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Publishers WeeklyUniversity of Illinois historian Fritzsche (Germans into Nazis) effectively takes up one of the key controversies surrounding the Third Reich: to what extent were the German people accomplices of the regime? Over the years, the answers have ranged widely. Daniel Goldhagen's argument that the annihilation of the Jews was what the German people had always wanted has never persuaded specialists. Others have argued that the German people were either manipulated and deceived by, or converted to, Nazism. Fritzsche provides a more nuanced argument that the Nazis were quite successful in winning the people's support, but it took time and effort. He cites diaries showing that individuals had to examine how they could become reconciled, or converted, to National Socialism. The fabled Volksgemeinschaft—people's community—was not mere propaganda but had a powerful allure that drew Germans into the Nazi orbit. Fritzsche mines diaries and letters written by the famous and well-placed as well as the unknown, to show that the prospects of German grandeur and unity resonated deeply with many people, even when it meant a hugely destructive war and the genocide of the Jews. Fritzsche offers a significant interpretation of Nazism and the German people, and writes with a vibrancy that is not often found in studies of the Third Reich.
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