In This Review

The Third Reich in Power, 1933-1939
The Third Reich in Power, 1933-1939
By Richard J. Evans
Penguin Press, 2005, 800 pp

The second of a three-volume history of the Third Reich, Evans' new book is a masterly and exhaustive account of the transformation of Germany by the Nazi regime as Hitler prepared the nation for war. Nazism, in Evans' view, was not a new religion, but rather a militaristic enterprise. He rejects the argument that because the terror only affected small minorities, the regime did not primarily rely on terror as a mode of control -- it "intimidated Germans into acquiescence." Yet its main goal was "to rouse [the population] into positive, enthusiastic endorsement" of Nazi ideals and policies -- hence the vital importance of propaganda and the reduction of art to an instrument of propaganda. Anti-Semitism became "a principle governing private life as well as public" after September 1935, and Evans describes eloquently what this meant. He concludes, however, that "above all ... it was the Nazis' nationalism that won people's support; and it was Hitler who set the pace towards his ultimate goal: 'war.'" This is a most impressive study -- and an endlessly distressing one.