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Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Birth of the Third Reich
In this chapter, Shirer set the mood of the book towards his discussion of the future of Adolf Hitler as the leader of the Third Reich. The book portrayed Hitler as far from the powerful individual who had orchestrated World War II: as a young boy, Hitler was considered as already ambitious, yet seemed to not have extraordinary talent and ability to fully become remarkable in his chosen career as an artist. What Shirer made clear was that during his teen years, Hitler had already developed political ideas and ambitions that shaped his staunch belief that Germans were the superior race and the Jews, "the cold-hearted, shameless and calculating director of this revolting vice traffic in the scum of the big city."
Birth of the Nazi Party
With an already developed hatred for the Jews and belief that the Germans were the superior race, Hitler, in the midst of the World War I, had strengthened his political ideology. Disillusioned by the loss of the Germans in the war, Hitler began boldly expressing his views against anti-Semitism. As a young soldier, he was given the opportunity to share with his fellow soldiers his political thinking and beliefs as he was appointed as an educational officer for the German Army. Shirer also disclosed how Hitler's investigation of the German Workers' Party led to his becoming a member of the said party, then eventually conjoined this part with that of the National Socialism. Hitler's active role and participation in the Socialist Party, and his being a "powerful speaker" and "best organizer and propagandist" elevated him to the position of the "Fuehrer," or the "would-be dictator" of the Nazi Party, and eventually, the Third Reich.
Chapter 3: Versailles, Weimar and the Beer Hall Putsch
Inevitably, the election of the would-be dictator of the Third Reich and the formation of the Nazi Party led to a rebellion that split Germany into two factions: the Nazi and democratic factions. The disillusionment of most Germans after losing the World War I strengthened the Nazi Party and created an antagonist attitude toward the democratic Republic. Through a legitimate procedure -- the election -- the Social Democrats won leadership of the Republic, but as Shirer noted, they won by votes that were "considerably less than a majority. Obviously the new Germany was not going to be built by the working class alone." Despite the unstable new Republic led by Hitler, it gradually strengthened as Germany plunged deeper into economic and civil crises: "the fall of the mark and the French occupation of the Ruhr." These crises were manipulated by Hitler's Republic in order to plunger Germany deeper into debt, making it no longer responsible to its debts because of the worthless value of the country's currency. His eventual imprisonment by the democratic Republic made him "a patriot and hero" for the German people, thereby re-instilling his influence and power in re-establishing again a new social order in the country.
Chapter 4: The mind of Hitler and the roots of the Third Reich
Looking into the foundations in which Hitler's leadership and the Third Reich were found, Shirer delved into the motivations and plans of Hitler for this newfound German Republic. His political plan involved 'occupying' first the nations in Eastern Europe, wherein majority of the Germans were found. These East European nations included Austria, Sudetenland, and Poland. Hitler considered this step strategic in that it prepared the Third Reich's way in occupying a far greater and stronger nation, Russia. Upon the accomplishment of this strategy, he planned to establish a "folkish state," a kind of nation which was made up of the superior race alone (Germans), hinting at eugenics as one way of achieving this. Moreover, Hitler's grand design would only come to reality if this 'folkish state' would be ruled by an individual who have no "private virtues" nor "irrelevant moral claims." Thus, for the Fuehrer, Shirer stated that sadism (as well as masochism) is the only way to obtain power and rule over the Aryan race.
Chapter 5: The Road to Power: 1925-31
The emergence of the 1930s marked as one of the pivotal events that solidified Hitler's hold over Germany. Where before majority of his fellowmen considered him only as a fanatic of his propaganda of the superiority of the Aryan race, the Depression that greeted the '30s had become the catalyst for Hitler to reign over Germany, with the help of the Nazi Party. The Nazi Party won majority of the votes in September 1930 due to its popularity and growing sentiment of patriotism and nationalism in Germany. During this period, remarkable events in Hitler's life also occurred, wherein he experienced his first love and heartbreak through the person of Geli Raubal and her purported murder because she rejected Hitler. There were also rumors about his unexplained wealth and income, as well as the establishment of personal ties with Joseph Goebbels, who became the propaganda leader for the Nazi Party.
Chapter 6: The Last Days of the Republic: 1931-33
This period proved to be pivotal to the establishment of Hitler's leadership in Germany. Shirer reported about the Kurt von Schleicher's treachery of Hitler's using only his popularity and charisma over the German people as a means to propel himself (Schleicher) as political leader of the army. Hitler's eventual appointment as chancellor of Germany became a fatal mistake for Schleicher, for he had given him a legitimate entry towards establishing his path towards acquiring supreme leadership of the country.
Chapter 7: The Nazification of Germany: 1933-34
Shirer had given a detailed account on how Hitler achieved the solid leadership of Germany with the staging of the Reichstag Fire. Upon his appointment as chancellor of Germany, Hitler set his political machinery in motion by eliminating first his opponents, the Communist and Democratic Socialist parties, in order to pave the way for the Nazi Party to gain a stronghold in the German government. The terror that Reichstag Fire elicited led to the downfall of Hitler's opponents and strengthened the country's support to the Nazi Party with Hitler as its leader. With the country's president, Hindenburg, and the backing of the German Army and laborers of the country, Hitler became the leader of the Third Reich.
Chapter 8: Life in the Third Reich: 1933-37
As the new leader of Germany, Hitler set out to accomplish the initial steps that he intended to do in order to ensure the elimination of Jews in his country. He began by eliminating the participation of Jews from public office, civil service, and business activities. They were likewise banned from having any access to any form of communications, such as print and radio. He had also included Christian Churches in his persecution for their "failure to recognize the racial problem."
Chapter 9: The First Steps: 1934-37
What defined this period for the Third Reich was its program of increasing armaments and weaponry in preparation for Hitler's anticipation of a new world war as he intended to establish a new social order. His foreign policies involved violating all the treatises between Germany and other nations by creating a new, stronger, and bigger army, while at the same time promoting a "peace propaganda" all over nations of Eastern Europe. This was in connection with Hitler's objective to create a stronger Germany with the East European nations at its side while battling other nations where numerous Jews live and establish the Aryan race's power all over the world.
Chapter 10: Strange, Fateful Interlude: The Fall of Bloomberg, Fritsch, Neurath and Schacht
As an aside from reports about the destruction of the socio-political structures of Eastern European nations, this chapter focused on the chaotic state of relations that Hitler had with his closest officers of the Third Reich. Narrating the story of General von Fritsch, wherein he was framed by Heinrich Himmler, the chief of police, primarily because he was a strong antagonist of the Nazi Party. A look into von Fritsch's case reflected the presence of deception and injustice during the Third Reich, wherein opposition against the Nazi Party was considered a threat to the Nazi government, and extreme measures were observed to ensure that there will be no opposition to the incumbent, the Fuehrer himself, Hitler.
Chapter 11: Anschluss: The Rape of Austria
While Third Reich officers were busy 'eliminating' Hitler's opponents and purported traitors to the Nazi Party, Hitler was engaged in fulfilling his plan of gaining control of Austria, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. The elimination of von Fritsch in the German Army further strengthened his hold over the military. Furthermore, Hitler was gradually seeing his dream to rule over the world as becoming a reality when he was able to control Vienna, which Shirer considered as the "center of communications and trading systems of Central and Southeast Europe." Moreover, Hitler's success was also due to the lack of apparent opposition from these countries' allies, Britain and France. Thus, Hitler's program launched without any…[continue]
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