‘Giving Hitler Hell’ : The Best Longform.org Story of the Week

Some critics worry that smartphones and tablet computers will ruin our ability to focus on long form material. To fight this trend, we will have the editors of Longform.org pick an essay for your weekend reading pleasure every week.

This week, editors Aaron Lammer and Max Linsky picked “Giving Hitler Hell” by Matthew Brzezinski from a July 2005 issue of The Washington Post.

Here’s why they picked it: “Some great pieces were published this week—there’s been a lot of chatter about Sarah Ellison’s big Vanity Fair feature on Julian Assange’s relationship with the mainstream media, and Rob Walker’s “Cyberspace When You’re Dead” in the Times will certainly get you thinking. But this story by Brzenzinski, the details of which were kept secret for sixty years, is just impossible to shake. Here’s the short version: Arnold Weiss, all of 13, escapes Germany in 1938 and leaves his family behind. He returns seven years later as a U.S. intelligence officer. His mission? Track down fugitive Nazis.”

During the holiday weekend, the editors chose The Incredible True Story of the Collar Bomb Heist by Rich Schapiro in the December 2010 issue of Wired.

Here’s more about the story: “In 2003, a man named Brian Wells robbed a Pennsylvania bank with a bomb locked around his neck. Fifteen minutes later, he was caught by police. Wells said he’d been forced to commit the crime, that the bomb was there against his will. But before he could say who, the bomb detonated, ending his life and leading investigators on a years-long search for the mastermind behind one of the most bizarre heist plans in history.”