cover image Goebbels


Ralf Georg Reuth. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $27.95 (471pp) ISBN 978-0-15-136076-5

Hitler's most faithful vassal and the only major Nazi to remain with him to the end, Josef Goebbels (1897-1945) used his position as Minister of Propaganda and Enlightenment to convince much of the German populace that their Fuhrer was a virtual god, the would-be savior of the fatherland. In this assiduously researched biography, Reuth, a German journalist, presents new material on Goebbels's role in the Rohm putsch, the campaign against the Jews, the response to the July 1944 attempt on Hitler's life and the final days in the fuhrerbunker in the spring of 1945. Reuth takes a close look at Goebbels's formative years, his early career as a journalist, the development of his talent for agitation and propaganda and his fateful vision of Hitler as all-powerful father figure. He also explores how Goebbels compensated for his short stature and club foot, with emphasis on extramarital affairs including the extraordinary story of Goebbels's passionate liaison with Czech actress Lida Baarova, a relationship that Hitler himself ended. Although Reuth's writing style may not be compelling, the documented facts of Goebbels's life as they unfold here hold the reader's interest. Photos. (Nov.)