September 1938. In power more than five years, Hitler unilaterally dismantled the Treaty of Versailles, provision by provision, daring Britain and France to stand up to him. Earlier that year, he forced Austria into his Third Reich without firing a single shot. Now his sights were set on Czechoslovakia.
It was in this dangerous climate that the first anti-Nazi coup was born. The plot was spearheaded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hans Oster, and its members included top German military leaders, the Berlin police, local troop commanders, civil authorities, religious leaders, and a group of resisters whose names have been wiped from the pages of history. Their mission was to kill Hitler and to overthrow the Nazi regime.
Using British and German sources and previously unknown documents in the Military History Institute of the U.S. Army War College, historian Terry Parssinen has documented this conspiracy. Illustrated with photographs and maps, this highly provocative work is narrative history at its best.
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Terry Parssinen, Ph.D., is Professor of History at the University of Tampa and a specialist in modern European history. He lives in Tampa and Philadelphia.From Publishers Weekly:
As Hitler planned to invade Czechoslovakia, disenchanted German military men believed that the campaign would be a disastrous failure. Lieutenant Colonel Hans Oster had watched during the early 1930s as Hitler brutally deposed and executed men under whom Oster had served, in order to consolidate his hold on the military. A military intelligence officer, Oster (1887-1945) played a crucial role in a plan, never executed, to capture or kill Hitler. A professor of History at the University of Tampa, Parssinen opens each chapter with cursory background material, then describes events as they unfolded day by day. The action jumps from the members of the German military who hatched the coup plan, to Hitler's inner circle and the SS as it moved toward war, to the British government as it prevaricated and then sent British Prime Minister Chamberlain to Germany to meet Hitler and defuse the Czech crisis. The pact in Munich that September left the conspirators in a quandary, as they had planned to begin their revolt after the order for the invasion of Czechoslovakia had been given, and they destroyed their assassination plans. Oster was involved in an actual failed attempt against Hitler in 1943. He was arrested and executed not for that, but for his part in helping Jews escape to Switzerland. (Several other conspirators were caught and killed for their actions.) There is not really any new, startling information about the first plot, a historical footnote since it never happened, but Parssinen offers a clearly written, well-researched and accurate history of "what might have been" during the immediate period before World War II-and of a clear-sighted figure who followed his conscience.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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