Hitler: Only the World Was Enough: its originality and intelligence command attention

Review: a thoroughly thought-provoking and stimulating biography which all historians of the Third Reich will have to take seriously

The Tangle in Europe: figures representing England, the US, Italy and France pulling on a ball of yarn with Hitler inside. Illustration: Garretto/Condé Nast via Getty Images

The Tangle in Europe: figures representing England, the US, Italy and France pulling on a ball of yarn with Hitler inside. Illustration: Garretto/Condé Nast via Getty Images

Hitler, more Hitler, ever more Hitler. No sooner has Peter Longerich’s huge biography of the dictator hit the book stores this summer, when along comes another following rapidly in its wake. Brendan Simms’s latest contribution will doubtless be compared with its immediate predecessor.

What distinguishes them both is a central idea that drives the narrative: for Longerich, the argument that Hitler dominated everything that happened in the Third Reich, no “weak dictator” he; for Simms, whose Hitler is also the key playmaker in the dictatorship, the conventional view that Hitler’s chief enemy was “Jewish-Bolshevism” is overturned in favour of the British Empire and the United States as the real target of his long-term strategy. The war against the Soviet Union was the means to an end: vast new resources of materials and manpower to be mobilised against the capitalist West in a final struggle to secure Germany its rightful place as a global power.

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