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A Village in the Third Reich: How Ordinary Lives Were Transformed By the Rise of Fascism – from the author of Sunday Times bestseller Travellers in the Third Reich

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As I’ve long said, I don’t think religion makes people do bad things so much as people make religion do bad things. Before tourism arrived, Oberstdorf survived chiefly on farming, cheese production and small deposits of iron ore; it thrived on tourism since the 1920s, and in 1930 the Nebelhorn car made her maiden voyage and became the longest cableway in the world. Chapter 12 begins thusly: “Between 20 January and 13 December 1940, the Nazis gassed 9,839 people at the Grafeneck euthanasia center.

Every child and adult that was institutionalized, or regarded as `deviant, disabled, or ‘useless” were the first to be euthanized under Nazi regime; red pluses on the birth certificate meant death, whereas the blue minuses were safe for the time being. A Village In The Third Reich is a fascinating and often very sad portait of forty years in the life of the Bavarian village Oberstdorf from 1915 to 1955. The message enshrined in the well-known rhyme ‘Lieber Gott, mach’ mich stumm, dass ich nicht nach Dachau kumm!The population of the village increased from around 4000 at the beginning to more than 8000 at the end of the War. All the German Volk—social, political, and cultural organizations—were to conform and merge with Nazi ideology and policy.

Reviews Reviews of books, documentaries or other publications that are relevant to the teaching of history. Boyd finds examples of humanity, sometimes in the most unexpected of places – a case in point is Oberstdorf’s mayor who, despite being a committed Nazi, also protected several Jews living in his village.We meet a plethora of inhabitants, including foresters, a Protestant minister, a converted Jewish opera singer, a Catholic priest, nuns, famous mountaineers, members of the Hitler Jugend, schoolchildren, farmers, and many more. Despite the multitude of incidents and the huge cast of characters, as well as the lengthy period of memorable historical events which are described in the book, it is never confusing or lacking in interest for the reader, who will be both educated and entertained by this book. We rarely think or hear about the resistance in Germany, except perhaps with regards to the protection of Jewish families. I don’t often review non-fiction but I loved the premise of this book; to follow the life of a single village in Germany from the end of the First World War, and all through the Second. Having read, and enjoyed, Julia Boyd’s previous book, “Travellers in the Third Reich,” I was eager to read her new title, which looks at the Third Reich from the viewpoint of the Bavarian village of Oberstdorf.

Russians, at least those in our sample, clearly hide their true attitudes towards the war,” they said. The chapters in the book are based along subject lines – why Nazism arose, euthanasia, religion and Nazism, concentration camps, the aftermath of the war, etc – and not on time lines.Her story introduces a plethora of characters, some 60 names in total, making it difficult for a reader to follow and determine who is “important” and who is not. As Hitler consolidated his power, the regime's impact on the lives of ordinary people was pervasive and corrupting, imposing strict control over daily life, and marginalising and persecuting minority groups.

However, for the most part I had some trouble following who was who, despite the list of townspeople at the back of the book, and this kept me from getting too emotionally invested. Julia Boyd’s books give a refreshing and very different insight into ordinary Germans and their lifestyle.How could a nation that produced men like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Goethe produce not merely lesser men but men so depraved and debased—men like Hitler, Goering, Goebbels, and Himmler—that their names will be remembered a thousand years from now? His approach was quite decent, helping locals – including those critical of the regime – and he did not persecute Jews, several of whom had taken shelter in the village. The village has always deeply cared about its history and it kept a particularly well-maintained archive, that the author used to describe almost every feature of village life under the Nazis. Boyd and Patel have done a very deep dive on what seems to be a hugely comprehensive archive to tell the story of how the village adapted and changed, but also to follow the villagers as they themselves escaped, got sent to camps or went to war.

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