Recommended Reading

Discussions on every day life in the Weimar Republic, pre-anschluss Austria, Third Reich and the occupied territories. Hosted by Vikki.
Junker
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Post by Junker » 26 Nov 2007 04:11

A member of my family recently bought an autobiography that describes life among the German establishment seen from a young girl's views, beginning in the 30s. The first-person account leads to Nazi-occupied Poland, where at the end of WWII during a blizzard she and her family had to flee by horse wagon on a 400-mile trek to escape from the advancing Soviets. However the Russians did catch up at the Elbe and took their horses. From there they continued their trek on foot.

The story is a riveting narration of terror, bombing raids, the expulsion of millions of East European Germans, of refugee camps, bomb-shattered cities, famine, barter stystem and black market. She weaves a seamless tapestry between her family's survival, painful as well as whimsical glimpses of humanity and momentous historical events. The book contains numerous pictures and rare maps. It has 3 Five-Star reviews and is an easy, fast moving read. On Amazon the title is "I can't forget: A Journey through Nazi Germany and WWII" by Gudrun Everett

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Lovre
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Post by Lovre » 08 Dec 2007 10:14

Just finished reading:

Main Title: The lost life of Eva Braun / Angela Lambert.
Author: Lambert, Angela
Imprint: London : Century, 2006.
Collation: 495 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN: 1844135993 (hbk) / Angela Lambert.
Author: Lambert, Angela
Imprint: London : Century, 2006.
Collation: 495 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN: 1844135993 (hbk)

Albert Speer warned that ‘For all writers of history, Eva Braun is going to be a disappointment.’ This might explain why there have to date been 700 biographies of Hitler and only one in English of the woman who spent fourteen years by his side.

Until her last thirty-six hours, Eva’s role in Hitler’s life went entirely unacknowledged. Only a handful of the Fuhrer’s most trusted associates knew of her existence. As late as June 1944, the British Secret Service believed her to be one of Hitler’s secretaries. In this new biography, Angela Lambert has embarked on the somewhat contradictory task of emphasising Eva’s importance to Hitler and effecting her rehabilitation.

As Lambert herself remarks, the known facts of Eva’s life would hardly fill a chapter.

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Main Title: The Himmler brothers : a German family history / Katrin Himmler ; translated by Michael Mitchell.
Author: Himmler, Katrin, 1967-
Imprint: London : Macmillan, 2007.
Collation: 333 p., [24] p. of plates : ill., ports. ; 22 cm.
Notes: Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN: 9780230701779 (pbk) , 9780230529076 (hbk)

he popular UK television programme, "Who Do You Think You Are?", would have a certain ironic resonance for Katrin Himmler. For she cannot escape knowing exactly who she is: the great-niece of Heinrich Himmler, head of Hitler’s SS and thus a byword for terror and mass murder during the Third Reich. If he had not committed suicide after his arrest in 1945 he would undoubtedly have been hanged at Nuremberg. His great-niece, born in 1967, wanted to change her name for many years, but researching her family’s hidden past for this book helped her to come to terms with her malign inheritance. She both wanted to know the truth yet feared "what might come to light". By a further irony she now lives with an Israeli whose Polish grandparents had to hide from her great-uncle’s minions to avoid being sent to the death camps.

There were three Himmler brothers: Gebhard, Heinrich and Ernst, the author’s grandfather. He went missing, presumed dead, during the bombardment of Berlin in 1945, so she never knew him either. After the war, her father and other relations consciously distanced themselves from their Nazi associations; Katrin was brought up to believe that the family, apart from its one embarrassingly aberrant member, had been a-political and uninvolved. Her researches revealed a different story. Everyone was "complicit in maintaining the family myths," she laments. Her grandmother, Paula, a milliner by trade, who kept up with old Nazi friends long after the war, "must have had to make great efforts not to know anything" of her brother-in-law’s activities.

In fact, Heinrich’s brothers joined the Nazi party even before Hitler became chancellor in 1933; there was no coercion and no reluctance. Heinrich gave his brothers, both qualified engineers and to whom he was close, a helping hand in their careers. They owed their prosperity to his influence. Not only this, but their parents, after initial worries that their middle son, who had studied agriculture, was taking time to establish himself in a respectable job, became enthusiastic Nazis, glad to have honoured places at party rallies and the use of an official car and driver. Like other Germans they had been deeply affected by the aftermath of World War I; they saw their savings drain away and their well-educated sons join the ranks of the unemployed. "Nothing prepared the German middle classes for Hitler so much as the inflation of 1919-23," remarks the author.

So what kind of family produces a mass murderer? Answer: anyone’s family. Katrin Himmler’s book is not a study of Heinrich’s peculiar psychology, which has been written about many times; it is simply a compelling study of the particular society that produced him. The Himmlers were an unremarkable middle class household from Munich. Gebhard senior, keen on getting on and something of a social climber (he was proud of his acquaintanceship with the Bavarian royal family) became headmaster of the prominent Wittelsbacher Gymnasium; discipline, conscientiousness and above all respectability were his family’s values. He had a well-stocked library, was an able scholar of the classics and a cultivated man, so much so that a former pupil later asked despairingly, "Can the humanities not protect us from anything?" One is reminded that Reinhard Heydrich, close colleague and subordinate of Himmler’s, deeply instrumental in rounding up Czech Jews for the camps, was a proficient violinist and loved Mozart.

Heinrich, born in 1900 and looking neat, aloof and bespectacled in youthful photos, commented in his diary aged 14 that Russian prisoners of war "must breed like vermin." He was something of a prig, though a cranky one; homeopathy, spiritualism and the occult replaced Catholicism as his creed in adult life. National Socialism, with its mixture of militarism and nationalism, fulfilled other, inchoate yearnings. As early as 1924 he was commenting that Hitler was "a truly great man" and his speeches "are magnificent examples of the German and Aryan spirit". Appointed Reichsfuhrer SS in 1929, he turned a tiny bodyguard squad into a hugely successful elite corps of over 3,000 men within two years. Living with a mistress as well as a wife (though he was so busy he saw very little of either) he advocated institutional bigamy for the "racially pure" SS; he conceded that the first wife should be treated with respect and called the "Domina".

Gebhard, the surviving brother, tried to portray Heinrich after the war as a "selfless, self-sacrificing servant of the regime", saddened by the unpleasant tasks that destiny demanded he organise so efficiently – somewhat like Lewis Carroll’s Walrus and Carpenter, who wept salt tears over the oysters they gobbled up. His great-niece has no such illusions. Understandably, the writing proved a painful journey for her, with several anguished mental blockages along the way. Learning of her grandfather’s betrayal of a colleague to his brother, she admits "it took me six years finally to face up to this letter."

As always with books of this kind, I ask myself: living in Germany during those times and under those circumstances, not a Jew and not very brave – what would I have done?

Francis Phillips writes from Bucks in the UK.

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Ranke
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by Ranke » 25 Apr 2008 05:11

Anyone interested in Jewish life in the Third Reich, especially the lives of Jewish women, should read Marion Kaplan's important book, Between Dignity and Despair. It is a thorough analysis of the impact of Nazi persecution of German Jews written "from below" within the tradition of German "Alltagsgeschichte" or the history of everyday life.
I can't recommend it highly enough.

hpaino
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by hpaino » 10 Jun 2008 02:01

Hello all,
New member to your site, thanks for a great place for history! I'm on a search for references for Winterhilfswerk, Welfare Funds and charities administered for and by the Third Reich. The closest one to date looks like Into the Darkness: An Uncensored Report from Inside the Third Reich at War, Lothrop Stoddard; however, I can only find it on the National Socialist Movement website (ay!). Any other sources for this, perhaps (did not see on Amazon). Also looking for other works as well. Best regards,
Holly

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Ranke
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by Ranke » 10 Jun 2008 02:29

Hello Holly,

If you have access to WorldCat, in the subject field then type in "Winterhilfswerk" (c.180+ items) and "nationalsozialistische Volkswohlfahrt" (c. 130+ items). This will list German sources. Some of this might be available through ILL.

Cheers

idgreenwood
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by idgreenwood » 02 Oct 2008 18:12

For an ordinary woman's experiences, Mathilde Wolff-Monckeberg's On the Other Side (my copy is Pan 1979), which I believe is being republished shortly in the UK, has parallels with currently popular home front war diaries published in Britain.

Better known is Christabel Bielenberg, The Past Is Myself, (my copy Corgi 1984), a far more dramatic memoir of the Irish lady married to a German lawyer with connections to Operation Valkyrie. A while ago it was made into a UK television mini-series with (startlingly) Liz Hurley as Christabel. Bielenberg is a very good writer and hers is a remarkable story.

Equally dramatic, the anonymous A Woman in Berlin (Virago 2006) tells in diary form the experience of the fall of Berlin, April to June 1945. To be read in conjunction, I think, with Beevor.

My apologies if any of these have been noted earlier on this thread.

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phylo_roadking
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by phylo_roadking » 03 Oct 2008 15:37

One almost-essential is Philip Metcalfe's "1933"
Published 1989
ISBN 0-552-99405-7

...it records the events on 1933 from the very start of the Nazi "revolution" to the days immediate following the Nigh of the Long Knives in early 1934 - from the personal diary and memoir viewpoints of four notable participants in the events

Martha Dodd, daughter of the new American Ambassador to Berlin in 1933;
the eponymous Ernst "Putzi" Hanfstaengl, Hitler's Chief of the Foreign Press and occasional piano-player;
Bell Fromm, a Jewish newpaper society columnist;
But - and perhaps most importantly of all - Rudolf Diels, the first Head of the Gestapo. HIS sections of the book, dealing with his appointment to the post, the difficulties and events he experienced, and his final resignation under extreme pressure and threat to his own wellbeing from the SA, provide an great insight into the excesses of the SA in Berlin and elsewhere in that first year of the Nazi "revolution", the degree to which they raged and rioted out of control...even through the offices of the Gestapo!...and the interesting LACK of control the highest echelons of the Nazi Party didn't have over them.

Diels also provides one of the books most memorable events - he was one of the main "protagonists" to arrive on the scene during the Reichstag Fire, and recalls in great detail the circumtances leading up to the fire, and events afterwards....but most importantly DURING the fighting of the fire itself - when he was ensconsed in a room IN the building with Hitler, Göring and Goebbels after their arrival as they worked out on the fly how to handle the situation.

What is most suprising - and valuable - that although forced to basically run for his life, Diels doesn't let any personal dislikes colour his accounts. Or...if he does...and THIS is the worst he can do...then he manages despite his own better nature to give us a picture of a situation of semi-controlled anarchy, remarkably like Mao's Cultural Revolution - rather than the well-choreographed seizing of control we have come to believe in.

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Simon K
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by Simon K » 21 Nov 2008 06:24

The Social History of The Third Reich - Richard Grunberger - is an essential first stop IMHo

vonbrunke
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by vonbrunke » 08 Jan 2009 03:01

I have found the best for everyday life in the Third Reich are:

"The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of A Single German Town 1922-1945"
by William Sheridan Allen
ISBN: 0-531-05633-3

"The 12-Year Reich: A Social History of Nazi Germany 1933-1945"
by Richard Grunberger
ISBN: 345-02798-1-195

Both very informative and worth the time to read.

LI995
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by LI995 » 29 Mar 2009 08:55

I am very pleased to recommend this book, although it is presently out of print (but that can change very quickly with demand). It is Witnesses of War: Childrens' Lives under the Nazis by Nicholas Stargardt. I have revied the book in detail on Amazon so I'll just mention here that it is very readable, and contains significant and verified facts that would help anyone understand a child's perspective on "reality" 1933-1945 in German and the occupied territories. For example did you know that 40 percent of ALL German men alive in 1920 were dead by 1945. That is a drastic change of the social--psychological landscape! When you add to this the indoctrination of children from an early age in the principles of National Socialism German-style, and you have the ingredients of creating a couple of generations of seriousoly xenophobic youths.

The German sociologist Harald Welzer went on to quantify some of these effects after the war in such classics as "Opa war kein Nazi" (Grandfather was not a Nazi), the development of family myths to cope with shame. If you can read German, his books are not difficult reading and hugely informative.

From the child's perspective, again, I would recommend also "The Nazis: A Warning from History" by Laurence Rees. This companion book to the History Channel Documentary stands alone as a very accessible (perhaps 10th grade reading level) of daily life in the inner Reich and the Ausland. The most disturbing fact (and in my experience from speaking to Germans of many ages who lived through the war it is quite accurate) is that the Germans gladly gave up their freedom from uncertainty under the Capitalist Weimar Republic for the relative "certainty" of life under National Socialism. Germans of the Reich and pan-European (such as the many foreign units of the Waffen-SS) soldiers and "Schreibtisch-Täter" (desktop murdererers) of the NS-Zeit (National Sociaist Times as they are called in Germany) left behind and ethos that we are still dealing with today in the attitutes of the newly-independent Eastern European states and the descendants of Nazi collaborators who lived there in the 1930s and 1940s (and afterwards), who had tremendous power and influence over coming generations.

It is all somewhat horrifying, but well worth a diversion into this topic for a more complete understanding of National Socialism.

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Grünherz
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by Grünherz » 11 Apr 2009 09:23

It's been mentioned earlier but, since I'm re-reading it and am so taken by it, I will repeat: Bella Fromm's "Blood & Banquets---A Berlin Diary 1930-38". She was an aristocractic Jew living in Berlin and dealing with all the Nazi big-shots and others---really against her will (had her hand kissed by Hitler and, of course, detested it). She was a "social-events" reporter for a newspaper and had to mix with "society" to do her job. She hated the Nazi's and all the terrible changes occuring in her Germany and all the hatred that was aroused and suffered. But she stayed on to help her friends as best she could (and as long as she could) through her influence with those in power.
My mediocre words don't do justice to this book. She is intelligent, witty, insightful and tragic. Her diary gives a real day-to-day look at the events and "name" personalities of the time from a first-hand viewpoint. Highly recommended.

Also, of course, Traudl Junge's "Voices From the Bunker" is highly recommended.

LI995
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by LI995 » 13 Apr 2009 06:33

Another book in English that is more accessible is "On Hitler's Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood" by Irmgard A. Hunt (2005, William Morrow; now in paperback), which covers the important transition from the Third Reich for one young girl growing up in southern Germany during this period.

I have met other "Kriegskinder" who have not written books, but who were nonetheless severerly impacted in their personality development by the involvement of their parents in the NSDAP and Reichsregierung, but who were not privy to the facts of their parents' involvement, only to discover later in life the deleterious deviations in their own personality and social development that were wrought by parents attempting to cover up their own involvement--a phenomenon well documented by Harald Wenzler in "Opa War Kein Nazi." Having studied at a Gymnasium in Cologne when I was a teenager and living with a German family, I can say that on my return many years later I found many of my 1970s experiences were somewhat fabricated in that few people were honestly speaking about their involvement if they were alive at the time of the Third Reich, and that the current generation (my generation in their 50s) who were born after the war do not want to speak about their family's pasts at all. This phenomenon, if it is studied at all, will only appear in writings in the next decade or two. The legacy of the Third Reich, if not its actual existence, may well last a thousand years.

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Annelie
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by Annelie » 14 Aug 2009 19:57

Hans Fallada
Every Man Dies Alone

Book about German resistance to the Nazis. Its a fiction book based on the true story of Elise & Otto Hampel from
the Gestapo files. The author lives through this time period and dies in 1947.

I have read one third of this book and it gives very detailed description on the lives of ordinary people
living in Berlin. One can see through this book how much control was had over the lives of people and how
frightened people were. Gives details of how they worked and lived.

Its an eye opener.

LI995
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by LI995 » 14 Aug 2009 22:48

For anyone not familiar with Bryan Mark Rigg, his first book "Hitler's Jewish Soldiers" is excellent and well-documented. His new book, "The Lives of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers" is even better, with personal accounts from Jews and descendants of Jews who served in the German Armed Forces during WWII. Check them out!

petricnout
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Re: Recommended Reading

Post by petricnout » 23 Oct 2009 08:59

Hey Vikki.
Myself Petricnout and I read your entire posting. The books regarding about the life on this site are very nice collection you did. There are many books available in the market but you have really very great collection of all the books. This would be really helpful to the everyone. Anyways thanks for posting it .Stay connected.

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