The Nazi regime was essentially a religious cult relying on the hypnotic personality of Adolf Hitler, and it was fated to die with him. But while it lasted, his closest lieutenants competed feriously for power and position as his chosen successor. This peculiar leadership dynamic resulted in millions of deaths and some of the worst excesses of World War II. This book examines these lieutenants, both as individuals and as a group. It focuses on the three most important Nazi paladins - Goring, Goebbels and Himmler - with their nearest rivals - Bormann, Speer and Ribbentrop - in close attendance. It shows how these personalities developed, and how their constant jealousies and intrigues affected the regime, the war and Hitler himself.
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Anthony Read lives in England and has written a number of books on World War II.From Publishers Weekly:
As the Gotterdämmerung for Hitler's Germany approached in April 1945, the surviving members of the Führer's inner circle of bureaucrats were still competing for his favor and conspiring, each in his own furtive way, to succeed him. Why anyone aspired to preside over the ruins is less a mystery after reading Read. From the unpromising beginnings of Nazism in the 1920s, ambitious misfits gathered around Hitler, whose demagogic genius in exploiting the humiliation of WWI's defeat seemed likely to propel him to power. Each was, in Read's words, "totally besotted" with Hitler and "bitterly jealous" of his attention to others. Not all survived the Darwinian struggle for favor and succession. Ernst Rhm was murdered by fellow Nazis. Rudolf Hess took a solo flight to captivity. Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated. But three of the original disciples-Hermann Gring, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler-remained to the end, competing for power even when, with defeat imminent, the prize had lost all value. Four latecomers also hung on for dubious glory: the foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop; chief architect and war production genius, Albert Speer; Hitler's private secretary, Martin Bormann; and Adm. Karl Dnitz, whom no one expected to be anointed Hitler's successor. That the internecine rivalries persisted beyond the end suggests the warped minds of Hitler's crew of bureaucratic criminals. Despite his penchant for cliche ("the ripest of plums suddenly dropped into the Nazis' laps, completely out of the blue"), Read (coauthor of The Fall of Berlin, etc.) tells the story of two decades of assiduous jockeying for power in luridly absorbing if overwhelming detail. 16 pages of b&w photos.
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