The Third Reich in Power

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9780713996494: The Third Reich in Power

The definitive account of Germany's malign transformation under Hitler's total rule and the implacable march to war.

By the middle of 1933, the democracy of the Weimar Republic had been transformed into the police state of the Third Reich, mobilized around the cult of the leader, Adolf Hitler. If this could happen in less than a year, what would the future hold? Only the most fervent Nazi party loyalists would have predicted how radical the transformation ahead would be.

In The Third Reich in Power, Richard J. Evans tells the story of Germany's radical reshaping under Nazi rule. Every area of life, from literature, culture, and the arts to religion, education, and science, was subordinated to the relentless drive to prepare Germany for war. His book shows how the Nazis attempted to penetrate and reorder every aspect of German society, encountering many kinds and degrees of resistance along the way but gradually winning the acceptance of the German people in the long run.

Those who were seen as unfit to be counted among the German people were dealt with in increasingly brutal terms. The Nazi regime took more and more radical measures against the racially "unfit," including Germany's Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally ill, "asocial" and "habitual" criminals. After six years of foreign policy brinkmanship that took the Nazi regime from success to success, Hitler's drive to prepare Germany for the war he saw as its destiny reached its fateful hour in September 1939. The war he unleashed was to plunge the world into a maelstrom of genocide and destruction. The Third Reich in Power is the fullest and most authoritative account yet written of how, in six years, Germany was brought to the edge of that terrible abyss.

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Review:

The second work in a planned three-volume series (after 2004's Coming of the Third Reich) this book starts with the Nazis' complete assumption of power and creation of a one-party state in 1933, and goes to September 1939 and the beginning of World War II. In sharp detail, Evans shows how Hitler seized upon his political victory and immediately began his plan for the Nazi infiltration of every aspect of German society. The Nazi propaganda blitz covered everything from local councils to social clubs to all voluntary associations. And when propaganda didn't work, coercion and fear did. At the behest of Hitler, the brownshirts and SS (secret police) ruthlessly harassed, beat, and murdered the Jews and Communists first, but later targeted anyone who showed even the slightest criticism of Nazi activities. Those Germans who disapproved of the Nazis were mainly confined to acts of passive resistance to Hitler's totalitarian rule. Nationalism proved to be the one issue capable of galvanizing the nation, as the Nazis' growing power helped to erase the shame and humiliation of the Treaty of Versailles that closed World War I.

Over the course of the book, Evans shows how everything Hitler did in this period was designed to prepare the nation for a war--"a life and death struggle"--whose aim was less geographical conquest than racial purity. Hitler's main objective was "to remould the minds, spirits and bodies of the German people to make them capable and worthy of the role of the new master-race that awaited them." Though Hitler did not work alone, Evans makes it clear that he was the overwhelming driving force behind it all, including policies regarding education, eugenics, and foreign affairs. Well written and logically organized, The Third Reich in Power is an impressive work of meticulous, readable history. --Shawn Carkonen

About the Author:

Richard J. Evans is Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His books include Death in Hamburg (winner of the Wolfson Literary Award for History), In Hitler's Shadow, Rituals of Retribution (winner of the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History), In Defense of History, Lying About Hitler, and The Coming of the Third Reich. He was educated at Oxford University.

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