A Village in the Third Reich: How Ordinary Lives Were Transformed By the Rise of Fascism – from the author of Sunday Times bestseller Travellers in the Third Reich

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A Village in the Third Reich: How Ordinary Lives Were Transformed By the Rise of Fascism – from the author of Sunday Times bestseller Travellers in the Third Reich

A Village in the Third Reich: How Ordinary Lives Were Transformed By the Rise of Fascism – from the author of Sunday Times bestseller Travellers in the Third Reich

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The statement I regularly heard during my childhood that the Germans did not know what had happened, “wir haben es nicht gewußt” (‘we did not know [about] it’), is thus undeniable false. It was often difficult to read about the horrors endured by everyday people who had little choice in their fate.

In Oberstdorf, support for Hitler and the Nazis declined as the numbers of dead and wounded increased. The authors select a few of the prominent and not so prominent residents of the village to take a deep dive into their lives. Throughout the book we read snippets of attitudes and events, but we are constantly wondering about Oberstdorf’s attitudes about the big picture, first, the degree and quality of support for the Nazis; second, antisemitism and extermination camps; and thirdly, the existence or degree of organized anti-Nazi resistance. His approach was quite decent, helping locals – including those critical of the regime – and he did not persecute Jews, several of whom had taken shelter in the village.The study of Julia Boyd, based on earlier work of Angelika Patel, questions how far Nazism and World War II influenced village life. This is an excellent social history, which makes the reality of those years personal and immediate and shows the discomfort that many had at that time. The chapters in the book are based along subject lines – why Nazism arose, euthanasia, religion and Nazism, concentration camps, the aftermath of the war, etc – and not on time lines.

The old cliche is that authoritarianism engulfs society gradually, like the (false) analogy of the frog in a pot of water slowly brought to a boil. There was, at least at some key points in time, majority support for the NAZIs in the village, even though some key policies were disliked and the bullying antics of uniformed NAZI party members widely disapproved of.

Her book Travellers in the Third Reich described the rise of the Nazis through the eyes of foreigners who visited Germany before the war. We meet a plethora of inhabitants, including foresters, a Protestant minister, a converted Jewish opera singer, a Catholic priest, nuns, famous mountaineers, members of the Hitler Jugend, schoolchildren, farmers, and many more. Boyd and Patel also had access to diaries and letters from private collections and documents preserved in various national, state, and church archives, giving her a unique insight into the day-to-day challenges of life under the Nazis and a real sense of how ordinary Germans supported, adapted to, and survived a regime that after promising them so much, in the end delivered only anguish and devastation. Reviews Reviews of books, documentaries or other publications that are relevant to the teaching of history. Chapter 12 begins thusly: “Between 20 January and 13 December 1940, the Nazis gassed 9,839 people at the Grafeneck euthanasia center.



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