There’s a new book out about Adolf Hitler. It’s an exhaustive look at all 56 years of the man’s life. But it is that mundanity, that day-to-day minutiae that could lead some to believe Hitler was actually a normal guy. And that is what critics say is dangerous about the book.
The Washington Post reported April 27 that Harald Sandner’s “Hitler — The Itinerary: Whereabouts and Journeys from 1889 to 1945” is a massive, four-volume work, comprising 2,432 pages. In it, Sandner chronicled every detail of Adolf Hitler’s movements that he could find documented, revealing where he went, how he got there, what he did and, whenever possible, what he said.
But it is in the crush of details that some feel many will find Adolf Hitler an ordinary human being. For Arnd Bauerkämper, historian at the Free University Berlin, that could be a potential problem. He believes Sandner’s work will be a good reference work but worries: “There’s a certain danger to overemphasize Hitler’s human side and to thereby make him more relatable.”
But Sandner, who spent over two decades researching and writing the book, noted at a book presentation April 26 in Berlin that he deliberately included “inhumane characteristics … and his inability to sympathize with his victims.” But he also wished to emphasize that Hitler, though “evil,” was a “human being” and “charming” at times when dealing with others.
But Hitler developed a public persona, a carefully controlled and manicured image that holds sway even today. Harald Sandner would like to dispel that mythic Hitler by illuminating the details of his daily existence. To do this, Sandner assures: “Hitler himself is the best therapy.”
Sandner’s “Hitler — An Itinerary” hits bookstores just a few months after Adolf Hitler’s own “Mein Kampf” was allowed to be published again in Germany. The anti-Semitic tome was reissued as a scholarly work (two volumes, 1,966 pages, and 3,700 footnotes and annotations) and quickly became a bestseller. It continues to dominate the list, according to the Post.
World War II may be the most comprehensively analyzed period in history, its principal characters written about again and again. The latest edition is just another to add to the ever-growing list of revelatory scholarly works dedicated to the life of Adolf Hitler, a man that rose from very modest means to lead one of the world’s leading nations, only to become the most reviled figure ever known. And Sandner could very well be correct in that, with all the myriad additional details, to know Hitler — to really, really know him as “Hitler — The Itinerary” would allow — is not only to perhaps understand him but find him not in the least bit relatable.