From Berlin's diplomatic salons to the earliest concentration camps, 1933 captures the drama of Hitler's first year in power. Using the technique of "cluster biography" the author intertwines the stories of five people—the American ambassador and his daughter, Hitler's chief of the foreign press, a Jewish society reporter, and the first head of the Gestapo—into a ground zero view of Berlin society during the first turbulent months of Hitler's rule.
Frequently portrayed as a "seizure of power," the Nazi victory was more than an upsurge in popular support or a backstairs intrigue. It was an uprising of the victorious against the vanquished that unleashed a reign of terror across Germany's political and cultural landscape. Philip Metcalfe's painstaking research provides a novelistic look at one of history's great enigmas: how a nation of poets and scholars could succumb to a group of men little better—as one American reporter put it— than the Ku Klux Klan.
As Metcalge states in his preface: "I wanted to write the history of a revolution as the participants lived it, to portray German society as more than Nazis, non-Nazis, and Jews. I wanted to show that in a revolution there is not one, but numerous, partial realities. For this purpose I discovered a narrative that could go anywhere: into embassies, private homes, concentration camps, even across the sea to America. For the most part, however, I was content to hover over Berlin and peek into windows and overhear half remembered conversations."
Using letters, diaries, and memoirs, Metcalfe distills the personalities, viewpoints, and day-to-day reactions of five alert and often directly involved witnesses to Hitler's consolidation of power. An exciting, historically important book. --Publishers Weekly
Winner of the 1989 New American Writing Award
PHILIP METCALFE has been writing for twenty years. This is his first book. He was educated at Amherst College and lives in the seaport town of Astoria, Oregon.