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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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

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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Julia Boyd (assisted by Angelika Patel) explores this question by zooming in on a single Alpine village, Oberstdorf. Still, even for this small, remote village, the new regime changed all aspects of their lives, from education through to religion. Turns out there is, and Julia Boyd is distinguishing herself in a crowded field thanks to her unusual approach to the history of the era. Many had also suffered and survived the First World War and whilst I consider my education was relatively comprehensive and well balanced, there was a strong negative emphasis towards Germany and Germans. I often find books of this nature too large in scope to really connect with - they feel like just facts.

The ‘original’ inhabitants were used to accepting tourists as they formed an income stream to the village through skiing but when refugees fleeing the allied bombing offensive later in the war arrived, it was a different matter.These tragic chapters of the 20th century also seem to exert a dark fascination on “general readers” of history.

They are different villages, but there are many similarities with actions, and A Village In The Third Reich does get tangled in the knotty issues of who were true believers without some of the introspection, deception or perhaps self delusion of Mayer's interviews. It was a time of suspicion and mistrust; one neighbour to another; afraid to say the wrong thing for fear of the reprisals. They may not have been as individually monstrous as some of the grudge-bearing, hatred-driven members with very low party card numbers, but in the general scheme of things they were the ones who enabled Hitler to carry out his policies. The authors select a few of the prominent and not so prominent residents of the village to take a deep dive into their lives. Elbrus, the highest mountain in Russia and Europe, by members of the Wehrmacht’s mountain division, was a publicity stunt and seems to be included in this book simply because three of the climbers were from Oberstdorf.Of course, there are acts of defiance and bravery, those who worked for the regime but retained their humanity towards others, such as the new Mayor, who was moderate and generally bent the rules as far as he was able. Indeed Ukraine features in the book and it’s heart breaking to think that that country is again in hell thanks to one man and his ambition. Many of the villagers viewed Hitler with distrust and Bolshevism with fear, but the villages new mayor, Ernst Zeitler, was unpopular as he expected the villagers to conform to Nazi ideology and policy.

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. If you are a history buff, a WWII history enthusiast, or have an interest in the history of Germany and its people, I highly recommend this book to you. I really enjoyed getting to know the many characters and due to the unbiased narration I can draw my own conclusions. The overall tone here is of deep sadness rather than anger that comes with its place as history drifting out of living memory.This book provides a thorough look at what it was like before, during, and after the war years for the people of Oberstdorf. For a village like Oberstdorf it was a devastating piece of legislation, potentially sweeping away generations of tradition and subtle social contact.

There were some quite emotional parts to the story – for example I doubt I will ever forget the chapter on how the regime murdered people with disabilities which depicted the injustice through a case study.The Nazi regime didn’t go out of its way to advertise what was happening in the camps and euthanasia clinics, but the word got around nonetheless. In the early 1930s, the villagers were not willing to accept the anti-Jewish laws as they wanted to continue to welcome wealthy Jewish tourists.



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