Hitler' s decision to declare war on the United States has baffled generations of historians. In this revisionist new history of those fateful months, Klaus H. Schmider seeks to uncover the chain of events which would incite the German leader to declare war on the United States in December 1941. He provides new insights not just on the problems afflicting German strategy, foreign policy and war production but, crucially, how they were perceived at the time at the top levels of the Third Reich. Schmider sees the declaration of war on the United States not as an admission of defeat or a gesture of solidarity with Japan, but as an opportunistic gamble by the German leader. This move may have appeared an excellent bet at the time, but would ultimately doom the Third Reich.
' Historians have argued for decades over the question of why Hitler chose to declare war on the United States. Klaus Schmider has now written the first full authoritative history of the decision, setting it firmly in the context of German domestic and military policy. This will become the definitive account. ' Richard Overy, author of The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945 ' Hitler' s suicidal declaration of war on the United States in December 1941 has long seemed a quixotic even nihilistic move. In his brilliant new book, which is based on a broad range of records, Klaus Schmider restores a sense of strategy and rationality to the ' Fuehrer' s' decision. ' Brendan Simms, author of Hitler: Only the World Was Enough ' In a must-read, ground-breaking book, Schmider analyzes the factors that influenced a shift in Hitler' s policy from one of restraint to a declaration of war on the United States. Woven into this complicated narrative are Germany' s uncertain relationship with Japan, the war with the Soviet Union, synthetic rubber, and the impact of Lend-Lease and the United States' modification of its neutrality on Hitler' s decision. ' Mary Kathryn Barbier, author of Spies, Lies, and Citizenship: The Hunt for Nazi Criminals ' A masterly reassessment that harnesses the latest scholarship to situate Hitler' s fateful choice in a complex of ideological obsessions, economics, strategic ambition, flawed technology and operational overstretch, challenging long-held assumptions of nihilistic or deranged decision-making at the heart of the Third Reich. ' Andrew Lambert, author of Seapower States: Maritime Culture, Continental Empires, and the Conflict That Made the Modern World
Klaus H. Schmider has been with the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst since May 1999. He is the co-author of Volume 8 of the official German history of World War II, Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg (2007).