Few would have thought that the Nazi Party, starting as a gang of unemployed soldiers inwould become the legal government of Germany by In fourteen years, a once obscure corporal, Adolf Hitlerwould become the Chancellor of Germany.
There was, instead, the beginning of a kind of willed forgetfulness of the horror of those years. It was not merely the Second World War, it was war to the second power, exponentially more horrific.
Not merely in degree and quantity—in death toll and geographic reach—but also in consequences, if one considered Auschwitz and Hiroshima. But inthere were two notable developments, two captures: And in October, William L.
Shirer captured something else, both massive and elusive, within the four corners of a book: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
He captured it in a way that made amnesia no longer an option. The arrest of Eichmann, chief operating officer of the Final Solution, reawakened the question Why? Why had Germany, long one of the most ostensibly civilized, highly educated societies on earth, transformed itself into an instrument that turned a continent into a charnel house?
William Shirer offered a 1,page answer. Shirer was only 21 when he arrived in France from the Midwest in Initially, he planned to make the Hemingway-like transition from newsman to novelist, but events overtook him. But nothing prepared him for the demonic, spellbinding charisma he witnessed when he took up residence in Berlin in for the Hearst newspapers and, later, for Edward R.
After war broke out, he covered the savagery of the German invasion of Poland and followed the Wehrmacht as it fought its way into Paris before he was forced to leave in December The following year—before the United States went to war—he published Berlin Diary, which laid out in visceral terms his response to the rise of the Reich.
Witnessing a Hitler harangue in person for the first time, he wrote: And there in the flood-lit night, massed together like sardines in one mass formation, the little men of Germany who have made Nazism possible achieved the highest state of being the Germanic man knows: In Shirer one can see an evolution: If in Berlin Diary his emphasis on the Germanic character is visceral, in The Rise and Fall his critique is ideological.
Other authors have sought to chronicle the war or to explain Hitler, but Shirer made it his mission to take on the entire might and scope of the Reich, the fusion of people and state that Hitler forged.
Was the Third Reich a unique, one-time phenomenon, or do humans possess some ever-present receptivity to the appeal of primal, herd-like hatred?
It remains an awe-inspiring achievement that he could capture that terrain of horror in a mere 1, pages. If Shirer was present at the rise, he was also distant from the fall—and he turned both circumstances to his advantage.
Like Thucydides, he had firsthand experience of war and then sought to adopt the analytic distance of the historian. Unlike Thucydides, Shirer had access to the kind of treasure previous historians always sought but mostly failed to find.
He also had access to the remarkably candid interviews with German generals conducted after the surrender by B.
Later historians had access—as Shirer did not—to knowledge of the Enigma machine, the British code-breaking apparatus that gave the Allies the advantage of anticipating the movements of German forces—an advantage that changed the course of the war.
Rereading the book, one sees how subtle Shirer is in shifting between telescope and microscope—even, one might say, stethoscope. Within the grand sweep of his gaze, which reached from the Irish Sea to the steppes beyond the Urals, he gives us Tolstoyan vistas of battle, and yet his intimate close-ups of the key players lay bare the minds and hearts behind the mayhem.
Shirer had a remarkable eye for the singular, revealing detail. For example, consider the one Eichmann quote he included in the book, in a footnote written before Eichmann was captured. And here is the footnote that corresponds with that passage: Shirer had a sense that this question would become important, although he could not have imagined the worldwide controversy it would stir.
For Shirer, Eichmann was no bloodless paper pusher, a middle manager just following orders, as Eichmann and his defense lawyer sought to convince the world. He was an eager, bloodthirsty killer. In fact, Shirer had a more encompassing objective, which was to link the obscene criminality of individuals to what was a communal frenzy—the hatred that drove an entire nation, the Reich itself.
What distinguishes his book is its insistence that Hitler and his exterminationist drive were a distillation of the Reich, a quintessence brewed from the darkest elements of German history, an entire culture. It was a bold decision: Hitler may have been a quintessential distillation of centuries of German culture and philosophy, but Shirer was careful not to let him or that heritage become an excuse for his accomplices.
And thus all Germany was awaiting the savior who would arise to restore, with a Third Reich, the destiny that was theirs. Here Shirer opened himself to charges of exchanging Hitler-centrism for German-centrism as the source of the horror.
He tries to trace what you might call the intellectual DNA of the Third Reich, as opposed to its ethnic chromosomal code.The city was also the birthplace of the Nuremberg Laws, a set of draconian antisemitic laws adopted by Nazi Germany. Allied bombings from until destroyed more than 90% of the city center.
Nazi Germany invades Poland and the Germans fire the first shots of World War II. Jan 15–Krakow, Poland the last major city in Germany to fall.
Jul 17–Potsdam, Germany Churchill, Truman, and Stalin meetSeventy-six prisoners of war escape THE RISE AND FALL OF HITLER’S GERMANY.
The city was also the birthplace of the Nuremberg Laws, a set of draconian antisemitic laws adopted by Nazi Germany. Allied bombings from until destroyed more than 90% of the city center.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between and , when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all .
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich offers an unparalleled and thrillingly told examination of how Adolf Hitler nearly succeeded in conquering the world.
With millions of copies in print around the globe, this is a vital and enduring classic—a superbly written, unsurpassed record of the last century's darkest hours.4/5(K).
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. (Courtesy Of Simon & Schuster) Shirer, who witnessed a Nazi rally in Nuremberg, would link the criminality of individuals to.