The Hitler Virus by Peter Wyden

English | ePUB | Pages: 340 | 395.46 kB

In spring 1945, as the Russians moved on Berlin and it became clear the Nazi cause was lost, Adolf Hitler assured his most trusted henchmen that even if he were to die, “the seed of National Socialism will grow again one day [in]…a radiant rebirth.” Several times after the war, the distinguished author Peter Wyden, himself a victim of the Nazis, returned to Germany to discover, to his dismay, that Hitler’s prediction was all too true. In this unsettling book, Wyden documents the reality that the “Hitler virus” is still very much alive. A harrowing companion to Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners, this book is Wyden’s legacy to the world.


What you make of this book depends what you expected when you picked it up. The expression ‘virus’ rather suggests an analysis of how Hiterlism still infects the body politic. Up to a point, that is right. Wyden (who died before completing the text) does consider ultra right movements such as Haider’s in Austria and is adroit in considering the continuing fascination for the Fuhrer amongst tourists and skinheads. But those references hardly add up to a comprehensive treatment. The author is far more successful in tracing the post war political careers or influence of card carrying nazis, for example Remer (who saved the regime in the failed July 1944 coup)and a veritable tribe of unpunished former SS who popped up all over the world in new guises. For my money, this book illustrates that Hitler’s influence has certainly persisted since 1945 without really telling us why or to what end. Perhaps those loathsome internet hate groups have some of the answers.

review by John Barry