One of the great overlooked dramas of the Nazi period! A gripping story of one man’s readiness to risk everything to follow his conscience and stand in defiance of tyranny.
Dietrich von Hildebrand was a German Catholic thinker and teacher who in response to the rise of Nazism devoted the full force of his intellect to doing public battle with Hitler for the hearts and minds of the German people.
His story might well have been lost to us, were it not for a memoir, penned near the end of his life at the request of his younger wife. Here he tells of the scorn and ridicule he endured for sounding the alarm when many still viewed Hitler as a positive and inevitable force. He recounts the sorrow of having to leave his home, friends, and family in Germany to conduct his fight against the Nazis from Austria. He tells 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." And throughout it all, 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.
Well, My Battle Against Hitler was quite the history lesson. Sadly, this was the first time I had heard about Dietrich von Hildebrand, which is a shame because I really enjoyed his strong stance against Hitler's regime and how well he spoke out against the horrors that he, Hitler, was perpetrating and how it could never go hand-in-hand with Christianity. To me, reading both the memoir of part one and the articles from the journal he started in Vienna really brought everything that happened during the lead up to the second World War into a new perspective.
In my fashion of only scanning the synopsis, I may have overlooked that My Battle Against Hitler was more of a memoir than anything. Yet, it was that perspective of Dietrich von Hildebrand writing about his life, to his second wife, that really interested me in the end. I ended up liking it because I felt that one got a better insight into the man himself by hearing from him what he went through and how strongly he spoke out against the Nazi regime.
Given that this book focused solely upon Dietrich von Hildebrand's resistance and call to Christians to stand strong against the rising prejudice pushed by the Nazi's, I was surprised to find that there were some humorous stories and lines sprinkled throughout the book. It was partly that von Hidlebrand had a way with words that could turn a funny phrase that surprised me. Why, because as he was a philosopher I was expecting his writing, well, to be rather dry. Yet, even during the darkest parts of his memoir, like his decision to leave Germany so he could continue the work he felt God called him to do, was filled with his straightforward, hard-hitting voice of reason and refutation on the evils of the time.
Even though the difficulties of his time for today's problems are somewhat different, there was so much wisdom in his words that could still be applied to what we face here today. Sure, I am no expert on the happenings in the wide-world, but one could ream from his writing how the racial prejudices going on today are still completely against the teachings of Christ and that of the Church.
Continuing with this thought, there are some things that I personally have trouble with-like the senseless murdering and persecution of those of different faiths going on throughout the world and what someone like myself could do about it. Yet, after reading something in Dietrich von Hildebrand's writing I find myself less confused.
The only drawback that I discovered whilst reading My Battle Against Hitler would have to be that at times the telling of things jumped around. It was almost like his brain was working faster than his ability to write while he was writing his story for his wife. That is the only thing that might make this a difficult read for some.
That aside, I really cannot recommend thing book enough because it is a wonderful look at one man's faith and convection during the lead up to WWII. I really feel that those who do read this one with an open mind will find themselves strengthened in their defense of their faith and how certain things, like what the author faced, cannot be reconciled within, not only, the Catholic faith but within Christianity itself.
Final Verdict: My Battle Against Hitler- One of the strongest oppositions to the evils of socialism and how incompatible it is to Christianity that I have ever read. I'll probably be thinking over Dietrich von Hildebrand's writing for quite sometime as I try to absorb everything.
My Battle Against Hitler: Faith Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich earns