Hitler, Beyond Evil and Tyranny

Book Reviews History

Hitler, Beyond Evil and Tyranny by R.H.S. Stolfi – A Book review of a book read in September 2022.

Rating ***** This book is a Must Read – don’t die without doing so.

I found this book interesting. I grew up hearing stories about the evil Hitler, the cowardly Hitler, etc. How Hitler fainted at the sight of blood and somehow passed himself off as a veteran and hoodwinked the German nation into following him in a way that was inconceivable.

Greetings Troopers, and friends of SabersEdge. Shout out to Chris from Alabama and Artur from Poland, whether you favor troopers of Forrest’s Cavalry or Jan Sobieski and the Polish Winged Hussars, you are welcome here. Well, this is another of the book reviews for the books I read in September. I noticed October is rapidly fading and I have only reviewed a few of the books I read last month so I need to keep up before I fall behind with books piling up on October’s reading list. Here I read “Hitler, Beyond Evil and Tyranny” by Col. R.H.S. Stolfi, an instructor at the US Naval Post Graduate School in Monterey, CA, USA and I couldn’t have been more surprised or more pleased in my decision to get and read this book. It was not a topic I looked forward to reading but I thoroughly enjoy learning new things and this book was full of information that has been twisted and concealed in the wartime propaganda that we all grew up with (when I was a kid in school and we couldn’t go out to play for recess because of rain or snow they gathered us in the auditorium and showed us documentaries on reel to reel projectors…yes, I am that old) so I grew up with old black and white documentaries about World War II.

Like all good military men, Col. Stolfi realizes that reading propaganda and confusing it with history is a poor way to educate yourself to deal with international events, political/military realities, and war. I guess one of the reasons I liked this book is Stolfi works hard to uncover the unvarnished truth behind the stories – as I try to do here on SabersEdge.Online. He analyzes the data here as I do the news and current events to bring you the truth that the media is concealing from you – or at least not telling you.

I suppose you have to use such stories if you don’t want to admit that it was the Allies of WWI that created the Germany that was ready for a Hitler to save them. I knew that Hitler and children got along well and that he loved dogs and vice versa. That always gave me a bit of trouble because my dogs were always a very good judge of character. In fact, I had friends that my dogs didn’t like and within a year (if that long) I found out why my dogs never liked or trusted them. I also knew that the allies confiscated all of the home movies they found of Adolf Hitler and classified them as Top Secret and locked them away in the archives so no one could see them. Why would they do that? It wouldn’t serve the propaganda to show a man laughing and playing with children and dogs…

Please note, I am not saying Hitler was a good man. No one who is saddled with killing 6 million human beings can be called good. But I have always found it odd that Hitler is the personification of Evil while Stalin (who killed over 20 million Russians,) is not. And we won’t even mention the excessive death tolls of communist leaders like Mao and Pol Pot. Even today no one seems able to talk about this rationally.

That is why I loved this book. Stolfi worked hard to get at the man behind the evil legend built up by Bernay’s propaganda. (You know Bernays, he was in charge of the propaganda for WWII. He was also the one in charge of ad campaigns like the one that used doctors to convince people that smoking was good for them…) When reading this book I realized that what I knew, or thought I knew, of Hitler was propaganda and that the propaganda had been accepted as history. Perhaps I was more open to that since I had found similar situations at other times in American History. But my second realization was that I had been lied to. And I don’t like to be lied to.

Please note, I don’t read a book and just accept it as fact. I analyze and compare everything as my training as an investigator and analyst have taught me. However, over my decades of study in historical and military matters, I repeatedly found things about Hitler and Nazi Germany that didn’t “add up.” Reading this book, and a couple of others, I was finally able to make sense of what was going on, and all of the loose pieces that had never made sense in my life suddenly found their place in the puzzle. I cannot cover everything but let me hit a few salient points that might get your curiosity up and get you to read this excellent and very readable book by Colonel Stolfi, USMC.

First, I was told that Hitler was a coward who fainted at the sight of blood but somehow claimed to have earned the Iron Cross in WWI. It was always implied that he knew someone who knew someone and somehow got an award…wrong.

Adolf Hitler was in the regiment that was in the first battle of World War I (he also was present in the last battle of WWI.)

No author pays much attention to the fact that Hitler survived four years of bloody and vicious trench warfare as a common soldier in a frontline infantry regiment. The great battles in 1916 and 1917 in Belgium and France, and the German offensive of March 1918 to break the trench stalemate were tremendously intense. Casualties in misjudged infantry attacks frequently exceeded any other conflict in the preceding century.The most intense combat came to be centered in Belgian and French Flanders and the region to t he south and west of Artois and on the Somme River. The Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment in which Hitler served for the entire war, after his assignment to it in early September 1914, was deployed for the duration of the war in the area of the most intense combat. Hitler’s regiment found itself holding frontline positions against British and French opponents throughout the entire war, except for brief periods of rest and rearmament and shifts to adjacent sectors in Flanders, Artois, Picardy, and once in Alsace.

The intensity of the fighting is difficult to exaggerate. The young German army officer Ernst Juenger, in the most impressive account of combat in World War I by any other of any nationality, presents images of battle in the same area as Hitler’s. Like Hitler, Juenger also served in a single regiment – the Seventy-Third Hanoverian Rifle Regiment – and presents some impressive scenes of the “Great War”:

Everywhere we saw traces of death…there were two messengers [Hitler was a messenger – messengers ran from trench to trench during artillery barrages while everyone else was hiding,] lying by a crater, from which the acrid fumes of explosive were still bubbling up. [November 1916]” and “As though waking from a deep dream, I saw German steel helmets approaching through the craters. They seemed to sprout from the fire-harrowed soil like some iron harvest. [March 1918]”

Juenger wrote the above lines in his Storm of Steel, a copy f which he would sign and exchange with Hitler for a similarly autographed copy of Mein Kampf at some time in the mid-1930s. The intensity of things is further illustrated by Juenger’s musing to the effect that “once, I reckoned up my wounds. Leaving out trifles such as richochets and grazes, I was hit at least 14 times, these being five bullets, two shell splinters, one shrapnel ball, four hand grenade splinters and two bullet splinters, which, with entry and exit wounds left me with an even 27 scars.” Hitler served in the vicinity of men such as Juener…and experienced violence – and not as the theoretical affair fussed over by armchair socialist political theorists. Hitler faced armed violence head-on, sequestered within the monastery with walls of fire that World War I had become.”

R.H.S. STOLFI, Hitler Beyond Evil and Tyranny, p.85-86

Besides being wounded by artillery Hitler was gassed which caused lung and throat damage that accounted for his unique voice. Hitler was awarded a Regimental certificate of bravery, the Iron Cross Second Class and the Iron Cross First Class. Hitler initially served in his regiment and engaged in a:

“violent four-day battle near Ypres, in Belgian Flanders, with elite British professional soldiers of the initial elements of the British Expeditionary Force…the List Regiment was temporarily destroyed as an offensive force by suffering severe casualty rates…it lost 70% of its initial strength of 3,600 men. A bullet tore off Hitler’s right sleeve in the first day of combat, and in the “batch” of men with which he originally advanced, every one fell dead or wounded, leaving him to survive, as if through a miracle.”

R.H.S. STOLFI, Hitler, Beyond Evil and Tyranny, p.88

He had several “miraculous” points where he was saved. At one point he was about to sit to eat his rations and he said a voice said “move.” He looked around and saw no one but as a good soldier he moved anyway. Moments later everyone in that part of the trench was killed by an artillery barrage. Hitler often said he felt that he had been saved through the perils of war so that he could save Germany. Apparently, that wasn’t just hyperbole.

In denigrating the traditional accounts of Hitler’s life Stolfi says:

“As somewhat of a monument to antipathy, the conventional wisdom denigrates Hitler’s battle wounds by omitting his first wounding in 1914, characterizing the second wounding as “lightly wounded in the left thigh” in 1916, and intimating that Hitler went blind in October 1918 as a hysterical reaction to stress as opposed to actual physical damage [from a gas attack]. The “light wound” in the left thigh, suffered at Le Barque on October 5, 1916, required evacuation to a field hospital, further evacuation to a hospital in the zone of the interior at Beelitz just southwest of Berlin, and the recuperation until March 1918 (i.e., roughly five months). This hardly qualifies as a light wound. The point is that the one -sided prejudice dominating Hitler biographies has forced disparagement and belittling of his war record, thus leading to an inaccurate appreciation of his appeal to the patriotic Right in the later Weimar Republic, as a genuine combat soldier.”

R.H.S. STOLFI, Hitler, Beyond Evil and Tyranny, p.87

Every chapter has multiple revelations that you won’t get in conventional history books because this seems to be one of the few that is looking at it objectively. He is not attempting to defend Hitler nor is he attempting to convince everyone what a good person the author is by denigrating him.

I have always told my sons that if you don’t understand why one side was fighting in a war then it is because you don’t really know the facts. This is the case here. If there are things about Hitler’s rise to power that don’t make sense to you then you need to read this book.

Stolfi makes a convincing argument that Hitler’s goal was to create Festung Germany (Fortress Germany). By creating a fortress around the German people and seizing the resources of the Ukraine and Georgia regions Germany would become a superpower in its own right and never be taken advantage of again. This primarily defensive obsession of Hitler explains his decisions as to why he didn’t make the aggressive decisions that would have won Germany the war. In each case, Stolfi shows, his goal was to build Germany into a monolith that no one could attack – but in trying to rebuild Germany and regain the lands lost to Germany at the end of WWI he and the allies, through mutual errors, bumbled into WWII. It bears worthwhile reading as we seem to be bumbling into World War III. I noted, as I read, what I had noted as a teen. Both Germany and the USSR invaded Poland at the start of WWII but France and Britain only declared war on Germany. There is a secret malice there and it becomes clear in this book.

The evidence it gives from testimony, from a little girl who spent several minutes talking with Hitler on a balcony – until her embarrassed parents ushered her away for bothering “the Fuhrer” who talked to her like she was a real person, to Hitler stopping to scoop up a small dog cowering in the middle of an artillery barrage and carrying him to safety under his jacket, this book is full of anecdotes that lets you see the man who became the monster. From a young man who could whistle every act of Wagnerian operas and dream of artistic grandeur (he actually took his paints and aisle with him to WWI,) to a soldier who single-handedly captured two allied combat patrols with his bolt action rifle and force of will, we see an artist who was quite probably traumatized by a horrible war. Note, I am not trying to excuse anything Hitler did, but I learned more about Hitler in September by reading this book than I have throughout my entire life. I view this book as a must-read for anyone who seeks to understand World War II or how the modern world developed as it has. You need this book.

Oh, and as for his artwork, It actually wasn’t bad but the pictures he made for admittance to the art school are noticeably mediocre compared to the work he did before and after. Those are the pictures we most often see. Yet it appears that the moment he was being tested he choked and failed to show the creativity his other works show. How would history have been different if he had not choked and been an artist throughout the wars? Still, it would be a mistake to view this book as a defense of Hitler. It is not. However, I have pointed out just a couple of the misinterpretations and lies that surround this topic because there is, as always, a truth to be found. A truth that the powers that be have concealed for their purposes and defense.

Read the book.

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