A chilling and powerful account of the rise and fall of the Nazis, emphasising their beliefs in race and war which produced the most terrible killing frenzy in the history of humanity
As this book shows, Nazi ideology was based on two central beliefs: in war and race. Peace was merely a preparation for war, war which would redraw the racial map of Europe. The author begins with the aftermath of the First World War and the corrosive myth-building which substituted memories of senseless slaughter with the myth of a meaningful and even sacred event. It moves on steadily through the 1920s and the Nazi seizure of power, to the economic boom, massive rearmament and government-sponsored anti-Semitism of the 1930s. And then on to the war itself and the Nazis' racist war of extermination.
The author pays particular attention to the chaos and extreme violence of the last months of the war, so catastrophic for the German people that they came to believe that they too had been victims of the war. Finally he describes the aftermath of the Second World War and the wreckage left behind by the Nazis which affected the lives of Germans and Europeans far beyond May 1945.
This noted historian's book on Nazism offers both the serious scholar and the lay reader a concise yet comprehensive perspective on the events and horrors of that period. Bessel's main contention is that, rather than viewing racism as a component of the Nazi war machine's ideology, we must understand that the Third Reich's views towards race and war were inseparable. "War was itself an expression of the applied racism of the regime," Bessel writes. "Nazi war was racial struggle; Nazi racial struggle was war." Bessel concedes that other regimes throughout history have committed atrocities and genocide, but he argues that Nazi war had a different quality: "It was not fought in order rationally to defend national interests or to ensure national security; it was fought in order to redraw the racial map of Europe through violence and mass murder." Instead of examining one narrow aspect of the history of Nazism, Bessel takes an integrative approach, discussing the political, economic and social aspects of Germany, as well as its military history. For Bessel, any history of Nazism must address what came before WWII and WWI--and what came after the eradication of the Third Reich. Having written two books on closely related topics, Political Violence and the Rise of Nazism and Germany After the First World War, Bessel is well equipped to tackle these topics with authority and to present this rich, well-rounded portrait of the country and its citizenry.