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Hitler's Children: Sons and Daughters of Third Reich Leaders

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“A mesmerizing, blood-chilling book . . . The contrast between innocent childhood experience, and the awful understanding of that experience that came with time, is enough to make you weep" – Los Angeles Times “They were the architects of terror but they were also fathers. Now, for the first time, their children speak out . . . a fascinating book” – Sunday Mail “Absorbin “A mesmerizing, blood-chilling book . . . The contrast between innocent childhood experience, and the awful understanding of that experience that came with time, is enough to make you weep" – Los Angeles Times “They were the architects of terror but they were also fathers. Now, for the first time, their children speak out . . . a fascinating book” – Sunday Mail “Absorbing . . . . most of the characters in Posner's study are more lurid than anything found in fiction. . . . a masterly job" – Montreal Gazette Göring. Hess. Mengele. Dönitz. Names that conjure up dark memories of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. They were the architects of the Third Reich. And they were fathers. Gerald Posner convinced eleven sons and daughters of Hitler’s inner circle to break their silence. Hitler’s Children is a riveting and intimate look inside the families of top Nazis. Based on exclusive and in-depth interviews, Gerald Posner provides an unforgettable portrait of some children ravaged by anger and hatred while others are riven with guilt and plead for forgiveness. This second generation of perpetrators in Hitler’s Children struggle with their Third Reich inheritance. In grappling with memories of good and loving fathers who were later charged with war crimes, these heirs to the Nazi legacy add a fresh and important perspective to understanding the complexity of what historian, Hannah Arendt, dubbed “the banality of evil.” Hitler’s Children is much more, however, than a series of startling family interviews. It is also a spellbinding insider’s look at some of the men whose names have become synonymous with terror. This is a classic book about the second generation of Nazi perpetrators (the only one ever to have family interviews with Hess, Mengele, Donitz, and Göring.) No other book author or documentarian ever got those children to talk again. And Norman Frank, the eldest son of war criminal Hans Frank, also never spoke to anyone but Posner. Hitler’s Children serves as a vivid reminder to all of us of the dangers of ignoring anti-Semitism or thinking it will go away or can't get any worse. These are the children who saw their fathers corrupted by the insidious, centuries-old hatred, and their accounts serve as a clarion warning to us today that all decent people must redouble their efforts against racial and religious hatred. The book, perhaps more timely today than when it was published in 1991, includes a new introduction, explaining why this book is particularly important during a time of rising international anti-Semitism.


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“A mesmerizing, blood-chilling book . . . The contrast between innocent childhood experience, and the awful understanding of that experience that came with time, is enough to make you weep" – Los Angeles Times “They were the architects of terror but they were also fathers. Now, for the first time, their children speak out . . . a fascinating book” – Sunday Mail “Absorbin “A mesmerizing, blood-chilling book . . . The contrast between innocent childhood experience, and the awful understanding of that experience that came with time, is enough to make you weep" – Los Angeles Times “They were the architects of terror but they were also fathers. Now, for the first time, their children speak out . . . a fascinating book” – Sunday Mail “Absorbing . . . . most of the characters in Posner's study are more lurid than anything found in fiction. . . . a masterly job" – Montreal Gazette Göring. Hess. Mengele. Dönitz. Names that conjure up dark memories of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. They were the architects of the Third Reich. And they were fathers. Gerald Posner convinced eleven sons and daughters of Hitler’s inner circle to break their silence. Hitler’s Children is a riveting and intimate look inside the families of top Nazis. Based on exclusive and in-depth interviews, Gerald Posner provides an unforgettable portrait of some children ravaged by anger and hatred while others are riven with guilt and plead for forgiveness. This second generation of perpetrators in Hitler’s Children struggle with their Third Reich inheritance. In grappling with memories of good and loving fathers who were later charged with war crimes, these heirs to the Nazi legacy add a fresh and important perspective to understanding the complexity of what historian, Hannah Arendt, dubbed “the banality of evil.” Hitler’s Children is much more, however, than a series of startling family interviews. It is also a spellbinding insider’s look at some of the men whose names have become synonymous with terror. This is a classic book about the second generation of Nazi perpetrators (the only one ever to have family interviews with Hess, Mengele, Donitz, and Göring.) No other book author or documentarian ever got those children to talk again. And Norman Frank, the eldest son of war criminal Hans Frank, also never spoke to anyone but Posner. Hitler’s Children serves as a vivid reminder to all of us of the dangers of ignoring anti-Semitism or thinking it will go away or can't get any worse. These are the children who saw their fathers corrupted by the insidious, centuries-old hatred, and their accounts serve as a clarion warning to us today that all decent people must redouble their efforts against racial and religious hatred. The book, perhaps more timely today than when it was published in 1991, includes a new introduction, explaining why this book is particularly important during a time of rising international anti-Semitism.

30 review for Hitler's Children: Sons and Daughters of Third Reich Leaders

  1. 5 out of 5

    Xanthi

    Such an interesting book, from start to finish. The author would have had to go to great lengths to track down these people and convince them to be interviewed. Along with the interviews are backgrounds of these children’s fathers and their roles in WW2. I found myself equally enthralled, appalled, frustrated and uplifted by these stories. Denial is a strong master - on the fathers and/or the children. Whilst some of the children cling on to their denial as adults, others purposely aim to live a Such an interesting book, from start to finish. The author would have had to go to great lengths to track down these people and convince them to be interviewed. Along with the interviews are backgrounds of these children’s fathers and their roles in WW2. I found myself equally enthralled, appalled, frustrated and uplifted by these stories. Denial is a strong master - on the fathers and/or the children. Whilst some of the children cling on to their denial as adults, others purposely aim to live a life in opposition to their parent’s beliefs and actions. And some of the fathers hang onto the past steadfastly - so much so that they become almost anachronistic. I can not recommend this book enough.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    I didn’t think this book would captivate me as much as it ended up doing so. I’m not a huge WWII period reader or even into reading about history as much so this book was a great compromise as it was in interview/narrative form. Reading about the crimes of the parents through the their childrens’ eyes was unlike any other information I’d studied on this topic. It made the crimes even more real and brought to life the burden the next generation had to bear for their actions.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Helene

    There is also a movie out on the same subject which interviews the now adult children, interesting, but it is very hard to tackle such a complex subject of transgenerational guilt and inheritance. I am writing a book on the subject myself and find that one needs to carefully look into the elite Nazi education. Really informative is School for Barbarians by Erika Mann.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amélie

    For a book that's titled Hitler's Children, I can't help but notice that it’s mostly about the Nazi officials/SS/high and low ranking officers. While as interesting as that is, I was more interested about their children, so I decided to give the book a shot anyways. From the beginning you learn how the children feel about their father’s involvement throughout WWII. Sadly, I feel like we learn more about the Nazis than we do about their kids. We get paragraphs about what their father did during s For a book that's titled Hitler's Children, I can't help but notice that it’s mostly about the Nazi officials/SS/high and low ranking officers. While as interesting as that is, I was more interested about their children, so I decided to give the book a shot anyways. From the beginning you learn how the children feel about their father’s involvement throughout WWII. Sadly, I feel like we learn more about the Nazis than we do about their kids. We get paragraphs about what their father did during specific times/events, and while that was nice to have for context, I feel like that overshadowed the children’s experience. I just expected more info from the children, and not all of the extensive history background. At times the information was bogged down. Sometimes there were so many names mentioned, that I’d get confused as to who was who. Aside from these negatives, I thought some of the historical information interesting – there were things that I didn’t know about and it was nice to put a face/name to an event. I was definitely interested in the children’s perspectives and upbringing. The feelings towards their fathers widely ranged. A rare few hated their fathers for what they did and felt shame, while some felt pride. Some tried to defend them, denying any wrongdoing and dismissing it as lies and propaganda. Most didn’t notice anything different from their father and stood by them. Others warred with themselves, and for a few, this would affect them for the rest of their lives; they knew both sides, the ‘killer/Nazi’ and the good father figure, and don’t know how to process/understand it. For some, the same question would haunt them for many years after: why? Overall, I would definitely recommend this to those interested in history and/or WWII.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Very interesting book

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bridgette

    This book was fascinating. It was really interesting to read about the different reactions the children had to their fathers' Nazi participation (no matter the rank held), how it changed their relationship (if at all), and how they view their fathers now. Definitely recommend if you are interested in this part of history.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Dr.J.G.

    The title of this book can be a tad misleading, or confusing, in that it can be interpreted in more than one way, since there are no known biological offspring of the infamous German leader. He had preached the gospel of racial superiority of Germans (and using a stolen word, Aryan, falsely to describe them), and had instituted two or three separate but equally demeaning streams of lives fòr the German women, while the men were supposed to be busy conquering the world - primarily, the women were The title of this book can be a tad misleading, or confusing, in that it can be interpreted in more than one way, since there are no known biological offspring of the infamous German leader. He had preached the gospel of racial superiority of Germans (and using a stolen word, Aryan, falsely to describe them), and had instituted two or three separate but equally demeaning streams of lives fòr the German women, while the men were supposed to be busy conquering the world - primarily, the women were supposed to be limited to kitchen and children, with church thrown in - which might seem to be for satisfaction of higher aspirations, but no, that wasn't possible; church as an institution had 'managed' women as much as it had managed the poor and the workers, for centuries, for benefits of males and those of wealth and power; and inquisition had put women down with the horrible prospect, rather certainty, of being burnt at the stake if suspected of being a person of intellect and knowledge, rather than a sex object available for servitude. There were two special channels, elevating this role of being limited to serving the males, for selected women, selected by nazis. One was for breeding with males designated special, which did not mean those of abilities in science or arts or academic excellence, but rather Nazi officers. The other was serving nazis and others deemed deserving the service, in the role of sex object. So the title does confuse at first in that one might naturally think it's about the children bred by those designated women chosen for reproduction who'd been kept at special facilities for this process, and the children of the nazis and others held worthy of reproduction under nazi ideology, born at those facilities and brought up by designated Germans. Instead, it's about what the children of the accused at Nuremberg trials and similar other war criminals, and asking what they thought of their parents! ............ The author, Gerald Posner, wrote a preface to the digital edition published in 2017, 26 years after the book was published first in 1991. At that time what he thought was relevant was to not hide the identities of the nazis, and other persons in positions of authority in the Third Reich, whose children he wrote about, as other works on the subject did. Since then, he notes and gives succint descriptions of, rising tide of antisemitism through Europe after 1991 post fall of iron curtain and of totalitarian regimes, and confused populations blaming Jews for a conspiracy to impose communism on those nations and also for fall of communism. All this despite the drastically reduced Jewish populations of those countries and generally throughout Europe, due to holocaust in WWII years, and since then after 1991 due to emigration out of East Europe. What is also true but he hasn't noticed or connected it to, is two separate but connected factors. One is general rise of racism in Europe, especially France and Germany, that manifests against "other"s in strange behaviours that once would have been clearly seen as halfway between uncivilized and viciously hostile, but after 2001 are often excused in names of fear or security. Second is migration to Europe and West in general from precisely those lands that are on one hand suffering from jihadist wars and on the other are source of jihadists migrating to West, when West opened its doors for refugees fleeing from jihadist wars. Needless to say the connection is obvious, since the jihadists on one hand perpetrate much of the antisemitic terrorist attacks as well as general ones, and terrorise the general populations, while West is at a loss about discerning jihadists from other, non threatening migrants or visitors or citizens who, to western race based sight, look no different. In other words, it's like - say - Vietnamese people confusing between nazis and British royalty, or between communist visitors from Moscow and republicans from Texas. Funnily enough Vietnamese, according to what one read decades ago in a U.S. publication, do discern the difference. Western lack of discernment is not merely a "They look the same" innocence, but much worse. As a result, often it's those not in sympathy with racism, antisemitism or jihad, who are likely to be turned off by the rising racism in West, and migrate if possible, while the jihadists out to flood the globe and convert or conquer as the basic agenda are unlikely to be deterred. ............ Reading about Hans Frank, the "Butcher of Poland", the first person discussed in the book, one begins to get the impression within the first couple of pages that the real point was to set forth details about the life and career of Hans Frank, who is less famous than the others indicted at the most famous of the Nuremberg trials, the first and the public one. One wonders if that was the point of the book after all, to describe these men and their work and legacies. But then, after a couple of pages, the picture shifts and one sees that while the information was necessary, the appoint really is about the children and the effect (of their father's lives and work and legacy, and of the whole nazi regime and ideology and crimes) on their persona, their psyche and their lives. Frank children were not only were not indoctrinated in the Nazi ideology, but also were mostly kept away from the criminal side of the Nazi regime - Norman, born in 1930, not only never heard a word of antisemitism but had a close friend at his school in Berlin who was Jewish, until 1938, when this friend suddenly vanished - and their rare brushes with the realities of the horrors were, the elder one thought, normal parts of wartime. The youngest one Niklas did notice strain between his parents, but also recalls driving past the ghetto and seeing the people. To their credit, when newspapers published the photographs of concentration camp inmates as discovered by the allied forces, they knew it was real, didn't brand it as propaganda, for which their mother must be given credit. Their struggle for survival later - Norman wasn't allowed by authorities to continue at school and nor was he allowed to work, while Niklas was sent out to beg for food with a note pinned to his shirt, bringing back a loaf of bread - is very moving, as is the clear bond between the brothers who got close later. They have very diverse view about their parents, but understand one another. ............ Wolf Hess in the next chapter, on the other hand, is as contrasting a figure as can be from the Frank family, and carries the banner of his father and their party and their boss as a matter of conviction, from "injustice to Germany" to calling Nuremberg trials a farce. In particular, he's bought every lie uttered by his father's boss about German rights to integrate various lands because it was "German domestic matter", and accuses Churchill and FDR of having engineered a conspiracy against Germany and forcing Germany to attack Poland because "Poles were murdering Germans by thousands". And one has to find black humour when reading of Wolf Hess speaking of his father being treated by British, when Hess was in prison, with terrorising techniques such as light kept on at night (after his attempted suicide, presumably it was so he was visible), or the air raid siren being turned on (since by definition it was heard in the vicinity, it wasnt for his benefit alone), and Wolf might have thought about the civilians of various countries terrorised - and massacred wholesale - by Germany as a small matter of clean-up for finding "lebensraum" for Germans to settle and reproduce in dozens. Wolf Hess says that nazis guilty of crimes should have been tried by German courts. If the subsequent - or previous, post WWI - trials were an indication, that would have amounted to the whole lot getting a hero treatment and a less than two year sentencing at most, if that. He finds it ridiculous that his father was judged guilty of crimes against peace, which implies that Wolf thinks German aggressions against Austria and Czechoslovakia were not of importance nor were nazi crimes against the disfranchised civilians. Wolf resents his father's and his mother's imprisonment "only because they were ...", and fails to see the irony of his not relating it to the victims of nazis who were massacred only because they were not nazi nor approved by nazis. "It was also during this period in the mid-1950s that Wolf began learning about his father and the war. German newspapers and magazines ran many stories about the Third Reich. Initially, Wolf drew his information from these sources. He did not learn about the period at school. “The Allies wanted the German teachers to teach a new version of National Socialist history,” he recalls. “But good German teachers would always find some way around this requirement, like saving it until the bell to end the class, and then starting the next class with a different subject.”" And then some Germans complain that if they meet Jews outside Germany, they stop talking to them after learning they're German! One really must wonder what makes them think that their victims would accept the German world view when it amounts to definition of 'good German' being not recognising that genocides perpetrated by Germans is not a good thing. Wolf visited South Africa in 1956 and says he realised that conditions there were quite different from as they were presented in newspapers in Germany, which prompted his turnaround in views about the nazi past of Germany and of his father, and he returned to speak with various nazis which changed his mind. Presumably he didn't live as a non white in South Africa, and there was no reason any non white would seek out a young visitor from Germany whose father was a nazi bigwig imprisoned instead of hanged only because he flew to Scotland. ""“During all the long years it is true I had a father, but in the end I did not have him, because the situations under which we corresponded, or rather conferred, were controlled through the rules of his imprisonment. There was not a single truly moving father-son discussion in which I could ask him about things on my mind. That was true for human problems a young man wants to discuss with his father, and particularly for historical issues.”" Funny, he never thought about the children of those massacred by nazis, or the children who were massacred, in his complaining he didn't have a father. "“I always predicted reunification in my lifetime. Germans are sick of having to feel ashamed to say they are proud to be German. Now it’s all changing. The Soviet Union is crumbling, and the great American “melting pot” is melting over with crime and drugs and racial hatred. Germans know that Americans, British and French in the West, and Russians in the East, are still occupying our country. We want them all out. Then it will return to the Europe of old, with a powerful and large Germany in the middle. Even our lands the victors gave away after the war will come back. Now, the price for unification is to sign a treaty guaranteeing the present Polish border. But wait some years. Sooner or later that land will return where it belongs, to Germany. The Poles have run their former blossoming land into a dry, grass-covered land. With their economy in ruins, they must depend on financial aid. The German nation will not continually nourish these people who have stolen our property. The Americans should remember what Abraham Lincoln once said: “Nothing is settled unless it is settled in a just way.”" And Germans are offended when reminded of the nazi past or atrocities! If Wolf Hess is anything he's a nazi. "He claims to have received thousands of letters and says “ninety-nine per cent are positive.” He is encouraged by letters he receives about his father from German high schools. “They show the right type of interest and understand what really happened. To me, this is a promising sign for German youth.”" Which connects to the author's preface to the digital edition where he speaks about the rising antisemitism in Europe, only, it's far more evil than that - it's nazism rising, in Germany and around. Wolf Hess sums up his hatred for the allies and assertion about Germans being vindicated at the end. Not a word in the whole conversation about victims of the regime that his father was the "conscience of", which he mentions proudly. ............ Third chapter is about Saur, who - his sons are clear - liked power but didn't care about titles; in Speer's work he is present as a shadow figure, preferred by various high up nazis undermining Speer. This shadow emerges in this chapter as an unsavoury character who undermined anyone as long as it served his purpose, and since he testified against Krupp, paid the price by being unable to find work later, as his hopes of being employed by U.S. like Braun didn't come through. He was dictatorial to the children subsequently and hit them too. The children only heard good things about nazis from the teachers and didn't discover realities until Klaus saw a television documentary in 1961 depicting concentration camps, which shocked not just him but a teacher who was a Lutheran priest who said he'd had no idea. Klaus discovered more through book trade exhibitions and an article in Cologne. He returned home to help with the family business on verge of bankruptcy and helped it turn. "A year after Klaus’s return, Karl junior witnessed the only confrontation in his family over any war-related issue. “It was between Klaus and my mother. They had seen a discussion on television about the war and a Jewish person had been interviewed. My mother had said a typical German expression, “That is one that should have gone to the gas chambers.” And my brother was furious and told her it was stupid to say such things. And she was really shocked that he was so angry. “It’s just an expression, it doesn’t mean anything,” she told him. “You know I don’t mean any harm by it.” But Klaus was very firm with her. “Those stupid sentences are what eventually led to the types of things that happened in the war,” he told her." "Both brothers seem amused by the admiration some people have for their father. It is alien to them. “See, I don’t feel any love for him, nor do I feel any pride,” says Klaus." "Saur Verlag is the vehicle through which he tries to confront his Nazi heritage. His current catalogue shows a broad selection of serious works, including titles on European emigres, Jewish immigrants, a Hebrew text from Harvard University, and a selection of anti-Nazi books." Karl is cultural editor of Der Spiegel. "It is important that people understand the truth. Too many people in Germany talk about the ‘good’ things that Hitler did, and then they speak about the bad things as though only a few criminals were responsible. Their feeling is that the Third Reich gave off all this light and it is only natural that ..."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deborah

    I was interested in this book to see how the children of Nazis coped with the knowledge of their parents actions. I found to variety of response to be fascinating. Some defend their parent, she want nothing to do with their parents, and other admit to being deeply divided over their feelings. But no matter what they say, you see how they were all deeply affected in one way or another. It gives you another reason to stop and think about your actions and to see how they might affect those around y I was interested in this book to see how the children of Nazis coped with the knowledge of their parents actions. I found to variety of response to be fascinating. Some defend their parent, she want nothing to do with their parents, and other admit to being deeply divided over their feelings. But no matter what they say, you see how they were all deeply affected in one way or another. It gives you another reason to stop and think about your actions and to see how they might affect those around you.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Dr.J.G.

    The title of this book can be a tad misleading, or confusing, in that it can be interpreted in more than one way, since there are no known biological offspring of the infamous German leader. He had preached the gospel of racial superiority of Germans (and using a stolen word, Aryan, falsely to describe them), and had instituted two or three separate but equally demeaning streams of lives fòr the German women, while the men were supposed to be busy conquering the world - primarily, the women were The title of this book can be a tad misleading, or confusing, in that it can be interpreted in more than one way, since there are no known biological offspring of the infamous German leader. He had preached the gospel of racial superiority of Germans (and using a stolen word, Aryan, falsely to describe them), and had instituted two or three separate but equally demeaning streams of lives fòr the German women, while the men were supposed to be busy conquering the world - primarily, the women were supposed to be limited to kitchen and children, with church thrown in - which might seem to be for satisfaction of higher aspirations, but no, that wasn't possible; church as an institution had 'managed' women as much as it had managed the poor and the workers, for centuries, for benefits of males and those of wealth and power; and inquisition had put women down with the horrible prospect, rather certainty, of being burnt at the stake if suspected of being a person of intellect and knowledge, rather than a sex object available for servitude. There were two special channels, elevating this role of being limited to serving the males, for selected women, selected by nazis. One was for breeding with males designated special, which did not mean those of abilities in science or arts or academic excellence, but rather Nazi officers. The other was serving nazis and others deemed deserving the service, in the role of sex object. So the title does confuse at first in that one might naturally think it's about the children bred by those designated women chosen for reproduction who'd been kept at special facilities for this process, and the children of the nazis and others held worthy of reproduction under nazi ideology, born at those facilities and brought up by designated Germans. Instead, it's about what the children of the accused at Nuremberg trials and similar other war criminals, and asking what they thought of their parents! ............ The author, Gerald Posner, wrote a preface to the digital edition published in 2017, 26 years after the book was published first in 1991. At that time what he thought was relevant was to not hide the identities of the nazis, and other persons in positions of authority in the Third Reich, whose children he wrote about, as other works on the subject did. Since then, he notes and gives succint descriptions of, rising tide of antisemitism through Europe after 1991 post fall of iron curtain and of totalitarian regimes, and confused populations blaming Jews for a conspiracy to impose communism on those nations and also for fall of communism. All this despite the drastically reduced Jewish populations of those countries and generally throughout Europe, due to holocaust in WWII years, and since then after 1991 due to emigration out of East Europe. What is also true but he hasn't noticed or connected it to, is two separate but connected factors. One is general rise of racism in Europe, especially France and Germany, that manifests against "other"s in strange behaviours that once would have been clearly seen as halfway between uncivilized and viciously hostile, but after 2001 are often excused in names of fear or security. Second is migration to Europe and West in general from precisely those lands that are on one hand suffering from jihadist wars and on the other are source of jihadists migrating to West, when West opened its doors for refugees fleeing from jihadist wars. Needless to say the connection is obvious, since the jihadists on one hand perpetrate much of the antisemitic terrorist attacks as well as general ones, and terrorise the general populations, while West is at a loss about discerning jihadists from other, non threatening migrants or visitors or citizens who, to western race based sight, look no different. In other words, it's like - say - Vietnamese people confusing between nazis and British royalty, or between communist visitors from Moscow and republicans from Texas. Funnily enough Vietnamese, according to what one read decades ago in a U.S. publication, do discern the difference. Western lack of discernment is not merely a "They look the same" innocence, but much worse. As a result, often it's those not in sympathy with racism, antisemitism or jihad, who are likely to be turned off by the rising racism in West, and migrate if possible, while the jihadists out to flood the globe and convert or conquer as the basic agenda are unlikely to be deterred. ............ Reading about Hans Frank, the "Butcher of Poland", the first person discussed in the book, one begins to get the impression within the first couple of pages that the real point was to set forth details about the life and career of Hans Frank, who is less famous than the others indicted at the most famous of the Nuremberg trials, the first and the public one. One wonders if that was the point of the book after all, to describe these men and their work and legacies. But then, after a couple of pages, the picture shifts and one sees that while the information was necessary, the appoint really is about the children and the effect (of their father's lives and work and legacy, and of the whole nazi regime and ideology and crimes) on their persona, their psyche and their lives. Frank children were not only were not indoctrinated in the Nazi ideology, but also were mostly kept away from the criminal side of the Nazi regime - Norman, born in 1930, not only never heard a word of antisemitism but had a close friend at his school in Berlin who was Jewish, until 1938, when this friend suddenly vanished - and their rare brushes with the realities of the horrors were, the elder one thought, normal parts of wartime. The youngest one Niklas did notice strain between his parents, but also recalls driving past the ghetto and seeing the people. To their credit, when newspapers published the photographs of concentration camp inmates as discovered by the allied forces, they knew it was real, didn't brand it as propaganda, for which their mother must be given credit. Their struggle for survival later - Norman wasn't allowed by authorities to continue at school and nor was he allowed to work, while Niklas was sent out to beg for food with a note pinned to his shirt, bringing back a loaf of bread - is very moving, as is the clear bond between the brothers who got close later. They have very diverse view about their parents, but understand one another. ............ Wolf Hess in the next chapter, on the other hand, is as contrasting a figure as can be from the Frank family, and carries the banner of his father and their party and their boss as a matter of conviction, from "injustice to Germany" to calling Nuremberg trials a farce. In particular, he's bought every lie uttered by his father's boss about German rights to integrate various lands because it was "German domestic matter", and accuses Churchill and FDR of having engineered a conspiracy against Germany and forcing Germany to attack Poland because "Poles were murdering Germans by thousands". And one has to find black humour when reading of Wolf Hess speaking of his father being treated by British, when Hess was in prison, with terrorising techniques such as light kept on at night (after his attempted suicide, presumably it was so he was visible), or the air raid siren being turned on (since by definition it was heard in the vicinity, it wasnt for his benefit alone), and Wolf might have thought about the civilians of various countries terrorised - and massacred wholesale - by Germany as a small matter of clean-up for finding "lebensraum" for Germans to settle and reproduce in dozens. Wolf Hess says that nazis guilty of crimes should have been tried by German courts. If the subsequent - or previous, post WWI - trials were an indication, that would have amounted to the whole lot getting a hero treatment and a less than two year sentencing at most, if that. He finds it ridiculous that his father was judged guilty of crimes against peace, which implies that Wolf thinks German aggressions against Austria and Czechoslovakia were not of importance nor were nazi crimes against the disfranchised civilians. Wolf resents his father's and his mother's imprisonment "only because they were ...", and fails to see the irony of his not relating it to the victims of nazis who were massacred only because they were not nazi nor approved by nazis. "It was also during this period in the mid-1950s that Wolf began learning about his father and the war. German newspapers and magazines ran many stories about the Third Reich. Initially, Wolf drew his information from these sources. He did not learn about the period at school. “The Allies wanted the German teachers to teach a new version of National Socialist history,” he recalls. “But good German teachers would always find some way around this requirement, like saving it until the bell to end the class, and then starting the next class with a different subject.”" And then some Germans complain that if they meet Jews outside Germany, they stop talking to them after learning they're German! One really must wonder what makes them think that their victims would accept the German world view when it amounts to definition of 'good German' being not recognising that genocides perpetrated by Germans is not a good thing. Wolf visited South Africa in 1956 and says he realised that conditions there were quite different from as they were presented in newspapers in Germany, which prompted his turnaround in views about the nazi past of Germany and of his father, and he returned to speak with various nazis which changed his mind. Presumably he didn't live as a non white in South Africa, and there was no reason any non white would seek out a young visitor from Germany whose father was a nazi bigwig imprisoned instead of hanged only because he flew to Scotland. ""“During all the long years it is true I had a father, but in the end I did not have him, because the situations under which we corresponded, or rather conferred, were controlled through the rules of his imprisonment. There was not a single truly moving father-son discussion in which I could ask him about things on my mind. That was true for human problems a young man wants to discuss with his father, and particularly for historical issues.”" Funny, he never thought about the children of those massacred by nazis, or the children who were massacred, in his complaining he didn't have a father. "“I always predicted reunification in my lifetime. Germans are sick of having to feel ashamed to say they are proud to be German. Now it’s all changing. The Soviet Union is crumbling, and the great American “melting pot” is melting over with crime and drugs and racial hatred. Germans know that Americans, British and French in the West, and Russians in the East, are still occupying our country. We want them all out. Then it will return to the Europe of old, with a powerful and large Germany in the middle. Even our lands the victors gave away after the war will come back. Now, the price for unification is to sign a treaty guaranteeing the present Polish border. But wait some years. Sooner or later that land will return where it belongs, to Germany. The Poles have run their former blossoming land into a dry, grass-covered land. With their economy in ruins, they must depend on financial aid. The German nation will not continually nourish these people who have stolen our property. The Americans should remember what Abraham Lincoln once said: “Nothing is settled unless it is settled in a just way.”" And Germans are offended when reminded of the nazi past or atrocities! If Wolf Hess is anything he's a nazi. "He claims to have received thousands of letters and says “ninety-nine per cent are positive.” He is encouraged by letters he receives about his father from German high schools. “They show the right type of interest and understand what really happened. To me, this is a promising sign for German youth.”" Which connects to the author's preface to the digital edition where he speaks about the rising antisemitism in Europe, only, it's far more evil than that - it's nazism rising, in Germany and around. Wolf Hess sums up his hatred for the allies and assertion about Germans being vindicated at the end. Not a word in the whole conversation about victims of the regime that his father was the "conscience of", which he mentions proudly. ............ Third chapter is about Saur, who - his sons are clear - liked power but didn't care about titles; in Speer's work he is present as a shadow figure, preferred by various high up nazis undermining Speer. This shadow emerges in this chapter as an unsavoury character who undermined anyone as long as it served his purpose, and since he testified against Krupp, paid the price by being unable to find work later, as his hopes of being employed by U.S. like Braun didn't come through. He was dictatorial to the children subsequently and hit them too. The children only heard good things about nazis from the teachers and didn't discover realities until Klaus saw a television documentary in 1961 depicting concentration camps, which shocked not just him but a teacher who was a Lutheran priest who said he'd had no idea. Klaus discovered more through book trade exhibitions and an article in Cologne. He returned home to help with the family business on verge of bankruptcy and helped it turn. "A year after Klaus’s return, Karl junior witnessed the only confrontation in his family over any war-related issue. “It was between Klaus and my mother. They had seen a discussion on television about the war and a Jewish person had been interviewed. My mother had said a typical German expression, “That is one that should have gone to the gas chambers.” And my brother was furious and told her it was stupid to say such things. And she was really shocked that he was so angry. “It’s just an expression, it doesn’t mean anything,” she told him. “You know I don’t mean any harm by it.” But Klaus was very firm with her. “Those stupid sentences are what eventually led to the types of things that happened in the war,” he told her." "Both brothers seem amused by the admiration some people have for their father. It is alien to them. “See, I don’t feel any love for him, nor do I feel any pride,” says Klaus." "Saur Verlag is the vehicle through which he tries to confront his Nazi heritage. His current catalogue shows a broad selection of serious works, including titles on European emigres, Jewish immigrants, a Hebrew text from Harvard University, and a selection of anti-Nazi books." Karl is cultural editor of Der Spiegel. "It is important that people understand the truth. Too many people in Germany talk about the ‘good’ things that Hitler did, and then they speak about the bad things as though only a few criminals were responsible. Their feeling is that the Third Reich gave off all this light and it is only natural that ..."

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sarah E

    Hitler's Children was interesting in the way that listening to someone talk in an engaging and intelligent way about something they are passionate and informed about is interesting, but it felt more like a series of anecdotes than a cohesive book. The author was up front about his inability to secure interviews with many potential subjects, and the general squirreliness of quite a few of the folks he did manage to get on record. So what conclusions are we meant to draw from this? If I had to sum Hitler's Children was interesting in the way that listening to someone talk in an engaging and intelligent way about something they are passionate and informed about is interesting, but it felt more like a series of anecdotes than a cohesive book. The author was up front about his inability to secure interviews with many potential subjects, and the general squirreliness of quite a few of the folks he did manage to get on record. So what conclusions are we meant to draw from this? If I had to sum up the whole book in one sentence, it would be, "The adult children of known war criminals have a complicated relationship with their fathers." Which, duh. 99.8% of the general population has a complicated relationship with their fathers and the remaining .2% are lying to themselves. Add crimes against humanity to the mix and if course the parent-child relationship will get more hectic and fraught. So it was interesting to read that Wolf Hess defends his father rabidly while Rolf Mengele sort of sadly and limpidly disavows his pops. Interesting to learn that Edda Goring had a fairytale childhood until the cyanide thing. But I knew already that monsters could be good fathers and bad fathers and indifferent fathers and that trauma is transmitted generationally as well as among cohorts. Perhaps my greatest takeaway reading this at this point in history, in the middle of the Covid outbreak, at the end of one particularly loaded presidential term, is the reckoning of being on the wrong side of history. I still carry around a childish notion that everyone knows Nazis were bad, killing Jews and Gypsies and Poles and Homosexuals and Leftists and People Who Looked At You Wrong was WRONG, and that at the end of the day the nazis knew they were very bad and felt sorry. In the same way I like to think people in the American South who participated in lynchings came to Jesus and repented in the end. The same way I think these people protesting benign and unenforceable public safety measures with A.K.47S while politicians rile then up for personal gain will one day say, "oh man. That was dumb." It's uncomfortable to be confronted with the reality that Mengele, fucking MENGELE, died feeling like a victim. That atrocities were whispered among families, if they were uttered at all, as "excesses of the east." That very many people learn no lesson at all. It upsets a sense of balance and fairness. Which is perhaps why more people need to read more books like this. The new forward about the rise of anti-semitism in Europe is particularly disturbing. All in all I recommend. It was an easy and engaging read. I learned some history. I thought about stuff. The fact that the book doesn't have a point doesn't, I think, detract from its value.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Shadira

    The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, as the Old Testament, Euripides, Horace and Shakespeare have each affirmed. And so they continue to be, to judge from "Hitler's Children," a survey by Gerald L. Posner, a former Wall Street lawyer, of the attitudes and feelings of various sons and daughters of men who played prominent roles in the Third Reich. The question remains, "Do we really need a book to tell us as much?" A moment's logical reflection suggests the inevitability of suffe The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children, as the Old Testament, Euripides, Horace and Shakespeare have each affirmed. And so they continue to be, to judge from "Hitler's Children," a survey by Gerald L. Posner, a former Wall Street lawyer, of the attitudes and feelings of various sons and daughters of men who played prominent roles in the Third Reich. The question remains, "Do we really need a book to tell us as much?" A moment's logical reflection suggests the inevitability of suffering among such people. For human beings to grow up whole and integrated enough to understand society's negative judgment of one of their parents, sufficient love would have to have been bestowed by the parent to inspire their reciprocal loyalty. Unless of course that parent had abdicated his responsibility, a situation that applies to only 1 of the 12 cases covered in "Hitler's Children," that of Dr. Josef Mengele, the former SS officer known to Auschwitz inmates as the Angel of Death, who went into permanent hiding less than a year after his son, Rolf, was born on March 16, 1944. So the resulting conflict in any offspring between public censure of the parent and private love of him would unavoidably be so intense that it could only be resolved by either denial of the individual's love or denial of society's judgment. And that, predictably enough, is exactly the pattern borne out in "Hitler's Children.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Joyce McKay

    Loved all the research that he did. I found myself periodically turning to my husband and saying, "Hey did you know-------?" It was also interesting to see the different reactions of the children of these, mostly, high profile Nazis and the differences in how their lives were impacted during the Third Reich and after the defeat. It was surprising to find that the children of heroes who fought against Hitler could also run into difficulties after the war. It's a shame that the children have to su Loved all the research that he did. I found myself periodically turning to my husband and saying, "Hey did you know-------?" It was also interesting to see the different reactions of the children of these, mostly, high profile Nazis and the differences in how their lives were impacted during the Third Reich and after the defeat. It was surprising to find that the children of heroes who fought against Hitler could also run into difficulties after the war. It's a shame that the children have to suffer for the actions of the parents. At first I thought that Mengele, one of the most notorious, missed getting his just punishment. When I thought about all the years he spent in fear and hiding and moving around, he probably suffered more than he would have with a quick hanging. The families tended to hide some of them. It's hard to imagine but, when one looks back at how people are raised with certain beliefs, changing those beliefs does not happen overnight. The term denazification was used in the book(or something similar), which indicates that people need to be sensitized to how their actions impact others and others are really just like us when one gets down to the basics of life. We are all one and the sooner we come to a realization of that, the sooner there will be peace and caring in the world.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carole

    This book disclosed the struggles some adult children of Hitler’s inner circle have to reconcile the parents they knew with the Nazi actors who helped Hitler implement his plans for a world-dominating Germany before and during the Second World War. It is painful reading. Some of them have displayed much courage in looking at their fathers’ history without blinders. Others have adopted defenses of some of their fathers’ actions and found ways to imagine their parents’ motives to be less nefarious This book disclosed the struggles some adult children of Hitler’s inner circle have to reconcile the parents they knew with the Nazi actors who helped Hitler implement his plans for a world-dominating Germany before and during the Second World War. It is painful reading. Some of them have displayed much courage in looking at their fathers’ history without blinders. Others have adopted defenses of some of their fathers’ actions and found ways to imagine their parents’ motives to be less nefarious than most of the rest of the world sees them. This book shows, too, the underbelly of Germany where even today its racism and bigotry are not fully gone away. For the children of Hitler’s cohort, the dark history is still too close for comfort, and in this way they are not like the American adult grandchildren of slaveholders who can and often do ignore the past out of which they arose. Human beings often are amazingly terrible to one another. The sins of the fathers (and mothers) are still carried into the next generation and beyond. This is a sobering book, easy to read, painful to contemplate, worth exploring today.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    One journalist's research into the lives of children of Nazi leaders and his interviews with those children who chose to participate. A given is that every child has a life affected by trauma as a result of parents' choices and the resulting punishment meted out by Nuremberg trials or by the isolation of societal judgment. Many changed names, some moved away from Germany. Of those interviewed, the perceptions of their parents' actions swung from defensiveness, to sadness, to hatred. Most had no One journalist's research into the lives of children of Nazi leaders and his interviews with those children who chose to participate. A given is that every child has a life affected by trauma as a result of parents' choices and the resulting punishment meted out by Nuremberg trials or by the isolation of societal judgment. Many changed names, some moved away from Germany. Of those interviewed, the perceptions of their parents' actions swung from defensiveness, to sadness, to hatred. Most had no idea as children that their fathers were committing crimes against humanity. A few of these children were resilient, and after much introspection and searching for truth, they made their own lives and moved ahead. Many familial ties were broken, and the loss was deeply felt. It was interesting to learn more about this time in history from the insights of those who lived it intimately in a family situation.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Miller

    Anyone interested in the Nazi period will find this to be a riveting read. Posner interviewed the children of such notorious criminals as Josef Mengele, Hans Frank, Herman Goering, Rudolf Hess and others to try and discover "what made mostly ordinary men capable of extraordinary crimes". He found a gamut of responses from these children that range from a refusal to believe in their fathers' criminal behavior or responsibility for it to outright hatred with most somewhere in between, often strugg Anyone interested in the Nazi period will find this to be a riveting read. Posner interviewed the children of such notorious criminals as Josef Mengele, Hans Frank, Herman Goering, Rudolf Hess and others to try and discover "what made mostly ordinary men capable of extraordinary crimes". He found a gamut of responses from these children that range from a refusal to believe in their fathers' criminal behavior or responsibility for it to outright hatred with most somewhere in between, often struggling to reconcile memories of loving fathers with the acknowledged facts of their crimes. One dos not envy the burden that many of these children bear through no fault of their own.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Fasc👏🏽i👏🏽na👏🏽ting👏🏽 This is a unique and enthralling view of the children of the third reich. Each of the children have unique perspectives and totally different reactions to their family’s place in the world. Some embrace it, some reject it, some ignore it, some are tortured, and so on. It’s just fascinating. I really appreciated hearing the different views and gaining a better understanding of others in the world. They deserve a voice too. I also appreciate, in a historical sense, the importan Fasc👏🏽i👏🏽na👏🏽ting👏🏽 This is a unique and enthralling view of the children of the third reich. Each of the children have unique perspectives and totally different reactions to their family’s place in the world. Some embrace it, some reject it, some ignore it, some are tortured, and so on. It’s just fascinating. I really appreciated hearing the different views and gaining a better understanding of others in the world. They deserve a voice too. I also appreciate, in a historical sense, the importance of this text as it documents really important events and people. I’d recommend if you’re interested in learning more about the children of WW2 Nazis, including some really notorious men.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    I was disappointed in the book. I thought that there would be more dialog with the children and less history of what their father's had done. I have read much about WWII and am very familiar with what the head Nazi's did and were capable of doing. What I was more interested in was the perspective of the children on what their father's were and on what their father's had done. Would not recommend this book to anyone with serious interest in the children's point of view of what the children though I was disappointed in the book. I thought that there would be more dialog with the children and less history of what their father's had done. I have read much about WWII and am very familiar with what the head Nazi's did and were capable of doing. What I was more interested in was the perspective of the children on what their father's were and on what their father's had done. Would not recommend this book to anyone with serious interest in the children's point of view of what the children thought of their parent's participation in the Nazi regime's atrocities.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    I can't imagine the shame or guilt of being the child of a Nazi--particularly one who was guilty of unspeakable war crimes. The experience must be the same for all of these children, right? Wrong. In "Hitler's Children," Gerald Posner interviewed the sons and daughters of both leading Nazis and lesser known Nazis. Their individual experiences were unique. Some expressed guilt. Others were in denial. Still others were ambivalent. These children are interesting characters. If you're a World War II I can't imagine the shame or guilt of being the child of a Nazi--particularly one who was guilty of unspeakable war crimes. The experience must be the same for all of these children, right? Wrong. In "Hitler's Children," Gerald Posner interviewed the sons and daughters of both leading Nazis and lesser known Nazis. Their individual experiences were unique. Some expressed guilt. Others were in denial. Still others were ambivalent. These children are interesting characters. If you're a World War II buff, you might find Hitler's Children" a fascinating read

  19. 4 out of 5

    Carol Wakefield

    An amazing story. The author manages to interview the children of notable Nazi figures from WW11, those who were willing, that is. Most were very young during the war and many remember a fond father and knew nothing of his wartime activities till years later. Most struggle with the duality of that father figure with the record of his atrocities. It would indeed be a torturous position to be in. It is understandable that some of the people the author contacted were unwilling to relive, publicly t An amazing story. The author manages to interview the children of notable Nazi figures from WW11, those who were willing, that is. Most were very young during the war and many remember a fond father and knew nothing of his wartime activities till years later. Most struggle with the duality of that father figure with the record of his atrocities. It would indeed be a torturous position to be in. It is understandable that some of the people the author contacted were unwilling to relive, publicly their experiences and later understandings.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Interesting interviews I read the original book many years ago. I just got the Kindle version with the new intro. The interviews show the fact that's hard to figure: most if the Nazi bigwigs and killers were pretty good parents. I totally see how the children would be torn, not wanting to reject their father. Each child and each family has different reactions and ways of coping. It's a very interesting book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gsmyles

    Interesting to learn about how many parents separated their gruesome Nazi lives from their home ones-- but a bit dull and not too compelling. I kept forgetting which child I was reading about and I happened to even be in Poland at the time of reading about the Polish Butcher. It makes me mad to think that some Nazis escaped and never thought they did anything wrong. And just being hung or shot doesn't seem like a good enough punishment for torturing 1,000's.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jo Locke

    A fascinating and important read This book gives us a fascinating insight into the family life of some of the Third Reich leaders and how their past reflects and impacts on their children. It shows how some of the children suffer greatly from their parents’ actions and also how some choose to ignore their parents’ responsibility of their crimes. I’ve ‘enjoyed’ the book, whilst also learning, and I definitely recommend it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    I thought this was a very good book. Like so many who have reviewed it there's so many things to process in it. All of these perpetrators mostly had families and how do their families deal with the choices their parents made. It has to be a heavy burden and not easy to accept. I feel like it was very researched, also liked that he chose a variety of people. It definitely says something about humanity.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jordan Wagner

    How do you reconcile your feelings towards a loving father who did inhumane things? This book is a series of interviews with Nazi leaders' children. Some defend the actions of their father, some are completely repulsed, and some still haven't come to terms with it. While a few of the stories got a bit long, the book did a great job of explaining the history of each Nazi figure and weaving it seamlessly with the interview.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan Matthews

    Hitler's Children:Sons and Daughters of Third I read and study a lot about Germany and the Jewish people. I just came back from touring Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. I could picture where they were talking about. The book is fantastic. I am so afraid that this can happen again. We need to know the horrors that were.

  26. 4 out of 5

    carole ann griffin

    Veiny interesting book about the children of convicted war crimes. I have often wondered how the children reacted to their fathers crimes. How do you react to the victims? It was an interesting study of the men who were truly guilty of killing so many innocent people. Glad I read this book. It was will written and answered many questions.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robert Moore

    How do deal with the crimes your father committed? Do you love him or hate him? That's the main question asked. Some loved their dads, while a few couldn't stand them. A few found out much later in life. The major problem was when the accused don't want to change their opinions of the past. That's the hardest part to overcome.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brandina

    This was a very interesting read. Not only does this book provide a perspective on this time that is often overlooked, but it also gives one an ability to have empathy for those families of the people who committed some of the most heinous acts in history. It was vey eye opening about how these men basically led double lives.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    I found this book fascinating. You might think the children of the Nazis would all think the same having similar backgrounds, but this is not so. Some hate their fathers some are proud, some live their lives trying to make up for their fathers crimes. Great insights and totally fascinating if you are interested in first hand history or world war 2.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Caragh Whitehead

    An interesting book about the effect of having a high ranking Nazi father can have on your life. I found it fascinating to see how the children dealt with this knowledge in different ways. What I did find hard to understand was the lack of remorse or wish to acknowledge their faults by the father's themselves.

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