Hitler & America

Hitler & America

Hitler & America

Hitler & America

Synopsis

In February 1942, barely two months after he had declared war on the United States, Adolf Hitler praised America's great industrial achievements and admitted that Germany would need some time to catch up. The Americans, he said, had shown the way in developing the most efficient methods of production--especially in iron and coal, which formed the basis of modern industrial civilization. He also touted America's superiority in the field of transportation, particularly the automobile. He loved automobiles and saw in Henry Ford a great hero of the industrial age. Hitler's personal train was even code-named "Amerika."

In Hitler and America, historian Klaus P. Fischer seeks to understand more deeply how Hitler viewed America, the nation that was central to Germany's defeat. He reveals Hitler's split-minded image of America: America and Amerika. Hitler would loudly call the United States a feeble country while at the same time referring to it as an industrial colossus worthy of imitation. Or he would belittle America in the vilest terms while at the same time looking at the latest photos from the United States, watching American films, and amusing himself with Mickey Mouse cartoons. America was a place that Hitler admired--for the can-do spirit of the American people, which he attributed to their Nordic blood--and envied--for its enormous territorial size, abundant resources, and political power. Amerika, however, was to Hitler a mongrel nation, grown too rich too soon and governed by a capitalist elite with strong ties to the Jews.

Across the Atlantic, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had his own, far more realistically grounded views of Hitler. Fischer contrasts these with the misconceptions and misunderstandings that caused Hitler, in the end, to see only Amerika, not America, and led to his defeat.

Excerpt

A book about Hitler and America? The brief title calls for an explanation. Half a dozen books have been written about Hitler and the United States, most of them dealing with German-American foreign policy between 1933 (the year Hitler came to power) and 1941 (the year he declared war on the United States). Diplomatic relations between Germany and the United States between 1933 and 1941 should, of course, play an important role in any discussion of Hitler and America, but not at the expense of exploring the origins and development of Hitler’s views. Many things in America during the 1930s caught his attention and influenced his decisions. They include American isolationism; the activities of Nazi sympathizers in America, especially the German-American Bund; American public opinion; American Jewish reactions to anti-Semitic events in Germany; and American-German business connections. Did Hitler have rigid prejudices against the United States that he never modified? Or did his perceptions change over time? Historians who have dealt with the subject of Hitler and the United States have often argued that Hitler was either ignorant or misinformed about America.

I hope that mine may be a fresh approach to this subject. It is now more than sixty years ago that Hitler committed suicide in his bunker beneath the Reich chancellery, sufficient time to permit us to assess his intentions with a greater degree of clarity than was possible a generation ago. The vast amount of material now available may be sufficient to fill out the record on almost any aspect of World War II. It is highly unlikely that many . . .

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