The Third Reich in History and Memory
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In the seventy years since the demise of the Third Reich, there has been a significant transformation in the ways in which the modern world understands Nazism. In this brilliant and eye-opening collection, Richard J. Evans, the acclaimed author of the Third Reich trilogy, offers a critical commentary on that transformation, exploring how major changes in perspective have informed research and writing on the Third Reich in recent years.
Drawing on his most notable writings from the last two decades, Evans reveals the shifting perspectives on Nazism's rise to political power, its economic intricacies, and its subterranean extension into postwar Germany. Evans considers how the Third Reich is increasingly viewed in a broader international context, as part of the age of imperialism; discusses the growing emphasis on the larger economic and cultural circumstances of the era; and emphasizes the development of research into Nazi society, particularly in the understanding of Nazi Germany as a political system based on popular approval and consent. Exploring the complex relationship between memory and history, Evans also points out the places where the growing need to confront the misdeeds of Nazism and expose the complicity of those who participated has led to crude and sweeping condemnation, when instead historians should be making careful distinctions.
Written with Evans' sharp-eyed insight and characteristically compelling style, these essays offer a summation of the collective cultural memory of Nazism in the present, and suggest the degree to which memory must be subjected to the close scrutiny of history.
of Nazism, what it did and how it worked. There is no doubt that this book was needed. Previous work by Browning, Döscher, McKale and others touched on the problems it covers and explored some aspects of them with exemplary thoroughness, but these books were mainly addressed to a scholarly readership and had little wider resonance. This deficit has now been remedied by Das Amt und die Vergangenheit. Despite its unevennesses and inadequacies, this book has unquestionably succeeded in proving
failure of the harvest in 1946. A year later perhaps two million Soviet citizens had died from starvation and associated diseases; in many places rationing remained in place well into the 1950s. The Americans viewed deprivation in Germany as a punishment for the crimes of Nazism, and stopped food relief from entering the country until they realised that a discontented and depressed population might become nostalgic about Hitler or could succumb to the lure of Communism, as Stalin, even at the
of interest and tries to find an answer to the perplexing question of Germany’s failure to surrender through a close study of popular opinion in the final phase of the war. The first and most obvious reason lies, it is clear, in the nature of the Nazi regime itself. The Third Reich was not a normal state. It was not even a normal dictatorship, if there is such a thing. From the start of his career, Hitler was possessed with a Social Darwinist view of the world that saw relations between states
overestimation of the resources acquired by the German Reich by killing the Jews, they fail on a larger scale to encompass the depth and breadth of Nazi antisemitism. Not only were Jews dispossessed, arrested and deported to extermination camps in East Europe from countries such as France, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Italy, and at least in the intention Denmark, very soon after they were occupied by Nazi Germany; Hitler pressed his allies such as Hungary to deliver up their Jewish population for
2006), 313–29. 54 Gregor, ‘Nazism’, 20. 55 Mason, ‘Intention and Explanation’, 229, quoted in ibid. 56 Bessel, ‘The Nazi Capture of Power’, op. cit., 183. CHAPTER 17. NAZIS AND DIPLOMATS 1 Donald M. McKale, Curt Prüfer: German Diplomat from the Kaiser to Hitler (Kent, OH, 1987). 2 Ibid., 179–87. 3 Donald M. McKale (ed.), Rewriting History. The Original and Revised World War II Diaries of Curt Prüfer, Nazi Diplomat (Kent, OH, 1988), 116. The diaries are now held in the Hoover Institution,