Study Guide

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich Warfare

By William L. Shirer


War! What is it good for?

According to Shirer, it's good for glory, for culling the weak from the strong, and for keeping a nation fit and on its toes. No, wait... those weren't Shirer's ideas about war: they were Adolf Hitler's.

Hitler's ideas led Germany into a war that tore Europe apart less than thirty years after it had self-destructed in WWI, and resulted in a global conflict that resulted in the deaths of 3% of the world's population.

In The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Shirer doesn't just tell us what happened during the long and terrible years of the Second World War; he also attempts to tell us why the war unfolded as it did. The reason that he offers is a controversial one, because it implies that the German lust for martial glory would put a Klingon to shame.

Questions About Warfare

  1. What motivated Hitler to invade Poland? What motivated him to keep conquering the European continent?
  2. What losses—loss of life, loss of land, loss of raw materials and goods—does Shirer draw the most attention to as he describes the death and destruction that were brought by the Second World War?
  3. In Shirer's view, what spiritual value did Hitler place on war?

Chew on This

Hitler, for all his demented views, was a brilliant military strategist. He himself would agree.

Hitler's megalomania caused him to make colossal military misjudgments that ended up destroying the Reich.