FINAL ENTRIES 1945: The Diaries of Joseph Goebbels by Joseph Goebbels

FINAL ENTRIES 1945: The Diaries of Joseph Goebbels

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Joseph Goebbels, Nazi ""Minister for Propaganda and Enlightenment"" and one of the few party leaders with an original mind, kept a diary of daffy events and impressions until the very end of the Third Reich. Only now, however, have the last entries come to light, a record of the 39 days from February 27 to April 9, 1945. (Hitler committed suicide on April 30, Goebbels on May 1.) Reproduced exactly as Goebbels dictated them, these pages represent an unrevised rough draft and, as a result, while often clumsy, repetitive, and unpolished, they portray with striking immediacy the unreality and wishful thinking that surrounded the doomed Hitler. Even as the ""Military Situation"" summaries that open each entry describe Allied advances, Goebbels predicts a collapse of the democracies, whose war efforts, he claims, have led to domestic dissension and labor unrest. Aware that military victory is impossible, he clings to the possibility of a political accommodation with the Soviet Union, and looks to the history of the Punic Wars and Frederick the Great to bolster his futile hope for a political miracle. And, typically, Goebbels' analysis of Soviet military superiority--while German generals are too old and ""aliens to our National-Socialist ways,"" Soviet generals ""are fanatical adherents of bolshevism and so they fight fanatically""--leads to the fantastic decision to restructure an army that no longer exists. But more chilling by far is the realization that Goebbels the propagandist was still at work, propagating the ""Hitler Myth."" The Fuehrer is the ""eternal revolutionary surrounded by mediocre people,"" the man who always ""perceives everything correctly"" in a vision ""unimaginable to simpler military minds."" Gradually, by dint of repetition, these stock phrases gain an eerie validity, and when Goebbels speaks of Hitler's physical, mental, and moral resilience the words, however false, ring true in the context of the myth. There is much more of interest in the book, but this palpable contact with Nazi mythology alone makes it required reading for the historian or reader concerned with understanding Nazism.

Pub Date: May 22nd, 1978
ISBN: 184415646X
Publisher: Putnam