Hitler's first war by Thomas Weber

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Hitler's first war by Thomas Weber

Reviewed by Christopher Hirst

Until this mighty buthighly readable pieceof research, theexperience of Hitlerduring the FirstWorld War wasshrouded in mystery.The leading modern biography byIan Kershaw suggests that hisregiment “became home for him”.Exploring surviving traces ofHitler’s war, mainly spent as amotorcycle messenger, Webermaintains that he was “removedfrom… the camaraderie of frontline-soldiers.” He was a “rear-areapig”.Weber’s in-depthinvestigation of Hitler’s regimentreveals that it was predominantlyCatholic, reformist andconservative but very far fromanti-Semitic. Ironically, the manwho recommended Hitler for anIron Cross was Jewish. Theradicalisation of Hitler came notduring the war, as he insisted, butin the post-war years.