Promise Me You'll Shoot Yourself: The Downfall of Ordinary Germans in 1945
When Utopias Fail
Promise Me You'll Shoot Yourself is one of the best books about Nazi Germany I've read. The author is 55-year-old Nuremberg native Florian Huber, who wrote his PhD on British policy regarding the postwar occupation of Germany. The book was first published in Germany in 2015. It became a bestseller. Penguin published an English translation in 2019. Huber's writing is as crisp and gripping as prize-winning fiction. His style is a bit like Hemingway's. The main text of the book is 267 pages, followed by 20 pages of notes. Promise Me is a quick read that covers an astounding amount of history. It opens with the mass suicides prompted by Nazi Germany's defeat. It goes on to describe why so many Germans felt that suicide was the only possible response to that defeat.
Promise Me is a giant red flag, warning anyone who dreams of Utopia, and the rapid social engineering demanded by Utopians, about the dangers of such a path. Utopian attempts to change society rapidly tend to end badly. Of course Nazi Germany ended badly for Nazism's tens of millions of victims. But it also ended badly for the allegedly superior Germans promised a thousand-year Reich. Those bad consequences included not only a crushing military defeat, rape on an epidemic scale, and the loss of territory to the Soviet Union, but also mass suicide.