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The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Book Review

The Third Reich , by William Shirer, Book Review

William Shirers The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is a must for anyone with an interest in Nazi Germany, the rise of Hitler, and the Second World War.

What we have here is an account of the progression from World War One, the collapse of the Weimar Republic , the rise of the Nazis, then the horror of WWII. What makes Shirers work so compelling is his use of original German documents to support his work, not just as foot-notes but by placing excerpts within the text you get a real feel for the minds behind the Nazi Regime and the horrors they started.

Dictatorships thrive on bureaucracy and red-tape, everything is written down or recorded, and with the collapse of the German Army in 1945 and the surrender of Germany to the Allies, historians were in the unique position of having most of the official documents of the Nazi Regime at their disposal. Never before in history had a defeated power been so exposed, usually important documents are destroyed, but the sheer number of papers produced by the Nazi Government meant that they could never get rid of all of them, from the minutes of Nazi meetings in the 1920's, to the records of Hitler's monologues during his final days in his bunker in 1945.

Shirer covers the entire period. We learn of the probable causes of the rise of Nazism in Germany , and how the forces of the political right colluded with the Nazis to destroy their own democracy, while sealing their own fate at the same time. Shirer delves deeply into the day-to-day lives of pre-war Nazism and how it infected the lives of all Germans, with the Hitler Youth, Mothers League, Farmers League, and the famous oath where all Whermacht Officers swore allegiance to the Furher.

This book may sound heavy going and academic, but it is not. Shirer weaves his narrative into a compelling story that will keep the casual reader and researcher enthralled; he brings the period to life, a real page-turner.

If you have an interest in World War Two, and would like to learn more of it from the German perspective, then this is the book for you, I heartily recommend it.

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