Summary: Martin van Creveld’s first novel concerns one of the great unresolved issues in western society, the rise and legacy of Adolf Hitler. It’s especially timely now, as fascism rises once again.
Excerpt from Hitler in Hell
A new book by Martin van Creveld.
“I, Adolf Hitler, am in Hell, the place to which the victors assign their dead opponents. Not just the dead ones either, but that is a separate topic.
Hell, let me tell you, is neither “a dungeon horrible” nor “torture without end” as John Milton, whom I read in German translation after my death, imagined. Far from it!
In some ways, it reminds me of Landsberg Prison, where I spent almost all of 1924. The main difference is that here I have no visitors and can receive no presents. That apart, conditions are quite similar. Not luxurious, but for a person like me, one whose material demands are moderate and who has always lived in a fairly austere manner, adequate.
There are no windows, and my spirit, or whatever it is, is not free to leave the compound, if it is one. As a result, I have no idea where it is located or what it looks like from the outside. If, indeed, it has an “outside.” The light, which is artificial and on all the time, never varies. It seems to come from all directions at once, so there are no shadows. And there are no sounds, except for the few we handful of inmates make as, ghost-like, we flutter about. Even those seem to be muffled in a strange, unearthly way.
For eight hours out of every twenty-four I am locked in my cell by guardian devils. They never, never answer any questions; but they never do me any harm either. That is more than one can say for many people on earth. At other times I can do much as I please. Who cares? I have no needs, I have no worries, and I have no one to fight. I suppose that accounts for my relatively mellow mood.
The souls I miss the most are those of my shepherd bitch, Blondi, and Frau Eva Braun. As to the former, there seem to be no dogs in Hell. That depresses me a bit, for I have always liked them very much. The scene in a certain film, where I am shown thoughtlessly shooting a little dog just because it was bothering me a little, is based on pure invention. My first dog was a white terrier. I found him in the trenches, where he was chasing a rat. Originally, he had belonged to an English officer and did not understand a word of German. I called him Fuchsl, and he was with me for about a year and a half until someone stole him, causing me much grief. Several others followed. I was proud of them and taught them all sorts of tricks; when asked what young girls do, Blondi, who was the last of the lot, would roll on her back and lift her legs in the air.
As to the latter, her most ardent wish had long been for me to marry her. Unfortunately, my duty to my people did not permit us to spend as much time together as I—and even more so she—would have liked. But what if I had done as she wanted? Throughout the war, I lived mainly at my various military headquarters. There, she would have been badly out of place with nothing to do all day long. All around were hundreds of males, many of them starved for sex, who would have stared at her. And gossiped. And sniggered.
I kept in touch with her by a daily telephone call as well as letters. But I saw to it that our correspondence should not fall into the wrong hands. As, for example, Napoleon’s letters to Josephine and the telephone conversations of Prince Charles with his lover Camilla did, thereby revealing their intimate secrets for everyone to enjoy and slaver over. My chief adjutant Julius Schaub, whose loyalty to me dated back to the very first days of the Party, and Eva’s sister Gretl, were a great help in this respect.
Shortly before the end of the war Eva defied my wishes for the first and only time. She had her car covered with camouflage paint, left Berchtesgaden, and took us all by surprise by unexpectedly turning up in Berlin, specifically in order to die with me. Doing so was an act of courage and love. At the time, just thinking of her made me happy; it does so still. Poor woman, with my modest needs she never knew what to give me as a present! Where she is, if she is, I have not the faintest clue.
All of us here seem to be staying the same age. We are indestructible. No one ever gets sick; no one ever dies. Nothing ever happens. To understand what a horrible torment that is, one must either have experienced it or have been with Gulliver on his trip to the land of the immortals. I am alive, yet I am dead; I am dead, yet I am alive.
The main problem is what to do with my time. That is one very important reason why I decided to write this book. Now as in 1924, the faithful and artless, if sometimes moody, Rudolf Hess is helping me with my work. But there are a couple of differences. When I wrote Mein Kampf, I was still a comparative newcomer to the political scene. Imprisoned, I possessed very few personal documents. That is why much of what I wrote in volume I, which, unlike volume II, is largely autobiographical, had to be based mainly on my memory. Which, let me say, is excellent indeed.
Here in Hell things are very different. To help me keep up with what is happening, I have with me a couple of the world’s leading experts on the Internetz, the so-called “Black Internetz” included. Germans and faithful followers, of course. They are better than those two mavericks, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, combined! They provide me with access to everything. Meaning absolutely everything that has ever been written, filmed, recorded, videotaped, or whatever, right down to the present time. With the result that they can help me document my life and times much more thoroughly and much more faithfully than I could then.
So vast is the inflow of material that mastering it all might actually fill the unlimited time I have stretching out in front of me. More, much more, keeps being added day by day. There are books about my youth, books about my women, books about my alleged mental and physical diseases, books about the movies I did and did not like, books about the medicines I took, and books about my headquarters and my performance as a military commander. There is even a book about how hard it is to write anything new about me! Not to mention an avalanche of books (and TV programs) about my alleged escape to South America after the war. I am told that, when I started working on this project in the spring of 2015, on Google I had about a hundred million “hits.” Stalin only had thirty-three million; Mao Zedong, a paltry million.
But there is also another more important reason why I write. History, Schopenhauer said, is as riddled with lies as the body of a prostitute with syphilis. In this volume I am determined to tell my side of the story, set the record straight, and get even with my enemies—both my contemporaries and those who fed on my legend later on. And, on the way, I will put that bunch of feckless liars, meaning the countless “historians” who have done their best to present me as the worst monster in the whole of human memory, to shame. I shall beat them into a pudding, as Goebbels used to say. Doing so is my duty and my right. After all, isn’t that what people occupying positions similar to mine have always done? Think of Julius Caesar, whose memoirs schoolchildren are being made to study right down to the present day. Or of that lying drunk, Winston Churchill. He even got a Nobel Prize for his efforts.
Finally, all my life I have believed in the “unconquerable will” (Milton again). Though I may be in Hell, “to bow and sue for grace, with suppliant knee” — that glory my enemies will never extort from me. “For the mind and spirit remains invincible.” Down to the last breath I took, I gave my all fighting on behalf of the German people.
Since then, I am told, there has come into being something called Godwin’s Law. Meaning that, the longer two people argue, the more inevitable it is that at least one of them should call the other “Hitler.” Countless lesser folks apart, those to whom my name has been (miss)applied include Egypt’s President Gamal Abdul Nasser, Soviet President Nikolai Bulganin, Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (known, in his own country, as “The Monkey”), Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, America’s President Donald Trump… Reductio ad Hitlerum, one might say. The Israelis, who always claim to have a corner on suffering, especially like to play this game.
I am, however, gratified that their enemies have caught on and are using the same tactics against them, as, for example, when someone calls a chatterbox like Prime Minister Netanyahu “Hitler.” They wish they had just one percent of my stature. Each and every one of them.
Unfortunately, there is no way we here in Hell can contact those we have left behind. Thus pushing the latter in the right direction appears out of the question for the time being. But I am not about to throw in the towel. Not me! Ever since the first humans started walking the earth, they have always tried the most varied methods to get in touch with the dead and to learn what they have to say. There now exists a whole branch of science, if that is the word, whose aim is to do just that. You may be certain that, if and when the time comes, my voice will be heard. Loud and clear.”
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After his death in the Berlin bunker, Adolf Hitler finds himself in Hell. To his surprise, he finds it to be a place of more tedium than torment, although he is depressed to learn that he will never see his beloved German Shepherd Blondi again because all dogs go to Heaven.
With nothing better to do than to pass the time, Hitler reflects upon his life in light of the post-World War II world. He is boastful, unrepentant, and absolutely determined to tell his side of the story, set the record straight, and get even with his enemies—both his contemporaries and those who abused his legend since his demise. In Hell, Adolf Hitler is finally free to tell the true story of the Nazi Party, World War II, and the final solution that eventually came to be known as the Holocaust.
Other great books about Hell
Recommended: The History of Hell by Alice K. Turner (1995) — The WaPo calls it “a lively popular introduction to views of the other world from ancient Sumer to the present, with a rich concentration on the middle millennium of Hell’s history.” The publisher says it is a “survey of how, over the past four thousand years, religious leaders, artists, writers, and ordinary people in the West have visualized Hell-its location, architecture, purpose, and inhabitants.”
Don Juan in Hell from George Bernard Shaw’s play “From Man and Superman”. A unique and fascinating vision of Hell, the opposite of van Creveld’s (the damned enjoy Hell and would find Heaven boring — and vice versa).
John Milton’s story of Hell: Paradise Lost.
The supreme guide to Hell: Dante’s Inferno (Illustrated by Dore).
About the Author
Martin van Creveld is Professor Emeritus of History at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and one of the world’s most renowned experts on military history and strategy.
The central role of Professor van Creveld in the development of theory about modern war is difficult to exaggerate. He has provided both the broad historical context — looking both forward and back in time — much of the analytical work, and a large share of the real work in publishing both academic and general interest books. He does not use the term 4GW— preferring to speak of “non-trinitarian” warfare — but his work is foundational for 4GW just the same. See links to his articles at The Essential 4GW reading list: Martin van Creveld.
Professor van Creveld has written 20 books, about almost every significant aspect of war. He has written about the history of war, such as The Age of Airpower. He has written about the tools of war in the fascinating Technology and War: From 2000 B.C. to the Present and Wargames: From Gladiators to Gigabytes (see the chapters about modern gaming, wargames for the people).
Some of his books discuss the methods of war: Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton, Training of Officers: From Military Professionalism to Irrelevance, and Air Power and Maneuver Warfare.
He has written three books about Israel: Defending Israel: A Controversial Plan Toward Peace, The Sword And The Olive: A Critical History Of The Israeli Defense Force, and a biography of Moshe Dayan.
Perhaps most important are his books examine the evolution of war, such as Nuclear Proliferation and the Future of Conflict, The Transformation of War: The Most Radical Reinterpretation of Armed Conflict Since Clausewitz (IMO the best work to date about modern war), The Changing Face of War: Combat from the Marne to Iraq, and (my favorite) The Culture of War.
He’s written controversial books, such as Fighting Power: German and U.S. Army Performance, 1939-1945 (German soldiers were better than ours!). Even more so are his books about western culture: Men, Women & War: Do Women Belong in the Front Line?, The Privileged Sex, and Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West.
And perhaps most important for us, his magnum opus— the dense but mind-opening The Rise and Decline of the State— describes the political order unfolding before our eyes. Also see this remarkable book: More on War (2016).
For More Information
- Why they lose: the Left tells us that Trump is like Hitler.
- Edward Luttwak: Why Fascism is the Wave of the Future.
- America is mainlining fascism. It won’t end well for us.
- Godwin’s Law should force us to remember & fear our shared heritage with Nazi Germany.
His powerful book about modern societies.
See Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West. From the publisher…
“In the kingdom(s) of the West, something is rotten. Collectively, the countries of NATO are responsible for almost two thirds of global military spending. In terms of military technology, particularly electronics, communications and logistics, they have left the rest so far behind that it is no contest. Yet ever since the Korean War ended in 1953, almost every time they went abroad and fought non-Westerners they were defeated and had to withdraw. As happened, to cite but two recent cases, in Iraq and Afghanistan; and as may yet happen if and when Islamic terrorism spreads into Europe, as it is quite likely to do.
“What went wrong? How did the ferocious soldiers who, between 1492 and 1914, brought practically the entire world under their sway, become pussycats? The present study, unique of its kind, seeks to answer these questions.
- Chapter I, “Subduing the Young,” focuses on the way Western people raise their scanty offspring. Infantilizing them, depriving them of any kind of independence, and, in the words of a recent best-seller, turning them into “excellent sheep.”
- Chapter II, “Defanging the Troops,” shows how the same is happening in the military.
- Chapter III, “The War on Men,” examines the way in which the forces are being feminized affects, indeed infects, their fighting power.
- Chapter IV, “Constructing PTSD,” looks at the way returning soldiers are almost obliged to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Chapter V outlines the emergence of modern societies which, exalting rights and forgetting about duty, have come very close to delegitimizing war itself.
“The book is written in jargon-less language laymen can understand. It is also thoroughly documented. Readership should include anybody with an interest in national security, and then some.”