The Nazis: A Warning From History

The Nazis: A Warning From History Laurence Rees
Pub date 30th September 1997
Publisher (UK) BBC Books
Publisher (US) The New Press
International publishers Yilin (China), Plon Perrin (France), Patakis (Greece), Schibsted (Norway), Prószyński (Poland), Azbooka-Atticus (Russia), Ikar (Slovakia), Sarasavi (Sri Lanka)

This history of the rise and fall of the Nazis addresses questions which have been raised over the past 50 years, and aims to dispel some of the myths. The book sets out to show that the reality of history is more painful and harder to accept than the popular perception of a nation led astray by Hitler, the man of destiny, and to offer an understanding of the Nazi movement and of how the German people were seduced by it.

The Nazis: A Warning From History was published in an omnibus edition with The War of the Century in 2006.


Praise for The Nazis: A Warning From History

‘Essential reading for anyone who seeks to understand how a highly cultured, western society fell into an abyss of barbarity.’ — History Magazine

‘Rees, head of the BBC’s history programming division, has drawn on newly available archival material and about 50 interviews he conducted with “”eyewitnesses”” to present a chilling crash course on the Nazis’ chaotic rule. According to the author, despite the Germans’ much-vaunted reputation for efficiency, Hitler’s regime was largely an improvisation, with his underlings ever striving to do the Fuhrer’s bidding. Rees traces how measures affecting countless lives, e.g., establishing ghettos for Jews, were often decided haphazardly, with Hitler instructing subordinates, who were frequently bitter rivals, to “sit down together and when you’ve made up [your minds about a policy], come and see me.” Though most Gestapo files were destroyed before war’s end, one revealing discovery from intact archives in the town of Wurzburg indicates that the secret police–far from randomly unleashing terror–spent much of its time responding to denunciations by ordinary citizens against their neighbors. An interesting focus of this book is on perpetrators of Nazi crimes. Fritz Arlt, a ranking German official in occupied Poland, when asked whether he knew what went on in the concentration camps to which his orders consigned thousands of Poles, conceded only, “They were places where people were concentrated.” The inhuman face of the Nazi enterprise is exposed here as a significantly grass-roots construction. Throughout, graphic photos highlight Nazi crimes.’ — Publisher’s Weekly


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