- Hardcover: 232 pages
- Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Pub Inc; UNKNOWN edition (Feb. 1991)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802225683
- ISBN-13: 978-0802225689
- Product Dimensions: 28.2 x 24.4 x 2.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,102,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The German Home Front, 1939-45 Hardcover – 1 Feb 1991
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In an attempt to describe the life of the average German citizen during the Nazi period, the author has gathered together literary emphemera to provide a picture of the life of the people - what they ate, drank, read and saw at the cinema. Terry Chapman advised on and assisted with "Russia at War" by Vladimir Karpov. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Quite a bit of the illustrations are manifest propaganda, or could be described as such. In fact, even the photographs which are to some degree spontaneous can be seen as propaganda; much of the German populace genuinely committed itself to the Hitlerite worldview and commensurate behavioral norms; those who had not were, understandably, not photographed. But this book humanizes a people not capable of rejecting and defeating a particularly vicious government, and who suffered horribly from Anglo/American terrorism in the form of indiscriminate aerial bombing, as well as the terrorist or tribal warfare on the ground perpetrated by many Soviet military units against POW's and non-combatants. Some of this mayhem is visible in this book, and the author discusses these issues in a small way. All of that, of course, could have been avoided if the German people had had the foresight and fortitude to reject National Socialism and its ideology of violence in a timely way.
All in all, the book offers great insight into German life for those who stayed in the country during the Zwoelfjahriges Reich, and is reasonable sympathetic to the average sucker swept along by the Nazis, but it in no way excuses the behavior of the Nazi perverts.
Dumped in the dumpster by the Zero Public Library. I'm told that it was because a patron cut a picture out of it. (The guy at the Solutions Desk said, after I bribed him with what was supposedly a genuine Havana cigar: "Usually, people would cut out pictures of naked girls, thirty or forty years ago. In this case, though, it was because the guy thought it was his uncle, who supposedly knew Hitler personally. In any event, the Head of Circulation decides which "damaged" books get pitched, and which get repaired.")
'Despite the "Total War" measures of the year before, at the beginning of 1944 luxury restaurants, such as the Neva-Grill on the Bayreutherstrasse, still functioned with their "polite waiters, hors d'oeuvres, fried fish and plenty to drink." Alternately people in the capital could find spiritual nourishment in concerts such as the one given by the Fehse Quartet in the half-gutted Philharmonic Hall on 19 February, when they played Schumann to an audience listening with "dedicated attention." As the battle began to subside [a series of British air attacks known as Berlin Raids] von Kardorff took stock:
'I feel a growing sense of wild vitality within myself, and of sorrow too. Is that what the British are trying to achieve by attacking civilians? At any rate, they are not softening us up....' (p. 145)
So during daylight, area bombing might not have scared people, yet many nights the sirens wailed, everyone goes to the air raid shelters, huddling in the weak light while the guns boom, bombs crump and people cry.
Today we visualize Nazi stereotypes: goose stepping soldiers, the fleets of black bombers, and the Nuremberg party rally. Germany was that in theater newsreels. Actual life was more complicated. People had turned control of their lives over to a cancerous regime that controlled what organizations they joined, where they worked, advanced schooling for kids, and how they received their news. Moreover, that control of news meant propagandists could make use of old prejudices against other nations. So even while few seriously wanted to burn up innocent civilians, they did acquiesce to Hitler sending bombers against Warsaw, Rotterdam and London. When Secret Police could arrest you, how many would protest?
The book is filled with stills from German movies, ration books, recycling drives, ads in papers and patriotic posters. Here you will read commentary on that propagandist Goebbels, Rudolf Hess, Goering and Hitler. One picture shows prisoners laboring in Dachau Concentration Camp, established originally for Social Democrats and Communists (one way to deal with political dissent!). Jews came later, as the cancer ate more and more of the country.
There is growing dissatisfaction with the reverses, casualties, and bombs.
'Wounded soldiers and women in mourning, once fairly uncommon, were now seen daily on the streets of every town and city. And, on 1 September , another abhorrent feature appeared on German streets, for on that date it was decreed that all Jews over the age of six were to wear a yellow Star of David on the left breast with the word Jude in black letters to mark them out as the "racial enemy". When the Nazis came to power approximately 500,000 Jews (one per cent of the population) lived in Germany. Prior to the Kristallnacht pogrom of 10 November 1938 about 150,000 Jews had emigrated, and a further 100,000 left the Reich between Kristallnacht and the outbreak of war, whereupon the availability of transportation was severely limited. Jews, in relatively small numbers, were still able to emigrate until the autumn of 1941, but by then the deportations to Poland had already taken place.' (p. 89)
The tragedy ground on until the the Allies finally cornered the cancer in his Berlin bunker- he suicided on Apr 30, 1945. The people remaining were left to clear the rubble and rebuild the economy, while the Allies held trials and rooted out Nazis as government began to reassert control.