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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Seduced by Hitler by Adam LeBor and Roger Boyes

Seduced by Hitler by Adam LeBor and Roger Boyes – A better description of the content of the book is in its subtitle – The Choices of a Nation and the Ethics of Survival.

There was some seduction by Hitler in Germany.

Average Germans benefited from the persecution of the nation’s Jewish population:

Public auctioning of Jewish goods in Hamburg began during 1941 – between three and four thousand giant containers of furniture and clothes abandoned by those Jews lucky enough to emigrate …. Public auctions of Jewish goods were held on every working day between February 1941 an April 1945. Forty-five car ships full of belongings stolen from deported Dutch Jews provided rich pickings for the bidders who soon extended well beyond the original qualifying groups …. The contents of 72,000 apartments in the East – Jews sent to Auscwitz – were loaded onto trains and sent to central collection points in German cities ….. Frank Bajohr, who has researched the “Aryanization” of Hamburg, calculates that more than a hundred thousand people in the city alone, “ordinary Germans,” directly profited from the Holocaust.

For workers in Germany the Nazis skilfully used the twin tactics of terror and seduction. The Gestapo arrested enough workers, including some family members, and used small scale camps adjacent to 165 industrial complexes to create an edge of uncertainty among German labourers. At the same time the Beauty of Work and Strength Through Joy organizations were the seduction. Many factories were improved in appearance though not often in working conditions. More important were the mass holidays available from Strength Through Joy. Many average Germans had their first travel holidays. While it may have been no more than 1% of the work force a large number of working Germans were able to go on cruises to Norway or the Canary Islands or the Mediterranean.

The elites benefited the most under the Third Reich. German generals were lavished with honours that included payments of hundreds of thousands of marks. The gifts were not limited to money. General Heinz Guderian was given a 2,340 acre estate in the area of Poland incorporated into Germany.

The Nazis were very conscious of style:

From the carefully choreographed Nuremberg rallies to the sharply-pressed black uniforms of the SS, the Nazis place great emphasis on presentation and a well-groomed appearance ….. While not every German wore a uniform, it was seen as a patriotic duty to look well-presented; it was part of the country’s national rebirth.

While in far less detail than Hitler's Empire - How the Nazis Ruled Europe the authors looked at how the Nazis treated the countries they conquered.

There was little seduction by the Nazis in Western Europe and none East of Germany.

Some bureaucrats in the West were allowed greater freedom to pursue their administrative dreams. In the Netherlands a civil servant, J.J. Lentz, was allowed to fulfill his dream of a national system of ID cards. The authors comment:

Instead of being appalled at the all-embracing reach of their Nazi overlords, Dutch civil servants such as Lentz were relieved to be working for an administration that would appreciate perfection, order and organization.

In Denmark the Nazis, because Denmark had not resisted its occupation, played a lesser role in the governance of the country for much of the occupation.

A few West European workers profited greatly. Farmers in northern Norway were paid far more than before the war as they were a part of the Nazi effort at self-sufficiency.

There were no major efforts to entice average Western Europeans into becoming fascists.

A greater part of the book than I expected related to the actions of Germans and Occupied Europeans with regard to the Holocaust. The authors were as interested in choices with regard to evil as choices with regard to enticements. Probably because of past reading in these areas I found these sections of the book less interesting.

The authors are very convincing on the strenuous efforts of the Nazis to influence and control every aspect of life in Germany. I have usually thought of propaganda in the context of politics. The Nazis effectively used propaganda to advance their policies and ideologies in all areas.

Written in 2000 the book is easy to read and filled with striking examples of lives and decisions in the Third Reich.

Much as a newspaper headline often does not reflect the story most Germans were not seduced by Hitler. The authors do make clear that only a small minority of Germans rejected and resisted the advances of the Nazis.


  1. This sounds really fascinating, Bill, and quite unsettling at the same time. That sort of psychological manipulation (and all of the other manipulation that goes with it) is really scary. And the more we learn about these tactics, the more we learn about how the Nazis managed to gain the control they did. It does make one uncomfortable.

    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Are we more resistant to manipulation today? I doubt it.

  2. Oh dear, too sad. Hope we've learned the lessons.

  3. Moira: Thanks for the comment. I cannot see much reason in our current world to think we have "learned the lessons".

  4. The Nazis knew how to use propaganda in speeches, parades, movies, anti-Semitic cartoons, etc. They did it.

    I choose not to look at those who followed the Nazis. I've seen Germans on TV who said that family members were threatened, which is often not discussed.

    I prefer to look at those who resisted in many ways, often quietly. The New York Times wrote a few years ago that 800,000 people were political prisoners in Germany during the war. This means that many did resist.

    And then there's Rosenstrasse, the film about Christian women who demonstrated every day against the Nazis, demanding their Jewish husbands be released from a deportation center. They won that after incredibly bravery.

    Anyway, we have our own problems here with a potential presidential candidate who uses racism, xenophobia, stifles the press, encourages brutality against protesters, etc. Apparently, according to many accounts, he studied Hitler's speeches.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. The protest in mid-war saved Jewish men. The authors discuss the protests and that the Nazis did not want to confront average Germans on the issue of Jewish deportations.

      On your presidential election I cannot understand the choice of many Americans.

  5. Aaaaauuuugh! on the followers of a billionaire fascist.

    I do think that the Nazis did not want to confront physically mny Christian women demonstrating together. That would not have helped morale or the war effort for Germany. But Rosenstrasse shows the women chanting right up to the Nazi officers' faces, facing down their machine guns. We cheered for those women watching the film. Fearless.

    I believe that Christian men with Jewish wives did not usually fight for them, but walked away, one of the worst stories I ever heard.

    1. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. I have mentioned those brave ladies in a post I just put on the blog.