What Hitler Knew: The Battle for Information in Nazi Foreign Policy

What Hitler Knew: The Battle for Information in Nazi Foreign Policy

What Hitler Knew: The Battle for Information in Nazi Foreign Policy

What Hitler Knew: The Battle for Information in Nazi Foreign Policy

Synopsis

What Hitler Knew is a fascinating study of how the climate of fear in Nazi Germany affected Hitler's advisers and shaped the decision making process. It explores the key foreign policy decisions from the Nazi seizure of power up to the hours before the outbreak of World War II. Zachary Shore argues persuasively that the tense environment led the diplomats to a nearly obsessive control over the "information arsenal" in a desperate battle to defend their positions and to safeguard their lives. Unlike previous studies, this book draws the reader into the diplomats' darker world, and illustrates how Hitler's power to make informed decisions was limited by the very system he created. The result, Shore concludes, was a chaotic flow of information between Hitler and his advisers that may have accelerated the march toward war.

Excerpt

Imagine yourself as one of Hitler's diplomats. From the very beginning of Hitler's rule in 1933, you find yourself serving a violent regime. Each day you read or hear about mass arrests, beatings, and murders. Communists, Socialists, trade unionists, Catholics, Jews, and others are being persecuted by your government. SA thugs in uniforms roam the streets in paramilitary bands, picking fights with those who fail to salute them, beating and sometimes slaying their victims.

You try to convince yourself that you are safe, that you are not an “undesirable.” You do not belong to any of the targeted groups. But you are also not a Nazi Party member. And your colleagues at the ministry, all aristocratic, “old school” diplomats, are under increasing pressure from the newly formed state security services.

You can no longer speak freely on the telephone without fear that your line is tapped and your voice recorded. Conversations among colleagues and friends are charged with an undercurrent of tension. Your mail and telegrams are monitored, so you take greater care in choosing your words. The newspapers you read are censored or banned. And after two months of serving this new regime, parliamentary democracy disappears.

If this were not enough, your position and purview are threatened by Party interlopers. Your authority is challenged as rival institutions are . . .

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