Cover image for The death of democracy : Hitler's rise to power and the downfall of the Weimar Republic / Benjamin Carter Hett.
The death of democracy : Hitler's rise to power and the downfall of the Weimar Republic / Benjamin Carter Hett.
Publication Information:
Toronto, Ontario : Allen Lane Canada, 2018.

Physical Description:
xix, 280 pages ; 25 cm
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1 Bob Harkins Branch 943.086 HET Book Adult General Collection

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A riveting account of how the Nazi Party came to power and how the failures of the Weimar Republic and the shortsightedness of German politicians allowed it to happen

Why did democracy fall apart so quickly and completely in Germany in the 1930s? How did a democratic government allow Adolf Hitler to seize power? In The Death of Democracy , Benjamin Carter Hett answers these questions, and the story he tells has disturbing resonances for our own time.
To say that Hitler was elected is too simple. He would never have come to power if Germany's leading politicians had not responded to a spate of populist insurgencies by trying to co-opt him, a strategy that backed them into a corner from which the only way out was to bring the Nazis in. Hett lays bare the misguided confidence of conservative politicians who believed that Hitler and his followers would willingly support them, not recognizing that their efforts to use the Nazis actually played into Hitler's hands. They had willingly given him the tools to turn Germany into a vicious dictatorship.
Benjamin Carter Hett is a leading scholar of twentieth-century Germany and a gifted storyteller whose portraits of these feckless politicans show how fragile democracy can be when those in power do not respect it. He offers a powerful lesson for today, when democracy once again finds itself embattled and the siren song of strongmen sounds ever louder.

Author Notes

BENJAMIN CARTER HETT is a Canadian historian and the author of three previous books: Burning the Reichstag , Crossing Hitler , and Death in the Tiergarten . He is a professor of history at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and holds a PhD in history from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of Toronto. He grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, and now lives in New York City.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hett, an associate professor of history at Hunter College and CUNY, persuasively challenges familiar arguments that the rise of Nazi Germany was an inevitable consequence of abstract forces like racism, militarism, and capitalism. Hitler's appointment as chancellor in 1933 was, he argues, a political gambit orchestrated by "a small circle of powerful men... who sought to take advantage of his demagogic gifts and mass following to advance their own agenda." This cabal of businessmen, generals, and administrators held Hitler and his message in contempt and were confident they could use and discard him, detaching him from his base and shepherding his followers into a conventional right-wing authoritarian system. Hett's page-turning account lays out the dire consequences of their simultaneously underrating Hitler's ability and grievously overestimating their power. He demonstrates that Hitler played a deeper game, exploiting his opponents' narrow self-interests and using sophisticated sleight of hand to score and build on seemingly inconsequential successes. The increasing bewilderment of this cabal defies conventional explanation, but Hett concludes with a possible clue: the "incongruous innocence" of a society unable to imagine that the worst could happen. Scholars and general readers alike will learn something from Hett's credible analysis of right-wing power brokers' role in Hitler's ascent. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Hett (history, Hunter Coll.; Graduate Ctr., City Univ. of New York; Burning the Reichstag) examines the tumultuous and violent politics of Weimar Germany. Using primary and secondary sources along with memoirs and diaries, Hett places German politics within the broader context of postwar globalization. The author shows how the Nazis were one of many left- and right-wing movements that took root during this crisis-filled period across Europe. As part of a growing trend in globalization, the Nazis were not immune to outside influences. In particular, Adolf Hitler admired Turkey's founder, Kemal Atatürk, and praised the Armenian genocide as a necessary step toward consolidating power. However, Hitler's rise and eventual appointment as chancellor would not have been possible if not for conservative politicians, who sought to manipulate the party to secure policies favorable for themselves. Hitler understood this and rarely made pacts that did advance his agenda. VERDICT The international roots of the Nazi movement come into sharp focus in this illuminating and essential book detailing the rise of the Third Reich.-Chad E. Statler, Westlake Porter P.L., Westlake, OH © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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