978-1-56584-549-7 / 9781565845497

The Social History of the Third Reich, 1933-1945


Publisher:New Press



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About the book:

Germany's legacy of belligerence, through the First and especially the Second World War, forced ordinary German people into a great deal of collective hand wringing and self-examination in the wake of their final defeat in 1945. The ensuing years saw Germans "keen to close this parenthesis and begin rebuilding society," as contemporary-history scholar Pierre Ayçoberry puts it, but they had to reconcile their role in a regime responsible for unprecedented atrocities, in near-full collusion with both industry and the church. Ayçoberry cites a broad range of postwar intellectual and political positions, "denunciations and apologias relating to the Prussian tradition ... alternated with diagnoses of the weaknesses of the Weimar Republic, suggestions for the rejuvenation of conservatism and liberalism, and attempts to answer the piercing question, 'Are we Germans different from other peoples?'"

Ayçoberry, the respected author of The Nazi Question, revisits this self-examination with an objective outsider's eye and an exceptional facility with German history. Systematically cataloguing the significant events, individuals, and organizations in Germany from 1933 to 1945, Ayçoberry sorts out the period's difficult questions, shining light on and giving explanation for the many who threw in with the Führer and recounting the penalties paid by those who didn't. Chronologically arranged sections deal with the violence and terror of the SA and SS (including the brutal Death's Heads), examine how the Nazi myth was packaged and sold to the German public, and describe day-to-day reality in fractured wartime Germany. A weighty, academic study by an authority in the field (translated from the original French), Ayçoberry's Social History of the Third Reich is a rigorous, evenhanded chronicle of a complex and chaotic time. --Paul Hughes

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