Author(s): Caroline Sharples
Between 1933 and 1945, Germany was under the grip of the Third Reich. Headed by Adolf Hitler, this National Socialist state endeavoured to control every aspect of the nation's political, social, economic, religious and cultural life, and indoctrinate every German citizen in its ideology. This intrinsically racist regime also embarked on an expansionist foreign policy that, at its peak, brought most of continental Europe under Nazi control. The resulting war - and genocide - killed millions of soldiers and civilians and its effects continue to be felt to this day. Nazism, it has been suggested, was "the ultimate embodiment of evil," and historians have grappled with one fundamental question since 1945: how was any of this possible in a modern, cultured nation in the heart of 20th century Europe? There is no easy way to sum up the Third Reich, but in this short book Caroline Sharples tells the story of Hitler's rise to power and looks at the arguments which have raged about the Third Reich, in particular the argument about how much power Hitler actually had. Was he, as some believe, an omnipotent leader with clear ideological goals and a clear programme for implementing them? Or was the Third Reich much more confused, with ad hoc decision making and intense power rivalries generating a "cumulative radicalism" which eventually brought it down?