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The Face of the Third Reich Paperback – 24 Sep 1992

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (24 Sept. 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140166947
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140166941
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,033,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Paperback
Michael Burleigh's recent work "The Third Reich - A New History" was widely praised for its novel explanation of Nazism in the context of religion. Anyone who has read Joachim Fest's excellent book however will, among other things, know that this particular analysis was hardly new or innovative.
In form, The Face of the Third Reich is a psychological profile of both individual Nazi leaders and various sections of German society at the time. Through this approach though, the main causes of the rise of Hitler and the Nazis are explained.
Among other things, Fest lucidly illustrates the essential nihilism of the Nazi movement, whose ideology as such was based on the acquisition of power as as end rather than a means.
The vacuous adoration of and devotion to Hitler was in itself a cornerstone of Nazi philosophy, the Fuhrer cult providing the basis for Fest's religious analogies. He also discusses how initially vague assertions of Aryan superiority and Semitic evil were later focused after the seizure of power and developed and expanded on by Himmler and the SS.
The portraits of the main personalities are fascinating. Fest is invariably amazed by how such unremarkable individuals were able to attain such immense power and commit such extravagent atrocities. He shows how almost all were linked by a moral corruption and a cynical lust for power. The chapter on Rudolf Hoss, the commandant of Auschwitz is particularly arresting. Reading this, one is reminded of Orwell's 1984 and the ability of man to subjugate himself to authority and in turn to deceive himself into committing the most unfathomable crimes.
Fest is one of the foremost German authorities on Nazism and the book throughout is filled with an intellectual disgust and contempt of the regime. For anyone trying to make sense of that period, this book must be read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Fest, Joachim C. The Face of the Third Reich

This insightful book into the characters of The Reich Chancellor, Adolph Hitler, and his closest National Socialist consorts goes some way to explaining the almost inexplicable power that bound its leaders. At the core of National Socialism lies the idea of racial superiority. As Fest explains in his chapter on Reinhard Heydrich. ‘It was directed at will against whatever groups those in power wished to destroy … beginning with the sterilization and euthanasia programmes and ending with the Final Solution.’

What I found most interesting in this somewhat out-of-date book is the variety of characters who bound themselves whole-heartedly to Hitler, at least until his downfall. From Goring, the infantile gormand who loved playing with toy soldiers to the cultured Goebels and the non-Aryan Heydrich all found cover for their insecurities in racism. The same went for Hess, Ribbentrop and Himmler. Although ‘The Moscow Pact struck a decisive blow against Alfred Rosenberg’s naïve loyalty to his Führer,’ only Albert Speer disputed Hitler’s invulnerability.

Although Rudolf Höss was the commandant of the extermination camp at Auschwitz he found he was ‘not suited to concentration camp sevice.’ But in his autobiography, this man whose father intended him for the priesthood bowed down to authority; ‘from my earliest youth I was brought up with a strong awareness of duty. In my parents’ house it was insisted that every task be exactly and conscientiously carried out.’ The thought of refusing an order never entered his head.

When the book was published in 1963, Germany was divided into zones and Fest shows considerable fear of the ‘totalitarian infection’ of the German people. But since then we have had gladnost and an enlarged European community. Nationalism in Europe is comparatively benign these days, but who knows for how long the sleeping giant will remain comatose?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why do all the good books go out-of-print? 9 Aug. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Joachim Fest's account seems to be a biography of National Socialism. It it, he brings the main characters of the Nazi regime into light and shows that without them, the Third Reich would not have been the way we see it today. Adolf Hitler, Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, Martin Bormann, Ernst Roehm, Franz von Papen, Alfred Rosenberg, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Rudolf Hess, Albert Speer, Hans Frank, Baldur von Schirach, the Officer Corps of the Third Reich, Intellectuals and National Socialism, the role of women in Nazi Germany, and finally Rudolf Hoess. Occasionally, the book seems to be a little overwhelming, yet it keeps you interested and the author presents the facts in an interesting fashion. Fest brings to light the fact that each individual played a role in the workings of this regime and without them would never have been what it appears to be today. The author also seems to stress that it was Hitler himself who was the only ! unique individual in the face of Nazism. He was the only one who was intelligent and who saw and carried out what he wanted to be a greater German Reich. All the rest were all just a bunch of stupid, mindless men that blindly followed their Fuehrer in an attempt to hide themselves as failures in life and achieve their ultimate goal, which was power, even if it would mean becoming the pieces in a huge machine of destruction that the world had never seen in its history. Auschwitz kommandant Rudolf Hoess was responsible for the millions that perished in his camp, yet he later claimed that he "also had a heart and was not evil." This statement alone is all the more terrifying because in a sense, it is the truth. I can practically guarantee that you will not be sorry for reading this book. Fest's portrait of National Socialism and Modern Totalitarianism is essential for anyone who is curious in the workings and men of this terrifying era in history.
3.0 out of 5 stars the face of the third reich 29 July 2016
By jjm - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gave an over simplified view of top Nazi members. Still it was interesting read
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