Louis Eltscher is a passionate historian with a love of politics and, of course, history. The author’s upbringing in a distinctly turbulent time of history has nurtured his profound respect for and dedication to the subject.
Born to German-American parents in 1932 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Eltscher’s childhood was heavily saturated with World War II propaganda. Within the United States, people of German ancestry faced a number of hateful comments and actions as a result of the war. Anything associated with Germany became stereotyped as blood-thirsty and barbaric. As a result, Eltscher wondered about his own characteristics and attraction to militarism, which manifestly led to a lifelong study of German history and the publication of “Traitors or Patriots?: A Story of the German Anti-Nazi Resistance.”
The book features numerous accounts of groups and independently-acting individuals who sacrificed their lives in the attempt to rid Germany of the morally corrupt and ruthlessly murderous Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime. Beginning at the conclusion of World War I, Eltscher recaps the desolate conditions succeeding the end of the war that inevitably made an economically- and socially-weakened Germany susceptible to Hitler’s rise and false promises. Eltscher is thorough and comprehensive in his relation of German history, recounting everything from the early influences of Prussia on the German army to the demise of the Weimar Republic, a condition that contributed to the rise of the Nazi Party.
This broad study of German history becomes narrowed down as Eltscher pinpoints key individuals and morally disillusioned groups who sought Hitler’s elimination. Concisely written and incredibly informing, Eltscher’s second edition of this work illuminates the history of a discordant nation whose experiences serve as applicable lessons for world events today.
“Traitors or Patriots,” a decade long work in the making, is written for those who wish to learn more about history and its implications. According to Eltscher, all information within the book is featured in published accounts, with more than 95 percent coming from German history books.
The primary goal he hopes to convey is that not all Germans of the time were Nazis. There were individuals within Germany who fiercely opposed Hitler’s rule and the actions that came with it. A number of people, both individual and collective groups, were willing to risk death as a result of their deeply imbued moral courage to rid the nation of Nazis and restore Germany back to its former glory. Though the regime did see the support of many German people, there were a number of factors (economic, political, and emotional) all touched upon within the book that clearly exemplify just how conflicted many were by Hitler’s violent actions and his words of promise for a better Germany.
It is exactly this conflict that Eltscher accredits to being one of the most difficult parts in writing the book. During his process, he wished to remain balanced and neutral, illustrating how deep-rooted evil does exist; however, so too do those with substantial senses of morality and courage who are willing to challenge death at the desires for a brighter future.
Eltscher’s attribute to the greatest failure of the anti-resistance movement points to a certain irony: the attempted assassins were not blood-thirsty enough. They did not harbor the supposed German characteristics that defined their nation and brutal ruler. Many groups and individuals themselves, particularly within the army, longed for a return to Imperial Germany and desperately believed Hitler would serve as the messiah, the benefactor that would revive the nation’s golden days.
Particularly in political climates across the world today, Eltscher’s account of Nazi Germany serves as a potent warning to the harms of totalitarianism. He finds that the vilification of the adversary can often leave the public susceptible to people with political prowess, as was the case of Germany following the conclusion of World War 1. Political and military struggles found across the world today highlight his theory. Yet, by his clear descriptions of key resistance figures, Eltscher demonstrates a hopeful attitude towards nations that parallel Germany’s once-totalitarian police state, for where there is a source of malevolence, just assuredly lies a source of integrity waiting to be surfaced.
Louis Eltscher resides in Dryden, New York. The author currently does not have any upcoming works. “Traitors or Patriots?: A Story of the German Anti-Nazi Resistance” is available for purchase now.