My Battle Against Hitler: Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich

My Battle Against Hitler: Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich

by Dietrich von Hildebrand, John Henry Crosby

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How does a person become Hitler’s number one enemy? Not through espionage or violence, it turns out, but by striking fearlessly at the intellectual and spiritual roots of National Socialism.

Dietrich von Hildebrand was a German Catholic thinker and teacher who devoted the full force of his intellect to breaking the deadly spell of Nazism that ensnared so many of his beloved countrymen.

His story might well have been lost to us were it not for this memoir he penned in the last decades of his life at the request of his wife, Alice von Hildebrand. In My Battle Against Hitler, covering the years from 1921 to 1938, von Hildebrand tells of the scorn and ridicule he endured for sounding the alarm when many still viewed Hitler as a positive and inevitable force. He expresses the sorrow of having to leave behind his home, friends, and family in Germany to conduct his fight against the Nazis from Austria. He recounts how he defiantly challenged Nazism in the public square, prompting the German ambassador in Vienna to describe him to Hitler as "the architect of the intellectual resistance in Austria." And in the midst of all the danger he faced, he conveys his unwavering trust in God, even during his harrowing escape from Vienna and his desperate flight across Europe, with the Nazis always just one step behind.

Dietrich von Hildebrand belongs to the very earliest anti-Nazi resistance. His public statements led the Nazis to blacklist him in 1921, long before the horrors of the Third Reich and more than 23 years before the assassination attempt on Hitler in July 1944. His battle would culminate in the countless articles he published in Vienna, a selection of which are featured in this volume.

"It is an immense privilege," writes editor John Henry Crosby, founder of the Hildebrand Project, "to present to the world the shining witness of one man who risked everything to follow his conscience and stand in defiance of tyranny."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385347525
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/21/2014
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 647,006
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

DIETRICH VON HILDEBRAND (1889–1977), born in Florence, was the son of renowned German sculptor Adolf von Hildebrand. A leading student of the philosophers Edmund Husserl and Max Scheler, he took up the "great questions"—about truth, freedom, conscience, community, love, beauty—with a freshness that allowed him to break new ground, especially in ethics, but also in epistemology, social philosophy, and aesthetics. His conversion to Catholicism in 1914 was the decisive turning point of his life and the impetus for important religious works. His opposition to Hitler and Nazism was so outspoken that he was forced to flee Germany in 1933, and later across Europe, finally settling in New York City in 1940, where he taught at Fordham University until 1960. He was the author of dozens of books, both in German and English. He was a major forerunner of Vatican II through his seminal writings on marriage, on Christian philosophy, and on the evil of anti-Semitism.

JOHN HENRY CROSBY (b. 1978), is a translator, writer, musician, and cultural entrepreneur. He is founder and director of the Hildebrand Project, which fosters deep cultural renewal through publications, events, fellowships, and online resources that draw on the continuing vitality of Dietrich von Hildebrand’s thought and witness.

Table of Contents

Foreword Sir Roger Scruton xi

A Fateful Decision 1

Who Was This Man Who Fought Hitler? 5

A Note on the Text 18

Part 1 The Memoirs

1921 25

1922 29

1923 32

1932 38

1933 46

1934 130

1935 177

1936 203

1937 220

Escape from Vienna 232

Part 2 Writings Against the Nazi Ideology

Austria and Nationalism 247

German Culture and National Socialism 254

The Danger of Becoming Morally Blunted 258

Against Anti-Semitism 264

The Jews and the Christian West 270

The Danger of Quietism 279

Ceterum Censeo … ! 284

False Fronts 292

The Parting of Ways 299

The Struggle for the Person 306

The Chaos of Our Times and the Hierarchy of Values 317

Authority and Leadership 319

Mass and Community 321

Individual and Community 327

Acknowledgments 333

Notes 337

Photo Insert Credits 341

About the Hildebrand Project 343

Index 345

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My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have often wondered how good people stood by and did nothing while their neighbors were shipped off to concentration camps and an insidious tyrant conquered their country? ln light of this I have asked myself, how are we, as modern Americans of the 21st Century, any better than our blinded ancestors?  Is it possible that 21st Century Americans are as desensitized to evil as the German people who allowed Hitler to come to power? Just as soldiers study a military manual the American of the 21st century requires a textbook (or perhaps a memoir) to awaken their eyes to the evils poisoning our culture, to motivate them to open their mouths, and to catalyze a rebirth of good people who do something. My Battle Against Hitler is such a book which reveals how such a blatant evil, as the philosophy of Adolf Hitler and his Nazis, can slowly creep into our lives...slowly desensitizing us, making us blind, making us comfortable with monstrosities. But what makes this book a reliable and trustworthy fount of moral guidance is the author, Dietrich von Hildebrand.  Hildebrand preached a philosophy of Love and no title could suit him better than that of a ‘lover’.  My Battle Against Hitler reveals one of the darkest periods of human history through the eyes of one of the most passionate lovers of truth, beauty, and goodness this world has ever known.  
mermao More than 1 year ago
Von Hildebrand was one of the greatest Catholic theologians of the 20th Century and this book relates his struggle against Nazism from the time when, without knowing it, he was put on a Nazi death list for a speech he had given condemning German aggression in WWI. The book includes an account of his life during the period of the rise of Hitler in Germany followed by the takeover of Austria and many of von Hildebrand's own writings from this period. He does occasionally appear excessively rigid and perhaps even uncharitable to those who favored a more flexible strategy, but he was far more prescient than others with respect to the evil represented by Hitler and his minions.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down! Dietrich von Hildebrand's story is a must read! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fabulous book everyone should read! 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a testimony of life lived in search for and defense of the truth. When first picking up this book, I was mildly concerned that it would be incredibly dense in terms of philosophy. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it captured the essence of Dietrich von Hildebrand as a man. He is an incredible witness to standing firm in one's belief and living accordingly. In addition to giving you insight to his life in the form of a narrative, the second part of the book, "Writings Against the Nazi Ideology," enables you to more fully enter into the battle for truth as fought by von Hildebrand by showcasing a number of his writings. Overall a great read and highly recommended for anyone with a passion for history, truth, and freedom.
AnnaMSmith More than 1 year ago
I have always wondered, while learning about the rise of Nazism in Europe, how ordinary people were able to ignore the obvious elements of evil in Nazism. I've wondered how the majority of a people could countenance and even embrace wholesale hatred of the Jews, complete disregard for the political process and judicial law, and still, somehow, claim to love their country. Reading "My Battle Against Hitler" revealed to me how otherwise good men and women were duped by the evils of Nazism by their willingness to compromise their consciences, often for self-seeking motives, such as personal safety, prestige, or fear of challenging the status quo. Hildebrand impressed me greatly in his unflinching defense of what his well-informed conscience told him to be right. He was keenly aware of the importance of maintaining vigilance over one's conscience to avoid falling under the spell of a forceful or hypnotic ideology. In his own words, "It is unbelievable how vulnerable our human nature is to falling into illusions and to growing numb in our indignation over injustice which we come to accept. Here, as in so many others in life, we must be like the conductor of an orchestra, in continually renewing the call to alertness. The moment one lets up, people fall asleep, or at least become indifferent" (186). Reading these memoirs was more than an interesting dip into the past, it was a personal call and challenge to me to be alert and active in the formation of my conscience and in living out the demands of conscience in my own culture. This is certainly a book well worth the time of anyone who cares about knowing what is right and to fighting for it, regardless of whether we think our efforts will be rewarded with success in our lifetime. This is a book to strengthen the hearts of the Davids in a world of Goliaths.
GraceD More than 1 year ago
This book is a treasure. It was refreshing and inspiring to me as a student of philosophy, because it gives an intimate view of this philosopher's inner life and his authentic integrity. Hildebrand was not an academic who merely speculated - this man lived what he believed. He defended his views, not only in intellectual circles (and even that was risky enough during that time period), but he also backed it up by his life choices and his sacrifices. I was inspired by this personal portrait of Hildebrand's deep responses to values, as well as his heroic and courageous integrity. I found myself turning the pages, on the edge of my seat, as the gripping story unfolded and Hildebrand faced very real dangers. Well worth a read! An excellent introduction to Hildebrand for those who aren't familiar with him, and a precious insight into the man for those who are. And It's all framed in such a dramatic and serious time in our history: such a good story, and even more so because it's true!
cmramos91 More than 1 year ago
One of the most inspiring books I've come across in a while. This book is medicine for our time that faces so many questions and challenges of morality. Hildebrand's commitment to the truth shines through these memoirs. His conviction for standing against the tide of Hitler's influence to the point of risking his own life inspires me. Would I stand up for truth in the face of death? His witness speaks directly to that "heaven's forbid" question and encourages us to never be afraid. I highly recommend this book to anyone! Happy reading! :)
cmramos91 More than 1 year ago
One of the most inspiring books I've come across in a while. This book is medicine for our time that faces so many questions and challenges of morality. Hildebrand's commitment to the truth shines through these memoirs. His conviction for standing against the tide of Hitler's influence to the point of risking his own life inspires me. Would I stand up for truth in the face of death? His witness speaks directly to that "heaven's forbid" question and encourages us to never be afraid. I highly recommend this book to anyone! Happy reading! :) 
Theresacorgan More than 1 year ago
 This book really is a field manual for the battle of conscience. Hildebrand reveals his historical struggles against Nazism with timeless reflections on the nature of man and the truth about what prospers human dignity. In a powerful way, he unmasks in the evil he encountered in his own lifetime, while calling the Christian to fight the good fight in their own time and place. I simply could not put it down. I read this book in a single weekend and I encourage everyone to pick up their own copy. It is engaging, well written, simple, profound, and suspenseful. You won't regret it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hildebrand's memoirs offer a unique insight into the intellectual battle against the Nazi regime. As a student of history, I found it fascinating to read a personal account of the fall of Germany and eventually Austria to the lure of ideology.  The published text includes not only Hildebrand's memoirs from 1921 to the annexation of Austria in 1938, but his writings against the Nazis as well. This segment contains the meat of his philosophical opposition to Nazism. Though his Catholic faith is evident throughout his writings, he appeals to people of other religious and non-religious persuasions as well.  In the memoirs, there are introductory notes to inform the reader of the broader historical background. Though I know the work is not meant to serve as a history text, there were several historical events mentioned in his writings that I believe should have been explained in context. Overall, this book is a fascinating and deeply personal look at the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century
KidistPaulosAsrat More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book at the conference The Power of Beauty, co-Sponsored by the M.A. Philosophy Program at Franciscan University of Steubenville and The Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project. I have read through about 3/4 of the book so far. What is wonderful about the book is how it is an intrigue of sorts, without being pessimistic or nihilistic. The writing is optimistic, to say the least, and the writer is gracious for any kindness, assistance or break he may get to remove himself from the deadly force of the Nazis. At the same time, it is an intricate account of WWI-WWII history, with names, places, dates and events recorded for all to see. It is above all a book on truth, and one man's mission to expose evil, and to make sure it never happens again. If we fail in this regard, we will have failed Hildebrand. Kidist Paulos Asrat
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lucentet More than 1 year ago
I have been waiting for the release. First on line this morning at happy to have received the only copy at the store! So it is with me now and I can't wait to absorb it!
BrittneyA_22 More than 1 year ago
Battle against Hitler is a book told from a prisoner of the concentration camp during WWII. It was a very tragic time in history and the mistreatment of millions of innocent people. This is a story about how Von Hilderbrand escaped his captors and survived in horrible conditions inside the concentration camp. It gives his person detailed memoirs of his experience. His story is divided into two sections the historical part and the philosophy part. It gives a helpful balance to introduce the reader to the towering catholic giant. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Nazi Germany and world war two. It was a very good read. I revived this book from the blogging for books program in exchange for my honest review!