Friday, March 20, 2009
Upon reading "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich"
I've just finished reading this highly popular account of the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. It's one of those books that I had always meant to get to. However, being exposed to so many books, movies, documentaries and personal memoirs about WWII and the Holocaust I found the prospect of diving into a 1200 page detailed documentation of Hitler and his gang of monsters daunting.
But I did, and I found the book very engrossing. Although very popular, it had been panned by academics when it was published in 1960 because it was "too" popular, both in style and content. The fact that it was written by a journalist who happened to be present throughout much of the narrative, and not by an academic was precisely why it was so widely read.
It's difficult to get your head around the fact that so many people gave up their souls to the Nazis. The people who perpetrated these atrocities were human. They were fathers, brothers, preachers, bankers, judges etc.. Civility is truly a very thin veneer.
There are many themes in this book that stand out as being surprisingly and sadly relevant to today: the dangers of rewriting history and repeating lies so often that they become the "truth"; the appeasement of authoritarian states (see North Korea, Iran, Zimbabwe, Sudan etc.), and the need of people to believe and follow unquestionably a religion be it Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Capitalism, or Communism.
For an interesting perspective of this book, I invite you to read Ben Galbraith's Thoughts on the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. and look up any of the many documentaries of that period.
“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
- Georges Orwell
Posted by Ray Hiltz at 11:37