USM German professor publishes book
Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 00:01
Earlier this month, Skyhorse Publishing released the English translation of “Bombing Hitler: The Story of the Man Who Almost Assassinated the Führer,” which was completed by University of Southern Mississippi German professor William Odom.
“Bombing Hitler” was originally published in Germany in 1999 by Hellmut Haasis. The book chronicles an assassination attempt on the life of Adolf Hitler by Georg Elser, a working-class man from Swabia, in the South of Germany. Elser feared that the country was being oppressed by Hitler’s regime and that killing Hitler was the only way to stop an impending war. Without telling his friends or family, Elser crafted two time bombs over thirty days that were set to detonate at 9:20 p.m. on Nov. 8, 1939, when Hitler was supposed to be in the middle of an annual speech at the Munich Beer Hall. The bomb went off successfully and killed eight people, but Hitler was not one of them. Due to travel complications, Hitler was forced to leave early, avoiding death by 13 minutes. Elser was captured while trying to flee to Switzerland, interrogated, imprisoned in concentration camps, and executed in April 1945 due to suspicion that he was working for foreign forces. Hitler committed suicide just a few weeks after Elser’s death.
Odom feels that Elser’s story is often overlooked in the United States and wanted to bring awareness to this historical event by translating “Bombing Hitler.”
“It’s important for us to understand that German society and culture were not monolithic back then,” Odom said. “It wasn’t all lockstep, and not everybody thought exactly alike. It was a repressive society. There were people who definitely opposed the system and did what they could to oppose it in many different ways. Georg Elser was fairly unique in what he did and incredibly courageous and persistent.”
Although many assassination attempts were made, Odom feels Elser’s should receive recognition because his was the closest to success.
“If it had not been for a completely unexpected last-minute change of plans, Hitler would surely have been killed,” Odom said. “Elser planned it very carefully, understanding Hitler gave a presentation at the same time at the same place every year for the same length of time.”
Odom has been a professor at USM since 1974 and is the author of “German for Singers,” which is used throughout the country by various universities and conservatories. He has also translated “Jazz: A Photo History” and “Tomorrow We’ll Be in Switzerland.”
There will be a book signing at Barnes & Noble at Southern Miss Thursday from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. “Bombing Hitler” is available in Hattiesburg bookstores and online.