Sean Gabb

Honour Thy Father

Hitler's Children

By

William Heinemann 240pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

Hitler’s Children began as a series of interviews conducted with the children of eight prominent National Socialists, plus two others. ‘I knew that several books had studied the children of concentration camp survivors,’ Posner explains, ‘but . . . I was not aware of any attempt to study the children of the perpetrators.’ And so he set about tracking some of them down and putting them through a long and minute examination. In preparing, he consulted all the available sources – the standard published works, the Nuremberg transcripts, the various American and German archives, and so forth. This enabled him to check or to amplify the answers given by his interviewees. But all reduces to the basic question: How does it feel to be the child of a mass-murderer?

Posner is enormously well-informed: and his amplifications amount together to a brief history of Hitler’s Germany. He is also an engaging writer, and I am sure the reader will be entertained as well as informed. But, it must be admitted, the answers to this question have little value as history. The children are of no importance in themselves. They never chose their parents, and often never knew them. They had no part in the crimes. How they regard the facts of their ancestry adds nothing to our understanding of the Third Reich.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • With our February issue about to go to press, enjoy a slice of LR history - Hilary Mantel on Joan Haslip's biograph… ,
    • What did London look like in the 6th Century? Rory Naismith's 'Citadel of the Saxons' tries to answer that questi… ,
    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,