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The Goebbels Diaries, 1939-41 [Hardcover]

Joseph Goebbels , Fred Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton Ltd; 1st edition (4 Nov 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241108934
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241108932
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 16.2 x 5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,118,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Extremely well written book. You have the diary entries followed by explanations and facts about what was happening during the World Wars.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The man behind the myth? 20 Jun 2004
By Keiran Milligan - Published on Amazon.com
By now, Nazism and the Second World War have taken on the magnitude of myth, where everything was pre-ordained, so it is fascinating to read a fresh opinion from the other side.
Goebbels was a contradictory man. He believed in the Fuhrer and Nazi ideology above personal experience. For example, he felt sympathy for negro POWs, describing them as "poor devils", and crashed English pilots, and seemed to have a deep love for his children, while having a one-dimensional hatred for the "Jews" and "bolsheviks" that supposedly were the cause of the world's problems. He also went on about American and English hypocrisy and war-mongering, while celebrating Hitler's real-politiking and deceit towards nearly everyone in Europe. He writes "the Ends always justify the means", while admitting if they don't win, they are doomed (lots of prophetic ideas and dramatic irony in this book!).
Hitler appears as a rather more insightful fellow than we would like to admit. Goebbels writes that he has great respect for classical Greek and Roman culture, and explains his belief in authoritarian regimes: when they become unpopular, the people will overthrow them anyway. Suprisingly, Goebbels and Hitler seem neutral towards 'negros'. They discuss whether the working classes are better off than the American slaves of yore, and Goebbels uses American lynchings (which I assume to be in the South) in Nazi propaganda against America.
Ironically, Goebbels as a film buff seemed to love "Mr Deeds goes to Washington" and "Gone with the Wind", while believing reports of America as a cultural desert (a cringeingly amusing paragraph for non-Americans) and stating that the Reich's contribution to history would be getting rid of democracy.
Also, Goebbel's analysis of the media, and his sophisticated plans to mask the invasion of Russia as an invasion of England, even at the cost of personal loss of "prestige", will make you think twice about what you hear from the press even today.
Was Churchill really a war-monger? Were France and others really content to be ruled by Nazi Germany? Disturbing ideas in a self-portrait of a professional, cunning, dilettante-hating master of propaganda.
26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insights into Nazi anti-Semitic, anti-Polish, and anti-Christian Attitudes (1939-1941) 28 Sep 2006
By Jan Peczkis - Published on Amazon.com
This review can only briefly address a little of the wealth of information herein. Shortly after the German-Soviet conquest of Poland (Fall 1939), Goebbels paid the Poles a backhanded compliment for their continued resistance (October 19, 1939): "The Poles are becoming insolent and rebellious once more. We shall have to take a hard line with them; above all, they must be made to work. Our military authorities are too lackadaisical in their approach." (p. 25). Considering the fact that the Wehrmacht (German Army) had just murdered tens of thousands of Polish civilians and captured POWs in cold blood, Goebbel's latter comment is rather ironic!

Some recent authors have advanced the fallacious argument that there was no Polish Quisling only because the Germans never wanted one. In actuality, the Germans did try unsuccessfully to find a suitable Polish Quisling. For example, on February 9, 1940, Goebbels alluded to a "Polish leader Studnitzki", about whom translator Fred Taylor comments: "Possibly Professor Wladyslaw Studnicki, one of a handful of Polish politicians who were reckoned as potential collaborators at this time." (p. 118).

The constant emphasis on the murder of 5-6 million Jews has caused not only the forgetting of the 2-3 million murdered Polish gentiles (including half of Poland's intelligentsia), but also the considerable similarities in Nazi attitudes towards Jews and Poles. For example, the Nazis' obsession with the inferiority of Jews extended to Poles. In the entry for October 31, 1939, Goebbels quipped: "The right thing is to leave the Poles to their own devices and to encourage their weakness and corruption. This is the best way to rule inferior races." (p. 36).

It is well known that the Nazis thought of Jews as the bearers of dirt, lice, filth, and everything else that is vile. A comparable attitude existed towards Poles (October 10, 1939): "The Fuhrer's verdict on the Poles is damning. More like animals than human beings, completely primitive, stupid, and amorphous. And a ruling class that is an unsatisfactory result of a mingling between the lower orders and an Aryan master race. The Poles' dirtiness is unimaginable. Their capacity for intelligent judgment is absolutely nil." (p. 16). Ironically, for all their presumed dangerous cleverness, Jews, no less than Poles, were considered stupid. In an entry of June 30, 1941, shortly after the initiation of Operation Barbarossa, Goebbels wrote: "The Russian military communiqués are becoming more stupid by the day. They must be drafted by Jews. Trivial, moronic, and simple-minded..." (p. 438).

In some cases, Goebbels directly juxtaposes Poles and Jews with each other in his contemptuous statements about both (e. g., November 8, 1939): "I am also not much enamoured of the proposal to turn Lodz into a German city. The place is no more than a rubbish-heap, inhabited by the dregs of the Poles and the Jews." (pp. 42-43).

It is not only Jews that the Nazis thought of as devoid of redeeming values. In his entry for October 14, 1939, Goebbels elaborates on his racist contempt for Poles, and also gives a veiled threat of genocide: "And the Poles understand only force. Moroever, they are so stupid that no rational argument has any effect on them. The fact is, quite simply, that Asia starts in Poland. This nation's civilization is not worth consideration. Only the aristocracy has a thin veneer of culture. It is therefore the driving-force of the resistance against us. For this reason, it must be expropriated. German farmers will take its place." (p. 20).

There are allusions to the planned genocide of both Jews and Poles, partial in extent at this stage of Nazi thinking (December 5, 1939): "With the Fuhrer. He looks wonderful and is in the best of moods. I tell him about my trip. He listens to everything very carefully and totally shares my opinion on the Jewish and Polish questions. We must liquidate the Jewish Danger. But it will return in a few generations. There is no panacea against it. The Polish aristocracy deserves to be destroyed. It has no links with the people, which it regards as existing purely for its own convenience." (p. 60). For now, both peoples are to be ruthlessly exploited. In his entry for November 5, 1940, Goebbels comments: "So far as we are concerned, the Fuhrer states, Poland will be an enormous reservoir of labour...And we shall shove the Jews out as well, later." (p. 165).

The virulent anti-Christian character of Nazism has been obscured by both the customary emphasis on Nazi anti-Semitism and the constant attempts to blame the Holocaust on prior Christian teachings about Jews. The Nazis did, to be sure, tolerate Christianity for political purposes (April 29, 1941): "Afterwards, long discussions about the Vatican and Christianity. The Fuhrer is a fierce opponent of all that humbug, but he forbids me to leave the church. For tactical reasons. And so for a decade now I have paid my church taxes to support such rubbish. That is what hurts most." (p. 340). Also (December 29, 1939): "The Fuhrer is deeply religious, though completely anti-Christian. He views Christianity as a symbol of decay. Rightly so. It is a branch of the Jewish race." (p. 77). Finally (April 8, 1941): "The Fuhrer is a man totally attuned to antiquity. He hates Christianity, because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity. According to Schopenhauer, Christianity and syphilis have made humanity unhappy and unfree." (p. 304).

The notion that vegetarianism is something enlightened is hardly new. On January 24, 1939, Joseph Goebbels wrote: "At table the Fuhrer makes another strong plea for vegetarianism. I consider his views correct. Meat-eating is a perversion of our human nature. When we reach a higher level of civilization, we shall doubtless overcome it." (p. 6).
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JEKYLL AND HYDE - THE WAR YEARS - VOL 1 10 April 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have just completed this book and will soon start on his diary covering 1942 - 1943.
The book took a little getting use to with its style and content. The book itself was not written for publication. He wrote on 30 March 1941 "I have my diaries, twenty fat volumnes, deposited in the underground vault of the Reichsbank. They are too valuable to be allowed to fall victim to some air raid. They provide a picture of my entire life and our times. If fate allows me a few years for the task, I intend to edit them for the sake of future generations. They may well be of some interest to the world at large."
There were, regrettably, some interesting events that were not in this book for whatever reasons. The book opens in early 1939 with a few entries and then jumps all the way to October 1939. During this time the Nazis negotiated a non-aggression treaty with the Soviet Union and the war started with the German successful invasion of Poland. Other notable missing events include the Scandinavia campaign of April 1940 and the defeat of France.
However other events are not missing. The propaganda minister's view of the "phony war" of 1939 - 1940 is recorded here along with the Nazis' impression of the Soviet war with Finland. Goebbels writes about their Italians allies in an insulting manner -- deservedly so -- because of their bumbling military adventures in the Balkans. The book covers the Nazis' invasion of the Balkans and Greece -- mainly to rescue the Italians and the early days of the north African campaign. He almost daily records the war with England and is convinced that with all the ships being sunk and the Luftwaffe constantly pounding England it is only a matter of time before the Germans will win. Another interesting event was when Rudolf Hess, a man he had great respect and admiration for, flew to England and almost instantly became persona non grata. Even more importantly, the book covers the preparation for Adolf Hitler's greatest gamble -- the war with the Soviet Union. The book covers the first few weeks of that adventure before ending in early July 1941.
The book gives an almost daily insight to the German government in the first two years of the war. Goebbels had to walk a tightrope in managing public morale. The Germans wanted peace but also victory. Goebbels had to keep morale high even when times were hard but also had to keep expectations of victory contained when victory seemed so close after the fall of France. The book also shows petty squabbles within the German government -- especially with the Foreign Ministry in general and Foreign Minister Ribbentrop specifically.
I call this Jekyll and Hyde because Goebbels also presents a very human and loving side in this diary. Despite some marital difficulties with his wife, Magda, he shows great affection and respect for her and all but worshipped his children. It is hard to see a man who loves his family so much being such a hateful man when it came to Jews. Most anti-Semites may hate Jews but not to the same level that Goebbels and the rest of Hitler's henchmen would.
The biggest problem I had with the book was the book itself. The seller described the book as being in acceptable condition. If so the seller had a low standard of acceptability. When I unpacked the book parts of the book was already loose and threatening to fall apart. The act of reading the book such as turning pages was almost too much for the book to handle.
21 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The reality was worse than the legends of the war 30 July 2000
By Paul Bohannon - Published on Amazon.com
The most vile aspects of man running a continent. This book will be one of the scariest you will ever read, and the sad part is that it all really happened. In true diary form, Goebbels recounts every decision and horrible "fun" the Nazi administration had during the early years of the war. Discover little-known facts, such as how many other religions Hitler planned to eradicate after the Jews. Experience the executions in blunt, diary form. Learn about war strategies and propaganda programs.
This is challenging reading. I could take only a few pages at a setting. It makes you think. It makes you understand the baser realities of life.
Nasty, but important reading.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insight into the real thoughts of a high ranking Nazi 3 May 2012
By Brand DeKerk - Published on Amazon.com
Goebbels spews his hatred for Christianity all throughout his diaries, most likely because he couldn't espouse it openly. His quote, "The best way to deal with the churches is to act like a 'positive Christian'." is very relieving about the Nazi strategy. Goebbels details much of the anti-Christian sentiment of Adolf Hitler as well. Aside from his diary being an outlet to vent his hatred for Christianity, this book makes a very interesting read since you not only get to know about the history of the events in Nazi Germany, but also of the mans feelings about all of it. Another thing I think I should point out is, it's odd how Goebbels never mentions killing Jews or gas chamber executions, yet is able to state other intimate details about his life throughout the book.
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