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The Myth of Nazi Inevitability

Lately, I’ve been studying a segment of German history about which I knew little as compared with the period before World War I or the great German cultural awakening between 1770 and 1820, sometimes characterized as die Goethezeit. Germany’s failure to stave off a Nazi takeover, which was well on its way to happening when Hitler became chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933, has been considered proof positive of a bad national character. Supposedly, Germans were always following a “special path” toward a Nazi regime, which just took several centuries to reach its explosive end. This is the view currently propounded by German educators and the leaders of all German parties, except for the patriotic, right-of-center Alternative für Deutschland.

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