Hitler: Ascent 1889-1939 by Ullrich

Ullrich covers Hitler’s life from birth to the start of WWII. At over 750 pages plus notes and annotations this is not a quick read but if you have the time, I recommend it. Ullrich guides the reader through Hitler’s struggles and development of self, as a man slowly morphs into a monster. His political prowess, his vision for Germany, and setbacks faced by the Nazi party are all thoroughly covered.

Hitler didn’t start out an anti-Semite, he was friends with Jews as a child and a young man. The German loss of WWI was the beginning of not only Hitler’s antisemitism but also the German nation’s. That is when the persecution of Jews slowly began to take hold, someone needed to be blamed for Germany’s loss and Jews were the scapegoat of choice. Starting in 1933, legislation began to be passed stripping Jews of their businesses and homes, their rights, and citizenship. Even then the official policy was to force Jews to emigrate, leave the country and you won’t be persecuted. Violence towards Jews had been occurring for many years, the government and police simply didn’t attempt to stop or even curb the violence. It wasn’t until 1938 that the Nazi regime actively encouraged violence against Jews.

On the evening of November 9, 1938, what would become known as Kristallnacht, approximately 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps. Those who survived their weeks of internment were released and told to leave the country or end up back in the camps. Synagogues, homes, businesses, and schools were burned to the ground. Around 100 Jews were murdered. As an added insult, the Nazi’s fined the Jewish community for all the damage that occurred.

This isn’t an easy read but I do recommend anyone with an interest in WWII, the Holocaust, Hitler, or the Jewish community to read this. The book is thoroughly researched and cited. It ends with the invasion of Czechoslovakia, before the implementation of the Final Solution, so you won’t read anything about the mass genocide or experimentation of the concentration camps.


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