Monday, December 19, 2011

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Greetings all.
I'm currently on the last little bit of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. This incomparable tome is vast and full of glistening bits of information that I never knew, or knew I knew; such as the infamous evil of Dr. August Hirt, who was much more sadistic and cunning than Dr. Mengele (who doesn't even merit a mention by name in the book). The book has opened my eyes about many things; but two remain a mystery. 1. How Hitler seized absolute power. It seemed that the coverage of this period was not as deep as it could have been (1928 - 1933). Possibly because the documents concerning this period of the dictator's rise either don't exist or the witnesses are all dead. 2. Why the German people followed this guy to utter ruin and destruction. Of course, after a certain point (1934) they no longer had a choice. After that, only the army could have deposed the dictator. Shirer spends a great deal of time discussing von Stauffenberg's conspiracy (Operation Valkyrie) and while reading it one cringes with angst at the near misses, and missed opportunities. Shirer spends some time on the Holocaust, but I'm sure he counted upon others to get the specifics down. He does manage to prove that the Holocaust really did happen, using accounting and statistics kept by the Third Reich itself. All in all, I feel better for having read this book. I've known much of this in an off-handed way, but now I know better. I cannot improve on the words of the ADL: Hitler's evil and destructive influence has no parallel in the annals of history.