The Führer Must Die
Hitler had the luck of the Devil. On November 8, 1939, the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch, a bomb exploded in the Bürgerbräukeller Hall, where Hitler made his annual speech commemorating the occasion. Much of the building collapsed, people died – and Hitler was unharmed, because he’d left early. The bomb had been set by Georg Elser, who was quickly caught (he’d managed to fail at walking across an almost unguarded portion of the German/Swiss border). And then the fun began, because while this wasn’t the first or the only attempt on Hitler’s life, it was, from the Nazi point of view, the most embarrassing one. For the would-be assassin, Georg Elser, was a German worker – and the Führer had the total support of every German worker. Party line: it’s impossible for a German worker to want to kill the Führer. None of the security services wants to touch this career-killing, life-ending case. Not the SS, not the SD, not the Gestapo. So the mess gets tossed into the lap of the police, who don’t want it either. During intense interrogation and endless interviews, the police desperately try to drag an international conspiracy out of Georg, and Georg tells them everything. Everything. There’s rarely been a more exasperatingly stultifying confession.
Yet the author pulls off the hat trick of making the novel engrossing yet as mind-numbing as the policemen find the whole “confession.” The book is detail-laden, fascinating, and sometimes oddly funny. It’s marred by a few clangers, such as the mention of Christopher Lee to evoke a horror-film mood. And the book ends so abruptly I thought I was missing pages. This is a weirdly compelling book.