In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Erik Larson, New York Times bestselling author of Devil in the White City, delivers a remarkable story set during Hitler’s rise to power.
The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Nazi Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.
A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the “New Germany,” she has one affair after another, including with the suprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance—and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.
Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Göring and the expectedly charming--yet wholly sinister--Goebbels, In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity. The result is a dazzling, addictively readable work that speaks volumes about why the world did not recognize the grave threat posed by Hitler until Berlin, and Europe, were awash in blood and terror.
central Bonn. He had traveled here from Essen, where he had received yet another dose of troubling news—that Vice-Chancellor Papen planned to make good on his threat and meet with President Hindenburg the next day, Saturday, June 30, to persuade the Old Gentleman to take steps to rein in Hitler’s government and the SA. This news, atop the accumulation of reports from Himmler and Göring that Röhm was planning a coup, convinced Hitler that the time had come for action. Göring left for Berlin to
glorification of Hitler.” Late in life even Messersmith applauded Dodd’s clarity of vision. “I often think that there were very few men who realized what was happening in Germany more thoroughly than he did, and certainly there were very few men who realized the implications for the rest of Europe and for us and for the whole world of what was happening in the country more than he did.” The highest praise came from Thomas Wolfe, who during a visit to Germany in the spring of 1935 engaged in a
absolutely unbelievable”: Peter Olden to Dodd, Jan. 30, 1934, Box 45, W. E. Dodd Papers. 17 “to find out the contents of confidential reports”: Raymond Geist to Hull, March 8, 1934, 125.1953/655, State/Decimal. 18 “I shall be walking at 11:30”: Dodd, Diary, 63. 19 “Could we meet tomorrow morning”: Sir Eric Phipps to Dodd, May 25, 1935, Box 47, W. E. Dodd Papers. 20 Despite the toll: Nonetheless, Messersmith claimed in his unpublished memoir that “on two occasions I was almost run over by a
and saw pain—eyebrows drawn together, lips compressed. He seemed agitated. They stood together at the rail watching a squadron of white swans. He turned to her, his expression almost somber. “Martha,” he said, “I love you.” He confessed now that he had felt that way ever since the first time he had seen her at Sigrid Schultz’s apartment. He held her before him, his hands firmly vised around her elbows. The mad-cap gaiety was gone. He stepped back and looked at her. “Don’t play with me,
rumor.” On December 23, as Lochner had forecast, the presiding judge in the Reichstag trial announced the court’s verdict, acquitting Dimitrov, Torgler, Popov, and Tanev but finding van der Lubbe guilty of “high treason, insurrectionary arson and attempted common arson.” The court condemned him to death, while also stating—despite masses of testimony to the contrary—“that van der Lubbe’s accomplices must be sought in the ranks of the Communist Party, that communism is therefore guilty of the