It is a commonplace assumption that Hitler’s experiences during the First World War ‘made’ him and, equally, that years of trench warfare culminating in defeat propelled millions of brutalised Germans towards revanchism, conquest, ethnic cleansing and, ultimately, genocide. Not so, according to Thomas Weber, who dissects Hitler’s wartime service and assesses the overall record of Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment 16 (RIR 16), in which the future dictator served.
Remarkably, Weber is the first scholar to use the records of RIR 16 and its parent division. He has also tracked down diaries and letters written by Hitler’s comrades-in-arms. Most poignantly, perhaps, he has traced the recollections of Jewish veterans who were scattered by the anti-Jewish policies that