Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny

R. H. S. Stolfi
  • Review
By – May 3, 2012

R. H. S. Stolfi’s premise, that Adolf Hitler did not think of him­self as an evil man doing evil deeds, is dia­met­ri­cal­ly opposed to oth­er biog­ra­phers’ the­o­ries of Hitler, the man. Stolfi pro­fess­es that Hitler was under­es­ti­mat­ed by his ene­mies as well as his­to­ri­ans and his biog­ra­phers. Stolfi quotes Ian Ker­shaw, a recent biog­ra­ph­er of Hitler, as say­ing that some­one with so few intel­lec­tu­al gifts and social attrib­ut­es ….was no more than an emp­ty ves­sel out­side of his polit­i­cal life….” In Stolfi’s opin­ion, Hitler was a tal­ent­ed archi­tect, a good artist (not a mediocre one as is often described), and a music afi­ciona­do as well as a hero­ic front-line sol­dier of World War I. The com­mon bias of Hitler’s pre­vi­ous biog­ra­phers, accord­ing to Stolfi, is that a fear of inter­pre­ta­tion lead­ing to com­pre­hen­sion of the man, might also be con­sid­ered an apol­o­gy for his actions. All of Hitler’s pre­vi­ous biog­ra­phers began their stud­ies from a view­point of con­tempt for the man, rather than an open­ness to learn about him. Stolfi sees Adolf Hitler as a self-pro­claimed mes­si­ah; a sav­ior of the Ger­man peo­ple from the degra­da­tion result­ing from the Treaty of Ver­sailles and the Marx­ist Jews who were intent on destroy­ing Ger­many.

I per­son­al­ly found it dif­fi­cult to read Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyran­ny, because I, like the oth­er biog­ra­phers, have a hard time over­look­ing the evil deeds of Hitler and con­cen­trat­ing instead upon his sup­posed genius. Stolfi char­ac­ter­izes Hitler as a rare world his­tor­i­cal fig­ure, com­pared with the likes of Alexan­der the Great, Napoleon, and Julius Cae­sar. He clear­ly presents an alter­nate view from all the oth­er major biog­ra­phers of Adolf Hitler, but not a view that I can share.

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