The Third Reich At War.... By Richard J Evans


reviewed by Marc Schulman

This is the third and final book in Evans' massive trilogy on the Third Reich. The first book looked at the rise of the Nazis and ended with the election that brought them to power. The second volume covered the period of Nazi rule until the beginning of World War II. This volume deals with the period of World War II itself. The volume does not look to provide a history of World War II, but rather, attempts to tell story of the Nazi Regime as it directed the German efforts during World War II. It will no doubt be the definitive work on the subject. Evans does a superb job of integrating much of the recent scholarship on the subject into his imminently readable book.

The Third Reich at War, is not a book on the Holocaust. However, as the killing of the Jews is a central element of Nazis ideology, the Holocaust plays a central role in this book. Evans takes a middle-ground view between historians like Goldhagen (Hitler's Willing Executors) and his critics. Evans shows large number of Germans knew about and participated in the Final Solution. Evans clearly states that the Holocaust could never happened without the willing help and participation of large parts of the German population. He also shows that the Nazis were never that popular, probably less popular in Germany proper than parts of Eastern Europe.

Evans covers almost every aspect of the Holocaust, ending in the last Death Marches. He also does a reasonable job of explaining the unexplainable- Why did the German continue the killing of the Jews till the very end? The answer, according to Evans: By the end of the war, those in charge blamed the Jews for their defeat and feared retailiation from surviving Jews.

Beyond covering the large themes of the Holocaust and Hitler's leadership, this book covers subjects that have received little previous attention, such as: the use of “guest” workers in Germany during the war, whether from the West or the East. The book also manages to present some interesting trivia, such as: what happened to the young Plle Hershel Grynszpan, who shot the German consul in 1938 and was the immediate catalyst for Kristalnacht. It turns out that the boy was captured by the Gestapo after the conquering of France. He has escaped French custody but, then turned himself in. The Nazis considered putting him on trial, but in the end he was imprisoned. He died in 1945 in Magdeburg prison, either of natural causes, or possibly in the last killing sprees that the Nazis engaged in at the end.

In short, if you are interested in learning more about the World War II, or seeing a different aspect of the Holocaust, I strongly suggest you read the book.


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