THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE THIRD REICH by Pierre Ayçoberry

THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE THIRD REICH

1933-1945
by & translated by
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A significant contribution to the study of German society under Nazism. Ayáoberry (Contemporary History, Emeritus/Univ. of Human Sciences, Strasbourg; The Nazi Question, 1981) has produced a complex sociological analysis of life in Hitler’s Third Reich. Noting that the movement and the regime were the products of violent ideas and acts, he begins by discussing the violence that accompanied Hitler’s accession to power. He then proceeds to cover all the participants in the terrible ordeal that was Hitler’s Germany and tries to show who was likely to belong to which group, and why. Perhaps his signal achievement is the portrayal of the Third Reich as an eminently complex society, where people from all classes, with divergent experiences, acted in ways that defy easy classification. The constants of the Reich, from violence and death to propaganda and corruption, have been known for years. It is the degree to which people were violent, or why they murdered Jews, or how much they believed or refused to acknowledge, that are the significant questions to answer. Finding the German people complicit in war and genocide, Eyáoberry repeatedly stresses the human frailty and opportunism that, within the contexts of national tradition and totalitarian oppression, became the main causes for so much death and destruction. In the end, he concludes, German society as a whole did become Nazified, however one may define that term. In particular, the pillars of modern Germany—the military, the churches, industry, and the state bureaucracy—all failed to uphold the so-called civilized values they espoused, with catastrophic results. Regrettably, Ayáoberry, by failing to consider Burleigh and Wippermann’s The Racial State and Friedlander’s Nazi Germany and the Jews, downplays the impact that Nazi racial indoctrination and anti-Semitism had on German society. A learned work that all knowledgeable students of the period will have to consult for years to come.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 1-56584-549-8
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: The New Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1999




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