Sebastian Haffner was the pen name of a German-born journalist named Raimund Pretzel who fled Germany for England in 1938 and became known as a "British" journalist and historian during and after the war. This manuscript, which details the Germany of his youth and the rise of Hitler, was written shortly after his escape, but filed away when the war broke out. His son only discovered it after his death in 1999 and it was a smash bestseller in Germany. In it, Haffner describes what it was like for thoughtful, liberal Germans to see their country taken over by monsters, and how so many "ordinary" Germans could have failed to resist, even participated. It starts slow and analytical, but when the author gets to the personal narrative about his Jewish friends and girlfriend, the changes in his Berlin society and neighborhood, and the grotesque "training camp" which he and other aspiring lawyers were forced to attend before being allowed to take their qualifying exam, the book becomes gripping.
The review of this Book prepared by David Loftus