Monday, November 17, 2014

My Battle Against Hitler (Image Books)

Germany after World War I was a place of upheaval. Social and economic issues threatened Germany's new democracy and led to the formation of radical right-wing parties. One such right-wing activist was Adolf Hitler, who formed the Nazi party, attempted to overthrow the Bavarian government, and start a national revolution with his infamous "Beer Hall Putsch." This treasonous act landed him a five year jail sentence, of which he served a mere nine months. After several years, Hitler continued his rise to power, first becoming Chancellor and eventually a dictator. We need not be reminded of the gruesome actions after his gain of control. We simply look back and ask, why didn't someone try and stop him? The reality is one man did. Dietrich von Hildebrand was a German Roman Catholic philosopher and theologian. His book My Battle Against Hitler details his fight against one of the greatest evils of the 20th Century.

The book is divided into two sections. Part One is von Hildebrand's memoir and Part Two are direct writings against Hitler and the Nazi party. The memoirs span from 1921 to 1937. There is a brief section in 1938, which discusses von Hildebrand's escape to Vienna. Before each section, the editors provide vital background information. This helps contextualize the writings and gives the reader a better understanding of what was going on in a given year, both in von Hildebrand's life and on a global scale. There is also ample commentary located within the writings, which reflect on not only the writings, but the challenges and dangers von Hildebrand faced for taking on Hitler.

Reading through the memoirs (Part One). Some parts were very fascinating, like why he decided to declare himself a "non-Aryan." Other parts were a bit dry and might take considerable effort on the part of the reader, if it is not something that interests them or that they are overly familiar with. The essays in Part Two really made me stop and think. Even though von Hildebrand's battle was against Hitler and the Nazi Party, he had no problem calling out Catholics who tried to "build bridges between Christianity and Nazism" or Catholics who tried to ignore the atrocities going on and act like their Faith was something that could be lived inwardly focusing only on themselves and going to Mass, and not others in need of help.

Even if parts of the book don't speak to you, My Battle Against Hitler is a book that is worth reading. Von Hildebrand shows us that you can stand up against evil without violence. He also serves as an example that we must stand up against evil, even if means personally risking our own life. Von Hildebrand's life and testimony is one we could all emulate. If you would like to learn more about him or see a different perspective on Germany during the 1920s and 1930s, you will want to check out this book.

This book was provided to me for free by Image Books in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes! To read an interview with the editor, John Henry Crosby, click here.