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Life and Death in the Third Reich - Peter Fritzsche

Life and Death in the Third Reich


Published: 1st September 2009
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RRP $54.99

On January 30, 1933, hearing about the celebrations for Hitler's assumption of power, Erich Ebermayer remarked bitterly in his diary, "We are the losers, definitely the losers." Learning of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, which made Jews non-citizens, he raged, "hate is sown a million-fold." Yet in March 1938, he wept for joy at the Anschluss with Austria: "Not to want it just because it has been achieved by Hitler would be folly."

In a masterful work, Peter Fritzsche deciphers the puzzle of Nazism's ideological grip. Its basic appeal lay in the Volksgemeinschaft--a "people's community" that appealed to Germans to be part of a great project to redress the wrongs of the Versailles treaty, make the country strong and vital, and rid the body politic of unhealthy elements. The goal was to create a new national and racial self-consciousness among Germans. For Germany to live, others--especially Jews--had to die. Diaries and letters reveal Germans' fears, desires, and reservations, while showing how Nazi concepts saturated everyday life. Fritzsche examines the efforts of Germans to adjust to new racial identities, to believe in the necessity of war, to accept the dynamic of unconditional destruction--in short, to become Nazis.

Powerful and provocative, "Life and Death in the Third Reich" is a chilling portrait of how ideology takes hold.

Fritzsche effectively takes up one of the key controversies surrounding the Third Reich: to what extent were the German people accomplices of the regime?...Others have argued that the German people were either manipulated and deceived by, or converted to, Nazism. Fritzsche provides a more nuanced argument that the Nazis were quite successful in winning the people's support, but it took time and effort...Fritzsche mines diaries and letters written by the famous and well-placed as well as the unknown, to show that the prospects of German grandeur and unity resonated deeply with many people, even when it meant a hugely destructive war and the genocide of the Jews. Fritzsche offers a significant interpretation of Nazism and the German people, and writes with a vibrancy that is not often found in studies of the Third Reich. Publishers Weekly 20080107 [A] fascinating book...Fritzsche's book demolishes the myth of contemporary ignorance about the Shoah and the artificial divide between the apolitical Wehrmacht and the evil SS. As the aerial bombing campaign destroyed German cities, the citizenry transformed their status as perpetrators and beneficiaries of Nazi policy into that of victims, thereby quelling postwar confrontation with reality for more than a generation. Fritzsche's book demonstrates that there are still numerous areas of the Nazi era in which historians may delve. -- Frederic Krome Library Journal (starred review) 20080301 Peter Fritzsche's book is one that will undoubtedly court controversy. His aim is to show that "more Germans were Nazis" and that Germans were "more National Socialist" than had been previously accepted...This book combines a compelling historical narrative with a thought-provoking analysis. -- Lisa Pine Times Higher Education Supplement 20080403 Fritzsche writes with his customary flair and verve, and packs an enormous amount into a relatively short volume...His immensely readable and intelligent book makes superb use of letters and diaries to communicate the experience of ordinary people under Nazism in a way that few other historians have been able to do. -- Richard J. Evans New York Review of Books 20080626 What Peter Fritzsche does so well in his new book, Life and Death in the Third Reich, is show the systematic breakdown and reshaping of a society...Fritzsche paints such a nuanced and exhaustively researched portrait of German National Socialism that in the end it just doesn't suffice simply to call the Nazis architects of death. They were, of course, but the political wave they rode in on was something of a phenomenon. So adroit were the Nazis at all-consuming manipulation that they were able to essentially recast the entire destiny of a country in such a way as to make the Holocaust actually seem to make sense, at least in the context of their own barbaric political framework. -- Jeffrey White PopMatters.com 20080902 Fritzsche combines the most recent research with his own investigation of primary sources to create an important synthesis of National Socialist goals and ideology among the ordinary citizenry of the Third Reich. -- J. Kleiman Choice 20090201

Reviving the Nation
"Heil Hitler!"
How Far Did Germans Support the Nazis?
Volksgemeinschaft, or the People's Community
Consuming the Nation
Unter Uns, or Nazism's Audiovisual Space
Racial Grooming
Aryan Passports
Biology and the National Revolution
Seeing like an Aryan
The Camp
Unworthy Life
The Assault on German Jews
Empire of Destruction
Writing Letters
The Imperial Project
The Expansion of the German Empire
Final Solutions to the "Jewish Problem"
The Deportation of German Jews
The Holocaust
Intimate Knowledge
Train Station
Jewish Witnesses
German Witnesses
Perpetrators and Victims
Imagining the End of the War
Reading Catastrophe
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780674034655
ISBN-10: 0674034651
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 1st September 2009
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.0 x 14.0  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.36