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Hitler's guardian devils


GUARDING THE FUHRER: Sepp Dietrich, Johann Rattenhuber and the Protection of Adolf Hitler. By Blaine Taylor. Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., Missoula, Mont. 276 pages. Illustrated. $19.95.

I HAVE two memories of Alan Morgenstern, a schoolmate in Britain and Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. The first is his bragging about the super-highways in Germany, all built under Adolf Hitler. They were so much better than those in Britain, he said. The second is a picture of him in the school magazine. He is shown with other boys on the playing field, digging a trench. The picture was taken during the Munich crisis in 1938.

Alan was torpedoed and killed in the war, a victim of the Nazi thugs who had come to power in the previous decade in Germany. But in the pre-war days of innocence, his mind was on autobahns, not the brutality, the power struggles, the torture, the assassinations carried out by the immoral Nazi regime.

How brutal, how immoral Baltimore writer Blaine Taylor details in this illustrated history of the protection of Hitler by the SA, or storm troops; the SS, the protection squad, and the Reich security Almost all those around him were murdered, committed suicide or were hung by the Allies after the war.

service, headed by Johann Rattenhuber in the 25 years until his suicide in 1945.

Mr. Taylor's book is also, in large part, a biography of Josef "Sepp" Dietrich, a long-time friend of Hitler and a World War I veteran. He rose through the Nazi ranks in the SA and SS from Hitler's bodyguard to army group commander with the rank of general by the end of the war. He was described by Field Marshall Gerd (Karl) von Rundstedt as "decent but stupid."

But Dietrich was a survivor. Almost all those around him were murdered, committed suicide or were hung by the Allies after the war. Dietrich was tried and served 10 years in prison for his Nazi party and SS activities, including the Malmedy slaughter of American prisoners.

For the Nazi buff, and anyone who wonders how Hitler survived all those years, Mr. Taylor's book will be of great interest, for it features hundreds of photographs from the Nazi archives in Washington, not all of them good, but many reproduced for the first time.

The book's major flaw is that it is badly organized, so that the reader jumps back and forth. Also, the author could have cut down on the number of sentences that begin with declaratives. They read like Time magazine copy of 40 years ago.

Geoffrey W. Fielding is a Baltimore writer.

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