THE writing of this book was undertaken in the spring of 1944 at the invitation of persons officially concerned with the occupation and administration of Germany after the end of the Second World War. It was primarily intended to be read by Germans--as a means of showing them how they had been misled by their own propagandists both before and during the National Socialist régime. But it was also designed to assist British and American officers and any others who may be in contact with Germans in the immediate post-war years to understand the intellectual background of the people with whom they will be dealing. It does not profess to be a history of the period between the two wars. In the central chapters I have found it convenient to adopt a narrative form of presentation, though even there without any attempt to relate events in their chronological sequence. But essentially the book is an argument--a reasoned refutation of the main articles of National Socialist teachings on the origins of the war, and an exposition of the role of propaganda as part of Hitler's preparations. Towards the end of the book I attempt to show the extent to which Germany as a whole can be considered guilty of the war--though without entering into the unprofitable controversy as to whether there are, or are not, 'good Germans'.
The English and American reader may feel that I have argued certain points at unnecessary length, particularly in the last section of Chapter I and in certain parts of Chapter VI, where I deal with National Socialist allegations which seem to him too obviously false--or too obviously unimportant--to deserve the attention I have paid them. But all these allegations have been, in their time, whole-heartedly and indeed passionately accepted by many intelligent Germans--and the realization of that fact is in itself a not unimportant contribution to our understanding of the German mentality, which has shown itself amazingly able to believe the incredible and attach weight to the trivial in all questions relating to German national honour and German national guiltlessness.
Much of the material of the book has been included in broadcasts delivered by me in German during my work as B.B.C.