Book Review: Hitler In Hell by Martin Van Creveld

Nazis are becoming all the rage lately. From the left calling anybody to the right of Karl Marx “Nazi” or “fascist” to a group of people commonly referred to as the “alt-reich” or alt-retards, you see and hear it all over the place. President Trump, since the early days of his campaign, has been called “literally Hitler”.

In light of that, I’ve been doing my own research into the subject. I’ve read Mein Kampf (Ford translation) and several other books trying to get a handle on what actually happened so I don’t become one of these historically illiterate idiots running around.

Back in June, Castalia House released Martin Van Creveld’s latest book, Hitler In Hell. I got a free copy as a member of their book club (joining is as easy as submitting your email address.) It took me a while to read it since I had an ePub on my phone. I finally finished.

As I read the book, I kept wondering “why would an Israeli Jew write a book that seems to come out favorable to the Fuhrer?” The answer is at the back. Van Creveld has studied the subject his entire life. He had family that both survived and perished during the events of WWII and the concentration camps (commonly called “The Holocaust.”) He has read many of the biographies and done plenty of archival research, and as a military historian, has done plenty of his own reading and writing on German military tactics in both wars.

Van Creveld has always thought about writing a biography on the man but didn’t know what to add that others hadn’t already covered. Then it hit him, to write the book autobiographical. So although this book is fiction, it is written as if in Hitler’s own words and voice.

The premise of the book is: Hitler is in Hell. He’s totally conscious of the events since he ate a bullet in his bunker (he has an Internet connection), and is writing both his side of the story and responding to his critics.

I enjoyed the book and learned a lot in the process. In some ways, it agrees with “alternative historians” such is Mike King. In a few other ways, it differs. Some claim Hitler let the British escape at Dunkirk. Van Creveld’s Hitler says it was flawed intelligence and ground that prevented his army from moving quickly enough.

All in all, Hitler in Hell is a great read and a valuable addition to this historical discussion. The story of Hitler is not one as simple as “evil man!” or “demon possessed”. He was a real man with real motivations at a real point in history with real influences, both positive and negative. He was a combat soldier, serving at the front for almost four years, wounded in action twice, then watched helplessly as his nation was humiliated and raped with the Treaty of Versailles. He was also an intelligent man and a scholar, who read a lot, often a book a day. What would you do?