Sebastian Haffner was a non-Jewish German who emigrated to England in 1938. This memoir (written in 1939 but only published now for the first time) begins in 1914 when the family summer holiday is cut short by the outbreak of war, and ends with Hitler’s assumption of power in 1933.
It is a portrait of himself and his own generation in Germany, those born between 1900 and 1910, and brilliantly explains through his own experiences and those of his friends how that generation came to be seduced by Hitler and Nazism.
The Germans lacked an outlet for self-expression: where the French had amour, food and wine, and the British their gardens and their pets, the Germans had nothing, leading to a tendency towards mass psychosis. The upheaval of post-WWI revolution, factionalism and inflation left the Germans addicted to excitement and action: Hitler provided this, and more.