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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He stopped short of openly saying that he was going to kill them all, but he did in fact directly and personally set in motion the killing of eighty-thousand-odd of the most handicapped or “feeble minded” people. Boyd tells us that for those remaining Nazi sympathisers who still believed revolting theories of racial superiority, “it was, of course, a day of profound bitterness”.

It explained in detail the chain of events that led to the rise of Fascism and the consequences that followed. The prize is awarded alternately to a Dutch and a Flemish author), to mandatory membership of the Hitlerjugend and the BDM (Bund Deutscher Mädel - that would give its members free cinema tickets, outdoor sports, horseback riding and mountaineering ! Oberstdorf, for instance, was originally a relatively inward-looking Catholic village in the mountains, but tourism was already changing it into a relatively “cosmopolitan” settlement.

Many, such as Dr Otto Reh, Chairman of the local Fishing Society, resigned when it was proposed that Jewish members should be banned – even though there were none. Allen drew attention to the most spectacular Nazi device for raising funds and justifying their rule, the Eintopfgerichtsonntage or “Stew Sundays. The book gave me a whole new perspective into the life of the German people after the First World War and during the tumultuous times of the Nazi regime.

Later came William Sheridan Allen’s 1965 book The Nazi Seizure of Power: The Experience of a Single German Town 1930–1935 whose subject matter was the town of Northeim in Lower Saxony. An utterly absorbing insight into the full spectrum of responses from ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. This non-fiction book tells us the story of how fascism affected the simple lives of these people even in a far corner of Germany before, during, and after World War II.In addition, Fink was widely respected for not ducking the miserable task of informing families of the deaths of their men in person (his own son Erich was killed in France in August 1944). Those who had joined because they thought something drastic simply had to be done about Germany’s core problems, were focused on doing that and either didn’t spare a lot of time for persecuting scapegoats, or even quietly sabotaged the persecution whenever a safe opportunity arose.

Julia Boyd and Angelika Patel have used diaries, letters, newspaper reports and the official papers of Oberstdorfers as a lens through which to look at the rise of Nazism in Germany.

It was interesting to learn that several of the village leaders, including one Mayor, outwardly supported the NAZI cause but found ways to circumvent or ignore some of the more stringent dictats emanating from Berlin. Julia Boyd’s books give a refreshing and very different insight into ordinary Germans and their lifestyle.

 

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