Guarding Hitler – Review by Phil Hodges

I Was Hitler’s Secretary.

I Was Hitler’s Boss.

The Jew Who Defeated Hitler.

Chocolate Cake With Hitler.

Hitler’s Table Talk.

Some of these sound absurd, some not so. The point I’m trying to make is, though, there are SO many books on Hitler these days it becomes tiresome. The problem, if you can call it that, is all the books listed above are real! So,when Mark at WHO HQ sent me ‘Guarding Hitler’ to review it went straight to the bottom of the ‘to do’ pile, along with all the other unoriginal books on Hitler or Stalin. I filed it under ‘cashing in’.

It sat there for a few weeks and as the pile of books above it became less it was practically grinning at me. So, with heavy heart and a loud sigh I actually picked it up and began to read a few lines and thumbed through the photos and was I surprised?

Well, yes I was to be honest, and pleasantly so. This book is a pleasant read to be perfectly honest. Well written and not overlycomplicated it’s a hive of interesting facts and almost unbelievable stories about Adolf Hitler or more accurately the issues regarding his security. The Fuhrer had an estimated forty assassination attempts on his life, that’s staggering considering the security measures that surrounded arguably the most powerful and the most dangerous man of the 20th Century.  Be it travelling in one of his many trains, flying in his armada of aircraft or travelling at death defying speeds in one of a vast fleet of Mercedes Benz armour-plated cars, Adolf Hitler was always protected by his bodyguards and we’re not talking a handful of men here either!

He had a driver, a valet and a pilot. He had a head of personnel protection, a head of security, a head of intelligence and even a head of travel who’s job it was to plan routes and come up with scenarios and escape and evasion ideas should the unthinkable happen. Reading the book you soon discover these came in a variety of forms. Some were simple, like a lone gunman or a knife-wielding enemy waiting for an opportunity to attack and kill Hitler. Some were complex like the July bomb plot and some were just down right unbelievable like the junior Luftwaffe officer who hid up a tree with pistol in hand!  All had one thing in common, though …..they failed! This in itself had an effect that no one could have imagined and one that backfired on the would be assassins, The fact that the Fuhrer was not only godlike but he was practically bullet proof too; a fact that propaganda minister Goebbels was quick to utilise to the Nazis advantage. Hitler became more of a heroic person to his followers with every failed attempt.

The book itself is well presented and laid out with a host of rare and unseen photos including one of Hitler just days after the bomb attempt on his life at the Wolf’s Lair in what was infamously known as operation Valkyrie.  It follows Hitler’s rise to power from the dark violent days of street fighting and the beer halls of the 1920s until his suicide in 1945 and charts every major incident along the way; often with fascinating insight.

Although the subject matter may not be everyone’s cup of tea, so to speak, like it or not; Adolf Hitler was the first politician to utilise a security regime that has been copied over and over again and is still used to this day by virtually every world leader and even celebrities.

Hitler invented the ‘Close Protection Officer’ and as a survivor of over so many attempts on his life one can only admit that it worked.The book is light enough to read on the daily commute or after a hard day at work and although it could confuse some readers when talking about SS formations and the like it is forgiving and otherwise free flowing. Well worth a look. Well worth a read.

One thing is for certain though; you’ll never trust a man with a briefcase again!

Reviewed by Phil Hodges for War History Online

The Secret World of The Fuhrer
By Mark Felton
Pen & Sword Military
ISBN: 178159305-1

Phil Hodges

Phil Hodges is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE