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Starred Review. In this brief, insightful book, German sociologist Allert writes penetratingly about the gesture familiar around the world. Working like a preservationist on a minute canvas, he shows readers the cascade of meanings that rush through everyday greetings in general. But Allert's keen eye is trained on Germany, and he provides a wonderful depiction of regional, class and gender-specific greetings, from the kissed hand to the low, scraping bow. All of these were supplanted by the Hitler salute. Hitler was the suprahuman being in whom Germans invested their hopes, which they reaffirmed every time they raised their arms and shouted the Führer's name. As the salute penetrated every sphere of social life, it made Nazism omnipresent and Germans a unified community. It also affirmed authority for the ruler as well as over the ruled. Allert draws fruitfully on memoirs and letters. Readers encounter Germans who joyfully raised their arms to the Führer and also those who went to any length to avoid the gesture and sometimes paid dearly for their opposition to the Nazis. Allert's book shows how much can be gained from a close study of the daily rituals we barely think about yet are packed with meaning. (Apr. 1)
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“Stirring… Allert’s The Hitler Salute, a joyously sharp account of a massively evil slice of human history, doesn’t treat the Nazis’ obligatory two-word, one-arm greeting as a product of evil, but as its enabler. He argues, movingly, that the salute wounded Germans’ sociability, connectedness, and personal sovereignty, warping the holy human order.”
—The New York Observer
“The natural counterpart to the oft-used, darkly ironic quip ‘there’s no business like Shoah business’ is that nothing sells quite like the Nazis. Tilman Allert’s slim, understated book, however, has no part in that cottage industry.… With its analytic punch and range of fresh insights, The Hitler Salute offers a novel contribution to what frequently appears to be an old, tired—and, alas, tiresome—discussion of the Third Reich.”
“Tilman Allert encourages us to look at the microcosmic world of greetings to see how social mores decay… The Hitler salute was not only a stark indication of the extent to which ideology intruded into the most pedestrian routines of everyday life but, according to Allert, also served to ‘silence a nation’s moral scruples.’”
—The Chronicle of Higher Education
“Insightful… Allert’s book shows how much can be gained from a close study of the daily rituals we barely think about yet are packed with meaning.”
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A compact, lucid study of the Third Reich’s preferred greeting… Straightforward in its analysis yet profound in its conclusions, this uncommon selection sheds elusive light on the question of how Nazi ideology managed to penetrate even the most ordinary social interactions.”