With Germany’s lifting of the ban on the publication of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf can we expect a laundering of that controversial period’s main movers and shakers? The lifting of the prohibition has been reluctant. The truth is that the copyright period has now drawn to an end. The Bavarian copyright holders have little choice in the matter. The thinking behind the move is, ‘if we do not publish the former chancellor’s memoirs others will.’ Too late, that genie is already out of the lamp; the relative liberalization of the internet has seen to that.
Of greater concern is the potential torrent of literature published by Hitler’s Reich that could accompany the fuhrer’s notorious chronicles. Much of the propaganda radiating from Nazi-controlled Munich and Berlin in the 1930s and during the war was published in the English language. This leaves the gates open to book plagiarists. Many revisionists could be sympathetic to the Nazi Reich.
Military history has always attracted a wide readership. Conventional bookstores have sections set aside for history. Dilemma, much of the history section is dominated by material that focuses on the Reich and World War Two. It is well-known in publishing circles that the two bestselling book types begin with the letter ‘s’ which denotes sex and swastikas. Such is the public fascination in the period that publishers concede that swastikas on a book’s cover can double sales.
The Heroes of the Reich title published by Amazon Books and Amazon Kindle is a case in point. The book’s author offers mini-biographies on those figures that were venerated in Hitler’s Germany. Surprisingly, whilst many of these ‘heroes’ are German nationals, many, like Englishwoman Winifred Wagner and Reich Foreign Minister Alfred Rosenberg, were not German. Another eyebrow raiser is that many figures idolised is Nazi Germany were more popular in the West than they were in the Nazi Reich. These include the orchestral conductor Herbert von Karajan and internationally revered soprano Elizabeth Schwarzkopf. Both were enthusiastic paid-up members of Hitler’s National Socialist Party.
The book, Heroes of the Reich, is a compelling read. In fairness, some of the characters covered have already inspired great movies. As Far as my Feet Can Carry Me recounts the odyssey of a German prisoner of the Soviets. Clemens Forell escaped from the Gulag and made an 8,000 mile perilous trek back to his home country. The buccaneering exploits of escape artist Luftwaffe fighter ace, Franz von Werra, were chronicled in the movie, The One That Got Away.
To retain the credibility of the Heroes of the Reich allure the author goes to lengths to write objectively. This may seem a form of sanitizing the images portrayed in the book’s near forty biographical chapters. The best advice is to read the book and interpret things as you wish. It happened a long time ago.
Michael Walsh was voted ‘Writer of the Year’ by the editorial board of Euro Weekly News. This English language newspaper is read by 550,000 readers. A broadcaster and author of over thirty titles, he is a journalist / columnist providing hundreds of media published articles to mainstream international media. The author’s specialty is the Third Reich and World War Two.
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