Review: Nein! Standing up to Hitler, 1935-1944, by Paddy Ashdown

This was a surprising book. I expected an account of the numerous small-scale attempts by individuals and tiny groups of decent Germans to oppose the Nazi regime, such as the famous White Rose group. Instead, this book is more like a detailed account, almost day by day, of a conspiracy that began in the mid 1930s and culminated in the 20 July 1944 attempted assassination of Hitler. Central to the conspiracy was Admiral Canaris, head of the Abwehr, and secret opponent of the Nazis. Why it took nearly a decade for the assassination attempt to finally happen is explained in some detail, but the lengthy period is also an answer to those who claim that the German generals and politicians involved in the 1944 conspiracy were doing so only because Germany had already lost the war. As Ashdown points out, many of the conspirators were involved even while Hitler was triumphant. I found some of Ashdown’s conclusions a bit harsh, such as a his condemnation of Roosevelt for insisting on unconditional surrender rather than a negotiated peace with Germany. But on the whole an interesting book telling a largely unknown story. What a pity that it was Paddy Ashdown’s last, as he passed away earlier this year.

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