?

Log in

Previous Entry | Next Entry

(Original review by Ron Rosenbaum at Smithsonian Magazine...)

"...The arrest of Eichmann, chief operating officer of the Final Solution, reawakened the question Why? Why had Germany, long one of the most ostensibly civilized, highly educated societies on earth, transformed itself into an instrument that turned a continent into a charnel house? Why had Germany delivered itself over to the raving exterminationist dictates of one man, the man Shirer refers to disdainfully as a “vagabond”? Why did the world allow a “tramp,” a Chaplinesque figure whose 1923 beer hall putsch was a comic fiasco, to become a genocidal Führer whose rule spanned a continent and threatened to last a thousand years?

Why? William Shirer offered a 1,250-page answer...

"“We are strong and will get stronger,” Hitler shouted at them through the microphone, his words echoing across the hushed field from the loudspeakers. And there in the flood-lit night, massed together like sardines in one mass formation, the little men of Germany who have made Nazism possible achieved the highest state of being the Germanic man knows: the shedding of their individual souls and minds—with the personal responsibilities and doubts and problems—until under the mystic lights and at the sound of the magic words of the Austrian they were merged completely in the Germanic herd."

Shirer’s contempt here is palpable, physical, immediate and personal. His contempt is not for Hitler so much as for the “little men of Germany”—for the culture that acceded to Hitler and Nazism so readily. In Shirer one can see an evolution: If in Berlin Diary his emphasis on the Germanic character is visceral, in The Rise and Fall his critique is ideological. Other authors have sought to chronicle the war or to explain Hitler, but Shirer made it his mission to take on the entire might and scope of the Reich, the fusion of people and state that Hitler forged. In The Rise and Fall he searches for a deeper “why”: Was the Third Reich a unique, one-time phenomenon, or do humans possess some ever-present receptivity to the appeal of primal, herd-like hatred...?"


Latest Month

July 2017
S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031     
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Naoto Kishi