Review by Shelley Baranowski, University of Akron. Published by H-German (H-Net Reviews, October 2006)
Hardly a month goes by, especially in
Germany, without controversy as to how the Third Reich, its sites of horror, its
artifacts and its victims, should be commemorated. The recent debate over the
exhibition in Schwerin of the works of Hitler's favorite sculptor, Arno Brecker,
is but one example. Because commemoration is at least in part supposed to
educate the public about the Nazi past, debates arise over what message, or
messages, such exhibits or memorials should convey. On the one hand, knowledge
about the Third Reich should prevent a recurrence of Nazism. Yet on the other,
the official messages of deterrence embedded in museums and documentation
centers are not the only meanings that arise. As scholars of tourism have
recently argued, tourists are hardly blank slates, who in uncomplicated fashion
swallow what promoters of tourism transmit. Indeed, places of memory,
particularly in the case of Nazism, are often explicitly designed to contest
alternative readings of the past that their visitors might implicitly share...
Blaine Taylor review of Hitler Sites (Militaria International Vol 8 No. 6. p 64, June 2004).
This is a fantastic, educational and well-written handy guidebook for all those readers either interested in World War II and Nazi Germany and wishing to know more or as a quick reference work for those more adventurous souls who want to visit these locations. If either desire is your goal, then this is definitely the book for you.
Having been reading and writing articles and books myself about the Third Reich for the last four decades, I found this little volume (218 pages and 130 black and white photographs) delightfully entertaining and I’m sure that you will, too.
I found the book particularly interesting in its myriad of details on the various locations of places that Hitler lived before the Nazi Party came into governmental office on Jan. 30, 1933, and also of the many and varied early NSDAP headquarters buildings--and this is before the Brown House opened in Munich! Once that city was designated as the "Capital of the Movement" by the Führer (Leader), there came the new Führerbau (Leader Building) where the Munich Conference of 1938 was held, and it is still possible today to visit the very building and room in which the Munich Agreement was signed.
There is also featured the birthplace of the Party, Hitler's Prince Regent Street apartment where his romantic interest niece Geli Raubal shot herself (or was murdered by Hitler) in September 1931, and the tea rooms where the Führer liked to relax, such as the Carlton and his favorite, the Cafe Heck. There is also his favorite restaurant, the Ostaria Bavaria, where one can still eat today.
One can also see the Beer Hall Putsch courtroom where he and the other co-conspirators were tried in 1923, as well as the jail where Hitler was incarcerated during it. Then there is Heinrich Hoffmann's studio where Adolf met Eva (Braun), a photographic sales shop girl and Hoffmann employee.
Where did Pvt. Hitler take his basic training during the First World War ? It's here, plus the apartment of Ernst "Putzi" (Cutie) Hanfstängl, who played the piano for him, wrote Nazi marching songs and was an early Party press secretary. Lance Corporal Hitler's Army barracks (in which he lived after the war as a spy on the tiny Nazi Party), and also the Landsberg am Lech prison where he was imprisoned following the failure of the putsch are included, too. It was there that he and fellow inmate Rudolf Hess (later Deputy Führer) wrote Mean Kampf (My Battle) which still sells worldwide today.
Then there is Stadelheim Prison, where the arrested Storm Trooper leaders were first kept and then shot during the Nazi "Blood Purge" of June 30-July 2, 1934.
Outside Berlin there is the Kehlstein teahouse, the famous Eagle's Nest, presented to Hitler on Apr. 20, 1939 as a 50th birthday present by Reich Leader Martin Bormann. At Nuremberg, there are the various Party Congress buildings erected by architect Albert Speer, as well as the Deutscher Hof (German Hotel) in the city's downtown, where the Führer stayed each year during the mammoth Nazi rallies.
Hitler's military headquarters are only briefly mentioned, but what is presented herein is interesting nonetheless.
What I have presented here is only a tasty slice of a giant pie that you will want to eat in full. In closing, I will leave you with this teaser: what possible Hitler sites could there be in the US? I'm not going to tell you! For that, you'll just have to buy the book and read it for yourself. You'll be glad that you did.