The Third Reich in Power 1933-1939

Struggle, Genocide, Collapse

The Third Reich in Power 1933-1939

Evans, Richard J.

Editorial Penguin UK
Fecha de edición mayo 2006

Idioma inglés

EAN 9780141009766
960 páginas
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Resumen del libro

The Third Reich in Power examines how it was possible for a group of ideological obsessives to remould a society famous for its sophistication and complexity into a one-party state directed at war and race hate. Richard J. Evans shows how the Nazis won over the hearts and minds of German citizens, twisted science, religion and culture, and transformed the economy, education, law and order to achieve total dominance in German politics and society. Drawing on an extraordinary range of research, blending narrative, description and analysis he creates a picture of a dictatorship consumed by visceral hatreds and ambitions, and driven by war.
'Unmistakably a new standard work on the subject'
Sunday Times

'Authoritative history... impressive sweep... This essential book comes as a stark reminder, should we need one, of how much freedom a people is prepared to give away in a political climate dominated by fear.'
Daily Telegraph


Extract from The Third Reich in Power, 1933-1939 by Richard J. Evans

Despised minorities were, to be sure, put in the concentration camps; but to focus exclusively on this ignores the much larger number of political and other deviants condemned by the courts and put in state prisons and penitentiaries. The further in time we get from Nazi Germany, the more difficult it becomes for historians living in democratic political systems and in cultures which respect the rights of the individual to make the leap of imagination necessary to understand people's behaviour in a state such as Nazi Germany, where imprisonment, torture or even death might await anyone who dared to voice the slightest criticism of the regime and its leaders. Those who approved of such repression were in all likelihood a minority, active supporters and functionaries of the Party like the Block Wardens, and a good number of middle- and upper-class, conservative Germans who thought the best place for Marxists to be was in prison anyway. Even they, however, knew well enough that they had to be careful about what they said and did, and the dangers of not doing so became abundantly clear once opposition began to spread among these groups too. The shots that killed Kurt von Schleicher, Herbert von Bose, Edgar Jung, Gustav von Kahr, Erich Klausener and Kurt von Bredow at the beginning of July 1934 were also a warning to upper- and middle-class conservatives to keep their heads down if they did not want them to be blown off.

Ordinary conservative citizens like Luise Solmitz, who harboured no thoughts of political activism, may have turned aside from the bleak fact of the regime's willingness to murder its opponents, revealed so starkly in late June and early July 1934, in their relief that the order they craved had been restored; to such people, Röhm's stormtroopers seemed as great a menace as the Reichsbanner or the Red Front-Fighters' League of the Weimar years. Yet behind closed doors they cannot have been oblivious to the fate of the conservative clique around Vice-Chancellor von Papen. It was not only the third or so of the population who had been committed to the Marxist left before 1933 that was subject to massive intimidation. Indeed, scarcely had the murderous violence of the 'Night of the Long Knives' receded, than an even larger minority than the Marxists, that of the German Catholics, began to be prosecuted and imprisoned as they gave vent to their increasingly critical views of the regime in public. More general still were measures such as the Law on Malicious Gossip, which clamped down on the most trivial expressions of dissent and put people who told jokes about Hitler and Göring in prison. These were mainly members of the German working class, it is true, but the working class after all made up around half the entire population, and middle- and even upper-class offenders in this respect were brought before the Special Courts as well. Successful prosecutions under this law were a further instrument of mass intimidation, adding to the general climate of fear and helping to create the spiral of silence in which the regime could commit ever greater crimes without fear of public censure or opposition.

The truth is that far from Nazi terror being levelled exclusively against small and despised minorities, the threat of arrest, prosecution and incarceration in increasingly brutal and violent conditions loomed over everyone in the Third Reich, even, as we have seen in the cases brought before the Special Courts, over members of the Nazi Party itself. The regime intimidated Germans into acquiescence, visiting a whole range of sanctions upon those who dared to oppose it, systematically disorienting people, and depriving them of their traditional social and cultural milieux, such as the pub or the club or the voluntary association, above all where these could be seen as a potential source of resistance, as in the case of the labour movement. Fear and terror were integral parts of the Nazis' armoury of political weapons from the very beginning. The state and the Party could use them because within a few months of Hitler's appointment as Reich Chancellor, they had systematically deprived all Germans of virtually every basic human and civil right they had enjoyed under the Weimar Republic. The law was no protection against the state if the state or any of its agencies suspected that a citizen was disinclined to demonstrate approval of its policies and purposes. On the contrary, vast numbers of new, often draconian laws were decreed that gave the police, the Gestapo and the SS a virtual carte blanche to deal with anyone suspected of deviating from the norms of human behaviour laid down by the Third Reich for its citizens. In this situation, it was not surprising that ordinary people and lower-level officials of the Nazi Party began to reinforce the atmosphere of pervasive terror and intimidation by sending their own unsolicited denunciations of deviants to the Gestapo.

At the same time, the Gestapo was only one part of a much wider net of surveillance, terror and persecution cast by the Nazi regime over German society in the 1930s; others included the SA and SS, the Criminal Police, the prison service, the social services and employment offices, the medical profession, health centres and hospitals, the Hitler Youth, the Block Wardens and even apparently politically neutral organizations like tax offices, the railway and the post office. All of these furnished information about deviants and dissidents to the Gestapo, the courts and the prosecution service, forming a polymorphous, uncoordinated but pervasive system of control in which the Gestapo was merely one institution among many. Everything that happened in the Third Reich took place in this pervasive atmosphere of fear and terror, which never slackened and indeed became far more intense towards the end. 'Do you know what fear is?' an elderly worker asked an interviewer some years after it was all over: 'No. The Third Reich was fear.' Yet terrorism was only one of the Third Reich's techniques of rule. For the Nazis did not just seek to batter the population into passive, sullen acquiescence. They also wanted to rouse it into positive, enthusiastic endorsement of their ideals and their policies, to change people's minds and spirits and to create a new German culture that would reflect their values alone. This meant propaganda, and here too, as we shall now see, they went to unprecedented lengths to achieve their aims.

Biografía del autor

Richard J. Evans (Londres, 1947) es uno de los especialistas más destacados en la historia de la Alemania moderna. De 1989 a 1998 fue profesor de Historia en el Birkbeck College de la Universidad de Londres y entre 1998 y 2014, profesor de Historia Moderna en la Universidad de Cambridge. En 1994 recibió la Medalla de Hamburgo del Arte y la Ciencia por servicios culturales a la ciudad. Entre sus libros destacan The Feminist Movement in Germany (1894-1933), Death in Hamburg (que ganó el Premio Literario Wolfson de Historia), In Hitler's Shadow, Rituals of Retribution (Premio Frenkel de Historia Contemporánea),In Defense of History(traducido a ocho lenguas),Telling Lies about Hitlery la presente trilogía sobre el nazismo, finalista del Los Angeles Times Book Prize.




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