A Village in the Third Reich: How Ordinary Lives Were Transformed By the Rise of Fascism – from the author of Sunday Times bestseller Travellers in the Third Reich
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The main body of the book effectively ends when Speer, by this point having joined Karl Dönitz's government seated in Schleswig-Holstein, receives news of Hitler's death. From an incomplete list it was found that there were 455 names on the list, roughly 10% of the village, which also happened to mirror the Nazis membership across Germany. In a 23 August 1970 review published in The New York Times, John Toland wrote that the book "is not only the most significant personal German account to come out of the war but the most revealing document on the Hitler phenomenon yet written.
How the Nazi Regime Upended the Lives of These Bavarian
Diaries and letters from private collections and documents preserved in various national, state and church archives enrich our understanding as well. Holland travelled alone on a shoestring, living off donations from friends such as the composer Michael Nyman, because funding was hard to find. But documents show how their morale plummeted in the months following the failed invasion of the Soviet Union, when, apart from depressing reversals on the battlefield, the villagers also feared receiving news that a loved one was missing or had been killed or wounded.
For example a story of a blind man who was murdered in Aktion T4 to show how that process worked across Germany (one of the darker chapters but probably the best one for the information given) or attacks by local Nazi officials on the various Catholic organisations in the area like the nuns. Still, even for this small, remote village, the new regime changed all aspects of their lives, from education through to religion. It was on the strength of this that I picked up this book, for that is its purpose – seeing how the Third Reich unfolded in an ordinary Bavarian village.
‘It became crystal clear they were lying’: the man who made
The overall tone here is of deep sadness rather than anger that comes with its place as history drifting out of living memory. The book is very detailed and in some cases, such as the account of infighting among the local Nazis, becomes a bit too much so and drags a bit.Assisted by Oberstdorf resident Angelika Patel, she gives us the finest of fine detail to demonstrate how village residents defied the regime when and where they could.