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Killing Hitler: The Plots, The Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death

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For the first time in one enthralling book, here is the incredible true story of the numerous attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler and change the course of history. Disraeli once declared that “assassination never changed anything,” and yet the idea that World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust might have been averted with a single bullet or bomb has remained a For the first time in one enthralling book, here is the incredible true story of the numerous attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler and change the course of history. Disraeli once declared that “assassination never changed anything,” and yet the idea that World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust might have been averted with a single bullet or bomb has remained a tantalizing one for half a century. What historian Roger Moorhouse reveals in Killing Hitler is just how close–and how often–history came to taking a radically different path between Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and his ignominious suicide. Few leaders, in any century, can have been the target of so many assassination attempts, with such momentous consequences in the balance. Hitler’s almost fifty would-be assassins ranged from simple craftsmen to high-ranking soldiers, from the apolitical to the ideologically obsessed, from Polish Resistance fighters to patriotic Wehrmacht officers, and from enemy agents to his closest associates. And yet, up to now, their exploits have remained virtually unknown, buried in dusty official archives and obscure memoirs. This, then, for the first time in a single volume, is their story. A story of courage and ingenuity and, ultimately, failure, ranging from spectacular train derailments to the world’s first known suicide bomber, explaining along the way why the British at one time declared that assassinating Hitler would be “unsporting,” and why the ruthless murderer Joseph Stalin was unwilling to order his death. It is also the remarkable, terrible story of the survival of a tyrant against all the odds, an evil dictator whose repeated escapes from almost certain death convinced him that he was literally invincible–a conviction that had appalling consequences for millions.


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For the first time in one enthralling book, here is the incredible true story of the numerous attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler and change the course of history. Disraeli once declared that “assassination never changed anything,” and yet the idea that World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust might have been averted with a single bullet or bomb has remained a For the first time in one enthralling book, here is the incredible true story of the numerous attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler and change the course of history. Disraeli once declared that “assassination never changed anything,” and yet the idea that World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust might have been averted with a single bullet or bomb has remained a tantalizing one for half a century. What historian Roger Moorhouse reveals in Killing Hitler is just how close–and how often–history came to taking a radically different path between Adolf Hitler’s rise to power and his ignominious suicide. Few leaders, in any century, can have been the target of so many assassination attempts, with such momentous consequences in the balance. Hitler’s almost fifty would-be assassins ranged from simple craftsmen to high-ranking soldiers, from the apolitical to the ideologically obsessed, from Polish Resistance fighters to patriotic Wehrmacht officers, and from enemy agents to his closest associates. And yet, up to now, their exploits have remained virtually unknown, buried in dusty official archives and obscure memoirs. This, then, for the first time in a single volume, is their story. A story of courage and ingenuity and, ultimately, failure, ranging from spectacular train derailments to the world’s first known suicide bomber, explaining along the way why the British at one time declared that assassinating Hitler would be “unsporting,” and why the ruthless murderer Joseph Stalin was unwilling to order his death. It is also the remarkable, terrible story of the survival of a tyrant against all the odds, an evil dictator whose repeated escapes from almost certain death convinced him that he was literally invincible–a conviction that had appalling consequences for millions.

30 review for Killing Hitler: The Plots, The Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death

  1. 4 out of 5

    Elmar

    This book was originally published by Jonathan Cape, London. I've read the German translation. This book is about 20 attempts to kill Adolf Hitler. The book contains 430 pages, full of suspense and information. The British historian Roger Moorhouse talks about would-be assassins like Maurice Bavaud, Georg Elser, Hans Oster, Claus von Stauffenberg and others. He shows them as characters and writes about their motives and origins. Moorhouse gives the reader a deeply understanding of history in This book was originally published by Jonathan Cape, London. I've read the German translation. This book is about 20 attempts to kill Adolf Hitler. The book contains 430 pages, full of suspense and information. The British historian Roger Moorhouse talks about would-be assassins like Maurice Bavaud, Georg Elser, Hans Oster, Claus von Stauffenberg and others. He shows them as characters and writes about their motives and origins. Moorhouse gives the reader a deeply understanding of history in that time and shows us the fascits and their personalities as well. This is one of the best books that I've read about the Third Reich. Das im Marix Verlag erschienene Buch "Killing Hitler" von Roger Moorhouse handelt von 20 Versuchen, Hitler umzubringen. Auf 430 Seiten, die spannend und interessant geschrieben sind, berichtet der britische Historiker Roger Moorhouse von Attentätern wie Maurice Bavaud, Georg Elser, Hans Oster, Claus von Stauffenberg und anderen. Er porträtiert diese Menschen aus dem Widerstand gegen den Faschismus und zeigt ihr Umfeld sowie ihre Motive auf. Ausführlich und gut verständlich schildert Moorhouse die historischen Entwicklungen und gibt auch den nationalsozialistischen Tätern ein Gesicht. Dieses hervorragend übersetzte Buch ist eines der besten Bücher über die Zeit des Nationalsozialismus, das ich kenne.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Camille

    Interesting premise but one of the worse written books I've ever read. I have never wanted to go to sleep faster when I read a book. The author pops in super interesting last lines to chapters which make you try to regain hope, which is untimely lost at the end. The book is good if you want to learn more about Hitler's security measures then actual assassins (which only 3 of which were actually mentioned in the book)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jon Molesan

    42 attempts and not one lucky shot. The guy had Satan's luck. The part that got me the most though, was the plan to freak him out (Hitler was a prude) by dropping pornography leaflets on his home in Bavaria. The air force was actually taking it seriously for a while, but the plan fell through when they couldn't decide what kind of airplane to use.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Highly detailed but readable summary of the plots/attempts to kill Hitler. Many of the stories were new to me - and I consider myself someone who is pretty well-read on WW2. Warning: the author chooses stylistically to wander a bit and then use those wanderings to set up the main point of each chapter - but it takes a bit of getting used to.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    The title implies that this is a "how-to" book. Not so. Intermittently quite entertaining. The chapter about the fellow who put the bomb in the pillar...why, that would make a fine movie. Better than that crappy Tom Cruise flick.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jbussen

    Interesting at first but jesus! Get on with it. Got tired of the fluff, of skipping ahead. Book needed to be half as long. Maybe shorter. 3 stars because what i did read was interesting. Eventually I just returned it to my library half read, if that even.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    I agree that the author does wander a bit, and jumps from one subject to another and it takes a while to get used to. But also there is a very good look at what life was like in Hitler’s bunker. 42 assassination attempts is a lot for one man to survive. This is very interesting reading on that subject. And it also has a lot of information on the people who surrounded Hitler. I recommend the movie Downfall for more insight into Hitler’s bunker.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Book

    Based on recently opened archives, British historian Moorhouse told us a story about all the numerous attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler. These includes attempts by individuals in the early days of Hitler's reign, such as Swiss student Maurice Bavaud, whose try got him beheaded; the efforts of a British spies group armed with unusual weapons ("exploding rats") and the well-known attempt of patriotic Wehrmacht officers, including von Stauffenberg, which succeeded in injuring Hitler, although not Based on recently opened archives, British historian Moorhouse told us a story about all the numerous attempts to assassinate Adolf Hitler. These includes attempts by individuals in the early days of Hitler's reign, such as Swiss student Maurice Bavaud, whose try got him beheaded; the efforts of a British spies group armed with unusual weapons ("exploding rats") and the well-known attempt of patriotic Wehrmacht officers, including von Stauffenberg, which succeeded in injuring Hitler, although not terminally. This book is an excellent historical display of the most serious of the 42 known attempts. Moorhouse also introduces little-known would-be-assassins, such as Polish underground. Most of the assassination attempts Moorhouse describes failed because of poor planning, some were victim to circumstance, but also some could be treated as rumors. Easy to read, suspenseful in narration and put into historical context make this book a must-read for World War 2 genre enthusiasts but also for people who want to learn some little known details about Nazi regime. Idea that World War 2 and all of its horrors could be avoided with a successful assassination, single bullet or bomb has remained a mystery for last 60 years. What is revealed in this book just how close-and how often-history came to taking a radically different path between Adolf Hitler's rise to power and his downfall. It is also remarkable story of Hitler's repeated escapes from almost certain death convinced him that he was literally invincible and indestructible which caused terrific consequences for millions on people. Author made great work in providing lot of details, book's seven chapters presented in historical order world in which the potential killers live is described. Then he extracts the plotter from all these reasons they had to do the deed and focuses in on their activities, which are then regarded for their outcome - whether they resulted in tighter security around Hitler or some other effect. There are some spellings and inconsistency errors through the book (American vs. European standards, etc.) but these drawbacks are not important taking into account research behind this book needed to write it, all details and especially the quotes which are great. I recommend this book for anyone, not only ones interested in World War 2 related literature. Because of the details for sure it will not be surpassed for some time ahead and it really readable from the first to the last page.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kamryn Sutherland

    In the book Killing Hitler, Moorhouse explains the assassination plots Hitler had to face on his rise to power. He focuses on how Hitler escaped death several times and how close these attempts could have lead to a prevention of the Holocaust and other events. It is clear that Moorhouse believes Hitler survived because of pure luck. This book gives an accurate look into Germany's conspiracies and Hitler's escapes from death. A huge cultural difference I have learned throughout this book is that In the book Killing Hitler, Moorhouse explains the assassination plots Hitler had to face on his rise to power. He focuses on how Hitler escaped death several times and how close these attempts could have lead to a prevention of the Holocaust and other events. It is clear that Moorhouse believes Hitler survived because of pure luck. This book gives an accurate look into Germany's conspiracies and Hitler's escapes from death. A huge cultural difference I have learned throughout this book is that Germans do not care as much about religion as the U.S does. Many Germans do not attend church and have a hard time understanding why other countries, like America, are so consistent with it. Another big cultural difference between the U.S and Germany is that we are patriotic and are proud to be American. However, Germans are not necessarily proud because of their history. So they brag less and do not show how much they are proud with flags, a pledge, and so forth like America does. I believe Roger Moorhouse wrote this book to inform people on how close history came to being changed with the assassination attempts on Hitler. He explains all of this while telling the story as if the characters/people were still alive and giving their motives and thoughts on Hitler's rise to power. Moorhouse studied history and he wanted people to understand some of the back stories on the assassination attempts on Hitler. A theme for this book could be that it was inevitable for Hitler to be killed. He had several assassination attempts on him and even though he was never killed, he ended up taking his own life. So a more general theme that Moorhouse was trying to get at throughout the book was that some events/outcomes are predetermined and unable to be avoided. In the first line, Moorhouse said, "Assassination, it once said, 'has never changed the history of the world'" (Moorhouse 1). Since he explains all of the assassination attempts and events that lead to Hitler taking his own life, he ended the book with a strong line to get his theme across. He wrote that Hitler "put his Walther pistol to his right temple, and squeezed the trigger" (Moorhouse 325). I would recommend this text for anyone that is interested in the World War 2 time period and the events within it. Moorhouse makes this book a good history lesson as well as making it feel more like a fiction book rather than non-fiction. It's easy to get into and understand plus it is interesting to learn how close history could have been changed if Hitler wasn't so lucky.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ranadip Sikdar

    By the end of 1944 people in and around Hitler’s Germany believed Hitler has a guardian devil to protect him from any kind of assassination. This is because by that time he survived 44 assassination attempts, many of which was still unknown at that time and only will resurface decades after his death. George Elser planted a bomb behind his speech desk and timed it in 9:20 during his speech but he left the speech desk early at 9:07 and only minutes after the bomb will bring down the entire hall By the end of 1944 people in and around Hitler’s Germany believed Hitler has a guardian devil to protect him from any kind of assassination. This is because by that time he survived 44 assassination attempts, many of which was still unknown at that time and only will resurface decades after his death. George Elser planted a bomb behind his speech desk and timed it in 9:20 during his speech but he left the speech desk early at 9:07 and only minutes after the bomb will bring down the entire hall killing hundreds. A German lieutenant will plant a fuse bomb in his personal plane only to find out the fuse was faulty. Another German major colonel planted a time bomb in a suitcase only few feet away from Hitler but again he will be saved due to cushioning effect of the table and use of lower charge and faulty position of fuse thereby cutting the explosive in half. There are many others vividly described by Roger Moorhouse in his page turner ‘killing Hitler:- the dictator who cheated death’. Saved by his unpredictability, his wonderful luck and tight security agencies this man will kill himself in his bunker at Berlin while the Russian army is only 300 meters from the bunker. Though interesting the book sounds u can’t read it without having a interest in world war 2 German sociological and cultural events and as Roger describes very tale of survival by pure chance of this dictator u tend to think probably this time the assassin will bag him. A very exquisite and classic read and a must read for every World War 2 reader.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alistair Greenhalgh

    Moorhouse describes the various kinds of plots against Hitler: lone-wolf types, the Wehrmacht, the resistance in occupied countries and those planned by foreign powers. The historical context explains the motivation for the various assassination attempts and is explained in considerable detail, in some cases it almost goes off at a tangent. Moorhouse explains why most of the attempts failed and outlines Hitler’s road to power. As history progressed so different types of assassination attempts Moorhouse describes the various kinds of plots against Hitler: lone-wolf types, the Wehrmacht, the resistance in occupied countries and those planned by foreign powers. The historical context explains the motivation for the various assassination attempts and is explained in considerable detail, in some cases it almost goes off at a tangent. Moorhouse explains why most of the attempts failed and outlines Hitler’s road to power. As history progressed so different types of assassination attempts came into play. At first the loners, then those holding office and later foreign governments. Besides Hitler’s earliest days as the Nazi leader, when his security arrangements were reminiscent of the Keystone Kops, there never really was any effective opportunities to kill Hitler - although Stauffenberg seems to have come close. During the earliest days of his reign is seems as though had the assassins been any more capable Hitler’s name would have likely faded from history. These bungled attempts likely persuaded Hitler to bolster his own security measures in later years and to use that expression from The Day of The Jackal probably, ‘queered the pitch’. One conspirator quipped Hitler must have a guardian devil. Given the sheer number and breadth of the assassination attempts against Hitler it is surprising he lived long enough to die by his own hand. Killing Hitler is engaging, well considered but does seem to wander from the principal topic sometimes.

  12. 5 out of 5

    James

    Killing Hitler is a cool historical book about the assassination plots and what Hitler did during his the time he ruled Germany. It will go into detail about the many attempts at Hitler's life and ways he has cheated death. You will also discover the massive underground networks that places like Poland had to try to preserve their former government and former Nation. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes world war 2 books, or anything history related. It will take you deep into world Killing Hitler is a cool historical book about the assassination plots and what Hitler did during his the time he ruled Germany. It will go into detail about the many attempts at Hitler's life and ways he has cheated death. You will also discover the massive underground networks that places like Poland had to try to preserve their former government and former Nation. I would recommend this book to anyone that likes world war 2 books, or anything history related. It will take you deep into world wars 2 in Germany, Russia and Poland. The book gives you eyes to people that had to live through this tough time and it also gives you an insight into their brains so you could try to understand what they were thinking at the time. One of the things that I have found amazing about this book is that it covers assassination attempts on Hitler's life and how it talks about how arrogant he became once he began to survive so many of them. It will take you to the polish underground, where you will see how some of the people of Poland banded together to show some of their nationalism and how they defended their nation even though according the reset of the world it was taken over. I give this book 4/5 stars because it was book that will expand your knowledge of world war 2 and take you back into a time that is much different form our current age.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ariel Navarro

    I now know who Hitler was and why so many tried to kill him but in the end of his life he had committed suicide. This book is about plots and assassins against the dictator who cheated death, Adolf Hitler. Almost fifty would- be assassins tried to kill Hitler but what if one man's death would have saved the lives of millions. Adolf Hitler was a lucky man who had faced many attempts on his life and yet not one succeeded. Every person around his life would have tried killing Adolf Hitler but only I now know who Hitler was and why so many tried to kill him but in the end of his life he had committed suicide. This book is about plots and assassins against the dictator who cheated death, Adolf Hitler. Almost fifty would- be assassins tried to kill Hitler but what if one man's death would have saved the lives of millions. Adolf Hitler was a lucky man who had faced many attempts on his life and yet not one succeeded. Every person around his life would have tried killing Adolf Hitler but only he himself would take his own life as a sign of surrender to the Allies and Russians during World War Two. The genre is documentary. The conflict is man vs. self because he decided to kill himself in the end and man vs. society because a lot of people hated him. The theme of the book is never doing anything you will regret. The motifs are vengeance, suicide, and death. The writing style is very descriptive because there a lot of facts. I would recommend this book to any one who wants to learn more about world war two.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Synnova Blattman

    "Killing Hitler: The Plots, The Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death" by Roger Moorhouse is an exciting nonfiction book about the many assassination plots to kill Hitler. This book wonderfully descibes the many detailed plots and plotters that tried and thought about killing the crazed leader of the Nazi regime. This book written amazingly without going off topic. This book gives you how it was and doesn't sugar coat the realities of what happened. The characters are described in detail "Killing Hitler: The Plots, The Assassins, and the Dictator Who Cheated Death" by Roger Moorhouse is an exciting nonfiction book about the many assassination plots to kill Hitler. This book wonderfully descibes the many detailed plots and plotters that tried and thought about killing the crazed leader of the Nazi regime. This book written amazingly without going off topic. This book gives you how it was and doesn't sugar coat the realities of what happened. The characters are described in detail and you understand what their intentions were. I would recommend this book to any one who loves World War 2 history. It describes the war in a way that gets you interested in the book. Anyone who likes assassination plots would like this book too as it describes what was tried and how it failed. This book was very well written and I enjoyed it very much. I would give it 4/5 stars.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Hamza Ansari

    Adolf Hitler, considered by many as the most hated person of the 20th Century had the Devil's own luck. How did he escape all those times? Every chapter in Killing Hitler is like an episode to some grand TV show. Perfectly written with no unnecessary subplots or information and most intersect each other in some way, giving you that "epic" feeling. The book's main purpose is not to show how Hitler cheated death but rather how the assassin carefully plotted his decision and how he carried out his Adolf Hitler, considered by many as the most hated person of the 20th Century had the Devil's own luck. How did he escape all those times? Every chapter in Killing Hitler is like an episode to some grand TV show. Perfectly written with no unnecessary subplots or information and most intersect each other in some way, giving you that "epic" feeling. The book's main purpose is not to show how Hitler cheated death but rather how the assassin carefully plotted his decision and how he carried out his mission and how he placed his traps, only to have the Devil intervene at the 11th hour. An amazing heck of a read which may or may not make you slap your forehead while exclaiming dammit or verdammt, depending on your point of view on him! I suggest you buy this book as it also has pictures and that makes it more interesting!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rosanne

    I'm giving this book three starts because there is not an option for 2.75 stars. Some of the chapters I enjoyed, others I didn't - it seemed that there was more to wrote about on certain attempts on Hitler's life than others. My favorite chapter was the epilogue, where Moorehouse described how Hitler's life finally did end. Maybe this means that what I should have read was a biography of Hitler.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Unfortunately, the more people trued to kill him, the more he believed that he was being protected for some higher purpose. The close calls (the ONE time the speech ran short, the malfunctioning bomb on the plane, and DAMN that heavy office furniture) are mind boggling and show a far greater variety of people who tried (haplessly, most of the time) than von Stauffenburg to kill Hitler.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Genie

    Interesting history- I had never realized just how many attempts there were to remove Hitler. Typically, you hear about Valkyrie and many one or two others. I read a lot about the opposition to Hitler and this was a good addition.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Excellent! It was well-written and easy to read. Even though it is non-fiction, it was definitely a page-turner. I had no idea there were so many plots to kill Hitler. Gives me hope for humanity. OK, maybe not that much hope. But whatever. I loved this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    C.

    An amazing look at the attempted assassinations of Hitler. Well researched and presented with such details. I learned more about Nazi Germany and the war than I thought possible in one book with such a narrow focus.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Aitziber

    Light reading about a heavy topic, this book covers the many assassination attempts on Hitler's life. The plans end up taking a backseat to the description and history of the different factions that had enough of a problem with Hitler to want to take fate into their own hands.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Karmela

    I like this book because it is highly detailed and you also get insights from the author on why 42 attempts and not a single one was successful. I love this book, i think that i know the pages by heart from cover to cover! :)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Wates

    Actually my fathers friends brother is the author of this book and i have received a signed copy but anyways, this book is about the 50 forgotten assassination attempts that could of changed history

  24. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    Very informative and surprisingly thrilling for a book with an ending and plot that is already known to the reader. On a personal note....WHAT A LUCKY BASTARD!!!!! and the puppies at the end:(

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marcus

    By textbook standards, pretty interesting.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Derek Richey

    Just like the title says. Some of the assassination plots I was already familiar with, the others were quite curious.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Wates

    Actually my fathers friends brother is the author of this book and i have received a signed copy but anyways, this book is about the 50 forgotten assassination attempts that could of changed history

  28. 4 out of 5

    Converse

    My impression is that most of the serious attempts were conceived after Hitler was harder to get at, but he was lucky to avoid Georg Elser's bomb

  29. 4 out of 5

    Erika

    Pretty intense right now...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mary-Beth

    I had no idea there were over 49 plots to assassinate Hitler. Interesting reading.

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