In the book Hitler's Thirty Days to Power, Henry A. Turner argues that Adolf Hitler's rise to power is most evidently illustrated by examining the last thirty days before his appointment to chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Prior to reading Hitler's Thirty Days to Power I had been under the impression that Hitler had a much more active role in securing his position as chancellor of Germany before ascending to Fuhrer. Turner by taking the microscopic approach of only analyzing these thirty days clearly demonstrated that this was not the case. According to the author, Hitler's rise to power was the result of luck, the egos of other political figures, as well as the belief that he could be used simply as a pawn to gain favor of his dwindling amount of supporters. Had any one of these differentiate Hitler would not have been successful in securing the position as chancellor. Turner substantiates his claims through a variety of resources ranging from personal memoirs and newspaper articles from the period to journal publications of modern historians. The information he presented was mostly-well known to the scholarly world, however, the manner in which it manifested was innovative. By using a magnifying glass-like method to examine the month leading up to Hitler's establishment in power rather than the all encompassing approach, Turner gives the generally educated reader, such as me, a better insight to the schematics of Hitler's rise.
Furthermore, the individuals of the text come to life through an intense focus on what propelled them to reach conclusions that allowed Hitler power. The personalities of people like Franz von Papen and Paul von Hindenburg are revealed through these decisions. Turner does not simple state the events that occurred, but rather allowed his reader to envision internal turmoil that was suffered by these individuals in coming to their resolutions. An example of this would be the German President Paul von Hindenburg. Originally he vowed that Hitler would never gain the position of chancellorship. However, numerous overtures made by Papen, a good friend and former chancellor under Hindenburg, combined with the encouragement by his son Otto the President was convinced to allow Hitler the position he so coveted. Turner illustrates throughout the book the difficultly Hindenburg faced in reaching this conclusion. The narration permits the book a novel-like reading often reserved for fiction rather than history. Many other texts compel the audience to feel as if they had read solely the outcome of the events leading up to January 1933 instead of getting a vivid understanding of its cause. Hitler's Thirty Days to Power answers the problem of how Hitler came to power in a compelling and easy read. The narrative and the individuals engage the audience regardless of any negative or positive connotations surrounding them.
The only major flaw that I see with Hitler's Thirty Days to Power is the last chapter of the text. This chapter, "Determinacy, Contingency, and Responsibility," attempts mainly to answer two questions: Should anyone, other than Hitler, be held accountable for the atrocities of his reign because of their involvement in his rise to power and what would have happened had Hitler's reign not existed? The author answers the first charge with the assertion that "although impersonal forces may make events possible, people make events happen." Unforeseeable events might have occurred, but it is individuals like Papen and Hindenburg who are ultimately responsible for Hitler's reign regardless of their original intent. Although others like Hindenburg's son Otto might played a lesser role they still had a significant part therefore they are also to blame. I agree with these assertions, however, I they led me to disagree with Turner's assessment of the public. Turner sees the German public only at fault because of their lack of understand of the importance of their ability to replace their government figures. After WWI, Kaiser Wilhelm II abdicated the throne at the demand and revolt by the general public. At this moment the power the people held was not failed to be recognized. I have a difficult time believing that less than twenty years later this power had all but been forgotten. Instead after reading Turner's text I have come to the conclusion that much like Hindenburg and Papen, the German public underestimated Hitler. Turner asserts that responsibility for Hitler's reign rests on those like Hindenburg and Papen for their underestimation of Hitler, than the general German public should also share the blame.
In addition, Turner's answering the question of what would have happened had Hitler not come to power seems unreasonable. The author suggests that had Hitler not come to power a military coup would have overtaken the government and the atrocities of WWII would have been avoided. It is difficult to make assumptions of what might had happened if Hindenburg or other resisted Hitler's rise to power. No one can say for certain the fate of the government at the end of the Weimer Republic had alternate approaches been taken. In addition, it is difficult to say that the atrocities of WWII would have been completely avoided. There had been for some time a growing resentment for both communism and the Jews. Perhaps, these crimes might have been on a lesser scale in which all of Europe was not involved. However, these atrocities regardless of their extent seemed destined to be committed because of the complacency of the German republic (refer to the book "The Butcher's Tale").
Overall Henry Ashby Tuner's Hitler's Thirty Days to Power was an excellent text. It provided a microscopic look into the last thirty days before Hitler obtained chancellorship which eventually led to his dictatorship. This approach was helpful in understanding how Hitler's rise to power. It allowed his audience to witness the key figures involved and their reasoning for being a part of the scheme. In addition, the reader also is provided with the sense that there were several opportunities to prevent Hitler's reign yet they were pushed aside. Furthermore, Turner showed the audience that although Hitler took advantage of the conflict between several key figures in government, it is these individuals like Papen and Hindenburg that are responsible for Hitler. They underestimated Hitler and their large egos led them to believe that they could ultimately control him. Turner's text is valuable to not only the study of history but also as a study for the future. The book teaches the world's governments that we should not underestimate those seeking or holding power. Most importantly, when an individual claims or even more brazenly writes a book on their political goals, like Hitler did with [...], perhaps we should see these claims or writings as absolute truths. Goals which people like Hitler intend to reach.