Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner
A Memoir

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A unique and compelling eyewitness account of Germany between the wars.

A huge bestseller in Germany, Defying Hitler is a memoir about the rise of Nazism in Germany and the lives of ordinary German citizens between the wars. This fresh and astute account offers a unique perspective on this era of twentieth-century history.

Covering the years from 1907 to 1933, Haffner's personal memories form the basis for questioning, analyzing, and interpreting much of Germany's history. His eyewitness account of groups such as the First Free Corps -- the right-wing voluntary military force set up to suppress communism during the revolution of 1918 -- which would provide training for many of the later Nazi storm troopers; the Hitler Youth movement, which swept the nation; the apocalyptic year of 1923 when inflation crippled the country; the peaceful Stresemann years; and Hitler's coming to power all contribute to the portrait of a country in a constant state of flux. Sebastian Haffner elucidates how the educated average German grappled with a rapidly changing society, while chronicling day-to-day changes in attitudes, beliefs, politics, and prejudices.

Available for the first time in English, this highly illuminating work is a unique portrait of a time, a place, and a people.

About Sebastian Haffner

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Sebastian Haffner was born in Berlin in 1907. In 1938 he emigrated to England and a few years later began writing for The Observer. He returned to Germany in 1954 and became the best-selling author of, among other works, The Rise and Fall of Prussia, From Bismarck to Hitler, and The Meaning of Hitler. He died in 1999. Oliver Pretzel, the translator of this work, is the son of Sebastian Haffner. He was born in 1938 shortly after his parents' arrival in England and was educated in England and Germany. He is a mathematics professor at Imperial College, London, and is married with three children.
Published August 14, 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 272 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel, War, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Business & Economics. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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In contemplative pages reminiscent of the best of Elias Canetti, Haffner ponders other German qualities that, he avers, led to Hitler’s rise: a love of sports and therefore of winners (“We felt very important and patriotic, and ran races for the fatherland”), a fondness for the theater and the ca...

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Star Tribune

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(Haffner is writing about the period 1914-1933.) Young Haffner saw, for instance, the "calm, superior indifference" with which he and his fellow Germans watched the beginnings of the Nazi takeover, and is bitterly conscious that, as he writes, "Europe is permitting itself ex...

Aug 17 2002 | Read Full Review of Defying Hitler: A Memoir

Project MUSE

He left among his papers this unfinished memoir of his coming of age during the rise of the Nazis, written when he was in his twenties in exile in England.

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News Review.

After emigrating from Germany in 1938, Raimund Pretzel (1907-1999), writing under the pen name Sebastian Haffner, became a well-known journalist and author.

Oct 30 2003 | Read Full Review of Defying Hitler: A Memoir


The title of Rupert Wickham's one-person show, Defying Hitler, which is being presented as part of the 2006 Brits Off Broadway Festival at 59E59 Theaters, is deceptively intriguing.

May 09 2006 | Read Full Review of Defying Hitler: A Memoir

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