Friday, July 21, 2017

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

William Shirer was a journalist who lived in Germany during the rise of Hitler. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich covers the life of Hitler and his rise and eventual fall from power. It is extremely verbose, and spends a lot of time covering the early stages of the third Reich (the time when the author was present in Germany.) He inserts plenty of his own opinion in the work. The author seems to have an extremely negative few of Hitler, with an underlying message that he only came to power because of his Stormtrooper thugs. However, that does seem a bit too simplistic. (Were these thugs requiring everyone to buy Mein Kaumpf?) He is quick to demean all aspects of national socialism. (The Nazi "arts" were constantly demeaned.) The rise felt like it was excessively colored by the knowledge of the impending fall.

The "fall" part is more rushed. Much of the space is devoted to the cruelty of the nazi regime. The "science experiments" may have had some intention of finding ways to help German troops, but they were primarily just torture and executions. The torture and extermination of the Jews had no excuse other then that the German's thought they were the source of problems. Even slavs were treated as inferior, with education of these "brutes" seen as something bad.
The book has a strong journalistic feel. It delves into the sensationalist and the strong personality. The historical actions are covered, but not in as great detail as the characters. Hitler's petty attacks and grudges are presented as a reason for Germany's defeat. If he would not have devoted effort to quash Yugoslavia, the Soviet attack could have been carried out earlier, leading to a more likely German victory. If he wouldn't have pandered to his "alies" (or stabbed them in the back) he could have kept his small empire without further conflict. The many attempts to assassinate Hitler are also given plenty of coverage. What would have happened if they had succeeded?

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