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Hitler's Thirty Days to Power


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Table of Contents

* Prologue: The Field Marshal, the Corporal, and the General * A Conspiracy against the Chancellor Is Hatched * Hitler Scores a Dubious Triumph amid a Nazi Crisis * Schleicher Falls Victim to Illusions * The Conspiracy Widens and Schleicher Relinquishes Power * Papen Leads the Plunge into the Abyss * Determinacy, Contingency, and Responsibility

About the Author

Henry Ashby Turner, Jr., is Stille Professor of History at Yale University. He is the author of the definitive German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler and Germany from Partition to Reunification, among other books. He lives in Branford, Connecticut.


Yale historian Turner (German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler) here subjects to microscopic examination the fateful 30 days before Hitler became chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Although many of the facts are known, this study reveals that the Nazi dictator did not come to power as the result of "impersonal forces." The slender, analytical volume indicates that rather, at a time of mortal peril for Germany‘and the world‘intrigue was the order of the day in Berlin. Turner follows the machinations of the principals‘Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher; conspirator with Hitler and former chancellor Franz von Papen; President Paul von Hindenburg‘to demonstrate how they all played unwittingly into Hitler's hands, believing they could control him once he took office. Turner concludes that far from being inevitable, there was a "high degree of contingency" and not a little luck in the Führer's ascendancy. Moreover, as Turner points out, the Nazis' standing in the polls had been eroding for months before Hitler's triumph. Students of German history and extremist movements should enjoy this fast-paced narrative. (Nov.)

These two volumes, both by well-respected scholars, provide short, well-written, thoughtful accounts of why and how Hitler and the Nazis could have come to power in a Western democracy such as Germany. They are aimed at an audience more encompassing than just the circle of professional historians. Mitcham (Hitler's Field Marshals, Madison, 1993) deals with the broader aspects of the subject. Beginning with the end of World War I, he draws upon established historical research to cover the social, political, military, economic, and personal forces that contributed to Hitler's rise to power. His short account distills a huge literature into a readable study that covers the main themes effectively and understandably. Turner (editor, Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant, Yale Univ., 1985) focuses on Hitler's actual accession to the chancellorship of Germany during January 1933. He is concerned with the main players in the politics of the takeover and in his final chapter provides an elegant summing-up of some possible answers to the enduring questions. Turner has used a variety of documentary sources, including materials newly available in the Moscow archives, to provide a model of scholarly work. Both books provide valuable insights for any library collection that includes European history; Turner's book is likely to be the definitive study of its subject for years to come.‘Barbara L. Walden, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis

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