Between 1933 and 1938, Eric Voegelin published four books that brought him into increasingly open opposition to the Hitler regime in Germany. As a result, he was forced to leave Austria in 1938, narrowly escaping arrest by the Gestapo as he fled to Switzerland and later to the United States. Twenty years later, he was invited to return to Germany as director of the new Institute of Political Science at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.
In 1964, Voegelin gave a series of memorable lectures on what he considered "the central German experiential problem" of his time: Adolf Hitler's rise to power, the reasons for it, and its consequences for post-Nazi Germany. For Voegelin, these issues demanded a scrutiny of the mentality of individual Germans and of the order of German society during and after the Nazi period. Hitler and the Germans
offers Voegelin's most extensive and detailed critique of the Hitler era.
While most of the lectures deal with what Voegelin called Germany’s "descent into the depths" of the moral and spiritual abyss of Nazism and its aftermath, they also point toward a restoration of order. His lecture "The Greatness of Max Weber" shows how Weber, while affected by the culture within which Hitler came to power, had already gone beyond it through his anguished recovery of the experience of transcendence.
Hitler and the Germans provides a profound alternative approach to the topic of the individual German's entanglement in the Hitler regime and its continuing implications. This comprehensive critique of the Nazi period has yet to be matched.