hitler and his inner workings. Recommended.

  • Sarah Saxon
    0:48 on July 9th, 2013
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    I give the book 5 stars automatically for it’s historical significance but it is also a well written book. Why have Christa Schroeder’s, Otto Dietrich’s, and Heinz Ling’s memoirs have JUST been translated and published in English? The only book from one of Hitler’s inner circle we’ve had to read has been the “Good NAZI” Albert Speer’s “Inside the Third Reich”. Now we get a more balanced picture of this man and the circle around him.

    As for Otto’s book, you can tell he’s well educated and writes well, yet, he takes no responsibility for the atrocities he perpetrated and almost pretends he was forced to be a major power plower in the Third Reich – against his will. This book paints him as a very weak personality. Him blaming Hitler for everything wrong with NAZI Germany is worse than Speer’s lies about wanting to kill Hitler in the end and total lack of knowledge of the holocaust he drew his slaves from.

    So far, Schroeder and Linge have been the most honest and believable of any of the “inner circle books” IMHO.

    Nonetheless, if your into WWII history, this book offers invaluable insight.

    It’s a shame or a conspiracy almost no one who fought in this war in America or England have been able to read more about the enemy they defeated.

  • Melvvvin
    3:40 on July 9th, 2013
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    The Hitler I Knew was authored by Dr. Otto Dietrich (1897-52). Dietrich served as Hitler’s press chief from 1933-45. He was often a rival of Joseph Geobbels the notorious Reich Minster of Propaganda. Dietrich had an earned doctorate. He grew up in Essen. He served seven years in prison following the war in a decision rendered by the court in one of the Nuremberg trials. We learn nothing about his family by reading this memoir; the focus is always on the Fuhrer.
    Dietrich repented of his nefarious past by becoming an advocate of a democratic Europe based on the rule of law.
    The book is short and overpriced but contains valuable information about Hitler. We learn he was a vegetarian, hated cruelty to animals, was a night owl and loved to spend time with well dressed women and play with children. He could be a Viennese Austrian gentleman or he could be cruel and unforgiving. He had deep hatreds. Hitler was a poor administrator of his vast empire inspiring rivalry among the henchmen and agencies in his tyrannical goverement.
    Dietrich’s book is divided into two parts: Part One deals with Hitler’s military/political career. As am omnvirous reader of World War literature most of this information was known to the reviewer. Part Two was the most interseting section dealing with Hitler’s likes and dislikes.
    Otto Dietrich was an intellectual who learned that the master he served so loyally and well was one of the worst dictators in the long course of human infamy. A good but non-essential book for the student of Nazi Germany.

  • Richard Bond
    5:03 on July 9th, 2013
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    Hanfstaengl writes a fascinating story. My first reaction was “methinks the man doth protest too much.” As one researches Hitler in depth he finds that many of the incidents as presented by Hanfstaengl are completely erroneous and others questionable. But it is a very well written book that is a good “beginner’s” book on Hitler–but read it with caution, and don’t quote him as factual until you check the “fact” out with more reliable sources.

  • Quoranonymous
    7:03 on July 9th, 2013
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    The title of this book grabbed my attention. After having read it,I feel the title is poorly chosen. What’s with missing years? The years between 1921 and 1937 were the years when Hitler and the Nazi Party developed from a handful of radical disidents into an organization that wrecked havoc throughout Europe and were the cause of many millions of death and in the end produced nothing but misery.
    First of all,when I started to read this book a few days ago,there were only 6 Reviews here,and by the time I finished there was another added,Sept 22,2006. I must say,that Review by is very detailed ,gives a good summary of the book and adds a lot of information by a person who is knowledgeable in the political thinkink of the times. He delves much deeper into the politics of Socialism, both with Hitler and in America, than Hanfstaengl does in his book.That review makes good reading.
    More than the political thoughts of Hitler,I was more interested in what it was about Hitler that allowed him to gain such power over the people who joined with him. After all he was very simple in intelect and certainly not into deep political thinking. The control of France of the Ruhr,hamstringing the German people,coupled with his anti-clerical,anti-Semitic,anti-Bolshevist hatreds were the basics of his thinking.
    In this book we see how ,once he had gained attention with his skills in oratory and ability to inflame a crowd,people got behind him and created the monster that Hitler and the Party became. We see how most of these people involved had little more than hatred coupled with blind ambition and a complete lack of any moral compasses, were able to advance by injecting fear into anyone or anything that got in their path.
    As we travel through these years with Hanfstaengl,we can see,just as he did,that this whole movement could end up nowhere but in its own destruction. I have never read anything about Hitler that so well showed what a shallow and evil bunch of hate filled people that the leadership and personalities of the Nazi Party were composed of.
    Is there any point in reading all this stuff today? I believe so.It is now 85 years since 1921 when the things that lead to WWII in Europe were developing.We see many of the same things going on today and if we don’t learn from history we may be forced to learn the lessons all over again.

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