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From one of the world's most distinguished historians, a magisterial new reckoning with Hitler's rise to power and the collapse of civilization in Nazi Germany. In 1900 Germany was the most progressive and dynamic nation in Europe, the only country whose rapid technological and social growth and change challenged that of the United States. Its political culture was less aut From one of the world's most distinguished historians, a magisterial new reckoning with Hitler's rise to power and the collapse of civilization in Nazi Germany. In 1900 Germany was the most progressive and dynamic nation in Europe, the only country whose rapid technological and social growth and change challenged that of the United States. Its political culture was less authoritarian than Russia's and less anti-Semitic than France's; representative institutions were thriving, and competing political parties and elections were a central part of life. How then can we explain the fact that in little more than a generation this stable modern country would be in the hands of a violent, racist, extremist political movement that would lead it and all of Europe into utter moral, physical, and cultural ruin? There is no story in twentieth-century history more important to understand, and Richard Evans has written the definitive account for our time. A masterful synthesis of a vast body of scholarly work integrated with important new research and interpretations, Evans's history restores drama and contingency to the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis, even as he shows how ready Germany was by the early 1930s for such a takeover to occur. With many people angry and embittered by military defeat and economic ruin; a state undermined by a civil service, an army, and a law enforcement system deeply alienated from the democratic order introduced in 1918; beset by the growing extremism of voters prey to panic about the increasing popularity of communism; home to a tiny but quite successful Jewish community subject to widespread suspicion and resentment, Germany proved to be fertile ground for Nazism's ideology of hatred. The first book of what will ultimately be a complete three-volume history of Nazi Germany, The Coming of the Third Reich is a masterwork of the historian's art and the book by which all others on this subject will be judged.


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From one of the world's most distinguished historians, a magisterial new reckoning with Hitler's rise to power and the collapse of civilization in Nazi Germany. In 1900 Germany was the most progressive and dynamic nation in Europe, the only country whose rapid technological and social growth and change challenged that of the United States. Its political culture was less aut From one of the world's most distinguished historians, a magisterial new reckoning with Hitler's rise to power and the collapse of civilization in Nazi Germany. In 1900 Germany was the most progressive and dynamic nation in Europe, the only country whose rapid technological and social growth and change challenged that of the United States. Its political culture was less authoritarian than Russia's and less anti-Semitic than France's; representative institutions were thriving, and competing political parties and elections were a central part of life. How then can we explain the fact that in little more than a generation this stable modern country would be in the hands of a violent, racist, extremist political movement that would lead it and all of Europe into utter moral, physical, and cultural ruin? There is no story in twentieth-century history more important to understand, and Richard Evans has written the definitive account for our time. A masterful synthesis of a vast body of scholarly work integrated with important new research and interpretations, Evans's history restores drama and contingency to the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis, even as he shows how ready Germany was by the early 1930s for such a takeover to occur. With many people angry and embittered by military defeat and economic ruin; a state undermined by a civil service, an army, and a law enforcement system deeply alienated from the democratic order introduced in 1918; beset by the growing extremism of voters prey to panic about the increasing popularity of communism; home to a tiny but quite successful Jewish community subject to widespread suspicion and resentment, Germany proved to be fertile ground for Nazism's ideology of hatred. The first book of what will ultimately be a complete three-volume history of Nazi Germany, The Coming of the Third Reich is a masterwork of the historian's art and the book by which all others on this subject will be judged.

30 review for The Coming of the Third Reich

  1. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    Many questions perplex us about the Nazis, about the atrocities they committed and about the beginnings of the Second World War. How could one of the most advanced, highly cultured, industrialized and modern nation states in Europe allow such horrors to come to pass? How could democracy be replaced so easily? How did an extremist party lurking at the fringes of political life take over the entire government in such a shot time without ever raising the wrath of the bigger parties or of the people Many questions perplex us about the Nazis, about the atrocities they committed and about the beginnings of the Second World War. How could one of the most advanced, highly cultured, industrialized and modern nation states in Europe allow such horrors to come to pass? How could democracy be replaced so easily? How did an extremist party lurking at the fringes of political life take over the entire government in such a shot time without ever raising the wrath of the bigger parties or of the people? How did they establish a one party state without ever commanding a majority in any single election? To answer these perplexing questions, Richard Evans takes us to the time of the Second Reich established by Bismarck and builds the story of the german nation and the foreign influences that moulded its thoughts and political structure in a well paced and minutely detailed history. It was not a single person by the name of Hitler or a single freak party called the Nazis that precipitated this wild descent into madness that led Germany into the most devastating war in history. A wide variety of political, economic and ideological factors contributed to developing these events. Evans tries to track the growth of ideas such as antisemitism, radical nationalism, conspiracy theories and the cult of violence from the time of Bismarck. He starts the book withe the question "Why start with Bismarck?" and never really answers it. In my view, the origins of antisemitism and the wild support nazis enjoyed among protestant electorates could have been explored if one chapter had been dedicated to the history of germany before Bismarck and focussing on martin Luther and the protestant movement. But, as it is, Evans chose to not make it a study of the entire germanic history so as not to give us the impression that there was a historic inevitability to the whole process and because of this he never fully manages to convey the real reason for antisemitism and protestant support anywhere in the book, both of which are such prime candidates for investigation. Even though this is a review of the book, because my real purpose of reading the book was to understand the course of events and the causal connections that led to the world war, I will try to trace out the history from a while earlier than Evans and then join his narrative as we get to Bismarck. Antisemitism was a cultural phenomenon in Europe much before the Nazis and extreme violence against the Jews can be traced back to the First Crusade when they started being branded as 'Christ-killers' and were put in the same bracket as Muslims, progressed through the Inquisitions and Expulsions in various countries and culminated in the Final Solution in Nazi Germany. There are two types of Antisemitism - Cultural and Religious. Cultural Antisemitism is defined as "that species of anti-Semitism that charges the Jews with corrupting a given culture and attempting to supplant or succeeding in supplanting the preferred culture with a uniform, crude, "Jewish" culture." Religious Antisemitism is the "christ-killer" version mentioned earlier. Cultural antisemitism was what was adopted by the Nazis (broadly allowing this category to allow for racial Antisemitism too which discriminates based on race). Tracing back to the roots of antisemitism in Europe will take us to its deeply religious beginnings and this is probably why Evans chose to not cover it in detail. In any case, this religious hatred soon transformed into cultural and economic hated against their affluence and culminated in racial hatred once the budding ideas of Eugenics provided fuel to the fire. In the context of the Industrial Revolution, Jews rapidly urbanized and experienced a period of greater social mobility. With the decreasing role of religion in public life tempering religious antisemitism, a combination of growing nationalism, the rise of eugenics, and resentment at the socio-economic success of the Jews led to the newer, and more virulent, racist antisemitism. While these were pan-European trends, a dangerous precedent was set in Germany during the Protestant Reformation when Martin Luther described Jews as a "base, whoring people, that is, no people of God, and their boast of lineage, circumcision, and law must be accounted as filth." Luther wrote that they are "full of the devil's feces ... which they wallow in like swine," and the synagogue is an "incorrigible whore and an evil slut". This treatise is supposed to have had a major influence on the Nazi movement. Lutheranism was also ideologically very close to the kind of radical nationalism that motivated first Bismarck, then the far Right in Germany. The origins of the beginning of a sense of German identity began with the Protestant Reformation begun by Martin Luther that resulted in the spread of a standardized common German language and literature. The Three Reichs The whole of modern German history has been a nostalgic and mad attempt at regaining the old glories of the Holy Roman Reich which was also called the 'Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation'. This was soon ended by the Napoleonic Wars that threw Germany into confusion and made it a faction of warring states. Advocacy of a German nation began to become an important political force in response to the invasion of German territories by France under Napoleon. And the more distant Germany grew from that state, the more they remembered the First Reich as the ideal state when Germany was superior and dreamed of returning to these glory days. When finally Bismarck successfully unified Germany again in 1871, he became the 'ideal leader' who was bringing back the old order and a national hero for defeating those hated French who had humiliated Germany earlier. He even called this unified germany The Second Reich. Bismarck and Germany was obsessed with unification by any means, by "iron and blood". After his defeats of Denmark and Austria, France declared war on Germany, which ended with a thumping German victory and annexations of parts of France. Soon the new German Empire was established as a federation of 25 states with the King of Prussia as the Emperor. Ironically enough, this royal coronation and proclamation as the emperor of Germany was conducted at Versailles. Bismarck himself was elevated to the position of Imperial Chancellor. After his initial military campaign, Bismarck spent the est of his life trying to achieve political stability in Europe and forging alliances. He was also instrumental in Germany not participating in the wild colonial acquisitions that the rest of Europe obsessed about. But with the death of the old king, the new Kaiser Wilhelm II came into power, and his careful foreign policies fell into disfavor, the new Emperor seeking rapid expansion and colonization. He was forced to resign from the Reichstag and died soon after. Under Wilhelm II, Germany was to pursue belligerent policies that polarized the major European powers who were soon to unite with France against Germany in time for the First World War. Bismarck's most important legacy was the unification of Germany. Following this unification, Germany became one of the most powerful nations in Europe. However, this was not the complete re-unification that the people wanted and many felt that something was yet left to be done by another Leader or Führer. The figure of Bismarck became legend and the romantic ideal of a leader for the german people became someone who was a militaristic dictator who would do anything for the nation. Bismarck, a devout Protestant also left a legacy of anti-Catholicism in Germany which led to the vast protestant electorates that fueled Nazi ascension later on. He also left a legacy of anti-socialism and suppression. The First World War After having dismissed Bismarck, William II was to launch a foreign policy that culminated in the fatal decision to support Austria-Hungary in 1914 that precipitate the World War. His policies led to the gradual weakening of the bonds Bismarck had formed with Russia an with Austria-Hungary. Meanwhile France had recovered from its last defeat and was itching for revenge. French soon formed treaties with Britain and then Britain with Russia, thus forming the Triple Entente. An increasingly insecure Germany started an arms race which escalated very fast throughout Europe. Austria-Hungary in its own expansion drive started a conflict with Serbia which ended in a declaration of war with them. Russia decided to support the Serbs and once Germany announced support for Austria-Hungary, France too joined the fray, with UK joining them soon. Germany was the biggest power in Europe at this time and entered the war expecting huge gains and certain victory. They annexed huge portions of Russia and laid down draconian laws under the military legend Hindenburg. They incurred huge debts expecting to repay them with the spoils of war. But once their strategic mistakes led to America entering the war, it all went quickly downhill for them culminating in the Treaty of Versailles. The period before this had also seen the German Revolution that led to the establishment of a republic called the Weimar Republic and the Kaiser Wilhelm II fled the country. It was this Weimar Republic that had negotiated and signed the Treaty of Versailles. Hindenburg and other senior German leaders tried to soften the defeat by spreading the story that their armies had not really been defeated. This resulted in the stab-in-the-back legend, which attributed Germany's defeat to intentional sabotage of the war effort by insiders, particularly by Jews, Socialists, and Bolsheviks. This led to the denouncement of the Weimar Republic government leaders who signed the Armistice on November 11, 1918, as the "November Criminals". Conservatives, nationalists, ex-military leaders and political theorists began to speak critically about the peace. Weimar politicians, socialists, communists, Jews, and sometimes even Catholics were viewed with suspicion due to presumed extra-national loyalties. It was claimed that they had not supported the war and had played a role in selling out Germany to its enemies. The Treaty of Versailles was particularly harsh in its terms but Richard Evans draws our attention to the fact that the terms that Germany had envisaged on successful defeat of its enemies were far worse and even the treaty force on Russia was comparable. The Treaty asked Germany to take full responsibility for the war and to make heavy annual reparation payments to the victorious allies. The total cost of these reparations was assessed at 132 billion Marks in 1921 which is roughly equivalent to US $442 billion in 2012. The final payments were made on 4 October 2010. It also forced rapid disarmament and restrictions on weapons manufacture and limitation on military troops to 100,000. The conditions of the Treaty was to be decisive in many ways as the reparation payments pushed german economy over the brink and the military restrictions left german military mostly a spectator to internal changes and led to rapid gain in the importance of the paramilitary and the police. At the same time it led to a repressed rage among the german people that cascaded a series of political events that led to the radicalization of the entire political atmosphere. Adolf Hitler Hitler was not German. He was born in Austria and his family emigrated to and from Germany in his early years. His father was serving in the Austrian Government and his conflicts with his father was among the reasons postulated as having caused Hitler to develop a strong affinity for Germany and a hatred for Austria. He started considering Germany his spiritual homeland. Hitler dreamed of becoming an artist but his strict and architectural paintings were rejected as unfit by the Academy of Fine Art in Vienna. This led him to cultivate a deep anti-establishment mentality. This was also the time when the Weimar Republic was experiencing strong political difficulties and the theories of Social Darwinism, Nationalism and Eugenics were gaining in popularity. Hitler grew up reading some of the early propagandists of these theories and they deeply influenced him. Driven by these impulses Hitler joined the Bavarian army to fight for Germany in the First World War. During the war he was injured and taken to a remote hospital to recuperate. Hitler too like the rest of Germany had gone into the war with assured victory and future glories of his nation in mind. When news finally reached him of Germany's loss and of the Treaty, he was deeply shocked, humiliated and scarred for life. He was soon to pick up on the concepts of the stab-in-the-back legend and of the "November Criminals" to explain this to himself and to fuel his hatred and his ascension. He returned and continued working for the army and drifted though various movements before finding a mentor who recognized that Hitler was a good orator. Soon Hitler was using is speaking skills to motivate various factions under the direction of his superiors. He became a leading speaker at the National Socialist German Workers Party and soon became their leader and tendered his resignation to the army. His vitriolic speeches and charisma transformed the party and soon their numbers began to swell and his speeches started to attract huge attendance. As the Nazi party grew, Hitler fueled by his hatred for the government and inspired by Mussolini, organized a coup or a "Putsch" to seize power and was completely thwarted and thrown into jail. This convinced him and the party that they have to keep up appearances of legality and come to power through the democratic system itself. A gradual rebuilding of the Nazi party and a building up of it paramilitary wing was pursued after this even as the Hitler Personality Cult grew and grew and grew. They were waiting for an opportunity to make the first push towards power. Until this time only the radical right wingers and the nationalists were joining the party. Then came the Great Depression. Nazis used the fear and the confusion to drive home their ideology and became more popular party. In the 1932 election, two years into the depression, Hitler came second to Hindenburg but was already a force to be reckoned with, with over 35% votes, mostly from protestant electorates and Prussia. The inability to form a majority government lead to Hindenburg inviting Hitler to be the Chancellor of Germany in 1933. The party still had no political majority and Hitler was intended to be only a rubber stamp. But then came the famous Reichstag Fire Decree, which was the response to the parliament being set on fire by an alleged communist party member. this gave Hitler an excuse to allege a Communist Plot against Germany and suspend basic rights and undertake a violent suppression of the Communist party, which was a much bigger party than the nazis in terms of parliamentary representatives. He then called for a re-election. With the Communist Party effectively suppressed, Nazis were able to gain a majority vote but was still short of the 51% required for an absolute majority. Even though Hitler did not command a full majority, he was able to pressurize the parliament to vote for an Enabling Act. THis was achieved by banning Communist and Nation Socialist party members from attending the vote, which effectively made the Act illegal by all standards. Nevertheless, the vote was passed and the Act gave the Nazis complete legislative control for the next four years. The Act was soon used to give an appearance of legality to what turned out to be a systematic and grotesquely violent suppression of all other political parties. All political opposition was wiped away with street violence, killings and finally formal dissolution of the parties. The Nazi paramilitary wing was given the right of the Police and was free to commit any atrocities and the military were soon reconciled and made an ally. Soon Nazis were organizing a campaign to make all social groups such as sports organizations and social clubs to be centralized under the Nazi banner in a process they called "Synchronization". With the political parties suppressed and all chances of any discordant voices eliminated, the Nazis finally let loose their racial campaigns and massacres and systematic eradication of Jews, Socialists and Communists from all social, political and economic positions in the entire country. Thus with Hitler as the Supreme Commander in charge of what he called The Third Reich, with his minions wrecking havoc and with the German people perplexed at how all this came to pass, Richard Evans takes leave of us, daring us if we have the heart to continue the journey in the next book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    In the life of every World War II buff, there comes a point where he or she must ask this question: Have I read enough books about the Nazis? Actually, with the arrogance of youth, I thought I’d never come to that point. Let’s face it, the Nazis are fascinating. There has never been, and God willing will never be again, anything like them. It’s not just that they killed a lot of people because, unfortunately, genocide is nothing new to history. It’s the way they did it. The concept of evil is mu In the life of every World War II buff, there comes a point where he or she must ask this question: Have I read enough books about the Nazis? Actually, with the arrogance of youth, I thought I’d never come to that point. Let’s face it, the Nazis are fascinating. There has never been, and God willing will never be again, anything like them. It’s not just that they killed a lot of people because, unfortunately, genocide is nothing new to history. It’s the way they did it. The concept of evil is mushy and ill-defined, but if there is such a thing as “evil,” it was personified by the Nazis. They were the worst thing to ever exist in the world. Bar none. You cannot compare them to anything. They combined Germanic precision with a sociopath’s mindset and a Hollywood art director’s wardrobe (Come on! They wore black freaking uniforms with skulls on the collars! It would be over-the-top laughable if it weren’t all true). Upon finishing Richard Evans’ The Coming of the Third Reich, however, I started to question my appetite. This won’t be the last Nazi book I read, but I can definitely see the end. There have been thousands of books written about the Nazis, including William Shirer’s famous touchstone, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. There have been cultural histories, military histories, economic histories, and biographies of just about every leading Nazi. If you’re going to publish a new book, you really need to have something to offer: a fresh angle, a new interpretation, or some exceptional storytelling ability. The Coming of the Third Reich did not meet any of those criteria (which I admittedly just made up while sitting on my couch eating slices of baby Swiss cheese straight out of the packet). The Coming of the Third Reich is the first volume in a trilogy that focuses on the rise and fall of Nazism. This opening installment begins, briefly, during the reign of Bismarck and the unification of Germany. After an equally brief survey of pre-World War I Germany, the book starts in earnest with the Treaty of Versailles and the birth of the Weimar Republic. It ends in mid-1933, after Hitler has become Chancellor of Germany and the Reichstag has burned. It has an admirable scope, and because it is a trilogy, with room to breathe, it can discuss a lot of different things in one place. Accordingly, you get healthy discussions on Germany’s various pre-Hitler anti-Weimar political parties, the role of propaganda, the dire economic situation (and its effect on the already-shaky Weimar regime), and the latent anti-Semitism endemic to Germany since time immemorial, which started to mutate after World War I. However, it all feels done before. I’m sure there are subtle differences in scholarship, and I appreciated the modernity (Shirer’s Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, for instance, published in the 60s, is rife with crass homophobia), but looking at the big picture, I didn’t feel like this added anything new to my knowledge of the Third Reich. Moreover, Evans neatly sidesteps answering the looming questions posed by Saul Friedlander and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen regarding the birth of German anti-Semitism and the culpability of the German people. Both Friedlander and Goldhagen have wrestled with this question; Evans pretends that it doesn’t exist. In this dry, sober account, nothing close to a controversial point is raised. This is quintessential just-the-facts history. And to be fair, Evans, a Cambridge professor, certainly has his facts in order, as you can see if you peruse the 70 pages of notes. The closest Evans comes to having a twist on this story is his subtly-indicated belief that Hitler was not central to the Third Reich’s arrival. Evans argues (and again, I stress subtly) that the gestational environment, political leadership, and party apparatus that pushed the Third Reich into power existed before Hitler, and might have birthed it even without his assistance (though, inarguably, in some different form). Perhaps out of some sense of decorum, Evans never comes out flat and makes this case; instead, he does it by telling the story of the Third Reich almost entirely without Hitler. It was, in a word, strange. Hitler wasn’t simply diminished; rather, for hundreds of pages, he doesn’t even show up. I had two problems with this. First, in a narrative sense, removing Hitler takes away your most interesting character. At the risk of crudely reducing the Holocaust to comparative literature, it’s akin to removing Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol or Pip from Great Expectations. (On second thought, I’d have liked Pip removed from Great Expectations) By keeping Hitler at a distance, you also keep the reader at a distance, because there is no other human on which to focus. For hundreds of pages, all talk is about the abstractions of ideas and ideology. Meanwhile, all sense of the flesh and blood experience – and make no mistake, however evil he was, Hitler was human – is obliterated. Evans half-heartedly includes some diary snippets of ordinary Germans, to remind us that these events happened on earth, to real people, rather than in history books, but it isn’t quite enough. It’s a shame, too, because the best parts of The Coming of the Third Reich occur when Evans does attempt to follow a single person through these momentous times. I enjoyed, for instance, the story of Victor Klemperer, a Jewish professor who’s diary reminisces on the Great Inflation were particularly illuminating. (The Great Inflation is simply mind-boggling, with people collecting their weekly salary in wheelbarrows). The second problem is that I just don’t swallow the idea that Hitler wasn’t the alpha and omega of the Third Reich. Evans is correct to argue that the post-World War I Weimar regime was perfectly suited for the kind of radical movement embodied by the Third Reich. (A short list of those conditions include humiliation on the battlefield, a search for scapegoats that began and ended with Jews, crippling reparations, an ineffectual democratic government, and finally massive hyperinflation followed by the Great Depression). However, you can never convince me that anyone but Hitler could have used these events to do the same things Hitler did. In ordinary times, Hitler would have been committed by a mental health board and placed in a locked facility. In these extraordinary times, he became Chancellor of Germany. Sure, Hitler’s ascension was partially a quirk of fate, but it was his particular genius that allowed him to ascend, and once he got to the top, he had definite ideas about the way things should go (in other words, I’m strongly in Ian Kershaw’s “working toward the Fuhrer” camp). My reading experience might have been salvaged by particularly graceful writing. The best I can say on that topic is that this was easier to read than Michael Burleigh’s The Third Reich: A New History. Okay, that’s not entirely justified. I should say that Evans is a mostly-unobtrusive writer. This is the kind of book that could’ve been written by anyone. Well, almost. I was annoyed with Evans’ tic of interjecting clauses into every other sentence. After his 1,000th use of “indeed” to break up a sentence, I started to wonder if he had some kind of bet going with his publisher. One’s reaction to a book is quite often contextual. I realize, upon further consideration, that the biggest mark against The Coming of the Third Reich is that it’s just another in a long line of Nazi books I’ve read. If you’re coming to the subject without a lot of background, you could do worse than start and finish with Richard Evans. On the other hand, if your wife refuses to let guests into your study because your bookshelf is studded with swastika-stamped bindings, you might want to let this one pass.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sebastien

    I wanted to read this for a variety of reasons, but the main reason was that I wanted to get a clearer picture of how a Western democracy - 1920s Germany in this instance - could devolve into a violent terroristic regime like the Nazis. I'm worried about some of the parallels I'm seeing today, I get eery feelings that what happened in Germany, the circumstances that allowed for democracy to devolve into violent terroristic regime, is being replicated in today's circumstances facing contemporary I wanted to read this for a variety of reasons, but the main reason was that I wanted to get a clearer picture of how a Western democracy - 1920s Germany in this instance - could devolve into a violent terroristic regime like the Nazis. I'm worried about some of the parallels I'm seeing today, I get eery feelings that what happened in Germany, the circumstances that allowed for democracy to devolve into violent terroristic regime, is being replicated in today's circumstances facing contemporary Western democracies. The possibility of contemporary democracies falling into more radical governments fueled by hate, anger, and the politics of exclusion is possible in any country, imo. In fact it is already happening, the question is how far we will fall. Of course there are many reasons for the rise of the Nazis and how this could have happened in a developed, educated, Western democracy. The ridiculous crippling vengeful victory terms set out by the Allies was a major factor, helping lead to multiple economic crises for Germany in the 20s. But the biggest thing was that regardless of why these economic crises were taking place, there started to be a trafficking in a narrative of conspiracy theories that angrily blamed specific groups for the suffering, for the political/cultural/economic degradation of Germany. These groups included Jews, the Catholic Church, feminists, homosexuals, liberals, foreigners, global banking elite (run by the Jews, so it was claimed), etc etc. I just can't help but feel we are seeing the same thing today, except instead of Jews it has become Muslims and immigrants who are blamed and targeted. I was relatively familiar with most of the reasons the Nazis came to power. But I'll share the major point I discovered and was struck by: in 20s Germany there was a rise in 3rd rate tabloid newspapers, and the circulation rose astronomically. It was these papers that helped traffic the angry hateful conspiracy theories that blamed and targeted all the groups I mentioned in the previous paragraph. The existence and importance of these tabloid papers fueling conspiracy theories struck me, because it reminded me of today's internet and the rise of 3rd rate internet media sites that traffic in the exact same kind of hateful/angry conspiracy theories targeting and blaming specific groups. It's sad how much sway these kinds of sites have over a large swath of the public. But their lurid, bombastic, emotionally manipulative style of disinformation has proved very easy to digest, just like the tabloid papers in 20s Germany. Also I need to give a nod to a few mainstream media players, their participation in fueling these kind of conspiracy theories is also noted and not ignored. A few other elements that help to lead to a democracy's downfall: a population facing political and economic strife, being primed with ethno-nationalistic grievances... add in a cult of personality figure who steps into this mix (Hitler) who expertly leverages these grievances through riveting powerful speeches and a ruthless cunning political brilliance... and a political class that is so morally and politically cowardly, that they not only capitulate before these powers but they actively enable and champion the leader of the cult (Hitler) and his political movement, a movement which they fully know is dangerous and wrong - although I should note that not all in the political class are selfish cynics, some actually are true believers in the movement. But in the end, broadly speaking the political class is willing to sacrifice their morals for the sake of selfish careerism... Richard Evans does a fantastic job imo. I love the fact that he leaves out moralizing and avoids too much editorializing. It makes for a stronger recounting of the history. And frankly I can judge for myself the terribleness of the actions, I don't need the writer needing to cram their moral outrage down my throat. I'm sufficiently outraged as it is, thank you very much ;) I never could understand how Hitler and the Nazis came to power. But with what I'm seeing in contemporary Western democracies, I get it now. I really do. :(

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lewis Weinstein

    UPDATE 3/7/14 ... Evans presents a powerful picture of the Nazi takeover before and after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor on Jan 30, 1933. However - and it is a huge however - I am finding too many examples where statements are made by Evans without any footnotes, and also omissions of "inconvenient evidence" which contradicts his conclusions. For example, Evans totally buys the story that a Dutch Communist named Lubbe was the sole perpetrator of the Reichstag fire ... Evans: Lubbe confessed to UPDATE 3/7/14 ... Evans presents a powerful picture of the Nazi takeover before and after Hitler's appointment as Chancellor on Jan 30, 1933. However - and it is a huge however - I am finding too many examples where statements are made by Evans without any footnotes, and also omissions of "inconvenient evidence" which contradicts his conclusions. For example, Evans totally buys the story that a Dutch Communist named Lubbe was the sole perpetrator of the Reichstag fire ... Evans: Lubbe confessed to starting the fire ... it was confirmed by subsequent investigation that he had worked alone ... and does not mention a contemporaneous memorandum by Ernst Oberfohren (published a few days before he committed suicide or was murdered) that Joseph Goebbels thought up the idea of burning down the Reichstag and that Hermann Goering supervised the actual burning. Evans also reports, without attribution or documentation, that: Cardinal Faulhaber condemned the secular foundations of the Weimar Constitution as 'blasphemy' and in 1933, welcomed the promise of Nazi leadership to restore strong Christian foundations to the German state. These are both controversial matters and I find it disturbing that Evans, who provides numerous footnotes, fails to do so here. MORE TO COME ... *** PREVIOUS COMMENTS ... A brilliantly clear and comprehensive exposition of the complex events of 1930-32 which led to the appointment of Hitler as Reich Chancellor on January 30, 1933, corresponding exactly to the next chapter(s) I will be writing in my novel-in-progress CHOOSING HITLER. Evans paints a heartbreaking scenario of the many opportunities (albeit with hindsight) whereby Hitler could have been stopped. These include ... ... Nov 1932 vote was a disappointment to NS leaders … they had gathered splinter party votes but had not made inroads into Social Democrat or Centre Party voters … a feeling (among NS leaders) that NS vote may have peaked … Goebbels: "we won't get to an absolute majority this way ... something must happen ... the time for (electoral) opposition is over ... now deeds!" ... Goebbels and Hitler agreed that, if they stuck to a parliamentary route to power, the stagnation of their vote suggested that the situation might start to slip out of their grasp ... Hitler's only open route to power was to get appointed Chancellor ... the unwillingness of the Centre Party (Catholic) and the Social Democrats (socialist) to work together ... NS now (Nov 1932) had less seats (196) than the combined two Marxist parties - Communists (100) + Social Democrats (121) = 221 … Centre Party had 70 seats ... the Nazis were jubilant at the failure of the Social Democrats and trade unions to respond to the Papen coup … Goebbels wrote in his diary … "They have missed their big chance. It's never going to come again." ... the arrogant assumptions by the military and some industrialists that Hitler could be used but also controlled ... Schleicher: if Hitler establishes a dictatorship in Germany, the army will be the dictatorship within the dictatorship ... Papen: within two months we will have pushed Hitler so far into a corner that he'll squeak ... the evident peaking of the Nazi electorate ... the NS vote (Nov 1932) fell from 13.7 million to 11.7 … seats fell from 230 to 196 ... in local elections held in Thuringia (in Dec 1932) the NS vote plummeted by 40% from the previous July … NS was virtually bankrupt This is where the Nazis stood on Jan 1 1933. Yet just 30 days later, Hitler was Chancellor. What made this turnaround possible was the fact that parliamentary government no longer functioned in Germany. The country was run by Presidential decree, exercised through an appointed Chancellor. Hindenburg, in his 80s and after 7 years as President, was tired and declining. He never considered democratic alternatives. There was no effective leadership from the more moderate parties. ... after 1930 election, Reichstag virtually unmanageable … 107 brown-shirted, uniformed Nazis joined 77 well-organized Communists … raising incessant points of order, chanting, shouting, interrupting, demonstrating their total contempt for the legislature at every juncture ... power drained from the Reichstag ... every session ended in an uproar ... soon came to seem pointless to meet at all ... after Sept 1930 only negative majorities were possible .. in Feb 1931, Reichstag adjourned itself for 6 months - did not return until Oct ... from July 1932 to Feb 1933, Reichstag convened for 3 days in 6 months

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bryan Alkire

    Not for me. In fact, this book may have been the most disappointed in a book I’ve felt so far this year. I was really looking forward to reading this book since I find the formation of the Third Reich an interesting subject. But, this book fell flat for me for two reasons. First, I found it deadly dull. I’m not exaggerating by much when I say I literally fell asleep within five pages of opening the book most of the times I read it. When I didn’t fall asleep outright, I found myself constantly ch Not for me. In fact, this book may have been the most disappointed in a book I’ve felt so far this year. I was really looking forward to reading this book since I find the formation of the Third Reich an interesting subject. But, this book fell flat for me for two reasons. First, I found it deadly dull. I’m not exaggerating by much when I say I literally fell asleep within five pages of opening the book most of the times I read it. When I didn’t fall asleep outright, I found myself constantly checking page numbers to hurry up and reach my goal. I felt like I was back in school during a dull class and clock or watch watching as the time crawled by. The second reason I pan this book is because it added nothing but new detail to my understanding of the formation of the Third Reich. It’s standard history with nothing new which hasn’t already been said in the past century. So, I can’t recommend this book, though I suppose if one has never read about the topic before, it would be ok. Just don’t expect an exciting or insightful read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    howl of minerva

    The current gold-standard survey. Clear and well written. No stunning new insights which is probably a good thing. Evans argues the collapse of Weimar was inevitable and desired by all parties, left and right. Brüning, Hindenburg and von Papen had already dug its grave and collected the nails. The only question was which form of autocratic government would follow. Of course they thought they could "save themselves from the wolf by inviting him into the sheepfold". Popular support for Hitler was The current gold-standard survey. Clear and well written. No stunning new insights which is probably a good thing. Evans argues the collapse of Weimar was inevitable and desired by all parties, left and right. Brüning, Hindenburg and von Papen had already dug its grave and collected the nails. The only question was which form of autocratic government would follow. Of course they thought they could "save themselves from the wolf by inviting him into the sheepfold". Popular support for Hitler was certainly present but not overwhelming. As the leader of the largest party it was not unreasonable to offer him the chancellorship. After the failed Putsch of 1923 Hitler was careful to stay publicly within the letter of the law (roughly), while simultaneously practicing massive illegal violence through the SA. This curious dual approach was characteristic. Almost nobody anticipated the sheer brutality of the Nazi consolidation of power after 1933 with the smashing of the left (communists and social democrats), the assimilation of the right and the dismantling of the centre. The only organisation that could possibly have stopped it was the army, but they were quickly co-opted and were largely sympathetic to Nazism. Emergency legislation particularly after the Reichstag fire gave a veneer of legality to massive curtailment of civil liberties, arbitrary detention etc. (Patriot Act anyone?). By 1934 the Nazis had essentially dismantled the opposition and constructed a one-party state with one man at its head. The Third Reich was born.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    This book is an overview of how or why the Third Reich happened. It's a great big sweeping survey with like a hundred pages of footnotes and a bibliography to point readers towards just about every fact and source Evans used. It's a complicated story. Unlike what my (and maybe your) high school teacher said, it wasn't inflation. It wasn't because the Germans hate Jews, it wasn't because of the Treaty of Versailles, or any other one reason. It was a whole slew of reasons that all came together wi This book is an overview of how or why the Third Reich happened. It's a great big sweeping survey with like a hundred pages of footnotes and a bibliography to point readers towards just about every fact and source Evans used. It's a complicated story. Unlike what my (and maybe your) high school teacher said, it wasn't inflation. It wasn't because the Germans hate Jews, it wasn't because of the Treaty of Versailles, or any other one reason. It was a whole slew of reasons that all came together with the help of a few unfortunate historical accidents and unintentional precedents that allowed Hitler to be chosen as Reich Chancellor and then to carry out a reign of state sponsored terror on his own population to eliminate / neutralize opposition and dissent. On the optimistic side this book showed how the Nazi's rise to power wasn't a foregone conclusion, and a lot of mistakes had to be made to make the situation just right for it to happen. On the pessimistic side there is nothing in this book that one can safely read and think that behavior of this type is safely in the past, or that one can't see some sadly unfortunate silhouettes of populist rage going on now.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Very readable, comprehensive treatment of the combination of conditions and circumstances that made the Third Reich possible, and the tactical brilliance that took advantage of them and achieved it. At times the running litany of names got tedious and didn't add to overall understanding; I'd have preferred fewer details at times and more analysis. There are no new insights here, Very readable, comprehensive treatment of the combination of conditions and circumstances that made the Third Reich possible, and the tactical brilliance that took advantage of them and achieved it. At times the running litany of names got tedious and didn't add to overall understanding; I'd have preferred fewer details at times and more analysis. There are no new insights here,

  9. 4 out of 5

    Hadrian

    The first volume of a three-volume overview of the history of Nazi Germany. Evans balances several factors in his narrative - the expected story of political struggles in Berlin and the economic crises of hyperinflation and the Great Depression - he also includes some sections on personal diaries and narratives. He is also sure to include the institutional continuations between Imperial and Weimar Germany, and the importance of "scientific racism" in Nazi thinking. He starts with Bismarck. The s The first volume of a three-volume overview of the history of Nazi Germany. Evans balances several factors in his narrative - the expected story of political struggles in Berlin and the economic crises of hyperinflation and the Great Depression - he also includes some sections on personal diaries and narratives. He is also sure to include the institutional continuations between Imperial and Weimar Germany, and the importance of "scientific racism" in Nazi thinking. He starts with Bismarck. The success of the Nazis is partly based upon the survival of conservative political elites from the Wilhelmine period, the intense distrust towards the Social Democrats and anybody to the left of them, and thinking about the pre-war period as a baseline for a 'normal' peacetime society. As Evans also starts from so far back, he also emphasizes political and economic emergencies. In this story, the Nazis appear as a reluctant choice for many voters. In his telling, a non-Nazi political majority - which is still atrociously anti-Semitic and nationalist but not committed to the bodge of National Socialism - voted for them in winter 1932, and then were forced into conformity or obedience by spring 1933. This is only the first part of the set, so I'll end my comments here.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    Every question I had about how and why Hitler was able to rise to prominence and so swiftly overtake not just the political but also the cultural, educational, and military institutions in Germany has been answered. Drawing upon documents that were only released after the downfall of the U.S.S.R. as well as other newly discovered source materials, Evans has written a new benchmark by which all other histories of the rise of Nazism will be measured. Evans demonstrates an ability that every good h Every question I had about how and why Hitler was able to rise to prominence and so swiftly overtake not just the political but also the cultural, educational, and military institutions in Germany has been answered. Drawing upon documents that were only released after the downfall of the U.S.S.R. as well as other newly discovered source materials, Evans has written a new benchmark by which all other histories of the rise of Nazism will be measured. Evans demonstrates an ability that every good historian must possess: to to navigate through myriad potential sidelines without giving in to the temptation to lose the thread of his assigned topic. From the Bismarckian Reich through the postwar Treaty of Versailles that laid Germany low after the 1914-18 War, to the disastrous period of the Weimar Republic, and on through to Hitler's rise to Reich Chancellor on January 30, 1933 and the ensuing six months when the Nazi Party consolidated its power and began the persecution of the Jews in earnest, it is possible for the lay reader to comprehend the almost staggering scope of events, philosophies, and ideas which this book encapsulates. Very highly recommended.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Dimitri

    do we need another book on the rise of Hitler? While many of the facts are known, Evans rekindles a sense of evitability to the course of events. The Weimar republic scored some notable successes in international politics, such as its entry into the League of Nations. Pre-war anti-Semitism & the idea of Lebensraum by military conquest had been marginal sentiments in Imperial Germany. A general coarseness pervaded politics after 1918, of which street violence was but the most visible manifestatio do we need another book on the rise of Hitler? While many of the facts are known, Evans rekindles a sense of evitability to the course of events. The Weimar republic scored some notable successes in international politics, such as its entry into the League of Nations. Pre-war anti-Semitism & the idea of Lebensraum by military conquest had been marginal sentiments in Imperial Germany. A general coarseness pervaded politics after 1918, of which street violence was but the most visible manifestation. Still, Hitler doesn't come into the picture until the turn of the decade and even then only as a man to be controlled by conservative forces.It explains how he ultimately came to power through a cabinet deal, instead of election results.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Erika

    I read a lot about Germany and WWII, so I was really looking forward to this book! I also wrote my undergrad thesis on this time period, so I am very interested in the subject. But this book just fell flat for me. Evans also states in the intro that this is the perfect book for beginners who don’t know much about this time period and I disagree. I think it’s much too long and frankly isn’t interesting enough for beginners of this period. This is more of a comparison between the Communists and Fa I read a lot about Germany and WWII, so I was really looking forward to this book! I also wrote my undergrad thesis on this time period, so I am very interested in the subject. But this book just fell flat for me. Evans also states in the intro that this is the perfect book for beginners who don’t know much about this time period and I disagree. I think it’s much too long and frankly isn’t interesting enough for beginners of this period. This is more of a comparison between the Communists and Fascists in pre-war Germany. But after several hundred pages of that, I just wanted more from this.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    The bulk of this is a synthesis of Germany's increasingly horrifying history from 1919 to 1933. Only in the last chapter does Evans address how Nazism could have taken root. Why was Germany such fertile soil? How could the German people have been so accepting of Hitler? Of state terror - hideous street violence, beatings and murders of political enemies in public places? I'm not sure it's possible to ever answer these questions adequately, but Evans does a good job finding reasons. The Great Dep The bulk of this is a synthesis of Germany's increasingly horrifying history from 1919 to 1933. Only in the last chapter does Evans address how Nazism could have taken root. Why was Germany such fertile soil? How could the German people have been so accepting of Hitler? Of state terror - hideous street violence, beatings and murders of political enemies in public places? I'm not sure it's possible to ever answer these questions adequately, but Evans does a good job finding reasons. The Great Depression and the unemployment it brought; the failures of the Weimar Republic on so many levels - many people despised it, and the Nazis nurtured this hatred; Hitler's enormous charisma; Germany's humiliation in losing the First World War, and the extremely onerous economic reparations meant the populace was hugely nationalistic; Hitler's political deals with other German leaders like Hindenburg and von Papen, who thought they could control him when of course it was he who would do the controlling. Evans makes the argument that as an authoritarian dictatorship (which Germany was from 1932 on, even before Hitler became Reich Chancellor in 1933), Germany wasn't exactly an outlier in Europe. A bevy of other European nations became authoritarian dictatorships in this period, so Germans looking outside would have seen other countries behaving badly, too. He also makes a very good case that because of Weimar's failures and the vacuum of power they caused, some type of right wing authoritarian dictatorship was almost assured. The only question was would it be Hitler, or someone else at the top. Either way, Evans sees ugly political repression and aggressive foreign policy leading to war; the "only" difference is that some random right wing dictatorship would not have engineered the genocide of 11 million people.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Well that explains quite a bit. Evans does a good job of tracing the development of the Nazi movement in Germany. It is also somewhat frightening to read this while the RNC was on.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nick Black

    Much better than the second book in the series, an expert, bone-rattling survey of the years prior to the Enabling Act. Excellent coverage of the Weimar's economic problems during the years of Versailles, the Young Plan and the hyperinflationary era. The preface is also noteworthy, explaining Evans's plan and answering (what seemed to me an important question) why these books are necessary despite epics like Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and Kerhsaw's biography Hitler. ------- Bord Much better than the second book in the series, an expert, bone-rattling survey of the years prior to the Enabling Act. Excellent coverage of the Weimar's economic problems during the years of Versailles, the Young Plan and the hyperinflationary era. The preface is also noteworthy, explaining Evans's plan and answering (what seemed to me an important question) why these books are necessary despite epics like Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and Kerhsaw's biography Hitler. ------- Borders 2009-04-04. I purchased and read the second in this series (The Third Reich in Power) before realizing it was a set; upon seeing the third in hardback (The Third Reich at War), I was moved to pick up this (much thinner) first volume. I wasn't overwhelmed by in Power, but I'll be dead in my grave before I leave non-trailing gaps in my reading, argh!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mosca

    ...................................... This work of history takes on the task, in the author’s words: “to recount the Nazi’s rise to power through a combination of electoral success and massive political violence”. It also sets out to clarify “how the Nazis managed to establish a one-party dictatorship in Germany within a very short space of time, and with seemingly little real resistance from the German people.” In this it does an admirable job. I, for one, have many times puzzled over the moral ...................................... This work of history takes on the task, in the author’s words: “to recount the Nazi’s rise to power through a combination of electoral success and massive political violence”. It also sets out to clarify “how the Nazis managed to establish a one-party dictatorship in Germany within a very short space of time, and with seemingly little real resistance from the German people.” In this it does an admirable job. I, for one, have many times puzzled over the moral and philosophical quandaries presented by the existence and early “success” of the Nazis in 20th century Germany. The Germans that produced Brecht and Kant, Goethe and Hesse, Beethoven and Bach also produced and developed Hitler and the Nazis and Buchenwald and Auschwitz. I’d hoped that a well-written and well-documented history, such as this book, would help me to better understand questions that are, after all, more metaphysical, ontological, and moral--than historical. But I think that the eternal puzzles posed by any essentially metaphysical or moral question always seem to present “answers” that are so enigmatic, contradictory, and frightening that one is frequently left with a feeling of deep dissatisfaction, fear, and confusion. That, unfortunately, is my problem here. Richard Evans has indeed produced a formidable work. It is well presented, well documented, and fills a seriously needed gap in modern historical writing. It is not difficult reading; and it clearly places the Nazi’s rise to power in the context of European and World Historical Events of the early twentieth century. It provides an almost step-by-step recounting of each of the events that not only made the Nazi’s rise to power possible, but almost inevitable. Many of my own questions surrounding the facts of importance, such as the Reichstag Fire, are dissected and displayed for “viewing”. This is a service to the historical record that is difficult to overestimate. And, perhaps, my hope for answers to those metaphysical questions have been confused in my own mind by my hope to better know the chronology of the events as well as facts as they are able to be known. This is a result of a confusion between the metaphysical and the physical. But the chronology is not the same as the cause. Ontogeny does not really recapitulate phylogeny as expressed in that now discredited theory. In other words one cannot really understand the “cosmic why” of an event by knowing the when of an event. This is why this work is so dissatisfying to me through no flaw in the considerable talents of Richard Evans. But if a better understanding of the historical record, and the economic tensions of the times, and the historical background of the German peoples’ predispositions, and the pandemic political climate afflicting post-World War One Germany, etc. is your goal—then you can hardly do better than this very admirable work. But if you want to understand better why we as humans can behave in an organized, barbaric, racist, and criminally political fashion—then maybe God can tell us. But maybe even He (She) doesn’t know.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Czarny Pies

    This pedestrian work is by far the weakest volume in Richard Evan's otherwise excellent trilogy on the Reich. I am giving it a two star rating because Evans in his Preface has the gall to assure the reader that it is superior to William Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." Evans writes: "Shirer's book was universally panned by historians. ... Shirer's book cannot really deliver a history of Nazi Germany that meets the demands of the early twenty-first -century reader." This is hubris ind This pedestrian work is by far the weakest volume in Richard Evan's otherwise excellent trilogy on the Reich. I am giving it a two star rating because Evans in his Preface has the gall to assure the reader that it is superior to William Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich." Evans writes: "Shirer's book was universally panned by historians. ... Shirer's book cannot really deliver a history of Nazi Germany that meets the demands of the early twenty-first -century reader." This is hubris indeed on the part of Evans whose book in fact makes no contribution to our understanding of the horrific Third Reich. Shirer was aware that he was writing his history at a very early point in time. First published in 1960, Shirer started the project less than 15 years after the regime came to an end. His justification was that the Nuremberg Tribunal had thrown open the German archives for its investigation and hence the usually 30 year waiting period for the archival material did not apply. In this regard Shirer was perfectly correct. Shirer drew heavily on the assessments performed by the psychiatrists of the Nuremburg tribunal to build his thesis that the Nazi party was from the beginning dominated at every level by individuals with serious psychological pathologies. Shirer seriously has a point. How else can one explain the industrial complexes like Auschwitz and Majdanek that the Third Reich operated to kill non-combatants. Given the magnitude of the horror, Shirer used admirably restrained language. Nonetheless his book does indeed contain more lurid passages and strident denuncations that does Evans'. Not only does Evans use more moderate language than Shirer, he takes a longer look at the social and historical trends in play. Evans makes the following legitimate points: -1- liberal democracy had been imposed on Germany by the victorious allies. None of the political parties active in Germany during the era felt any moral commitment to it. Thus in a crisis, nobody supported it. -2- the theory that the Peace of Versailles had been unjust had some merit. Equally important, those promoting the idea did so very effectively. -3- the economic hardship in Germany caused by the Crash of 1929 was extraordinary -4- the possibility of a communist takeover in Germany was real -5-prior to the Nazi seizure of power in Germany, right-wing dicatators had overthrown liberal democratic regimes in Hungary, Spain and Italy so as to prevent communists from coming to power. Evans has presented his case well. However, he fails to account for the extraordinary evil of the Nazi Regime which made it fundamentally different in nature from those that existed in Italy, Spain and Hungary. Nonetheless, on balance Evans has written a good book. While it may cover some issues that Shirer's work misses, it is in no ways to superior and Evans had no business claiming that it is.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Owens

    This is the first book in Richard J Evan's Third Reich trilogy, and it is a brilliantly written, thoroughly researched, and engrossing journey through the history of Germany from the nineteenth century to 1933 when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor. Evans has a particularily unique backstory as a historian. When the so-called historian David Irving, who was a blatent Holocaust denier, sued some of his collegues for accusing him skuing historical sources to make his arguments, Richard J. Evans was a This is the first book in Richard J Evan's Third Reich trilogy, and it is a brilliantly written, thoroughly researched, and engrossing journey through the history of Germany from the nineteenth century to 1933 when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor. Evans has a particularily unique backstory as a historian. When the so-called historian David Irving, who was a blatent Holocaust denier, sued some of his collegues for accusing him skuing historical sources to make his arguments, Richard J. Evans was asked by the court to be the expert witness for the plantiff in the case. Evans was then tasked with reading all of Irving's books, tracing back all of the sources that he was citing, and writing a memorandum for the court detailing all of the instances in which Irving skued valid historical sources in order to back up his Holocaust denying arguments. Evans then completed his task and even underwent cross examination in court, quite literally defending history, and Irving lost his defamation suit. Quickly thereafter, Evans was elavated to being regarded as one of, if not the world's leading scholar on the Third Reich, and has now presented us with this remarkable trilogy. Unlike William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, this is not a biographical study of the rise of the Nazis with Hitler as the central character, rather it is a thorough history of Germany, and how Nazi ideology weaved its way into this highly cultured, industrialized, moderan nation. Hitler doesn't even appear until page 165. In this volume, Evans takes the reader through the German unification under Bismark, the development of the underground racist volkish movement resulting from both the emancipation of Europe's Jewry coupled with the 1873 economic depression, to the Spirit of 1914, and through the shock of Germany's defeat in the First World War. Then with the stage set, Evans takes you to the southern German state of Bavaria, where the fear of the spread of Communism from the Russian revolution, merged with the rising ideolgies of the volkish movement, coupled with bitterness over Germany's loss of the war, which produced an environment of nationalist extremism and racism, perfect for the Nazi movement to grow. Evans then closes his story in 1933, with Hitler as Germany's Chancellor.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    This is the first volume of a series about the Third Reich, providing a history of Germany from the formation of the Second Reich until the Nazi assumption of power during the first months of 1933. Focused on political developments, it provides as well information about the economic and cultural bases of German life during the period. Well documented, it is an accessibly readable academic study with considerable attention to those pivot points whereby matters might have turned out differently.

  20. 5 out of 5

    M.J. Johnson

    The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J Evans charts the forces at work in Germany from the end of the Bismarck era, through the Wilhelmine period which led up to the end of WWI, then on through the years of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Nazis from fringe group to power. I always believed Hitler was elected Reich Chancellor by popular vote. This wasn’t the case; he was installed as Chancellor through a deal with some right-wing politicians who were under the woeful misapprehension t The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J Evans charts the forces at work in Germany from the end of the Bismarck era, through the Wilhelmine period which led up to the end of WWI, then on through the years of the Weimar Republic and the rise of the Nazis from fringe group to power. I always believed Hitler was elected Reich Chancellor by popular vote. This wasn’t the case; he was installed as Chancellor through a deal with some right-wing politicians who were under the woeful misapprehension that they would easily be able to control him. They couldn’t have been more mistaken. The Nazis, who possessed no respect for democracy whatever, never won an election by fair means, and once they’d achieved power, they quickly suppressed (often by killing) any opposition. Perhaps the most shocking thing about the way they seized and held onto power is the speed with which they managed to silence any opposition - within just weeks of assuming power they had established the notorious Dachau concentration camp along with several others to detain their political opponents. This is the first book in a trilogy by Evans about the Third Reich which was clearly written with the layman in mind. It is beautifully accessible in its writing and Evans’ scholarship gives a superb overview of this terrible period in European history. "All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to. Consequently the greater the mass it is intended to reach, the lower its purely intellectual level will have to be ... The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but the power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan." Adolf Hitler, My Struggle (Mein Kampf) Scary stuff but important reading.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a great book on how Hitler and the Nazis came to power. It places that event within the politics and culture of Germany of the time. I was shocked to learn how the Nazis were abetted by parties that were conservative or anti-democratic or pro-monarchist and even Catholic. Our era has so many parallels to the Weimar Republic era - harsh political rhetoric, a disrespect for reasoned dialogue, the conservative use of the "big lie", violent overtones (like people showing up with guns when th This is a great book on how Hitler and the Nazis came to power. It places that event within the politics and culture of Germany of the time. I was shocked to learn how the Nazis were abetted by parties that were conservative or anti-democratic or pro-monarchist and even Catholic. Our era has so many parallels to the Weimar Republic era - harsh political rhetoric, a disrespect for reasoned dialogue, the conservative use of the "big lie", violent overtones (like people showing up with guns when the President speaks), and a really bad economy. I was reassured by this book that we won't have a Nazi style takeover in the immediate future at least. I'm looking forward to reading Evan's next book telling how the Nazis consolidated power.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    With a mother raised in Nazi Germany, I have a real interest in how the Nazis came to power, and this book provides a lucid and readable explanation. I'm no historian so cannot comment on the accuracy of what Evans writes, but I was impressed with his thoroughness and readability. The book starts 60 years before the rise of Hitler to the Chancellorship so that the reader gets a feeling for the political and cultural environment that led to the rise of this terrible movement. I've read many diffe With a mother raised in Nazi Germany, I have a real interest in how the Nazis came to power, and this book provides a lucid and readable explanation. I'm no historian so cannot comment on the accuracy of what Evans writes, but I was impressed with his thoroughness and readability. The book starts 60 years before the rise of Hitler to the Chancellorship so that the reader gets a feeling for the political and cultural environment that led to the rise of this terrible movement. I've read many different accounts of these times, from the autobiographical work of Christopher Isherwood to William Shirer's classic of many years ago, and this book is definitely one of the best.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Samir Rawas Sarayji

    An excellently researched book with well-presented facts. I'm sure this is a treasure for academics and history buffs. But as someone who was just interested to understand this account in history better, I found the writing excruciatingly dry. Kudos for Evans' objectivity, which unfortunately makes for a dry narrative to read. An excellently researched book with well-presented facts. I'm sure this is a treasure for academics and history buffs. But as someone who was just interested to understand this account in history better, I found the writing excruciatingly dry. Kudos for Evans' objectivity, which unfortunately makes for a dry narrative to read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    fourtriplezed

    Superb. I am not sure that there are better works I have read on the rise to power of the Nazi's. Superb. I am not sure that there are better works I have read on the rise to power of the Nazi's.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Pinko Palest

    useful, if rather dry. The official version, basically; doesn't add all that much to our knowledge useful, if rather dry. The official version, basically; doesn't add all that much to our knowledge

  26. 4 out of 5

    Charles Haywood

    For the past few months, we have been subjected to a tedious, hysterical stream of comparisons of Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. As a reader of this book, The Coming of the Third Reich, will quickly figure out, such comparisons are both vicious and ignorant. One thing is clear to the reader of this book, the first of massive trilogy covering the Third Reich, and that is there is little evidence that we are heading the way of 1920s and 1930s Germany—but that if we are, it has nothing at all to do For the past few months, we have been subjected to a tedious, hysterical stream of comparisons of Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler. As a reader of this book, The Coming of the Third Reich, will quickly figure out, such comparisons are both vicious and ignorant. One thing is clear to the reader of this book, the first of massive trilogy covering the Third Reich, and that is there is little evidence that we are heading the way of 1920s and 1930s Germany—but that if we are, it has nothing at all to do with Donald Trump. Nonetheless, this is an interesting book of history, and just because it’s not a warning, per se, does not mean that it does not contain interesting lessons. Nothing in this book is new, as the author, Richard Evans, freely admits. This is a “broad, general, large-scale history of Nazi Germany.” It is a chronological history, not a cultural examination, much less a view of Germany through the lens of the forgotten common man or some such unoriginal and unhelpful frame. Those looking for a revisionist take on this period of history should go elsewhere. In this book, the same bad people do the same bad things that anyone who has read about this period already knows about. The emphasis, perhaps, is more on violence than on political maneuverings, but that’s hardly revisionist. Of course, there have been innumerable books about this topic. One reason for this is that we tend to care about Germany because, deep down, we feel that Germany is, and Germans are and always have been, Just Like Us—rational, civilized Westerners. We focus less on dreadful things done by the Russians, the Chinese, the Mongols, etc., because they are alien, and we, in practice, hold them to different standards. We think that, in essence, “there but for the grace of God go I”—or rather, since we lack humility, we think “there, but for my good efforts, go my political opponents, where they really want to go.” Either way, though, the fear is that since the Germans are like us, we may someday follow their path. Unfortunately, this book does nothing to dispel that fear, which is a perfectly valid fear based on a solid view of human nature and history, with parallels in all modern Western societies, past and present. But the parallels say more about human nature and less, or nothing, about the next Hitler. Evans begins with the first of six sections: “The Legacy of The Past.” Here he covers the period of the Bismarckian Reich and World War I, focusing on what Evans views as the progenitors of the Nazis, nationalist and anti-Semitic movements of the late 19th Century. As with most of the western European upper classes, excessive anti-Semitism was generally viewed as, well, excessive, but a modicum was viewed as just fine, and plenty of people, especially among the merchant and academic classes, went further. Along came the war, the Treaty of Versailles, the rise of Communism, the revolts of Communists immediately after the war, and all the well-known instabilities of post-war Germany, to which today’s talking heads compare our society. But Germany’s instabilities are inconceivable to us. Here, a few dirty beggars of the “Occupy” movement risk nothing and march in the streets, threatening occasional violence because they know they face no threat. A few “anti-fascists” with delusions of grandeur and a dubious grasp of history burn trash cans and cause mild disorder to shut down speech, but only on campuses and in cities totally friendly to them. Germany, on the other hand, had fifteen years of constant disorder and violence in the streets, where hard men across the political spectrum risked life and limb to foment disorder and raise the banner of their political views. All this was possible, of course, because of the weakness of the state and the emasculation of the ruling class. We have our problems, and we do have an emasculated ruling class, but organized violence is not permitted or desired, much less political assassinations. The closest analog in America is not today, but the widespread leftist violence of the 1970s, something we are still very far from. Nor is there now unseemly violence in Congress, as there was in Weimar (and in the run-ups to both the Spanish Civil War and the American Civil War). Sure, maybe we’ll get there. But there’s precious little evidence of that, and much more evidence of Huxley-ite enervation of the masses and the elites by entertainment and drugs of various types, not the political awakening of a hard core and their turn to violence. Throughout the book, Evans several times cites Raimund Pretzel, whose posthumously published memoirs (under the pseudonym Sebastian Haffner) are very much worth reading, in part because they were written in 1939, and give an excellent first-hand overview of this time from the perspective of a politically disengaged, “Aryan” German. In particular, Pretzel notes the erosion of the rule of law in the legal profession (he was a lawyer). Actually, if I had to choose, I would recommend Pretzel’s memoirs over Evans’s; there is a lot less detail, but basically the same story, and the first-hand perspective adds a lots to the reader’s grasp that litanies of fact do not. Evens turns to analysis of political structures in the next section, “The Failure of Democracy.” Here he talks about the poorly structured political institutions of Weimar democracy and their shallow roots, the difficulties proceeding from which were compounded by economic turmoil, including hyperinflation, resulting in social turmoil of various kinds. None of this is new, but then, it’s not supposed to be. Evans does a good job of communicating the basic facts about the various mainline political parties (Social Democrats, Center Party, Nationalists, People’s Party) including their views, their support (both from voters and from sectors of society, such as the army, civil service and judiciary, and their geographic strengths), as well as the rising power of the Communists, who, of course, took orders from Moscow and had every interest in destroying the republic, but were tainted by the rebellion in 1919. One interesting thing that Evans notes is “the state employment sector was extremely politically diverse.” Unlike in America, on the Continent being a so-called civil servant, i.e., a bureaucrat, was always both socially prestigious and honorable, such that talented people of diverse views entered the civil service. (Whether there are still diverse views on the Continent I doubt, but the prestige remains.) In America, on the other hand, today we have a leftist monoculture totally dominating the bureaucracy, mostly devoted to the success of the Democratic Party, and to leftist goals, the latter usually triumphing if there is any conflict between the two. In America government service has usually lacked the prestige it does on the Continent, with a high percentage of civil servants being placeholders, or those who lack gumption and the ability to succeed in other areas of life. (There are exceptions, of course, in prestige, focus and ability.) Thus, American bureaucrats have rarely viewed themselves as a true elite; they have always had a chip on their shoulder, since most citizens look down on them. There is no, and has never been any, American equivalent of the Prussian Rechtsstaat, where the civil service is regarded as a critical component of the rule of law, and the antithesis of arbitrary authority, therefore serving as a brake on the other divisions of government, notably the monarch. The American civil service has gotten steadily worse since the Progressive Era, where it became acceptable to work for the government as a way to achieve desired social change by imposing your radical views on the deplorables at gunpoint, and the government has simultaneously grown ever larger and more powerful. In America, the civil service today, the administrative state, takes the lead in the destruction of the rule of law and imposes a leftist ideology in a vast range of areas of life on the people though its arbitrary and largely unappealable authority, by creating mechanisms explicitly designed to avoid constitutional rule and to be immune to democratic oversight, such as regulatory “guidance.” We’ll see if Trump is able to hack this overgrowth back, preferably with napalm. Evans notes that “The conflicts that rent Weimar were more than merely political or economic. Their visceral quality derived much from the fact that they were not just fought out in parliaments and elections, but permeated every aspect of life. . . . People arguably suffered from an excess of political engagement and political commitment. . . . There seemed to be no area of society or politics that we immune from politicization.” Evans notes, for example, that turnout was “no less than 80 percent of the electorate in most contests.” We, of course, don’t have that level of political engagement, nor are we likely to, between rational indifference, laziness and ignorance. In 1920s Germany, hundreds of newspapers of every political stripe were avidly consumed; for better or worse, few consume newspapers nowadays, instead consuming YouTube tripe and Facebook cat memes, and the newspapers people do consume are monolithically culturally leftist. But our society is, certainly, over-permeated with politics in every aspect of life, not the least indication of which is the tiresome comparison of the Third Reich to everything that happens (meant not as an argument but as a way to shut people up, of course). The difference, I suppose, and the explanation for our low voter turnout combined with politicization of daily life, is that one side, the Left, is focused on politicizing daily life, in its never-ending quest to remake the world to achieve Utopia for all and transcendence (along with, not coincidentally, power and a feeling of superiority) for themselves. The natural end state of this is a reaction from the other side increasing political participation and pushback, the beginnings of which we may be seeing. We may well wish that we could go back to laziness and political disengagement. But we can’t, because, as always in America, it’s because of the Left that we can’t have nice things. These two introductory sections take up about a quarter of the book. Evans then focuses on what is, after all, the point of the book: “The Rise of Nazism.” We get Hitler’s background, the Bavarian Revolution of 1919, and the evolution of the NSDAP. We get the personalities involved, some who played a role in later years (Himmler; Goebbels), some who later dropped away or died (Strasser; Röhm). We get the range of movements later associated with the Nazis, but which earlier had totally separate (and often originally much greater) influence on society, such as the Steel Helmets. We get the back-and-forth evolution of the Nazis from being focused on violence to being focused on gaining political power through legitimate channels, though with the goal of keeping that power once gained. We get the various ideological struggles and workings-out of Nazism, including the sometimes-more, sometimes-less emphasis on left-wing elements such as socialism. We get the early version of Hitler’s management style, designed such that “the most ruthless, the most dynamic and the most efficient would rise to positions of power within the movement.” We also get the early usage of bemoaning violence publicly, but condemning it vaguely enough that the rank-and-file take the condemnation as an endorsement (something we see in recent cut-rate American political violence, but as I say, we have thin gruel compared to 1920s Germany). Next Evans covers the road “Towards the Seizure of Power.” The Depression intervenes; the very real threat of Communism grows (and the Germans were very much aware that Communist power would lead to mass slaughter on a scale just as great as that Hitler ultimately implemented, as it has every place Communism has ever gained power). Unemployment and economic despair fuel the search for new solutions and scapegoats. The ruling class is weak and divided. Propaganda becomes more effective; Horst Wessel, a seedy minor thug, is turned into a hero. Evans covers the political machinations in detail, ultimately leading, as everybody knows, to the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor in January, 1933. Evans then takes us a few months forward, in “Creating the Third Reich”; here is where the Gleichschaltung begins, the Reichstag Fire happens, and so forth. Despite many people’s best efforts since then to use this period for analogies, none of this history really teaches us anything new, other than those who want power are prone to use any means to hand, and that in the modern world, those include propaganda, forced conformity, and seizing emergencies to expand both. Evans notes the increased use of violence and torture by the Nazis as soon as they gained power, calling it, contrary to myth, “makeshift sadistic anarchy,” rather than organized (at this stage). There were lots of arrests, and lots of people in concentration camps—but cycled through concentration camps, often just for a few weeks or months (with some deaths along the way), with the goal of control and intimidation, not the later goals of permanent incarceration or death. The Social Democrats and the trade unions, then immediately after the various groups allied or semi-allied to the Nazis, were quickly “co-ordinated,” thus consolidating Nazi control. Finally, Evans spends a long time, too long to really interest me, on “Hitler’s Cultural Revolution.” The Nazis focused both on Jews in high culture and, theoretically separately, on generally degenerate culture (in fairness, Weimar produced an awful lot of the latter). For example, using a technique we sometimes see used to suppress speech today, the conductor Otto Klemperer (the cousin of the diarist) had his performances cancelled “on the usual specious grounds that public safety could not be guaranteed if he appeared on the rostrum.” This cultural suppression was hit or miss in the early days, but increased in severity and harm to people, and of course resulted in substantial emigration. Evans notes that the Nazis did not propagandize about the past; they, like Mussolini, the Italian Futurists, and the American Progressives, were focused on the future, which perhaps held (idealized) elements of the past, but which was to be a new thing, excluding all real aspects of the past. And then the book ends, to be followed by two more volumes, taking Germany through the war. A final note. I “read” this book by listening to the Audible audiobook. The narrator, Sean Pratt (some D-list actor) was dreadful. He spoke slowly, and, more importantly, he continuously (and I mean in every sentence) paused slightly at random places. He also can’t pronounce German, which seems like it’d make him an odd choice for this book. He may be a nice guy (or he may not be) but as a narrator, the net effect was like nails on a chalkboard. I sped the narration up to 2X, which helped. But it was still fifteen hours at that speed, and it materially made finishing the book harder.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Liviu

    One thinks one knows how the Third Reich came to be; one is probably somewhat if not more than mistaken and this book helps one understand how a minority party came to power even without quite winning an election and then transformed a country; highly, highly recomended

  28. 4 out of 5

    James Murphy

    This, the 1st volume of the celebrated trilogy by Richard J Evans, is a long way from my reading of William L Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. That opus is in my distant teenaged past, and for that reason it's hard for me to say definitely that Evans's work is an improvement on the understanding of those tumultuous years. My inclination is that it is because so much more has been revealed in the intervening years and because Evans has left out much drama and personality to focus on This, the 1st volume of the celebrated trilogy by Richard J Evans, is a long way from my reading of William L Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. That opus is in my distant teenaged past, and for that reason it's hard for me to say definitely that Evans's work is an improvement on the understanding of those tumultuous years. My inclination is that it is because so much more has been revealed in the intervening years and because Evans has left out much drama and personality to focus on the facts of the events themselves. That is, in fact, the primary strength of the book, that it makes clear the very confused circumstances of Weimar Germany. The minutiae of political and social groups and their various motivations was convoluted, but Evans explains it in ways easy to follow. A fairly straightforward narration, he saves analysis until the final chapter, where it's beautifully detailed. What precedes that analysis is a precise narration of how the Nazis came to power and their step-by-step destruction of democracy in the 6 months following their assumption of power. Though I'd long been away from a general history of Germany between the wars, I found the basic facts still familiar. When Evans explained how Nazi political beliefs were consistent with basic German values and preconceived ideas, it's how I've always understood it. His explanation of how the Nazis wouldn't have succeeded if a workable coalition of conversatives had been held together of if the social and cultural disorientation of the Weimar years hadn't been so sharp or if there hadn't been such general resentment over the harsh terms of the Trreaty of Versailles isn't surprising at all. What's surprising, and what informs my new understanding, is Evans's idea that what happened in Germany wasn't unique at all. Democracies were failing in Europe, he writes. Politics was shifting to the right, political violence was more or less the norm, and the destruction of civil liberties wasn't unusual. What caused Germany's movement to fascism to have such Europe-wide--and therefore global--impact was that it happened in what was still, despite the stiff penalties of the Treaty of Versailles, the strongest country in Europe, and the most advanced and populous country in Europe. And that the country's leadership was determined to go to war to redress the penalties and humiliations forced on Germany at the end of WWI made the slide to the far right a critical event in European history. This is an excellent chronicle of those years. Despite a few examples of purplish prose--opponents of the brownshirts aren't simply beaten up, for instance, they're beaten "to within an inch of his life" or "with a barely controlled savagery" or "beaten senseless," all 3 of these illustrations on pps 432 and 433--Evans writes beautiful sentences of a Proustian length which are nevertheless clear and direct in dealing with complicated issues and events. This is good history.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nilesh

    For a variety of reasons, this unique book is perhaps much more important than other books on Third Reich or WW2. If we do not ever want to see genocide or state murder perpetuated by a government elected by an educated democratic society, this book is a must. We often forget the blindsides of a democracy not supported by undemocratic basic or constitutionally protected principles. After reading this book, one may be able to realize why everything can not simply be left to majority - there are so For a variety of reasons, this unique book is perhaps much more important than other books on Third Reich or WW2. If we do not ever want to see genocide or state murder perpetuated by a government elected by an educated democratic society, this book is a must. We often forget the blindsides of a democracy not supported by undemocratic basic or constitutionally protected principles. After reading this book, one may be able to realize why everything can not simply be left to majority - there are some basic principals a moral society and its governments have to defend irrespective of the mob wish. In 1920s' Germany, a society democratically finished off democracy and elected an autocracy. Majority was manipulatively used and shaped to openly perpetuate some of the most heinous crimes ever witnessed by humanity against all kinds of minority. The details of the book are important to not only learn how a small, openly-criminal clan took the monstrous shape it did. While all three books are excellent, this is the best for anyone trying to learn the most important lessons of the time.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tom Loftus

    New (for me) insights into the general features of ultra right-wing or nationalist movements and the unfortunate social / economic forces that enable them to thrive. Less Hitler-centric than Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich;" provides a more comprehensive treatment of the various factors (many that pre-date WW1) that ultimately led to the collapse of Weimar democracy. It's amazing how many of the tactics perfected by the NSDAP are still in use today: rallying voters around vague nationa New (for me) insights into the general features of ultra right-wing or nationalist movements and the unfortunate social / economic forces that enable them to thrive. Less Hitler-centric than Shirer's "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich;" provides a more comprehensive treatment of the various factors (many that pre-date WW1) that ultimately led to the collapse of Weimar democracy. It's amazing how many of the tactics perfected by the NSDAP are still in use today: rallying voters around vague nationalist or religious themes rather than specific policy (e.g., the 2010 mid-terms); encouraging violence against political 'enemies' (e.g., Second Amendment remedies); hammering the public with 'big lies' until they become the truth (e.g., Death panels & ground-zero terrorist training camps); ahistorical anti-intellectualism (G.W. himself); endlessly yammering about ideological purity; securing votes via scapegoating, bigotry, and fear, etc.

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