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Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
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A Social History of The Third Reich Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
Having studied this period of history, I thought I knew quite a bit about it, but this is a very thorough and informative text, helpfully divided by chapters on topics such as health, students, the army etc. and explaining how each area of life changed under Nazi rule. The book is also very readable and contains lots of well-sourced snippets as well as evidence from primary documents of the era. The snippets highlight the absurdities of a regime whose prejudices came into conflict with both reality and other prejudices, and - as these things inevitably will - tied them up in knots. The everyday double-think in a society where, for example, 'protective custody' meant imprisonment and eventual death, encouraged farcical situations with people convincing themselves that apathy or active cooperation was, in fact, the best thing for all concerned.
There is also objectivity in so far as the few positive (some unintentional) improvements that happened are also dealt with in their relevant chapters. These mostly took the form of more opportunities for the working population, rather than the old-fashioned class bias lingering through the Weimar Republic after the end of Imperial rule. Since in practice, however, this meant that instead of those with moneyed backgrounds, preference was given to those who were fanatical party members, it seems mostly to have substituted one form of corruption for another.
An essential read, I would say, for anyone interested in everyday life in Germany between 1933 and 1945: the author is careful to differentiate between peacetime and wartime, while stressing that society, culture and the economy were always geared towards conflict and particularly so from 1936. It gives a real, overall sense of what life was probably like for many, with details on everything from life in the Ordnungsburgen (schools for the future elite), through the monthly 'Eintopf' meals, to the widespread flatulence caused by changes to bread from the new food regulations. Highly recommended.
I found fascinating the chapter about consumption and food rationing. As in the UK, food was also rationed in Germany, but the rationing scheme was much tighter, as things like bread, milk and potatoes (unrationed in the UK) were rationed.
Well worth a read.
Note that this has been reprinted recently, so is available. The cover is different to the previous version.
There is a German comedian in it who is in and out of prison after a tailor's shop sketch, involving a man being measure for a suit with his hand raised in a Nazi salute. The tailor with a measuring tape says "19-33, -suspended rights." When barracked by an SS man in the audience as 'a lousy yid' he answers 'I only happen to look intelligent.'
-an unforgettable and haunting read.
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