Such a belief is not only false, but is dangerous thinking argues Robert Gellately in his new book Hitler’s True Believers: How Ordinary People Became Nazis (Oxford University Press).
Gellately, a Florida State University history professor, describes in 428 carefully researched pages how Hitler cunningly drew upon three “preexisting conditions” within the German body politic to first legally gain political power in 1933 and then quickly move to bend the overwhelming majority of Germans to his will.
The weak and little-loved post-WWI Weimar Republic provided few democratic “guardrails” during Hitler’s rise to power. Gellately argues that three long extant forces in Germany – rabid nationalism, a right-wing form of socialism, and virulent antisemitism – paved the path for Hitler’s rise to power. Each force was deeply embedded within pre-Nazi German life and was systematically weaponized by Hitler.