Munich Playground

Nazis at play




Dateline 1941: Hitler's forces have smashed into western Europe, defeated France, threatened England, and attacked Russia. Many people think of them as "an awe-inspiring group of ascetic, fanatic, and inhuman supermen."

Ernest R. Pope knew all too well how illusory this idea was. As senior correspondent for Reuters inside the Third Reich from 1936-1941, American Ernest Pope saw the cruel and outrageous behavior of Nazis in their native habitat. In Munich they ran wild, let their hair down, and indulged in every fantasy money and power could avail them. Pope has all the gossip...and the confirmed stories.

"I have seen the leading actors in the Nazi tragedy, playing their parts on the Bavarian stage. Long before the climax—the outbreak of the war—I knew what the denouement in Hitler's theater would be."

Pope knew, saw, and/or interviewed all the top Nazis and dozens of lower-level officials, including some of Hitler's security. He saw the Nazis for what they were: a corrupt, debauched, all-too-human menace.

Once back in the U.S., Pope let loose his frustration and ire at what he'd seen—but couldn't write about when he was reporting from Germany. With great humor and fast-paced prose, he writes of encounters with Hitler, Hess, Streicher, and many more.

He was in Munich during the fated compromise with Chamberlain. He reported on the Nazi invasions of Austria and Czechoslovakia.

He reported on Hitler's obsession with Dorothy van Bruck's "blitz-tease" and he knew Hitler's English girlfriend, Unity Mitford.

Pope turns his savage wit and erudition on his former hosts. Fluent in Bavarian German dialect, Pope made many friends in Munich with citizens and officials alike. He heard jokes from Munichers that could get them thrown in a concentration camp and he poked fun at Nazis whenever he dared.

You won't find another account like this of the Nazis in their favorite playground.

Pope turns serious in the final chapters. As he left Germany, he knew he was saying goodbye to friends he would never see again.

Praise for Munich Playground

"Ernie Pope was the only American correspondent in the Bavarian capital...there the Nazi lords led by Hitler relaxed...and frolicked. Mr. Pope at no little risk to himself watched them...seeing a side of Naziism that his colleagues in Berlin knew little of."
William L. Shirer
Author of Berlin Diary and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
"In Berlin the year before the war, the strange German grapevine which even then carried about all the news there was brought stories of a tall American in Munich named 'Herr Popeye.' He was said to drink with important Nazis, to tell underground jokes to Gestapo agents, to know the inside story of political corruption in Hitler's home town as a police reporter knows the rackets in a small American city. On investigation, 'Popeye' turned out to be Ernest Pope; the legend turned out to be true."
Joseph Barnes
NY Herald Tribune
"The most astonishing new book about the grisly world of the Nazis is Munich Playground by Ernest R. Pope, a bouillabaisse of strange tales and straight reporting, halfway between the classic foreign correspondent's memoirs and one of the heartier merry-go-round volumes of today. Pope...went to Munich as a freelance, soon found himself the only American correspondent there, worked for several British and almost every leading American paper at one time or another between 1936 and 1940, and became something of an institution."
Charles Poore
Books of the Times

About the Author

American journalist Ernest R Pope was Reuters correspondent in Munich from 1936 to 1941. This was his only book.

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