Adolf Hitler

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 435

In Adolf Hitler: A Portrait in Tyranny, Edward F. Dolan, Jr., focuses on the development of the Nazi leader, using events from his childhood, adolescence, and adult life to foreshadow the emergence of the erratic man who rose through the political ranks of post-World War I Germany to become the Führer.

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Dolan devotes the book’s early chapters to Hitler’s family, his education, and his military service. He introduces a rather average Austrian youth who aspired to become an artist in Vienna but who idled away hours strolling along the Danube or attending concerts. He was a young man immersed in the arts but, unfortunately, lacking the ability to contribute to them. While the author acknowledges the formative influence of those years, especially Hitler’s physical deprivation and growing interest in politics, he credits his subject’s military experience during World War I with welding together the disparate pieces of Hitler’s personality into that of a forceful and dedicated nationalist zealot.

Later chapters trace Hitler’s rise to political prominence through the revival of the German Workers’ Party, as well as his development into a charismatic speaker. In addition, the author introduces the individuals who later became prime movers in the Nazi regime: Joseph Goebbels, Rudolph Hess, Heinrich Himmler, and Hermann Göring.

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After supplying the historical background of his subject, Dolan interrupts his chronological narrative with an analysis of the condition of the German nation when Hitler came to power and discusses in detail his program for creating the Third Reich. The author then raises the questions of why Hitler was allowed to come to power and why he was not stopped when others saw how he used his power. After presenting his answers to these questions, Dolan turns to a discussion of the political changes that Hitler instigated. This section serves as preparation for an entire chapter devoted to the Nazi leader’s program of anti-Semitism. Accounts of Kristallnacht and the extermination camps contain graphic details but are not sensationalized.

The final chapters describe the conflicts of World War II, as Hitler pushed the German borders to acquire “living space” and the world was forced to respond. The book concludes with the defeat of Germany and the suicide of the Führer. From the first chapter to the last, the author ties Hitler and the German nation together in a unifying theme.

Quotations from Hitler’s Mein Kampf (19251927), relevant statistics, references to the research of historians, and photographs of Hitler provide interest and credibility. Special features include the author’s preface, a detailed subject index, and a recommended reading list.

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