The Hitler Book

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The Hitler Book: The Secret Dossier Prepared for Stalin is the English-language title of the translated 2005 publication of a long-secret Soviet report on the life of Adolf Hitler written at the behest of Joseph Stalin. It was edited and translated into German by Matthias Uhl and Henrik Eberle.

The initial Soviet report[edit]

The project that grew into the compilation of The Hitler Book began shortly after the end of the Second World War in Europe. Josef Stalin had doubted the official story that Adolf Hitler had indeed committed suicide, and personally believed that Hitler had fled and that the Western Allies had granted him political asylum.[1]: xxiv 

At the end of 1945, Stalin ordered the NKVD (The People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs—a precursor to the KGB) to investigate the circumstances of Hitler's supposed death and to reconstruct the last days of April 1945 inside Hitler's Bunker. The NKVD codenamed this project "Operation Myth." People's Commissar Sergei Kruglov was in charge of this investigation, while the actual writing of the final report was done by the security service officers Fyodor Parparov and Igor Saleyev.

In the immediate aftermath of the suicide of Adolf Hitler on 30 April 1945 and the end of World War II in Europe, the forces of the Soviet Union had immediate access to the German Reich Chancellery and Hitler's Bunker in Berlin. Their investigation went on for almost four years and by the time it was completed, its scope had widened from simply researching the circumstances of Hitler's death into a detailed report on Hitler's life from 1933 to 1945. The NKVD researchers had access to large numbers of documents confiscated from Hitler's headquarters and living quarters, and also were able to question many Nazis who had known Hitler personally. These included Heinz Linge, who was Hitler's personal assistant and valet, and Otto Günsche, Hitler's SS adjutant. Both men were imprisoned in Soviet gulags during the writing of the report and were subjected to "extensive, often grueling interrogation."[1]: x  To "interview" Heinz Linge for the book, for instance, the NKVD held Hitler's valet in a solitary cell, crawling with bugs, and subjected him to repeated whippings and other humiliating tortures.[1]: xxvi 

The final report, amounting to 413 typed pages, was presented to Stalin on 29 December 1949.

Discovery by Western historians[edit]

During the reign of Nikita Khrushchev, the report was classified as "document no. 462a," with no annotation or description of its unique contents.[1]: xxv  Therefore, even though Western historians were allowed access into the archives of the former Soviet Union starting in 1991, this "document no. 462a" lay undiscovered, due to its bland and innocuous title, for many years. Researchers from the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich, including Matthias Uhl and Henrik Eberle, "discovered" the report in the Communist Party Archives[2] that became The Hitler Book in 2005. The volume was first translated and published in German by Henrik Eberle and Matthias Uhl,[3] and then immediately presented in an English version, with a translation by Giles McDonogh.[4] It has now been published in more than thirty languages.[5]

Criticism[edit]

This work provides insight into the inner workings of Nazi Germany, but also into the biases of the political system that prepared the volume. The work was written not for a general audience, but exclusively for Stalin. Subsequent historians[who?] have pointed out, for instance, that the dossier prepared for Stalin omits the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the subsequent Soviet invasion of Poland (only mentioning Germany's role), events later known as the Holocaust, or any mention of German anti-Jewish policies. (After the war, antisemitism in the Soviet Union had reached new heights.) Furthermore, the work is based heavily upon firsthand interviews with Linge and Günsche that were conducted under duress and inhumane conditions, thereby undermining the reliability of much of the information.

One journalist's summary of the description of Hitler states that the book "supports the widely held view that Hitler was delusional, irrational and because of his infantile psychological make-up, utterly unable to tolerate any criticism of his own deficiencies".[6]

The review by Publishers Weekly reminded readers that the two aides who provided the content for the book "appreciated the [Soviet] regime's need to present Hitler as a degenerate, drug-addicted tool of German imperialist capitalism. Their lives depended on how well they understood that unwritten imperative".[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Henrik Eberle; Matthias Uhl, eds. (2005). The Hitler Book: the Secret Dossier Prepared for Stalin from the Interrogations of Hitler's Personal Aides. New York: Public Affairs. ISBN 9781586483661.
  2. ^ Goda, Norman J. W. (1 March 2009). "Holocaust and Genocide Studies - The Hitler Book". Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Oxford University Press. 23 (1): 113–115. doi:10.1093/hgs/dcp008.
  3. ^ "Dr. Matthias Uhl: Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter". Deutsches Historisches Institut Moskau. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  4. ^ The Hitler Book: The Secret Dossier Prepared for Stalin from the Interrogations of Otto Guensche and Heinze Linge, Hi. PublicAffairs, New York. 2009-03-25. ISBN 9780786734917. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  5. ^ Henrik Eberle. Bastei Lübbe AG, Köln. Retrieved 14 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Hitler: the lost files". Irish Times. 31 December 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Nonfiction Book Review: The Hitler Book". PWxyz, LLC. 19 September 2005. Retrieved 28 August 2018.