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The book is a brief yet comprehensive survey of the institution, cultural, and social life of the Third Reich—and Hitler's role in it, the Second World War, and the Holocaust. Based on current research findings, it spans an era of economic, social, and political forces that made possible the rise and growth of Nazism. Coverage includes material on anti-Jewish policies and the involvement of ordinary Germans in the Holocaust, the social composition and membership of the Nazi party and its leaders, the mechanisms of terror and control, the machinery of the Final Solution, and the Jewish view of the Holocaust. An in-depth look at Adolf Hitler, the man and the leader, examines influences on his early development, character traits, oratorical skills, messianic pretensions, and provides an analysis of his ideology based on extensive quotations from his writings and speeches. For anyone trying to get more background into a panoramic view of 20th Century German history.
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The text is a brief, yet comprehensive survey of the Third Reich based on current research findings and written for students and general readers who want a deeper view of this period in German history. This text provides a balanced approach in examining Hitler's role in the history of the Third Reich. Coverage ranges from the economic, social, and political forces that made possible the rise and growth of Nazism as well as the institutional, cultural, and social life of the Third Reich, the Second World War, and the Holocaust.From the Inside Flap:
Hitler's Third Reich continues to be the object of study of many historians and writers. I am grateful for the opportunity to incorporate new material and suggestions from readers in this fourth edition of my book. Throughout the book I have made revisions, included new illustrations and added new material, especially in chapters two, three, four, six, and nine, and thoroughly updated the bibliographies at the end of each chapter.
Nazi Germany had its formal beginnings in the appointment of Adolf Hitler as chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. Hitler and the Nazis believed that they would create a Third Reich that would last a thousand years. And yet, within a brief twelve years, despite their creation of a powerful Germany and the conquest of much of Europe, they ended up totally destroyed.
The world has not forgotten the enormity of Nazi crimes against humanity. The name Hitler and the word Nazis have become virtually synonymous with evil. Historians, philosophers, and many others have struggled to explain how and why such a phenomenon as Nazi Germany could ever have occurred in the twentieth century, and especially in a country with such a humanistic cultural heritage. While massive biographies and hundreds of specialized books on various aspects of the Third Reich have been written, my purpose in writing this book has been to provide a brief but comprehensive survey of the Third Reich based on current research findings. It is intended not for specialists but for general readers who want a deeper view of this short period in German history. As seen in the title, I have emphasized the person of Adolf Hitler. While I do not believe that individuals alone determine the course of history, there is no doubt in my mind that Hitler played a crucial role in the history of the Third Reich. I have sought, however, to present a balanced picture that examines Hitler's role; the economic, social, and political forces that made possible the rise and development of Nazism; the institutional, cultural, and social life of the Third Reich; World War II; and the Holocaust. I have approached World War II and the Holocaust as logical outcomes of the ideology of Hitler and the Nazi movement. I have discussed these subjects both chronologically and thematically.
One of my major interests in writing this book has been in putting the story back in history. I believe that a combination of good analysis and narrative is both possible and desirable. Narrative history conveys the lessons of the past well and is the form that best aids remembrance. I am convinced that an understanding of the Nazi era today is crucial if we are to avoid a repetition of similar events. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Many people have helped me in one way or another to write this history of Hitler and Nazi Germany. I wish to thank Timothy Whisler, who first suggested the project and provided research assistance. David Redles gave generously of his time and ideas. I appreciate the financial and verbal support of my department heads, Gerald Eggert and Charles Ameringer. My colleague Dan Silverman read part of the manuscript and made valuable suggestions. I would also like to thank Benjamin C. Sax, University of Kansas; Eugene W. Miller, Jr., Pennsylvania State University–Hazleton; and Otto M. Nelson, Texas Tech University, for reviewing the manuscript and making helpful comments. The enthusiastic questions and responses of my students have caused me to see many aspects of Nazi Germany in new ways, and I am thankful to them. For this fourth edition, I have benefited greatly from the detailed reviews of my book by Ronald Warloski, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire and John Powell, Pennsylvania State University–Erie. I am also grateful to colleagues and students for their unsolicited comments about the book. I hope that this fourth edition will continue to assist new readers in making some sense of one of history's most disturbing experiences.
Above all, I thank my family for their support. My sons, Eric and Christian, and daughters, Jennifer and Kathryn, were patient and tolerant of their father's time in his study. In addition to providing editorial assistance, my wife Diane was a loving companion who helped me keep the rigors of writing a book in their proper perspective. In truth, I could not have written the book without her.
Jackson J. Spielvogel
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