- - Tuesday, November 3, 2015



By Bill O’Reilly

Henry Holt & Co, $19.99, 306 pages

At first blush, one wonders how much public interest there is in the whims, vulnerabilities, loves, pet hates, hang-ups and philosophy of a man so thoroughly reviled and feared as Adolf Hitler.

But while in the process of doing research for his book “Killing Patton,” Bill O’Reilly discovered the ingredients of potential interest for the curious: pure fascination with the thought processes of a man so infamously and obsessively evil.

Put it this way: How can a man who loves and is so kind to his dog derive nothing but satisfaction and outright glee at destroying the precious lives of innocent children, along with women and men (those not sent to death-inducing slave labor)?

Much of the book is focused inside the bunker where Hitler (physically weakened by a foiled assassination plot), his mistress Eva Braun, his most trusted aides and his dog Blondi spend their dark days as the Allies move in to bring to a close the war into which the National Socialist German Workers Party (the real name of the Nazis) so boldly plunged the world.

By then, as the author seems to suggest, there is little or no “final days” Heil Hitlering in much of Adolf’s hideaway quarters. Though the obsessed warrior is well-protected, everyone — possibly with the exception of the very top of command — knew in their heart of hearts they had lost the offensive.

Hitler’s Last Days” includes scenes during the lead-up to a final Nazi retreat in “the” bunker. In words and pictures we follow German soldiers camouflaged wending their way quietly through the Ardennes forest in Luxembourg.

This part of the Nazi’s last desperate stand represents a “comeback scheme” that flops. For the Allies, the leadership includes such World War II superstars as American generals Dwight D. Eisenhower, George S. Patton and Omar Bradley, as well as Winston Churchill’s favorite, Field Marshall Bernard Law Montgomery for the United Kingdom.

Almost to the last hours, the fuehrer stares at his map table, waiting in vain for some indication that all would be well.

Aside from Bill O’Reilly’s “way with words,” this volume is enriched with photographs, many from behind enemy lines or acquired postwar, as the reader learns of the intelligence maneuvering of German soldiers dressed as Americans and trained to speak fluent English.

The depressing horror story of the more than 20,000 camps built by the Nazis beginning in 1933 received relatively little attention at first. That, of course, changed when they grew in number as war clouds hovered and Hitler’s troops stormed through Europe.

The term “concentration camps” developed widespread usage, as they became extermination camps where the Nazis eliminated their enemies, real and imagined.

Among the worst of them, such as Auschwitz, Sobibor and Treblinka, the express purpose was to torture and murder people. When the number of bodies became too much for the ovens to handle, the bodies were burned outdoors. Railroad tracks ran into the center of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp, which was built on top of a swamp. Thus, conditions in the barracks where new prisoners were deposited each day were damp.

Women with children, as well as the elderly, were designated for immediate extermination. Only those people deemed capable of slave labor were allowed to live.

There were no good prisoner jobs. So-called “kapos” — that is, leaders of other prisoners — got extra rations, but had to live with the fact that they were collaborating with the Nazis, spying on other prisoners, effectively ordering death sentences for some.

The worst job was serving as “Sonderkommandos” who would “work the ovens, obeying the SS.”

Following the double suicide in the bunker of Hitler and his wife (by pre-death marriage) Eva Braun, it was revealed that the man who terrorized a huge part of the planet — had left his last will wherein he stated, “At her own desire, she goes as my wife with me into death. It will compensate for what we both lost through my work in the service of my people.”

Hitler’s Last Days” notes Hitler’s published comment in “Mein Kampf.” It reads: “I do not see why man should not be just as cruel as nature.”

The subtitle of Mr. O’Reilly’s book defines Adolf Hitler as “the world’s most notorious dictator.”

He was surely the most flamboyant dictator.

While Adolf Hitler ranted and raved and made himself openly threatening and personally obnoxious on the world stage, Josef Stalin, Hitler’s collaborator in starting the war, killed even more human beings while quietly puffing his pipe. Mao Zedong of postwar China set a record as the world’s worst mass murderer, yet hailed by many worldwide as the respectable “Chairman Mao.”

Wes Vernon has been in the media for decades. His regular column appears at RenewAmerica.com.



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