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Germans into Nazis 1St Edition Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674350915
ISBN-10: 067435091X
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One of the four key archival photographs in this history of the rise of the Nazi state shows a young, disheveled Hitler among the throng of "patriotic Germans gathered on Munich's Odeonsplatz to hear the declaration of war read aloud from the steps of the Feldherrnhalle on 2 August 1914." Fritzsche analyzes the exact significance of this moment to Hitler and the German population. To de-emphasize, in this manner, the Nazis' rise from the rubble of economic despair and hardship and to posit their birth in this popular movement represents a shift in the more conventional historic point of view that dates Nazism at the end of World War I (1918). In the moment captured by this photograph, the German Volk was in the process of being born.

The Volk becomes a crucial entity as Fritzsche scrutinizes the evolution of Germans into Nazis. The Nazis rose to power "because [they] spoke so well to [the peoples'] interests and inclinations. Given the illiberal aims and violent means of the Nazis, this popular support is a sobering, dreadful thing." The Nazi revolution offered a complex and vicious intertwining of the Left and Right that amounted to a reckless rebelliousness and the crossing of nationalism with social reform, anti-Semitism with democracy, and paranoia with nationalistic zeal for a new beginning. Their rise spanned a remarkably short period--from 1914 to 1933. Each of the four chapters opens with an archival photograph that represents a key point in the evolution of this dreadful rise.

The pivotal November 1918 event, for example, was the call by the Volk for the abdication of the Kaiser, exemplified by the unprecedented demonstration of socialist workers in the government quarters. It would take just a few hours for the old order to crumble and Germany to declare itself a socialist republic. Leap ahead to January 1933. Hitler had just been made chancellor of Germany. Here is a description of the swelling crowds and celebratory atmosphere: "Nearly one million Berliners took part in this extraordinary demonstration of allegiance to a party that promised to do away with both the sentimental bric-a-brac of the prewar past and the clutter of Weimar democracy and to establish a strong-willed and strong-armed racial state...." In the meantime, Communists, Socialists, and Jews were being severely beaten. Fritzsche cites the dramatic overpowering of German towns and the harrowing popularity of Nazi brutality as he sheds light on Hitler's immense popularity. Fervent nationalism and an overarching anti-Semitism weigh in heavily. This is a history that seeks not to exonerate but to tell the cautionary tale. --Hollis Giammatteo

From Publishers Weekly

Everyone knows that the Germans turned to the Nazis when dismay over the Treaty of Versailles mixed with the depredations of the Great Depression. Fritzsche (Reading Berlin), however, quickly points out flaws in the scenario. To start, every party in Germany excoriated Versailles, and the people hardest hit by the recession were not the ones most likely to vote National Socialist. It is as a broader social revolution that Fritzsche attempts to make sense of Nazism. As Kaiser Wilhelm hoped, WWI unified Germany; but after withstanding four years of privations with little help from the monarchy, ordinary Germans emerged with a new sense of their worth within the society and with the German volk, a vitally different entity from the Hohenzollern Empire. By 1933, Germans were law-and-order chauvinists, and Nazis seemed to offer order and a national vision that embraced all the volk. Well researched and succinct, this history offers a nuanced view of a complicated history. As for Germany's uniquely murderous anti-Semitism, Fritzsche notes (without mentioning Daniel Goldhagen by name) that the complicity of so many ordinary Germans in the murder of Jews "was not so much the function of genocidal anti-Semitism which they shared in uncomplicated fashion with Nazi leaders; rather over the course of the twelve-year Reich, more and more Germans came to play active and generally congenial parts in the Nazi revolution and then subsequently came to accept the uncompromising terms of Nazi racism."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1St Edition edition (March 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067435091X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674350915
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book reminds me of the adage about "part-truths that beget total errors." What it has to say about the political process that turned Germans into Nazis is, for the most part, valid and valuable. It's what it leaves out that troubles me and troubles me greatly. Historian Peter Fritzsche maintains that the Nazis prevailed in 1933 not because the German people embraced authoritarianism, militarism, and nationalism (as other right-wing parties did) but because they offered them something the other political parties did not: a "refreshingly moral vision of the nation", and "a political movement that was unabashedly nationalist, forward-looking, and socially inclusive, that recognized the populist claims of constituents without redividing them on the basis of occupation." World War I, says Fritzsche, accelerated the populist yearnings of the German public for political enfranchisement and national solidarity as exemplified, for example, in America's July 4th celebrations. That this yearning was ultimately satisfied by a Hitler rather than a German version of Jefferson requires quite a bit more explaining, however, than we get from this book. Weimar politics, like Tennyson's depiction of Nature, was "red in tooth and claw", full of the rhetoric of ressentiment, humiliation, militancy, spite, and political paranoia-- but don't expect to find any of that here. In this sanitized rendering of events, we learn nothing about the pre-1933 collaboration of the right-wing police and army with the Nazis, how this collaboration intimidated the public, and finally, utterly desensitized them to brutal conduct and brutal speech.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
For over 60 years,people have been debating the appeal of the Nazi Party to the German nation.Did anger over the treaty of Versailles make Germans support Hitler? Was it the effects of the Great Depression? Was it because Germans had little exposure to democracy that they turned to fascism? Was it the Nazi racial views that attracted Germans to Hitler? Is there one answer, probably not? Can one answer possibly explain such a complex situation as to why Germany turned to the Nazis? In Germans into Nazis historian Peter Fritzsche has a provocative thesis.He argues that the appeal of the Nazis was rooted in a strident nationalism that was born in 1914 during the lead up into the Great War.Fritzche asserts that the Kaisers call for a true unity of Germans during the war (BURGFRIENDEN) may have been cynical on Wilhelms behalf, but that was not the way many Germans saw it.They saw it as "shot across the bow" of special interests and an opportunity to create a new Germany without as many class barriers.
The collective experience of total war united many Germans as never before.The hardships of modern conflict(loss of loved ones, the turnip winter,etc) welded many Germans into the Volksgemeinshaft.(the peoples community)When the war ended many Germans looked forward to the republic as a way to fulfill their hopes for a new direction in national life. Fritzsche maintains that various political parties such as the communists,
socialists and various parties on the right did not understand the language of the German masses when it came to national needs.But the Nazis did. They comprehended the energy that was unleashed during the Great War.
and they tapped into it.They rejected old political solutions and suggested new ideas.
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Format: Paperback
The books title, GERMANS INTO NAZIS implies an unasked question - how did this happen? The answer, according to Peter Fritzsche, is quite straightforward. First of all, it had nothing to do with any of the following:
> Bitterness over the Versailles Treaty
> The inadequacy of the Republic and the ineffectiveness of Hindenburg as President
> Economic despair associated with the Inflationszeit or hyperinflation crisis
> The Great Depression
> Anti-Semitism
No, none of these. Fritzsche says "it should be stated clearly that Germans became Nazis because they wanted to become Nazis and because the Nazis spoke so well to their interests and inclinations." The removal of anti-semitism as a motivator would seem to contradict Daniel Goldhagen's thesis in HITLERS WILLING EXECUTIONERS, where it is argued that persecuting Jews was the raison d'etre for Nazis. Also, Ian Kershaw in HUBRIS, in studying the motivating factors in the life stories of 581 Nazi party members, found that less than 75 were driven by anti-semitism. If Fritzsche is correct and the interests and inclinations that caused Germans to metamorphose into Nazis do not include social and economic factors, then what else is there? Answer - politics.
The political organization, the devotion to the cause, the energy, and the message of the Nazis; all are shown to have had significant appeal to the populous. The Nazis were organized if nothing else. They held 2,370 public meetings throughout Germany in 1925 and by 1929 they had 3,400 party branches across the country. Their ideological appeal was based on their portrayal of themselves as "a party that was constructive, that would move forward and bring Germans together in a militant Volksgemeinschaft" (community of people).
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