OPC member Andrew Nagorski, an award-winning journalist who worked for more than three decades for Newsweek, has taken another deep dive into World War II, this time with a close look at the early days of Hitler’s campaign and its galvanizing affect on allies. 1941: The Year Germany Lost the War [Simon & Schuster, June 2019], is Nagorski’s fourth book about different aspects of the war. He chronicles how Hitler’s tactical mistakes and policies of terror forged a new and powerful alliance among Churchill, FDR, and Stalin.
By the start of 1941, Hitler had already cast his shadow over most of Europe. Poland and France had quickly fallen. Britain remained removed from the conflict, though German bombers were attacking its cities and German U-boats harassed its ships. Stalin was still observing the terms of the Nazi-Soviet pact. Roosevelt vowed to stay out of the war. Hitler was confident that victory was within reach.
Nagorski wrote that Hitler’s plan to invade the Soviet Union was not kept secret, due to Soviet spies and Nazi leaks. Allied forces tried to warn Stalin several times, but were dismissed as capitalist propaganda. Nonetheless, Hitler risked several attacks and lost due to disastrous military blunders. His rush to declare war on the United States after the attack on Pearl Harbor helped to secure U.S. involvement. Britain emerged with two powerful allies, and Germany was doomed to defeat.
Nagorski’s book is a portrait of hubris and megalomania pitted against the emerging opposition. His chronicle sets the stage for how events led to the Holocaust, and foreshadows the postwar division of Europe, which ultimately led to the Cold War.
During his long tenure at Newsweek, Andrew Nagorski spent three years as Berlin bureau chief. This role allowed him to examine the country’s efforts to overcome division, their immigration debate, and German-Jewish relations. His experiences in Germany, and later in Warsaw, helped him to write his multiple books on World War II. Nagorski was also a bureau chief in Hong Kong, Rome, Bonn, Moscow, and Berlin. He has been a member of the OPC since 2001.