Hitler's Prison Experience Chronicled

Winnipeg Free Press, February 27, 2016 | Go to article overview

Hitler's Prison Experience Chronicled


German dictator Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) plunged the world into war, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

But before Hitler achieved power in 1933, he was an uneducated political adventurer who launched an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the German government in 1923.

For his part in this abortive coup, Hitler was imprisoned at Landsberg Prison, 60 kilometres west of Munich. He was incarcerated from November 1923 to late December 1924.

This year in prison, author Peter Ross Range believes, was a seminal period in Hitler's development and the subsequent history of Hitler's Nazi party.

Hitler's prison experience is chronicled in Range's relatively brief, serviceable work of popular narrative history.

Range is a veteran American journalist who is a specialist in German affairs.

The demagogue Hitler, Range maintains, should have been thoroughly discredited by his leadership of the botched coup.

But Hitler was able to transform failure into political success, emerging from prison in a stronger position to implement his plan of becoming dictator of Germany.

He unabashedly exploited his trial for treason in the winter of 1924 as a "political soapbox," becoming a nationally known figure.

Sentenced to five years in prison but eligible for parole in six months, Hitler used his remaining time at Landsberg to write his infamous memoir and political polemic, Mein Kampf, which further enhanced his national stature. …

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