Study Guide

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Quotes

  • Hate

    To these developments Hitler, the fanatical young German-Austrian nationalist from Linz, was bitterly opposed. To him the empire was sinking into a "foul morass." It could be saved only if the master race, the Germans, reasserted their old absolute authority. The non-German races, especially the Slavs and above all the Czechs, were an inferior people. It was up to the Germans to rule them with an iron hand. (1.1.113)

    The Nazi belief in the racial superiority of Aryans is well known, but Shirer shows how Hitler's racism was tied to concerns that were social, political, and economic—for instance, his deep frustration regarding non-Germanic peoples' access to resources, economic security, wealth, and power that should have belonged to Aryans alone. "Inferior" races didn't deserve it.

    One day, Hitler recounts, he went strolling through the Inner City. "I suddenly encountered an apparition in a black caftan and black side-locks. Is this a Jew? was my first thought. For, to be sure, they had not looked like that in Linz. I observed the man furtively and cautiously, but the longer I stared at this foreign face, scrutinizing feature for feature, the more my first question assumed a new form: Is this a German?" (1.1.141)

    As Shirer records, after reading all anti-Semitic literature which was readily available in Vienna at the time, Hitler went out to check out the Jews himself. He really hadn't known many. He writes in Mein Kampf that the Jewish men and women he saw on the streets now began to look different from the rest of humanity. His racial hatred propelled him from the question "Is this a Jew?" to "Is this a German?" and, finally, to "Is this a human?"

    He was to remain a blind and fanatical [anti-Semite] to the bitter end; his last testament, written a few hours before his death, would contain a final blast against the Jews as responsible for the war which he had started and which was now finishing him and the Third Reich. This burning hatred, which was to infect so many Germans in that empire, would lead ultimately to a massacre so horrible and on such a scale as to leave an ugly scar on civilization that will surely last as long as man on earth. (1.1.146)

    Anti-Semitism was prevalent in Germany—and in Europe more broadly—for centuries, well before Hitler's rise to power. What were some of the crucial differences between the anti-Semitism that existed popularly throughout Germany and Europe, and the anti-Semitism of the Nazi regime?

    Blood mixture and the resultant drop in the racial level is the sole cause of the dying out of old cultures; for men do not perish as a result of lost wars, but by the loss of that force of resistance which is continued only in pure blood. All who are not of good race in this world are chaff. (1.4.42)

    Shirer quotes this passage verbatim from Mein Kampf, in an effort to illustrate both the historical inaccuracy of Hitler's views on human development as well as the deep-seated hatred that Hitler had for all those whom he excluded from his "master race."

    To Hitler, as he had publicly declared a thousand times, the Jews were not Germans, and though he did not exterminate them at once (only a relative few—a few thousand, that is—were robbed, beaten or murdered during the first months), he issued laws excluding them from public service, the universities and the professions. And on April 1, 1933, he proclaimed a national boycott of Jewish shops. (3.7.80)

    The robberies, beatings, and murders of a few thousand Jews in Germany in 1933 was a drop in the bucket compared to the millions who were massacred later. Hitler's policy was to gradually remove Jews from public life in Germany before settling on the "Final Solution." If you want to destroy a people, first you have to designate them as the "other."

    Even one returning to Germany for the first time since the death of the Republic could see that, whatever his crimes against humanity, Hitler had unleashed a dynamic force of incalculable proportions, which had long been pent up in the German people. (3.7.201)

    Here's a good example of how Shirer believed that Hitler was successful because Germans already believed much of what he was preaching based on their history of anti-Semitism and belief in German superiority.

    In the background, to be sure, there lurked the terror of the Gestapo and the fear of the concentration camp for those who got out of line or who had been Communists or Socialists or too liberal or too pacifist, or who were Jews. […] Yet the Nazi terror in the early years affected the lives of relatively few Germans and a newly arrived observer was somewhat surprised to see that the people of this country did not seem to feel that they were being cowed and held down by an unscrupulous and brutal dictatorship. (2.8.2)

    What gives rise to that kind of complacency? Is it hatred? Ignorance? Fear?

    The Jews and the Slavic peoples were the Untermenschen—subhumans. To Hitler they had no right to live, except as some of them, among the Slavs, might be needed to toil in the fields and the mines as slaves of their German masters. (5.27.2)

    The Nazi view that Jewish and Slavic peoples were less-than-human was one of things that made it easy for the Nazis to engage in genocide with hardly a thought. No right to live—that's chilling.

    Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death like cattle interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves to our Kultur; otherwise it is of no interest to me. Whether 10,000 Russian females fall down from exhaustion while digging an anti-tank ditch interests me only in so far as the antitank ditch for Germany is finished. (5.27.4-5)

    This is Heinrich Himmler, chief of the S.S., lecturing his officers. This cold indifference is almost scarier than Hitler's hateful rantings.

    At that time [1941] we did not value the mass of humanity as we value it today, as raw material, as labor. What after all, thinking in terms of generations, is not to be regretted but is now deplorable by reason of the loss of labor, is that the prisoners died in tens and hundreds of thousands of exhaustion and hunger. (5.27.120)

    Himmler's referring to the "tens and hundreds of thousands" of Russian prisoners whom the Nazis allowed to die in the early months of their war on the Eastern front. As you can see, he didn't care about the value of those tens and hundreds of thousands of people as human beings, but rather as "raw material, as labor." It was a waste of potential slaves to have killed them.

    There were some ten million Jews living in 1939 in the territories occupied by Hitler's forces. By any estimate it is certain that nearly half of them were exterminated by the Germans. This was the final consequence and the shattering cost of the aberration which came over the Nazi dictator in his youthful gutter days in Vienna and which he imparted to—or shared with—so many of his German followers. (5.27.301)

    Shirer offers a few different estimates as to the number of Jews who were murdered by the Nazis during the Shoah. Although he hesitates to endorse one number over another, most of the estimates come close to the figure that's generally agreed upon today: six million Jews killed. This was the ultimate result of Hitler's hate, but Shirer again gets in his idea that the German people were complicit.

  • Warfare

    This was the heaven-sent opportunity. Now the young vagabond could satisfy not only his passion to serve his beloved country in what he says he believed was a fight for its existence […] but he could escape from all the failures and frustrations of his personal life.

    "To me," he wrote in Mein Kampf, "those hours came as a deliverance from the distress that had weighed upon me during the days of my youth. […] For me, as for every German, there now began the most memorable period of my life." (1.1.153-154)

    So, if Hitler had only had a good job and a girlfriend, he'd never have evolved into the Fuehrer? That's a massive over-simplification, natch, but Shirer sees Hitler's joining the army as basically a solution to his aimless, unfulfilled life at the time. Many American WWII-era vets look back on their service as a formative event, but they sure didn't sign up as a solution to their failed lives.

    For Hitler the preservation of culture "is bound up with the rigid law of necessity and the right to victory of the best and strongest in the world. Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight, in this world of eternal struggle, do not deserve to live. Even if this were hard—that is how it is!" (1.4.32)

    For Hitler (as he wrote in Mein Kampf), the desire to wage war was not only natural, but admirable. It was a sign of one's instinct to live. He was merciless with the generals who wanted to retreat when they were surrounded by enemy troops and sure to be destroyed.

    War is the great purifier. In Hegel's view, it makes for "the ethical health of peoples corrupted by a long peace, as the blowing of the winds preserves the sea from the foulness which would be the result of a prolonged calm." (1.4.88)

    In Shirer's view, the philosopher Hegel's thoughts were among the "weird mixture of the irresponsible, megalomaniacal ideas which erupted from German thinkers during the nineteenth century," and which had such a huge influence on Hitler's own thinking later. War as a purifier? How can a long peace corrupt the ethical health of a people? What do you think he's saying? (1.4.83)

    There was some ground for this appropriation of Nietzsche as one of the originators of the Nazi Weltanschauung. Had not the philosopher thundered against democracy and parliaments, preached the will to power, praised war and proclaimed the coming of the master race and the superman—and in the most telling aphorisms? A Nazi could proudly quote him on almost every conceivable subject, and did. (1.4.96)

    Like Hegel, Friedrich Nietzsche makes Shirer's greatest-hits list of intellectuals who paved the way for Hitler's glorification of war. He's building his case that Germans grew up with this kind of philosophy.

    Because he was a cripple he could not serve in the war and thus was cheated of the experience which seemed, at least in the beginning, so glorious for the young men of his generation and which was a prerequisite for leadership in the Nazi Party. (2.5.31)

    Shirer is describing Paul Joseph Goebbels—the young man who'd eventually become one of Hitler's most trusted and faithful followers, not to mention the Nazi Minister of Propaganda. Notice how this passage takes note of the fact that military service was a necessary qualification for leadership in the Nazi Party. Not only did Nazi ideology glorify war, but party leaders were expected to have proven their character at the front. Maybe that's what Hegel meant by "ethical health."

    The destruction of the Republic was only the first step. What they then wanted was an authoritarian Germany which at home would put an end to democratic "nonsense" and the power of the trade unions and in foreign affairs undo the verdict of 1918, tear off the shackles of Versailles, rebuild a great Army and with its military power restore the country to its place in the sun. (2.6.151)

    One of the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles was that Germany was disarmed. In this passage, Shirer is describing the goals of the conservative classes who helped to boost Hitler into his appointment as Chancellor of the German Reich. Note how Germany's "place in the sun" is thought to hinge on its military might.

    Within a few minutes they were giving the Poles, soldiers and civilians alike, the first taste of sudden death and destruction from the skies ever experienced on any great scale on the earth and thereby inaugurating a terror which would become dreadfully familiar to hundreds of millions of men, women, and children in Europe and Asia during the next six years, and whose shadow, after the nuclear bombs came, would haunt all mankind with the threat of utter extinction. (3.17.2)

    As Shirer describes the death and destruction caused by the German Luftwaffe during the invasion of Poland, he tells us that air warfare on this scale was unprecedented. Like the First World War before it, the Second World War introduced forms of violence that had previously been unimaginable. Technical "progress," right?

    This was their—and the world's—first experience of the blitzkrieg: the sudden surprise attack; the fighter planes and bombers roaring overhead, reconnoitering, attacking, spreading flame and terror; the Stukas screaming as they dove; the tanks, whole divisions of them, breaking through and thrusting forward thirty or forty miles in a day; self-propelled, rapid-firing heavy guns rolling forty miles an hour down even the rutty Polish roads; the incredible speed of even the infantry, of the whole vast army of a million and a half men on motorized wheels […]. (4.18.3)

    In this remarkable passage, which fills a full quarter of a page with one long, steamrolling sentence, Shire's writing mirrors the very intense attack he describes. It's one of the most artfully-crafted passages in the book, but one of the grimmest as well.

    The skill of British Fighter Command in committing its planes to battle against vastly superior attacking forces was based on its shrewd use of radar. From the moment they took off from their bases in Western Europe the German aircraft were spotted on British radar screens, and their course so accurately plotted that Fighter Command knew exactly where and when they could best be attacked. This was something new in warfare and it puzzled the Germans, who were far behind the British in the development and use of this electronic device. (4.22.122)

    Shirer has more than one opportunity to point out important "firsts" that came along with the Second World War. This newfangled technology—radar—was a huge advantage for the British.

    The people were there, and the land—the first dazed and bleeding and hungry, and, when winter came, shivering in their rags in the hovels which the bombings had made of their homes; the second a vast wasteland of rubble. (6.31.240)

    This is what it came to for the citizens of Germany. Shirer shows us what war really is. It's not the glorious experience Hitler's vision of great and glorious war. The nation and its people that Hitler had promised to raise to new heights, was pounded into rubble and misery. No "ethical health" or "purification" that we can see here.

  • Education

    Even today I think back with genuine emotion on this gray-haired man who, by the fire of his words, sometimes made us forget the present; who, as if by magic, transformed dry historical facts into vivid reality. There we sat, often aflame with enthusiasm, sometimes even moved to tears... He used our budding national fanaticism as a means of educating us, frequently appealing to our sense of national honor.

    This teacher made history my favorite subject.

    And indeed, though he had no such intention, it was then that I became a young revolutionary. (1.1.59-61)

    Aww, isn't this sentimental? The history teacher Hitler is describing in Mein Kampf was Leopold Poetsch, a man who later joined the Nazi S.S. after Hitler began to seize political power. It's great to have a teacher who sets you aflame with enthusiasm, but not if he or she is fanning the flames of racism and hate. Thanks, Mr. Poetsch. Can we be excused now? (1.1.62)

    What were the ideas which he acquired from his reading and his experience and which, as he says, would remain essentially unaltered to the end? That they were mostly shallow and shabby, often grotesque and preposterous, and poisoned by outlandish prejudices will become obvious on the most cursory examination. That they are important to this history, as they were to the world, is equally obvious, for they were to form part of the foundation for the Third Reich which this bookish vagrant was soon to build. (1.1.110)

    Shirer notes that Hitler read constantly during his destitute years in Vienna and later described that period of his life as the critical time for his political, historical, and social education. ButHitler's so-called "knowledge" of subjects such as German and European history, racial and religious difference, and the nature of human rights was often obscenely, horrifically false. He read a ton of anti-Semitic literature that was widely available in Vienna at the time and bought all of it.

    Though some of the party roughnecks, veterans of street fighting and beerhouse brawls, opposed bringing women and children into the Nazi Party, Hitler soon provided organizations for them too. The Hitler Youth took in youngsters from fifteen to eighteen who had their own departments of culture, schools, press, and propaganda, "defense sports," etc., and those from ten to fifteen were enrolled in the Deutsches Jungfolk. (2.5.14)

    In its early stages, the Hitler Youth movement was designed to foster the growth of the party: in later years, as we'll see soon, it was designed to ensure that all young people in Germany grew up immersed in Nazi ideology. Hitler abolished all other youth organizations.

    Hitler was now the law, as Goering said, and as late as May and June 1933 the Fuehrer was declaiming that "the National Socialist Revolution has not yet run its course" and that "it will be victoriously completed only if a new German people is educated." In Nazi parlance, "educated" meant "intimidated"—to a point where all would accept docilely the Nazi dictatorship and its barbarism. (2.7.80)

    When Hitler says "education," he means indoctrination and propaganda. Sounds like a vision of robot people parroting only what they've been force-fed.

    On the evening of May 10, 1933, some four and a half months after Hitler became Chancellor, there occurred in Berlin a scene which had not been witnessed in the Western world since the late Middle Ages. At about midnight, a torchlight parade of thousands of students ended at a square on Unter den Linden opposite the University of Berlin. Torches were put to a huge pile of books that had been gathered there, and as the flames enveloped them more books were thrown on the fire until some twenty thousand books had been consumed. (2.8.40)

    How to destroy a culture? Burn its books. What a sickening vision—these were students. Since biblical times, book burnings have been used to destroy "heretical" ideas or ideas threatening to the entrenched power structure. The Nazi book burnings were mostly symbolic, because other copies of those books were available, but it was a way of showing utter contempt for anything that might have contradicted the party line. What were the students so afraid of?

    Every morning the editors of the Berlin daily newspapers and the correspondents of those published elsewhere in the Reich gathered at the Propaganda Ministry to be told by Dr. Goebbels or by one of his aides what news to print and suppress, how to write the news and headline it, what campaigns to call off or institute and what editorials were desired for the day. In case of any misunderstanding a daily written directive was furnished along with the oral instructions. (2.8.57)

    Although education and access to information aren't necessarily the exact same thing, Shirer returns repeatedly to the subject of Nazi control over the German press. One of the reasons why the German public was so oblivious to Hitler's lies in the lead-up to the Second World War was because it was very difficult for the average person to learn the truth of what was going on in the world beyond the tight bubble of Nazi propaganda.

    I myself was to experience how easily one is taken in by a lying and censored press and radio in a totalitarian state. […] It was surprising and sometimes consternating to find that notwithstanding the opportunities I had to learn the facts and despite one's inherent distrust of what one learned from Nazi sources, a steady diet over the years of falsifications and distortions made a certain impression on one's mind and often misled it. (2.8.67)

    Just in case Shirer's earlier points about miseducation through Nazi propaganda weren't clear enough, he admits that even he found it hard to be totally immune and impervious to its effects. That's a pretty courageous and honest admission. Fortunately, he was able to get his hand on foreign newspapers during his travels.

    "When an opponent declares, 'I will not come over to your side,'" he said in a speech on November 6, 1933, "I calmly say, 'Your child belongs to us already... What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in this new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.'" (2.8.70)

    What Hitler is describing is social engineering through the miseducation of the young. Scary. He wants to create a new society with no memory of the old.

    Every person in the teaching profession, from kindergarten through the universities, was compelled to join the Nationalist Socialist Teachers' League which, by law, was held "responsible for the execution of the ideological and political co-ordination of all teachers in accordance with the Nationalist Socialist doctrine." (2.8.72)

    So much for academic freedom, or the free pursuit of knowledge and inquiry.

    By the end of 1938 the Hitler Youth numbered 7,728,259. Large as this number was, obviously some four million youth had managed to stay out of the organization, and in March 1939 the government issued a law conscripting all youth into the Hitler Youth on the same basis as they were drafted into the Army. Recalcitrant parents were warned that their children would be taken away from them and put into orphanages or other homes unless they enrolled. (2.8.101)

    Just in case you thought that we were blowing things out of proportion when we characterized public school education in Nazi Germany as social engineering, this passage ought to clear things up. Hitler was determined to indoctrinate Germany's youth with Nazi ideology. The public schools, Hitler Youth organization, and other programming worked hard to get the job done.

  • Foolishness and Folly

    But it might be argued that had more non-Nazi Germans read [Mein Kampf] before 1933 and had the foreign statesmen of the world perused it carefully while there was still time, both Germany and the world might have been saved from catastrophe. For whatever other accusations can be made against Adolf Hitler, no one can accuse him of not putting down in writing exactly the kind of Germany he intended to make if he ever came to power and the kind of world he meant to create by armed German conquest. (1.4.5)

    This comment is the first of many where Shirer seems to be asking, "Why didn't anybody read the writing on the wall?"

    Can anyone contend that the blueprint here is not clear and precise? France will be destroyed, but that is secondary to the German drive eastward. First the immediate lands to the east inhabited predominantly by Germans will be taken. And what are these? Obviously Austria, the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia and the western part of Poland, including Danzig. After that, Russia herself. Why was the world so surprised, then, when Chancellor Hitler, a bare few years later, set out to achieve these very ends? (1.4.22)

    Once again, Shirer drives home the point that Hitler made many of his violent intentions perfectly clear early on in his political career. Does this mean that others were equally responsible for the violence that Hitler would later commit?

    But aside from history, where did Hitler get his ideas? Though his opponents inside and outside Germany were too busy, or too stupid, to take much notice of it until it was too late, he had somehow absorbed, as had so many Germans, a weird mixture of the irresponsible, megalomaniacal ideas which erupted from German thinkers during the nineteenth century. (1.4.83)

    It isn't often that Shirer flat-out calls someone stupid, but he certainly doesn't hold back here. Once again, he drives home a crucial question: Why wasn't anyone smart enough to pay attention to Hitler before it was too late?

    This, then, was the first of many crises over a period that would extend for three years—until after the Germans reoccupied the demilitarized left bank of the Rhine in 1936—when the Allies could have applied sanctions, not for Hitler's leaving the Disarmament Conference and the League but for violations of the disarmament provisions of Versailles which had been going on in Germany for at least two years, even before Hitler. (2.7.116).

    At the moment in time that he's describing here—the spring of 1933—it had been roughly fifteen years since the end of the First World War. Why did the Allies sit around and do nothing until the damage was done, rather than nipping this craziness in the bud?

    </em>In this crisis, as in those greater ones which were to follow in succession up to 1939, the victorious Allied nations took no action, being too divided, too torpid, too blind to grasp the nature or the direction of what was building up beyond the Rhine. On this, Hitler's calculations were eminently sound, as they had been and were to be in regard to his own people. (2.7.116)

    Here's one situation where Hitler was smarter than the Allies. He correctly guessed that they wouldn't take action.

    It was this writer's impression in Berlin from that moment until the end that had Chamberlain frankly told Hitler that Britain would do what it ultimately did in the face of Nazi aggression, the Fuehrer would never have embarked on the adventures which brought on the Second World War—an impression which has been immensely strengthened by the study of the secret German documents. This was the well-meaning Prime Minister's fatal mistake. (3.12.40)

    Shirer repeatedly criticizes the short-sighted actions of the British government, which, he argues, helped to pave the way for the Second World War by capitulating to Hitler's unreasonable and manipulative demands. The famous image of Chamberlain waving around the agreement he'd just signed with Hitler and proclaiming "peace in our time" ranks as one of the all-time symbols of foolishness.

    Toward the end of their conference Chamberlain had extracted a promise from Hitler that he would take no military action until they had again conferred. In this period the Prime Minister had great confidence in the Fuehrer's word, remarking privately a day or two later, "In spite of the hardness and ruthlessness I thought I saw in his face, I got the impression that here was a man who could be relied upon when he had given his word." (3.12.160)

    You have got to be kidding us. What a fool.

    There was a spontaneous movement to raise a "National Fund of Thanksgiving" in Chamberlain's honor, which he graciously turned down. Only Duff Cooper, the First Lord of the Admiralty, resigned from the cabinet, and when in the ensuing Commons debate Winston Churchill, still a voice in the wilderness, began to utter his memorable words, "We have sustained a total, unmitigated defeat," he was forced to pause, as he later recorded, until the storm of protest against such a remark had subsided. (3.12.368).

    Winston Churchill is one of the few international statesmen whom Shirer represents as having had his head on straight when it came to Hitler. He thought Chamberlain's agreement was a complete folly.

    By a hypnotism that defies explanation—at least by a non-German—Hitler held the allegiance and trust of this remarkable people to the last. It was inevitable that they would follow him blindly, like dumb cattle but also with a touching faith and even an enthusiasm that raised them above the animal herd, over the precipice to the destruction of the nation. (5.29.379)

    Here's the author again condemning the folly of the whole German nation to blindly follow their Fuehrer even as he's leading them over the cliff.

    There was no longer any German authority on any level. The millions of soldiers, airmen and sailors were prisoners of war in their own land. The millions of civilians were governed, down to the villages, by the conquering enemy troops, on whom they depended not only for law and order but throughout that summer and bitter winter of 1945 for food and fuel to keep them alive. Such was the state to which the follies of Adolf Hitler—and their own folly in following him so blindly and with so much enthusiasm—had brought them […]. (6.31.240)

    This was the ultimate consequence of the national folly—utter defeat.

  • Sexuality and Sexual Identity

    Unlike some of the shipwrecked young men with whom he lived, he had none of the vices of youth. He neither smoked nor drank. He had nothing to do with women—not, so far as can be learned, because of any abnormality but simply because of an ingrained shyness. (1.1.101)

    In this excerpt, Shirer is describing young Adolf Hitler in his late teens and early twenties. This passage is the first of many throughout The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich where homosexuality is represented as an "abnormality," a "perversion," or, as in many cases, a sign of something rotten at the core.

    There is a great deal of morbid sexuality in Hitler's ravings about the Jews. This was characteristic of Vienna's anti-Semitic press of the time, as it later was to be of the obscene Nuremberg weekly Der Stuermer, published by one of Hitler's favorite cronies, Julius Streicher, Nazi boss of Franconia, a noted pervert and one of the most unsavory characters in the Third Reich. (1.1.144)

    As Shirer records, Hitler claims in Mein Kampf that Jewish Austrians were "largely responsible" for prostitution and white slavery in Vienna (1.1.143). Here's a question worth asking, though: Does Shirer's obvious revulsion for the "perversion" of certain Nazi Party members echo Hitler's own "morbid" obsession with the alleged sexual vices of Jewish Austrians? All this reminds Shmoop of the U.S. during the Jim Crow era, when racist whites were obsessed with the supposed sexual designs that black men had on their white wives and daughters.

    A tough, ruthless, driving man—albeit, like so many of the early Nazis, a homosexual—he helped to organize the first Nazi strong-arm squads which grew into the S.A. (1.2.42).

    This brief description of Ernst Roehm suggests that Shirer perceived a fundamental contradiction between homosexuality and "tough," "ruthless," or "driving" masculinity. As elsewhere in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, his comments seem to associate homosexuality with the "perversion" or "feminization" of masculinity.

    "I know Esser is a scoundrel," Hitler retorted in public, "but I shall hold onto him as long as he can be of use to me." This was to be his attitude toward almost all of his close collaborators, no matter how murky their past—or indeed their present. Murderers, pimps, homosexual perverts, drug addicts, or just plain rowdies were all the same to him if they served his purposes. (1.2.84)

    It seems clear that "murderers," "pimps," and gay men were "all the same" to Shirer too, albeit in a different way than they were "all the same" to Hitler.

    But the brown-shirted S.A. never became much more than a motley mob of brawlers. Many of its top leaders, beginning with its chief, Roehm, were notorious homosexual perverts. Lieutenant Edmund Heines, who led the Munich S.A., was not only a homosexual but a convicted murderer. These two and dozens of others quarreled and feuded as only men of unnatural sexual inclinations, with their peculiar jealousies, can. (2.5.15)

    Wow. Just... wow. Even though some might argue that Shirer's views were not unusual in his time, the association that he makes here between homosexuality and the criminal act of murder is really over the top. Once again, Shirer seems to be implying that men like Roehm were not simply gay in addition to being Nazis, but rather that their homosexuality and Nazi allegiances were somehow part of the same spectrum of "perversion."

    No other party in Germany came near to attracting so many shady characters. As we have seen, a conglomeration of pimps, murderers, homosexuals, alcoholics and blackmailers flocked to the party as if to a natural haven. (2.5.19)

    Shirer is starting to sound like a broken record at this point. Is it weird to want to talk out loud to him in passages like this? Like, we get it, dude: you think gay men are perverts. But how's about you get back to that other thing you're supposed to be telling us about—you know? What the members of the Nazi Party actually did?

    Hitler did not care, as long as they were useful to him. When he emerged from prison he found not only that they were at each other's throats but that there was a demand from the more prim and respectable leaders such as Rosenberg and Ludendorff that the criminals and especially the perverts be expelled from the movement. This Hitler frankly refused to do. (2.5.16)

    Ah yes, the more "respectable" leaders of the Nazi movement. Don't go reading this passage and walking away with the thought that Hitler was an early supporter of LGBTQ+ rights. He wasn't. He really, really wasn't. What's interesting about his actions during the early days of Nazism, though, is that when push came to shove, he seemed much more interested in a man's usefulness to the movement than in his sexual identity. Or at least, that seems to have been the case for certain select members of his entourage. Maybe he thought he could blackmail them if they didn't support the party line.

    Nor was he lucky in love, though all his life he mistook his philanderings, which became notorious in his years of power, for great amours. His diaries for 1925-26, when he was twenty-eight and twenty-nine and just being launched into Nazi politics by Strasser, are full of moonings over loved ones—of whom he had several at a time. (2.5.32)

    Hitler spends a considerable amount of time in Mein Kampf dwelling on the sexuality of Jewish men, and Shirer points out that their alleged vices were among the would-be Fuehrer's "morbid" fascinations. But throughout The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Shirer himself seems fascinated by the sex lives of powerful Nazis.

    There are dark hints too that she was repelled by the masochistic inclinations of her lover, that this brutal tyrant in politics yearned to be enslaved by the woman he loved—a not uncommon urge in such men, according to the sexologists. (2.5.79)

    Don't think that Hitler himself escapes Shirer's fascination with the sex lives of the Nazis. Shirer seems thrilled to share some of the seedier aspects—from his perspective, at least—of Hitler's love affair with Geli Raubal.

    On January 25, the day on which Goering was showing Hitler the police record of Blomberg's bride, he also spread before the Fuehrer an even more damaging document. This had been conveniently provided by Himmler and his principle aid, Heydrich […], and it purported to show that General von Fritsch had been guilty of homosexual offenses under Section 175 of the German criminal code and that he had been paying blackmail to an ex-convict since 1935 to hush the matter up. (3.10.27)

    By 1938, Hitler seemed to have become far less willing to tolerate homosexual activity among the ranks of the Nazi Party or his top Army and Navy brass. When Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich of the Nazi Gestapo framed General Freiherr Werner von Fritsch for homosexual acts—which were considered criminal in Germany at the time—Hitler demanded the resignation of the outraged Commander in Chief of the Army. (3.10.30)

  • Lies and Deceit

    To accomplish this he and Goebbels, who on March 13 became Minister of Propaganda, conceived a master stroke. Hitler would open the new Reichstag, which he was about to destroy, in the Garrison Church at Potsdam, the great shrine of Prussianism, which aroused in so many Germans memories of imperial glories and grandeur […]. (2.7.43)

    Old President Hindenburg had tears in his eyes during this ceremony, staged at the church of the Hohenzollern kings. Hitler was associating the old Reichstag with this hallowed church all the while planning to destroy the Reichstag and Hindenburg's government.

    For six years, since the Nazi "co-ordination" of the daily newspapers, which had meant the destruction of the free press, the citizens had been cut off from the truth of what was going on in the world.

    […] whereas all the rest of the world considers that peace is about to be broken by Germany, that is it Germany that is about to attack Poland…here in Germany […] the very reverse is maintained. What the Nazi papers are proclaiming is this: that it is Poland which is disturbing the peace of Europe; Poland that is threatening Germany with armed invasion... (3.16.103)

    Shirer got a chance, unlike most German people, to read papers from other countries other than Germany. He wrote in his diaries: "You ask: But the German people can't possibly believe these lies? Then you talk to them. So many do."

    Good propaganda, to be effective, as Hitler and Goebbels had learned from experience, needs more than words. It needs deeds, however much they may have to be fabricated. (3.16.286)

    Boy, did they fabricate a doozy. They dressed up S.S. men as Polish soldiers and had them attack a German radio station near the Polish border and broadcast threats to Germany. The plan was to drug concentration camp inmates and leave them as "dying" civilian German casualties. This created a pretext for invading Poland. The next day, Hitler did just that, justifying his actions to the world by this fake attack on the radio station. Since the people had only the Nazi-controlled radio, they believed it.

    Molotov added that…the Soviet Government intended to justify its procedures as follows: The Polish State had disintegrated and no longer existed; therefore all agreements concluded with Poland were void: third powers might try to profit by the chaos which had risen; the Soviet Government considered itself obligated to intervene to protect its Ukrainian and White Russian brothers and make it possible for these unfortunate people to work in peace. (4.18.15)

    Nazis weren't the only propaganda masters in the war. The Soviets also created a "shabby" pretext for invading Poland. Poland was the unfortunate victim of lies from the right and the left and was wiped off the map.

    […] on August 26, he ordered his envoys in Brussels and The Hague to inform the respective governments that in the event of an outbreak of war, "Germany will in no circumstances impair the inviolability of Belgium and Holland," an assurance which he repeated publicly on October 6, after the conclusion of the Polish campaign. The very next day, October 7, General von Brauchitsch advised his army group commanders, at Hitler's prompting, to make all arrangements for immediate invasion of Dutch and Belgian territory, if the political situation so demands. (4.21.12)

    This was the M.O. of the Nazi regime: to reassure countries of their good intentions all the while massing troops on the border with the intent to invade. How do you think those deceived world leaders felt about falling for these lies?

    On the morning of May 14, a German staff officer from the XXXIXth Corps had crossed the bridge at Rotterdam and demanded the surrender of the city. He warned that unless it capitulated it would be bombed. While surrender negotiations were underway […] bombers appeared and wiped out the heart of the great city. Some eight hundred persons, almost entirely civilians, were massacred, several thousand wounded, and 78,000 made homeless. (4.21.46)

    At their Nuremberg trials, Goering denied that they knew the surrender was going on. Shirer tells us that the German Army archives suggest they they absolutely knew. Unfortunately for many war criminals, those archives contained enough truths to convict them.

    "…the German Government solemnly declares to the French Government that it does not intend to use for its own purposes in the war the French fleet which is in ports under German supervision. Furthermore, they solemnly and expressly declare that they have no intention of raising any claim to the French fleet at the time of the conclusion of peace." (4.21.151)

    The word "solemnly" is the dead giveaway. Hitler broke this promise, as he did countless others.

    There was one further—and typical—piece of Hitlerian deceit. On November 13 the Fuehrer assured Pétain that neither the Germans nor the Italians would occupy the naval base at Toulon, where the French fleet had been tied up since the armistice. On November 25 the OKW Diary recorded that Hitler had decided to carry out "Lila" as soon as possible. This was the code word for the occupation of Toulon and the capture of the French fleet. (4.26.101)

    What was Hitler's word worth? Zilch. Zip. Nada.

    Though there were heartrending scenes [at Auschwitz] as wives were torn away from husbands and children from parents, none of the captives, as Hoess testified and survivors agree, realized what was in store for them. In fact, some of them were given pretty picture postcards marked "Waldsee" to be signed and set back home to their relatives with a printed inscription saying: We are doing very well here. We have work and we are well treated. We await your arrival. (5.27.37-38)

    These were some of the cruelest lies of all. As the prisoners were led to the "showers," aka gas chambers, an orchestra of female inmates played light, cheerful music.

    Under no circumstances can [they] expect to be treated according to the rules of the Geneva Convention…If it should become necessary for reasons of interrogation to spare one man or two, then they are to be shot immediately after interrogation. (5.27.131)

    Hitler decided that Allied commando troops could be shot on sight, in strict violation of the Geneva Convention accords about treatment of POWs. Orders were that this particular crime was to be kept strictly secret and any copies of this order were to be destroyed.

    Field Marshal Model issued a ringing order of the day announcing that Rommel had died of "wounds sustained on July 17" and mourning the loss of "one of the greatest commanders of our nation." (5.29.358)

    Field Marshal Model issued a ringing order of the day announcing that Rommel had died of "wounds sustained on July 17" and mourning the loss of "one of the greatest commanders of our nation." (5.29.358)

    Rommel had actually died of "wounds sustained" from being forced to take poison on Hitler's orders. Hitler ordered a state funeral with all the honors. He couldn't tolerate the humiliation of the German people learning that Rommel had turned against him. It was one in a long series of lies which Hitler fed the people of Germany.

    There was Kaltenbrunner, the bloody successor of "Hangman Heydrich," who on the stand would deny all his crimes. (A Brief Epilogue)

    Shirer returned to German for the Nuremberg trials, where he saw the men he had seen at the height of their glory now reduced to prisoners on trial for their lives. Many of them lied until the bitter end. The court didn't believe Kaltenbrunner; he was convicted of war crimes and hanged. Do you think these guys believed their own lies?

  • Society and Class

    This may not have been "art," but it was propaganda of the highest order. The Nazis now had a symbol which no other party could match. The hooked cross seemed to possess some mystic power of its own, to beckon to action in a new direction the insecure lower middle classes which had been floundering in the uncertainty of the first chaotic postwar years. They began to flock under its banner. (1.2.65)

    Here's the first of many comparisons between the German public and "herds" or "flocks" of animals—mindless and just following the leader.

    In doing so they managed also to place on the shoulders of these democratic working-class leaders' apparent responsibility for signing the surrender and ultimately the peace treaty, thus laying on them the blame for Germany's defeat and for whatever suffering a lost war and a dictated peace might bring upon the German people. This was a shabby trick, one which the merest child would be expected to see through, but in Germany it worked. (1.3.4)

    Shirer implies that the German people were unable to see through a "shabby trick" so obvious that anyone would have recognized it right away. Unless you were part of a herd of cattle or other "dumb" animals.

    Hitler's obsession with race leads to his advocacy of the "folkish" state. Exactly what kind of state that was—or was intended to be—I never clearly understood despite many rereadings of Mein Kampf and listening to dozens of addresses on the subject by the Fuehrer himself, though more than once I heard the dictator declare that it was the central point of his whole thinking. The German word Volk cannot be translated accurately into English. Usually it is rendered as "nation" or "people," but in German there is a deeper and somewhat different meaning that connotes a primitive, tribal community based on blood and soil. (1.4.45)

    When a language has a word that doesn't translate easily into another language, it usually means that the word is particularly embedded in a specific culture, and therefore has connotations specific to that culture. Shirer's suggesting that Hitler's ideas of racial purity were falling on fertile soil in Germany, ideas of a tribal people that were unique and familiar to German culture.

    A crude Darwinism? A sadistic fantasy? An irresponsible egoism? A megalomania? It was all of these in part. But it was something more. For the mind and the passion of Hitler—all the aberrations that possessed his feverish brain—had roots that lay deep in German experience and thought. Nazism and the Third Reich, in fact, were but a logical continuation of German history. (1.4.55)

    As we mentioned earlier, this argument provoked considerable criticism of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. In your view, how justified is Shirer's attempt to describe Germany's national character in this way?

    Germany never recovered from this setback. Acceptance of autocracy, of blind obedience to the petty tyrants who ruled as princes, became ingrained in the German mind. […] This political backwardness of the Germans, divided as they were into so many petty states and isolated in them from the surging currents of European thought and development, set Germany apart from and behind the other countries of the West. There was no natural growth of a nation. (1.4.62)

    The "setback" that Shirer refers to in this passage is the legacy of the Peace of Westphalia, which in 1648 concluded Germany's part in the Thirty Years' War. Shirer describes Germany as reverting to a feudal society under the Peace. It was a society that he characterizes as a "barbarous" conglomeration of petty states in which "[t]he peasants, the laborers, even the middle-class burghers, were exploited to the limit by the princes, who held them down in a degrading state of servitude" (1.4.61-62). He believes this resulted in Germany's arrested development as a state and influenced events as far as three centuries into the future.

    Bismarck's unique creation is the Germany we have known in our time, a problem child of Europe and the world for nearly a century, a nation of gifted, vigorous people in which first this remarkable man and then Kaiser Wilhelm II and finally Hitler, aided by a military caste and many a strange intellectual, succeeded in inculcating a lust for power and domination, a passion for unbridled militarism, a contempt for democracy and individual freedom and a longing for authority, for authoritarianism. (1.4.68)

    That's a pretty strong condemnation of Germany. Reading this passage, what would you say are some of Shirer's basic social values?

    In Berlin too a foreign observer could watch the way the press, under Goebbels' expert direction, was swindling the gullible German people. For six years, since the Nazi "co-ordination" of the daily newspapers, which had meant the destruction of a free press, the citizens had been cut off from the truth of what was going on in the world. (3.16.103)

    Is Shirer giving the German people a break, rather than blaming them for going along blindly with Nazi ideology? After all, they were cut off from any other reality by the total crackdown on the free press.

    At this point, according to my diary, Hitler had to pause because of the hysterical applause of the German women listeners. […] the young ladies were quite beside themselves and applauded phrenetically […] the young German women hopped to their feet and, their breasts heaving, screamed their approval […] the raving maidens kept their heads sufficiently to break their wild shouts of joy with a chorus of "Never! Never!" (4.22.152-55)

    Speaking of feverish hysterics . . .These excerpts are from Shirer's description of a speech that Hitler gave to a room filled mainly with "women nurses and social workers" on the eve of Germany's attempted invasion of Great Britain. It's hard to know what's more over-the-top: the women's adulation for Hitler, or the language that Shirer uses to describe their "phrenetic" frenzies.

    At this point the deputies of the Reichstag leaped to their feet cheering, and the Fuehrer's words were drowned in the bedlam. (4.25.158)

    This is the reaction of the Nazi statesmen in the Reichstag when Hitler announced, in December 1941, that Germany considered itself at war with the U.S.A. Shirer's use of the word "bedlam" is important, because the word connotes "madness" and "frenzy." It comes from the name of the first British "asylum for the mentally ill —St. Mary's of Bethlehem. (Source) It fits well with the author's fondness for describing the Nazis—and the German people more generally—as crazy hysterics.

    By a hypnotism that defies explanation—at least by a non-German—Hitler held the allegiance and trust of this remarkable people to the last. It was inevitable that they would follow him blindly, like dumb cattle but also with a touching faith and even an enthusiasm that raised them above the animal herd, over the precipice to the destruction of the nation. (5.29.379)

    There's that "flock" and "herd" imagery again. It's moo-sic to Shirer's ears. Sorry. Even worse, we can't resist one more "lemmings" cartoon.

  • Ambition

    Chamberlain was swept off his feet by the eloquent young Austrian. "You have mighty things to do," he wrote Hitler on the following day, ". . . My faith in Germanism had not wavered an instant, though my hope—I confess—was at a low ebb. With one stroke you have transformed the state of my soul. That in the hour of her deepest need Germany gives birth to a Hitler proves her vitality; as to the influences that emanate from him; for these two things—personality and influence—belong together... May God protect you!" (1.4.134)

    Shirer writes that Houston Chamberlain's admiration for the young would-be Fuehrer came at a time when Hitler, "with his Charlie Chaplin moustache, his rowdy manners and his violent, outlandish extremism, was still considered a joke by most Germans" (1.4.135). Talk about an ego boost; these early supporters fueled his ambitions. Too bad he wasn't as ambitious when his struggling mother could've used some financial support.

    Mein Kampf is sprinkled with little essays on the role of the genius who is picked by Providence to lead a great people, even though they may not at first understand him or recognize his worth, out of their troubles to further greatness. The reader is aware that Hitler is referring to himself and his present situation. (1.4.138)

    Even as he sat in prison for treason, with his political party banned and his career apparently in ruins, Hitler still thought of himself as a messianic figure.

    In Hitler's utterances there runs the theme that the supreme leader is above the morals of ordinary man. Hegel and Nietzsche thought so too. We have seen Hegel's argument that "the private virtues" and "irrelevant moral claims" must not stand in the way of the great rulers, nor must one be squeamish if the heroes, in fulfilling their destiny, trample or "crush to pieces" many an innocent flower. (1.4.143)

    Hitler should have read Crime and Punishment instead of Nietzsche and Hegel. There's such a thing as "irrelevant moral claims"? That's plain scary.

    The political power in Germany no longer resided, as it had since the birth of the Republic, in the people and in the body which expressed the people's will, the Reichstag. It was now concentrated in the hands of a senile, eighty-five-year-old President and in those of a few shallow ambitious men around him who shaped his weary, wandering mind. (2.6.52)

    Our pro-democracy author tells us what he thinks happens when a few ambitious men get their hands of exclusive power. He thinks that von Schleicher, von Papen, and Hitler put the final nails in the coffin of the democratic Weimar Republic—and with it, any hopes of peace for the rest of the world.

    In the former Austrian vagabond the conservative classes thought they had found a man who, while remaining their prisoner, would help them attain their goals. The destruction of the Republic was only the first step. What they then wanted was an authoritarian Germany which at home would put an end to democratic "nonsense" and the power of the trade unions and in foreign affairs undo the verdict of 1918, tear off the shackles of Versailles, rebuild a great Army and with its military power restore the country to its place in the sun. (2.6.151)

    "These were Hitler's aims too," Shirer writes (2.6.151). There was just one teensy little detail that the conservative classes overlooked. Hitler had every intention of establishing an authoritarian rule, but he had no intention whatsoever of dictating under the thumb of the conservative classes or anyone else.

    The President, backed by the Army and the conservatives, had made him Chancellor. His political power, though great, was, however, not complete. It was shared with three sources of authority, which had put him into office and which were outside and, to some extent, distrustful of the National Socialist movement.

    Hitler's immediate task, therefore, was to quickly eliminate them from the driver's seat, make his party the exclusive master of the State and then with the power of an authoritarian government and its police carry out the Nazi revolution. (2.7.1-2)

    Hitler was not the sort of man to be satisfied with only great power. Until his control over Germany was utterly complete, he continued to use whatever means were necessary to get it. And we mean whatever means necessary.

    He had been in office scarcely twenty-four hours when he made his first decisive move, springing a trap on his gullible conservative "captors" and setting in motion a chain of events which he either originated or controlled and which at the end of six months would bring the complete Nazification of Germany and his own elevation to dictator of the Reich, unified and defederalized for the first time in German history. (2.7.2)

    Come on, people. How did you not see that coming?

    The National Socialist German Workers' Party constitutes the only political party in Germany.

    Whoever undertakes to maintain the organizational structure of another political party or to form a new political party will be punished with penal servitude up to three years or with imprisonment of from six months to three years, if the deed is not subject to a greater penalty according to other regulations. (1.7.72-73)

    Well, that's one way to make sure that your political party wins. Here, Shirer's quoting directly from a law that the Nazi Party passed in July 1933. Hitler may have been ambitious, but he wasn't the sort of man who valued honest competition—not to mention the will of the people.

    The title of President was abolished; Hitler would be known as Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor. His dictatorship had become complete. To leave no loopholes Hitler extracted from all officers and men of the armed forces an oath of allegiance—not to Germany, not to the constitution, which he had violated by not calling for the election of Hindenburg's successor, but to himself. (2.7.179)

    This is exactly what he'd wanted and intended all along.

    The German form of life is definitely determined for the next thousand years. The Age of Nerves of the nineteenth century has found its close with us. There will be no other revolution in Germany for the next one thousand years! (2.7.199)

    Can you imagine the kind of self-confidence—or megalomaniacal self-delusion—it would take to feel sure that you, and you alone, were going to build a nation that would continue, unchanged for an entire millennium? Neither can we.

  • Transformation

    It is almost like a dream... a fairy tale... The new Reich has been born. Fourteen years of work have been crowned with victory. The German revolution has begun! (1.1.12)

    So wrote Paul Joseph Goebbels in his diary on the night of Monday, January 30, 1933—the day that Hitler was appointed Chancellor of the German Reich. For Goebbels and Hitler, Nazi power in Germany was synonymous with "revolution." It would be different, that's for sure.

    Nazism appeared to be a dying cause. It had mushroomed on the country's misfortunes; now that the nation's outlook was suddenly bright it was rapidly withering away. Or so most Germans and foreign observers believed. (1.4.147)

    Shirer suggests here that the success of the Nazi "revolution" was due—at least in part—to Hitler's ability to make the most of hardship and despair in Germany. Germans were hoping for a transformation of their economy and government. They got it.

    "We recognized," he said, in recalling the days when the party was being reformed after the putsch, "that it is not enough to overthrow the old State, but that the new State must previously have been built up and be practically ready to one's hand... In 1933 it was no longer a question of overthrowing a state by an act of violence; meanwhile the new State had been built up and all that remained was to destroy the last remnants of the old State—and that took but a few hours." (2.5.18)

    Although Hitler's words are exaggerated (it did take the Nazis more than just "a few hours" to destroy the remains of the Weimar Republic after Hitler became Chancellor), they accurately describe the strategy that Hitler used to create a Nazi "state within a state" before he seized power in Germany. When the time came, all he had to do was build on the foundations he'd already laid.

    The depression which spread over the world like a great conflagration toward the end of 1929 gave Adolf Hitler his opportunity, and he made the most of it. Like most great revolutionaries he could thrive only in evil times, at first when the masses were unemployed, hungry and desperate, and later when they were intoxicated by war. (2.5.98)

    When times are good, people don't want change.

    The hard-pressed people were demanding a way out of their sorry predicament. The millions of unemployed wanted jobs. The shopkeepers wanted help. Some four million youths who had come of voting age since the last election wanted some prospect of a future that would at least give them a living. To all the millions of discontented Hitler in a whirlwind campaign offered what seemed to them, in their misery, some measure of hope. […] To hopeless, hungry men seeking not only relief but new faith and new gods, the appeal was not without effect. (2.5.104)

    Those first four sentences sound a little too familiar; you read this stuff everyday in the newspaper—um, we mean your newsfeed. Fortunately, there aren't any Hitlers out there at the moment, but you can see how easy it is for politicians to promise solutions for social problems and how tempting it is to believe them.

    Everyone among the people is talking of a second revolution which must come. That means that the first revolution is not at an end. Now we shall settle with the Reaktion. The revolution must nowhere come to a halt. (2.7.85)

    In this passage, Shirer is quoting an entry, made in April 1933, from the Goebbel's diary. Like Ernst Roehm and a number of other prominent Nazis, Goebbels believed (at first) that Hitler's appointment as Chancellor would allow the Nazis to carry out the "socialist" aspects of the party's cause.

    The Nazis had destroyed the Left, but the Right remained: big business and finance, the aristocracy, the Junker landlords and the Prussian generals, who kept tight rein over the Army. Roehm, Goebbels and the other "radicals" in the movement wanted to liquidate them too. (2.7.86)

    Although Roehm and Goebbels had different reasons for wanting "the second revolution" to begin, they found themselves at odds with Hitler in the early days of the Nazi "revolution" in Germany. Hitler had no real investment in the socialist aspect of National Socialism. He didn't really care about the people.

    The revolution is not a permanent state of affairs, and it must not be allowed to develop into such a state. The stream of revolution released must be guided into the safe channel of evolution... We must therefore not dismiss a businessman if he is a good businessman, even if he is not yet a National Socialist, and especially not if the National Socialist who is to take his place knows nothing about business. (2.7.91)

    Shirer quotes this passage from a speech that Hitler delivered in July 1933. At the time, many prominent National Socialists were clamoring for "the second revolution" to begin. Hitler himself was unwilling to risk any kind of economic or political coup against the powerful German Right, which controlled most of Germany's wealth. After all, says Shirer, why risk bankrupting Germany "and thus risk the very existence of his regime" (2.7.89)?

    No comprehensive blueprint for the New Order was ever drawn up, but it is clear from the captured documents and from what took place that Hitler knew very well what he wanted it to be: a Nazi-ruled Europe whose resources would be exploited for the profit of Germany, whose people would be made the slaves of the German master race and whose "undesirable elements"—above all, the Jews, but also many Slavs in the East, especially the intelligentsia among them—would be exterminated. (5.27.1)

    If Hitler's "revolution" had succeeded, the "New Order" that Shirer describes in this chapter—which extended from the Nazi Party's anti-Semitic legislation in the early 1930s all the way to the extermination camps and the millions of murders during the war—would have transformed the world in ways too horrible to think about.

    The people were there, and the land—the first dazed and bleeding and hungry, and, when winter came, shivering in their rags in the hovels which the bombings had made of their homes; the second a vast wasteland of rubble. The German people had not been destroyed, as Hitler, who had tried to destroy so many other peoples and, in the end, when the war was lost, themselves, had wished.

    But the Third Reich had passed into history. (6.31.241-42)

    This is how the Nazi revolution actually transformed Germany—into a war-traumatized, impoverished, humiliated people. No glory or greatness, just suffering.