Review: They Thought They Were Free by Milton Mayer

They Thought They Were Free by Milton Mayer

In 1935, Mayer, an American journalist of German and Jewish descent, travelled to Germany in an attempt to secure an interview with Hitler. He failed in this task, but what he saw in Germany terrified him enough to know that Hitler wasn’t the person he needed to speak to. Instead, he interviewed ten everyday Germans — a tailor, a cabinet maker, a salesman, a student, a baker, a bill-collector, a teacher, a policeman, and a bank clerk — to decipher how it was that the Nazi movement had swept the country.

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I sat in the DeLorean

BETT Show Delorean

I’m not entirely sure how the conversation started. I imagine the same situation might occur if you found yourself in a minor car accident and were forced through circumstance into comparing notes with an eyewitness. We were both so stunned to be so close to this strange vehicle that instinctively we both locked eyes and had to converse just to break the awkward tension. It quickly became clear, however, that his English vocabulary was limited, and that he thought this was a real car, the pinnacle of British vehicular engineering. I know the DeLorean was actually manufactured, but he thought this was some sort of experimental prototype being tested for road worthiness.

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