The Coming of the Third Reich

The Coming of the Third Reich

4.5 31
by Richard J. Evans
     
 

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There is no story in twentieth-century history more important to understand than Hitler’s rise to power and the collapse of civilization in Nazi Germany. With The Coming of the Third Reich, Richard Evans, one of the world’s most distinguished historians, has written the definitive account for our time. A masterful synthesis of a vast body of

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Overview

There is no story in twentieth-century history more important to understand than Hitler’s rise to power and the collapse of civilization in Nazi Germany. With The Coming of the Third Reich, Richard Evans, one of the world’s most distinguished historians, has written the definitive account for our time. A masterful synthesis of a vast body of scholarly work integrated with important new research and interpretations, Evans’s history restores drama and contingency to the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis, even as it shows how ready Germany was by the early 1930s for such a takeover to occur. The Coming of the Third Reich is a masterwork of the historian’s art and the book by which all others on the subject will be judged.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Richard J. Evans's The Coming of the Third Reich...gives the clearest and most gripping account I've read of German life before aznd during the rise of the Nazis."—A. S Byatt, in the Times Literary Supplement

"Richard J. Evans's The Coming of the Third Reich is an enormous work of synthesis—knowledgable and reliable..."—Mark Mazower in the New York Times Book Review

"[A] first-rate narrative history that informs and educates and may inspire readers to delve even deeper into the subject."—Booklist

“…Brilliant…”–Washington Post

“The generalist reader, it should be emphasized, is well served. …The book reads briskly, covers all important areas—social and cultural—and succeeds in its aim of giving “voice to the people who lived through the years with which it deals.”—Denver Post

“One finally puts down this magnificent volume thirsty, on the one hand, for the next installment in the Nazi saga yet still haunted by the questions Evan poses and so masterfully grapples with.”―Abraham Brumberg, The Nation

“This first part of what will be Evans’ three-volume history of Hitler’s regime is the most comprehensive and convincing work so far on the gall of Weimar and Hitler’s rise to power.”―Foreign Affairs

Omer Bartov
Evans has accomplished his goal of writing a readable account of the origins of the Third Reich from the unification of Germany in 1871 to the establishment of the Nazi regime in 1933. He provides many insights into the political culture of imperial and Weimar Germany, the mentality of the Nazi storm troopers and the impacts of the inflation of the early 1920s and the depression and unemployment of the early 1930s.
The Washington Post
The New York Times
Richard J. Evans's Coming of the Third Reich is an enormous work of synthesis -- knowledgeable and reliable, and playing to the author's strengths as it highlights the interconnections between politics and society. Evans, the author of several books about Nazi Germany, reminds us at the outset that we should not read too much into the activities of nasty but small anti-Semitic and nationalist extremist groups before World War I. Instead he underscores the importance of the postwar crisis, a Germany left bitterly divided between Social Democrats and Communists, an economy ravaged by unemployment and a country led astray by a political and industrial elite with no real commitment to democracy. This is a vivid although familiar account of why the Weimar Republic collapsed. Evans shows how the ingredients for Nazi triumph were assembled and what was needed to make them jell: add war and depression, cook in a turbulent political atmosphere for several years and serve hot. — Mark Mazower
New York Newsday
Evans asks, in different ways, whether the movement's rise to power was as irresistible as the Nazis tried to make it seem.
Publishers Weekly
On March 30, 1933, two months after Hitler achieved power, Paul Nikolaus, a Berlin cabaret comedian, wrote disconsolately, "For once, no joke. I am taking my own life.... [U]nfortunately I have fallen in love with my Fatherland. I cannot live in these times." How Germans could remain in love with their fatherland under Nazism and even contribute willingly to its horrific extremism is the subject of Cambridge historian Evans's gripping if overwhelmingly detailed study, the first of three projected volumes. Readers watch a great and historic culture grow grotesquely warped from within, until, in 1933, a dictatorial state was imposed upon the ruins of the Weimar republic. A host of shrill demagogues had, in the preceding decades, become missionaries to an uneasy coalition of the discontented, eager to subvert Germany's democratic institutions. This account contrasts with oversimplified diagnoses of how Nazism succeeded in taking possession of the German psyche. Evans asserts that Hitler's manipulative charisma required massive dissatisfaction and resentment available to be exploited. Nazism found convenient scapegoats in historic anti-Semitism, the shame of an imposed peace after WWI and the weakness of an unstable government alien to the disciplined German past. Although there have been significant recent studies of Hitler and his regime, like Ian Kershaw's brilliant two volumes, Evans (In Hitler's Shadow, etc.) broadens the historic perspective to demythologize how morbidly fertile the years before WWI were as an incubator for Hitler. 31 illus., 18 maps. (Feb. 9) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
This first part of what will be Evans' three-volume history of Hitler's regime is the most comprehensive and convincing work so far on the fall of Weimar and Hitler's rise to power. Unlike past accounts suggesting that things could have turned out differently had some of the key players been less foolish, Evans builds, stone by stone, a monument to prove that Hitler's ascent was the only possible outcome even though the Nazi Party never captured an absolute majority of votes. He begins with the legacy of the past: how "mainstream parties" adopted anti-Semitic ideas; how pseudoscientific notions of racial hygiene developed starting before 1914; how Germany's defeat in World War I allowed Nazism to emerge as a serious political force by causing Germans to seek "an authoritarian alternative to the civilian politics that seemed so signally to have failed Germany in its hour of need." He finds the Weimar Constitution no worse than many others, but "the fatal lack of legitimacy from which the Republic suffered magnified the constitution's faults many times over." With that lack of legitimacy compounded by hyperinflation, depression, and cultural clashes, the Nazis managed to prevail through a deadly combination of violence and propaganda, both unprecedented in their intensity.

The last part of the book is a detailed, depressing account of Hitler's transformation of Germany in a few months in 1933, including the "cultural revolution" in which both Martin Heidegger and storm troopers played key roles. The Nazi "revolution," Evans concludes, was meant to be "the world-historical negation of its French predecessor," offering "a synthesis of the revolutionary and the restorative." Unconcerned with overthrowing the social system, Nazism focused on "race, culture and ideology"-and on creating "a dictatorship the like of which had never yet been seen."

Library Journal
Do we really need another history of the Third Reich? Evans (history, Cambridge Univ.; Lying About Hitler) answers that while studies of Nazism have proliferated, what is lacking is a narrative and analytical history directed at the general reader. His projected trilogy aims to provide just that. This impressive first volume covers the period from the founding of modern Germany (1871) through Hitler's coming to power (1933). Evans argues that to regard Hitler's rise as the logical by-product of a fundamental flaw in the German character often requires bending evidence for this thesis from disparate events and themes throughout German history. Although Evans does not regard Nazism as inevitable, he does not lose sight of the myriad anti-Semitic movements that populated the German landscape, along with the various forces-militarism, socialism, capitalism-vying for influence in German society. Germany was an industrial giant by 1914, yet paradoxically its economic success concealed the fact that it had not yet completed the process of nation building. Evans argues that during the crisis of 1933, the leaders of the Weimar republic assumed that the Nazis had at least "a minimal willingness to abide by the rules of democratic politics." Hitler, however, was adept at using democratic institutions, while planning their destruction. Recommended for all libraries.-Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A brilliant synthesis of German history, enumerating and elucidating the social, political, and cultural trends that made the rise of Nazism possible. But by no means inevitable, writes Evans (History/Cambridge Univ.; In Defense of History, 1999, etc.); indeed, many of the material and cultural conditions for the rise of a regime that "would make a systematic attempt to kill all the Jews of Europe and kill nearly six million in the process" were more pronounced in France and Russia than in Germany. Yet, he notes, "Nazism, while far from being the unavoidable outcome of the course of German history, certainly did draw for it success on political and ideological traditions and developments that were specifically German in their nature." Some of those traditions arose during the reign of Otto von Bismarck, who, in unifying Germany, universalized military service and "saw to it that the army was virtually a state within a state," answerable to a strong leader alone. Others welled up from Social Darwinist thinkers who believed that the fittest should survive and the weakest be eliminated, thus improving racial stocks and building supermen. The early Nazis found comfort in the example of Weimar leader Paul von Hindenburg, who "had no faith in democratic institutions and no intention of defending them from their enemies"; they found more comfort in the brutal example of the Russian Revolution and the Leninist state, which threatened to spill over into Germany and drove many a middle-class man and woman far to the right. All these strains came together such that there was "substantial overlap between the Nazis' ideology and that of the conservatives [and] even, to a considerable extent, that ofGerman liberals"-opening the door to the Nazi ascendancy while offering hope to many Germans of the time that their country's future would be one "in which class antagonisms and party-political squabbles would be overcome" and prosperity and national pride restored. A peerless work, the first of a projected three volumes. Of immense importance to general readers-and even some specialists-seeking to understand the origins of the Nazi regime.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143034698
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/2005
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
672
Sales rank:
197,173
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 10.88(h) x 1.21(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

On 10 May 1933, German students organized an "act against the un-German spirit" in nineteen university towns across the land. They compiled a list of "un-German" books, seized them from all the libraries they could find, piled them up in public squares and set them alight. In Berlin the book-burning event was joined at the students’ request by Joseph Goebbels. He told them that they were "doing the right thing in committing the evil spirit of the past to the flames" in what he called a "strong, great and symbolic act.”

One after another, books were thrown onto the funeral pyre of intellect, to the accompaniment of slogans such as "Against class struggle and materialism, for the national community and an idealistic outlook: Marx, Kautsky"; "Against decadence and moral decay, for discipline and morality in family and state: Heinrich Mann, Ernst Glaeser, Erich Kästner."  The works of Freud were consigned to the flames for their "debasing exaggeration of man’s animal nature"; the books of the popular historian and biographer Emil Ludwig were burned for their "denigration" of the "great figures" of German history; the writings of the radical pacifist journalists Kurt Tucholsky and Karl von Ossietzky were destroyed for their "arrogance and presumption." A particular category in itself was reserved for Erich Maria Remarque, whose critical novel All Quiet on the Western Front was thrown onto the fire "against literary betrayal of the soldiers of the World War, for the education of the nation in the spirit of military preparedness." Many other books besides those read out in these incantatory slogans were thrown onto the pyres. The national student organization issued "twelve theses against the un-German spirit" to accompany the action, demanding the introduction of censorship and the purging of libraries and declaring: "Our opponent is the Jew and anyone who submits to him."

Already by 12 March, in a prelude to this action, stormtroopers had ransacked the library of the trade union center in Heidelberg, removed books and burned them in a small bonfire outside the door. A similar event had taken place outside Magnus Hirschfeld’s sex research institute in Berlin on 6 May.  But the 10 May book burning was on a much larger scale and much more thoroughly prepared. Students had been combing libraries and bookshops in readiness for the occasion since the middle of April. Some booksellers courageously refused to hang up posters advertising the event in their shop windows, but many others gave in to the threats with which the students accompanied their action. In Heidelberg, where the book burning took place on 17 May, the students processed with flaming torches, accompanied by SA, SS and steel helmets and members of the dueling corps, and threw Communist and Social Democratic insignia into the flames as well as books. The event was accompanied by the singing of the Horst Wessel Song and the national anthem. Speeches were delivered in which the action was presented as a blow against the "un-German spirit." The Weimar Republic had incorporated this "Jewish-subversive" spirit; it was now finally consigned to history.

All of this marked the culmination of a widespread action "against the un-German spirit" set in motion weeks before by the Propaganda Ministry. As so often in the history of the Third Reich, the apparently spontaneous action was in fact centrally coordinated, although not by Goebbels, but by the national student union. The Nazi official in charge of purging Berlin’s public libraries helpfully provided a list of the books to be burned, and the central office of the national student union wrote and distributed the slogans to be used in the ceremony. In this way, the Nazi student organization ensured that the book burning took a roughly similar course in all the university towns where it was carried out. And where the students led, others followed, in localities across the land. At a celebration of the summer solstice of 1933 in the small town of Neu-Isenburg, for instance, eight thousand people watched "Marxist" literature being burned in a huge pile in an open space behind the fire station. As the local women’s gymnastics club danced around the fire, the local party leader gave a speech, followed by a rendition of the Horst Wessel Song by the assembled multitude.  Book burning was by no means a practice confined to the highly educated.

But one precedent above all others inspired the action of 10 May 1933. The Nazi book burning was a conscious echo of an earlier ritual performed by radical nationalist students at the celebration of the 18 October 1817 three hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s famous launching of the Reformation with the publication of his theses attacking the Catholic Church. At the close of the day’s festivities at the Wartburg castle in Thuringia, the students had thrown symbols of authority and "un-German" books such as the Code Napoléon onto a bonfire in a form of symbolic execution. This action might have provided a precedent in Germany’s canon of nationalist demonstrations, but in fact it had little in common with its later imitation in 1933, since a principal concern of the Wartburg festival was to express solidarity with Poland and to demonstrate in favor of the freedom of the German press, still constricted by massive censorship from the police regime inspired by Prince Metternich. Still, as the flames rose to the skies in Germany’s ancient seats of learning on 10 May 1933, encouraged or tolerated by the newly Nazified university authorities, there must have been more than a few who recalled the poet Heinrich Heine’s comment

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Richard J. Evans's The Coming of the Third Reich...gives the clearest and most gripping account I've read of German life before aznd during the rise of the Nazis."—A. S Byatt, in the Times Literary Supplement

"Richard J. Evans's The Coming of the Third Reich is an enormous work of synthesis—knowledgable and reliable..."—Mark Mazower in the New York Times Book Review

"[A] first-rate narrative history that informs and educates and may inspire readers to delve even deeper into the subject."—Booklist

“…Brilliant…”–Washington Post

“The generalist reader, it should be emphasized, is well served. …The book reads briskly, covers all important areas—social and cultural—and succeeds in its aim of giving “voice to the people who lived through the years with which it deals.”—Denver Post

“One finally puts down this magnificent volume thirsty, on the one hand, for the next installment in the Nazi saga yet still haunted by the questions Evan poses and so masterfully grapples with.”―Abraham Brumberg, The Nation

“This first part of what will be Evans’ three-volume history of Hitler’s regime is the most comprehensive and convincing work so far on the gall of Weimar and Hitler’s rise to power.”―Foreign Affairs

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Meet the Author

Richard J. Evans is professor of modern history at Cambridge University. His books include Death in Hamburg (winner of the Wolfson Literary Award for History), In Hitler's Shadow, Rituals of Retribution (winner of the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History), In Defense of History, and Lying About Hitler.

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The Coming of the Third Reich 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As Karl Marx once wrote, people make their own history, but not under conditions of their own choosing. So it is that academic Richard J. Evans from Cambridge University approaches the superb first volume of the planned trilogy of a complete history of the rise and fall of the Third Reich, ¿The Coming Of the Third Reich¿, recognizing the existential constraints people living in the era of National Socialism faced. As Professor Evans puts it, not only are men constrained and shaped by the unique and quite specific web of cultural and social conditions in which they are enmeshed, but they also view these particular conditions through a particular perspective, and through the prism of a socially prescribed set of values, beliefs, and ideologies. Thus, the author argues that in the vast bibliography of works covering the history of the Nazi era, no one has yet covered the epoch in a fashion that does justice to the complex welter of ways, as sociologist C. Wright Mills would phrase it, in which biography and history meaningfully intersect such that one can appreciate what it was like for an individual to live in the times of the National Socialists, and to experience life on the ground as real people who lived through the turbulent 1930s and 1940s did. Indeed, this trilogy is offered in a brilliant attempt to render such a comprehensive history that makes sense of how it that such a baffling and troubling phenomenon could arise in what was considered the most economically, socially, and culturally advanced society of the early 20th century. This volume recounts the story of the origins of the Third Reich in 19th century Germany, from the its very beginnings as Bismarck¿s foundling empire, through the events of the First World War, and the turbulent unrest and dissatisfaction of the Weimar years. It also describes the rise of the National Socialists through what the author describes as being an ingenuous combination of electoral success and massive political violence that took place in the chaotic epoch of the Great Depression. The books central theme centers around how the Nazis managed to forge a one-party dictatorship in a democratic society so quickly, and with so little organized resistance. This volume is, much like William Shirer¿s classic effort in ¿The Rise And Fall of the Third Reich¿, a narrative account of the events surrounding the events of the Nazi era. It is a massively documented effort to document the story of the Third Reich in chronological order, and much as Shirer did, attempts to ¿give voice to the people who lived through the years¿ of Nazi rule. The author is quite passionate in voicing his own concern that history once more render for the reader an intelligence recounting of the experiences of ordinary individuals, of the sheer complexity of the their existential constraints and available options, and the often incomprehensible choices they faced. So, what Evans aims to give to the reader in the early 21st century is a better understanding of the Nazi era by recreating all of its elements, in all their complexity and interweaving perplexity, thus reminding readers that, as L.P. Hartley said, ¿the past is a foreign country, they do things differently there¿. Given the fact that it remains as important today as ever to understand both how and why the Nazis came to power with such speed and relative ease, it is critical to better appreciate the nature of life in the Third Reich, to comprehend why their opponents failed to stop them, and to better realize the nature and the operation of the machinery of the Nazi regime once it had grasped the reins of power. Moreover, it remains crucial to understand the complex mechanism through which the operation and goals of the Third Reich so quickly and fatefully engulfed the rest of Europe and then the world in such a bloodbath of carnage and ruin. For while the 20th century has no shortages of such catastrophes, including the Soviet purge of the 1930s, no
Studied_Reader More than 1 year ago
Truly, destined to become a classic and, together with his two further volumes, will replace William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich as the standard history for the educated public, as well as for the more academically inclined in allied fields. The great thing about Evans is that his familiarity with this period is so broad, that he is able to write a detailed, comprehensive account, bolstered by copious footnotes, founded on an astonishing range of primary and secondary material, that reads with a clarity, fluidity and excitement possessed by no other equally-comprehensive account. It genuinely reads easily, and even rather quickly, and can make you forget how many facts, figures and observations are crammed into each paragraph. Another wonderful thing about Evans, is that he combines a general survey and account of the broad sweep of European events, with fascinating individual stories, incidents and anecdotes that give his book that extra flavor of bringing you closer to the actual events. If you are very well-read on this period (like myself), you can follow the footnotes, and you will learn more even from them. But, you can omit them with not too-devastating results. But I tell you one thing: You won't be able to put it down. Allen Roth
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A general overview of the ideas and ideologies that were common currency in Germany prior to the Nazi take over, and how easy certain ideas and policies were to implement for the Nazis. Some of these find that origins in the Middle Ages others in the Thirty years war others at the end of the nineteenth century some even gained acceptance during the Weimar years.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BookWyrm_the_Devourer More than 1 year ago
I’m new to studying the Third Reich. Initially I began with Shirer’s Rise and Fall but jumped ship to begin Evans’ Third Reich Trilogy, and I’m glad I did. Evans packs his book with sourced material and massive cast of players. Although, as a lay history buff and avid reader, the cast seemed overwhelming, I felt I was getting a complete picture of everyone involved, for good or bad, in the Third Reich’s ascension. This book doesn’t read as easily as Shirer’s book, for sure, since his background in journalism, and his actual eyewitness experience with the Nazis, allows Shirer to write on a much simpler and more compelling plain; but so long as the reader is, in fact, a reader, s/he should have no problem reading a book written by a scholar renowned in his field. I’d say, in fact, the Evans has a very addicting and pleasurable writing style. At one point, I did get bogged down in some of the passages dealing with German economics; but no fault on the book for my own ignorance of the subject hindering my understanding. On the contrary, the wealth of information encourages to reread the book to gain an even better understanding of what was going on.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Carond1 More than 1 year ago
A work which readily takes its place on any bookshelf.Evans writes in a readable style which is free from esoteric arguments and the narrative flows easily.For anyone seeking to expand his/her knowledge of this period,it is an indispensable book.
John60WV More than 1 year ago
The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard J Evans is the first in a three volume history of Nazi Germany. In this volume the author discuesses how Adloph Hitler and the Nazi "movement." came to power. Mr Evans traces many of the Nazi believes back to the 19t6h century. The belief in German superioritory is nothing new. It can be traced to such 19th French raciest Count Joseph Author de Gobineau. Gobineaur influences a crackpot German thinker with the name of Wilhelm Marr. He coined the term antisemitism. Marr borrowed heavily for Gobineaur who wrote a book called An Essey in the the Inequality of the Human Races which developed the theory of an Aryan master race. The book was written in 1853 and 1855. Core Nazi beliefs were taken from many sources from many countryies. They were organized under the banner of nazism after the disaster of World War I. The war was a military disaster for Germany. Kaiser Wilhelm II was forced to abdicate. A new government was able to e stabliesh Germany's attempt at a democratic goverrnment. Unfortnately it was doomed from the start. The victors of WWI forced upon the new leadeers of Germany a bitter peace known as the Versailes Treaty. Germany was forced to admit it bore responsibly for the war. Germany was also forcerd to accept huge reparation payments. She lost a considerable amount of territyr and the military was severely limited. Fro example the Army was limited to 100,000 men. The German people felt very humiliated. They grew to hate the new democratifc government. The thought calling its leaders the Novembver Criminals. Although defeated the military blamed the civilin government and claimed the German Army was stabled in the back. The So called Weimmar Republic was never fully accepted. There was no peace in Germany after the war. Germany experienced went through years of polical chaos and hyperinflation. Rvolutionaries of both right and left threatened the fldging democracies. Because Germany could not or would not pay back the war repearations France and Belgium troups occupied the Rhur from 1923 1925. This futther weakened the government. These chaotic conditions set the stage for Adolph Hitler and the National Socialist. The author tells how Hitler was able to organized the Nazi party from a small gathering of macontents to one of the largest po;litical parties in Germany. Hitler swore to do away t=wht the Republic, rearm Germany return the nation to first class status. He was able to use antisemitism to blame all of Germany's problem o n the Jews. I thought this was a facinating book and I thought the author did veryh important servie retelling the story of the Nazi era. Hitler offerend nothing new for the German people; his polices of hate destoryed Germany. But there are some people who still believe Hitler to be a compelling leader. There are some people who will deny the hollocaust. Evans gave a true, straight forward and compelling account of the history of that era which must be reotld or we might make the same mistakes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
NEIL LYONS More than 1 year ago
Unlike William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (which is bent more on entertaining the reader) Evans presents himself as a serious historian. Evans takes us back to the rise of military Prussia and the attitudes and ideologies which made Germany a comfortable bed for the NSDAP to lay its head; and then moves forward to the timultous and chaotic street fights between brownshirts and communists which defined many Weimar cities. Drawing from primary sources of the everyday German and high ranking officials Evan's work is a must for any fan of history and most especially the history of the third reich as political party.
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