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THE THIRD REICH IN POWER by Richard J. Evans Kirkus Star

THE THIRD REICH IN POWER

1933-1939

By Richard J. Evans

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 2005
ISBN: 1-59420-074-2
Publisher: Penguin Press

Attaining power is one thing, as the first volume—The Coming of the Third Reich (2004)—in Cambridge historian Evans’s trilogy on Nazi Germany demonstrated. The challenge is keeping it.

If a European of 1910 had had to guess where a violent irruption of anti-Semitism would occur within a few decades, the answer likely would have been France. Germany achieved the distinction when the avowedly racist Nazi Party took its place at the head of government and promulgated laws “against class struggle and materialism, for the national community and an idealistic outlook.” After the Night of the Long Knives, the Nazis were effectively unopposed; yet, by Evans’s account, much of their effort was thereafter directed toward convincing the German people to buy into the antireligious, totalitarian tenets of the police state. As late as 1939, many German teachers paid only lip service to Nazism; one student recalls, “It was very difficult for me to accept any teaching at all, because I never knew how much the teacher believed in it or not.” The Nazi leadership had to contend not only with resistance on the part of adults, but also with an exuberant Hitler Youth as wild and uncontrollable as the Red Guards would prove to be in China. Eventually, the Nazis secured near-total power, yet what really won hearts and minds was the party’s fulfillment of “the basic desire of the vast majority for order, security, jobs, the possibility of improved living standards and advancement”—all the things that the Weimar government had not been able to deliver. That vast majority seemed largely unmoved that Jews, gays, the political opposition and other undesirables were disappearing, or that the government quickly forgot its promises to save the middle class and small businesses and instead took the interests of the major corporations as its own.

A superb account of the growth and day-to-day functioning of the Nazi state.