Hitler and other Leaders Marching

The Mad Dog of Europe by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Albert Nesor

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From a review of the print edition on Amazon:
While I have read other books about Hitler and WWII, I was drawn to read “The Mad Dog of Europe” by Albert Nesor because of its publication date – 1939. The story drew heavily on first hand accounts of immigrants who had recently left Germany. I was curious to know how prescient the Germans were about Hitler’s intentions. While Nesor gives a detailed account of how and when Hitler took over the country, the main narrative focuses on a circle of friends in the small Bavarian town of Gronau. They had lost sons in WW1 and the ones that did return were disillusioned and struggling to find work. The names of the people and the town were changed because in 1939 it was, of course, very dangerous to make negative remarks about the Reich. There actually is a town in Germany named Gronau but it is way to the north of Bavaria.

Among the book I have read about Hitler, Nestor’s account was the most graphically negative. Hitler is shown to work toward his goal of saving Germany from “Jewish Communism” with obsessive intensity. In his tirades against communism Hitler made me think of Senator Joseph McCarthy on steroids. Both also targeted and persecuted homosexuals. Fortunately McCarthy’s means were more limited. Hitler had a private army during the 30’s of well over a million ruthless men that he used frequently in the streets. The Nazi’s anti-communism was generally supported not only by many Germans, but also by people in other countries and many people in the United States. It was a major platform for his rise to power. When Hitler became Chancellor his political opponents were sent to concentration camps. When I lived in Bavaria (1979 ) my somewhat older neighbor said she would never have anything to do with politics because her father died in a concentration camp for being a communist. With my limited German vocabulary of two thousand words, all I could say was “Hitler war ein Teufel”.

Nestor’s characters were not prescient about Hitler until it was too late. Like us they went about their daily lives even though they did not approve of what they read in the papers. After the Nazis took over everyone in Gronau was terrified. Even high ranking Nazi party officials had saved foreign currency, exit visas and money in American banks in case of a Teutonic armageddon which they vaguely felt might come but did not perceive when or how. In the end the main character of the novel holds off the Nazi storm troopers with a pistol while his brother tries to escape across the border. He has the sentimental hope that Germans will regroup in America and then save his beloved country from Hitler. As we now know it was Hitler’s declaration of War on the USA that forced a response. Not Germans but German-Americans – Dwight Eisenhower, Chester Nimitz, Carl Spaatz – led the troops against Hitler. German immigrants did provide valuable service as translators and as spies.

The Curies and Radium by Elizabeth Rubin

Grade Level on the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale is 6.4. Download an epub version for your Android tablet or phone:

Download a mobi file for your Kindle device: PIERRE and MARIE CURIE are perhaps the most remarkable husband-and-wife team in the history of science. Together they set out to isolate the mysterious radioactive substance in the masses of pitchblende ore available to them in the old shed that was their laboratory. It was back-breaking work, but Marie and Pierre kept at it. Finally, they obtained a product whose radiation was four hundred times greater than that of uranium! Marie called the new element Polonium, after her beloved native Poland. Later, they isolated their famous element radium — nine hundred times as active as uranium! Pierre’s brilliant career was cut short by his tragic death in 1906, but Marie went on with their courageous work alone. In 1911, she received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of radium. True, it was Marie’s long exposure to radium and X-rays that caused her death. But out of her death came life, for radium is one of modern medicine’s greatest life-savers. The basic idealism and determination of the Curies are captured for budding scientists to ponder. Scientific language is suitable for young readers.

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Koch at at a microscope

Robert Koch: Father of Bacteriology by David C. Knight

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Robert Koch loved to solve problems. He wanted to end the anthrax infections that were killing so many of his neighbors’ sheep and cattle. And then he began working on an even smaller microbe that caused tuberculosis and was killing millions around the world.

This is a story of his investigations told in a readable prose for young adults and with enough details to satisfy adult readers. The author tells the Koch story well. Koch’s energy and dedication are still inspiring.

Those closest to Koch admired him for the ideal scientific worker that he was. They admired the severe way he himself criticized his own work; the high intelligence he brought to every problem; the inventiveness he used in overcoming great obstacles. Perhaps most of all they admired his great courage and constant hard work in sticking to something where other scientists had failed.

The grade level is 8.7 on the Flesch-Kincaid readability scale in Microsoft Word. A study guide is included at the end of the ebook for secondary school students.