Book Review: Hitler and His Allies in World War II


by Jonathan R. Adelman, editor

New York: Taylor & Francis/Routledge, 2007. Pp. ix, 253. Tables, notes, index. $34.95. ISBN:0415321670

 Over the past few years, scholars of World War II have paid increasing attention to the subject of Germany and coalition warfare. In addition, thanks to the efforts of MacGregor Knox, Brian Sullivan, Mark Axworthy, Richard Bessel, and others, more scholarship has been devoted to the minor Axis powers, particularly Italy and Romania, and the respective roles they played in the war. Jonathan Adelman, Professor of International Studies, University of Denver, has brought forth a book of essays on this subject. The result, to be frank, is disappointing.

The book is structured logically enough. The first three essays, by Adelman, are a lengthy introductory essay, followed by pieces on German-Soviet relations from 1939-1941 and German-Japanese relations from 1941-1945, respectively. The rest of the essays deal with Vichy France, Italy, Hungary, Romania and Spain. Adelman closes the work with a short conclusion. The only criticism here would be the absence of an article on Finland, a serious omission. Also the article on Spain is so short that it seems to have been included almost as an afterthought.

As is normally the case with a book of this nature, the quality of the articles tends to be rather uneven. Easily the best of the group is Brian Sullivan's look at the German-Italian alliance from 1939-1943. Rather than simply examining the German-Italian alliance from the perspective of the personal relationship between Hitler and Mussolini, Sullivan takes a broader view of German-Italian relations, to include those between individual services. This is well supported by both documentary and secondary sources, typical of the kind of meticulous work we have come to expect from Sullivan.

The article on Vichy France's foreign policy by Peter Jackson and Simon Kitson was also interesting. The authors clearly lay out the severely limited options available to the Petain government in the aftermath of the French collapse, especially in regard to the defense of the empire. Ultimately, Vichy France was pulled in two directions, neither of which completely meshed with the other. Jackson and Kitson cover this material in a careful and nuanced manner.

Attila Pok's and Dennis Deletant's articles on Hungary and Romania, respectively, deal more with personalities than polities. Thus the articles spend more time on the figures of Miklos Horthy and Ion Antonescu. This serves to limit the scope of the articles, and thus their utility. The article by Christian Leitz on German-Spanish relations is too short to be of great value. On the issue of Gibraltar, Leitz does not address the work of Norman Goda, a serious omission.

The weakest articles are by Adelman. His introduction makes the claim that there is "not a single book" on the subject of Germany and coalition warfare, overlooking this reviewer's own work, which came out two years before Adelman's book appeared. The articles on German-Soviet and German-Japanese relations seemed to be based on a handful of secondary sources. The article on Japan in particular is marred by poorly thought out assertions. Adelman states that Germany could have done more for Japan than sending a meager amount of materiel by submarine, and that Japan sent far more people to Germany than vice versa. This completely ignores the fact that Japanese submarines had far greater range and carrying capacity than German ones. Germany had only a handful of submarines capable of making the trip, and even those required re-provisioning at some point in the voyage. Adelman also has Molotov visiting Berlin in both October and November 1940, when only November would have sufficed. And he features two different spellings of Richard Overy's name. In short, the editor needed an editor.

Taken all together, outside of Sullivan's article, the work as a whole is lacking. The great potential that the book has goes unrealized.

Reviewer: Richard L. DiNardo   

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