Hitler’s First Hundred Days: When Germans Embraced the Third Reich

Basic: Perseus. Mar. 2020. 432p. ISBN 9781541697430. $35. HIST
Before a negotiated political arrangement brought the National Socialists (Nazis) to power, Germany was a country with deep economic problems, including high rates of unemployment and inflation. In the first 100 days of Adolf Hitler’s appointment as chancellor in 1933, Germany transformed from a troubled democracy to a country that put into practice extreme repression and limitations on personal freedom. Historian and author Fritzsche (history, Univ. of Illinois; An Iron Wind) explains the methods that the Nazi Party used to influence and persuade Germans to embrace Nazism, and the key events in Hitler’s first days as chancellor. Using violence, fear, and intimidation, the Nazis created a culture of insiders and outsiders; those who did not support them either passively concurred or almost entirely disappeared from view. Fritzsche successfully weaves in excerpts from letters and interviews, providing firsthand accounts of German people grappling with a new world order. Fritzsche argues that the coup of the Third Reich was getting Germans to see themselves as the Nazis did: as an imperiled people creating national community.
VERDICT Everyone concerned about the rise of nationalism, the impact of extreme partisanship, and preserving democracy should read this insightful book.

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