How Naziism arose
This is the clearest and most concise of all the books I have read (many) to understand how Germany, known for its philosophers, scientists and artists, and with the largest social democratic party in Europe or anywhere could be turned into the monstrously aggressive Nazi state.
It’s a complex story, with many actors pursuing contradictory agendas, but Hett makes it clear that it was the social disaster of the great war, 1914 to 1918, that allowed the most racist, anti-rational and extreme nationalists to mobilize a large part of the population to act on their fears and most violent impulses.
In particular, while anti-Jewish sentiment had long been one of many popular prejudices in Germany (and not only Germany), it had not seriously threatened, on a national scale, the lives and careers of all Germans who could be identified as Jewish.
That is, not until the commanders of the army that had just lost the war, to protect their own reputations, refused to sign the Armistice that they themselves had demanded from the Kaiser, with its onerous but unavoidable provisions (no standing army, huge reparations payments, etc.). Leaving that task to the provisional government of the Social Democratic Party, they then could claim not they, but the traitorous Jews in the government had “stabbed the German Empire in the back” as signatories, beginning a huge and hugely false version of history.