Rees examines the strategic decisions that led the Nazi leadership to prescribe Auschwitz as its primary site for the extinction of Europe's Jews—their "Final Solution." He concludes that many of the horrors that were perpetrated in Auschwitz were driven not just by ideological inevitability but as a "practical" response to a war in the East that had begun to go wrong for Germany. A terrible immoral pragmatism characterizes many of the decisions that determined what happened at Auschwitz. Thus the story of the camp becomes a morality tale, too, in which evil is shown to proceed in a series of deft, almost noiseless incremental steps until it produces the overwhelming horror of the industrial scale slaughter that was inflicted in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
Acclaimed historian and documentary filmmaker Laurence Rees examines the nature of Hitler’s appeal and reveals the role his supposed “charisma” played in his success. Here is a fascinating social, psychological and historical investigation into the formation of a personality whose determination and vision would at the outset convince a small group of like-minded political and social outcasts but would eventually win over an entire nation and plunge the rest of the world into a cataclysm unlike any that had ever been seen before. Hitler’s Charisma is a natural culmination of twenty years of writing and research on the Third Reich and a remarkable examination of the man and the mind at the heart of it all.
(With 16 pages of black-and-white illustrations)
Drawing on material available only since the opening of archives in Eastern Europe and Russia, as well as amazing new testimony from nearly a hundred separate witnesses from the period—Rees reexamines the key choices made by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt during the war, and presents, in a compelling and fresh way, the reasons why the people of Poland, the Baltic states, and other European countries simply swapped the rule of one tyrant for another. Surprising, incisive, and endlessly intriguing, World War II Behind Closed Doors will change the way we think about the Second World War.
From the Trade Paperback edition.