How Hitler Made It

The Nuremberg Party Rallies 1923-39

by Hamilton J. Burden
Praeger, 206 pp., $5.95

The German Army and the Nazi Party, 1933-39

by Robert J. O'Neill
Heineman, 286 pp., $8.50


by Joachim Kramarz
Macmillan, 255 pp., $5.95

Pius XII and the Third Reich

by Saul Friedländer
Knopf, 238 pp., $4.95

Prelude to Downfall: Hitler and the United States 1933-1941

by Saul Friedländer
Knopf, 238 pp., $6.95

The Swastika and the Eagle

by James V. Compton
Houghton Mifflin, 297 pp., $5.95

Hitler's Pre-War Policy and Military Plans 1933-1939

by E.M. Robertson
Citadel Press, 207 pp., $5.95

The appetite of English-speaking readers for books about Nazi Germany seems insatiable. As our uneasiness about our own society grows, perhaps the study of National Socialism provides some comfort: at least we are not so bad as that. Or perhaps, more disturbingly, it reminds us of how easily one thing leads to another, and how an ordinary man going about his ordinary tasks, thinking of his family and his personal problems, can find himself in a position in which every act of acquiescence in the policies of his government makes him an accomplice of its crimes. At the end of World War II, for the Americans and British, National Socialism was a phenomenon alien to their own experience, a dragon which they had just slain; and democracy triumphant seemed to have justified all that its apologists had claimed for it. The interest in Nazi Germany immediately after the war centered on the question: How could these things have happended in Germany? Now in an America torn by the effects of the Vietnam war and a worsening racial situation, or in a Britain faced with economic disaster which the machinery of parliamentary government seems to many people as powerless to avert as that of the Weimar Republic between 1930 and 1932, the question which we look to a study of National Socialism to answer is: How could these things happen anywhere?

In spite of the number of books published, we still have only fragmentary answers. The real work of analyzing the social and economic structure of Nazi Germany and the changes which the Nazis brought about in German society is only just beginning—in pioneering works such as David Schoenbaum’s Hitler’s Social Revolution or A. S. Milward’s The German Economy at War, to take two examples. In the meantime, books about German foreign policy, such as those of Professor Friedländer, Dr. Compton, and Dr. Robertson, or Dr. O’Neill’s study of the German Army and the Nazi Party, or the many works on the German Resistance, such as Dr. Kramarz’s biography of Stauffenberg, suggest some of the ways in which our question might be answered.

IN FACT, there are two problems to be resolved if we want to know the reasons for Hitler’s success. We need to know what were the means Hitler used, and we need to know why nobody stopped him, either in his rise to power or in the pursuit of his policies once he had become Chancellor. Most of the books under review deal with the second problem: Who could have stopped Hitler and why did they not do so? However, Mr. Hamilton T. Burden’s study of the Nazi Party rallies touches on one of the sources of Hitler’s success—his phenomenal skill in the use of mass propaganda. The party rallies at Nuremberg were among the means by which the belief was inculcated that the Nazi movement’s triumph was inevitable, and they provided a symbolic ritual to encourage the faithful or to impress the doubtful. It may be…

This article is available to online subscribers only.
Please choose from one of the options below to access this article:

Print Premium Subscription — $99.95

Purchase a print premium subscription (20 issues per year) and also receive online access to all content on

Online Subscription — $69.00

Purchase an Online Edition subscription and receive full access to all articles published by the Review since 1963.

One-Week Access — $4.99

Purchase a trial Online Edition subscription and receive unlimited access for one week to all the content on

If you already have one of these subscriptions, please be sure you are logged in to your account. If you subscribe to the print edition, you may also need to link your web site account to your print subscription. Click here to link your account services.