Germany’s defeat in the First World War and the Treaty of Versailles that followed were national disasters, with far-reaching consequences not just for the country but for the world itself.
Weaving the stories of three German families from the beginning of Germany’s territorial aspirations of the First World War to the shattered dream of a thousand-year Reich in the Second World War, Tim Heath’s rich narrative explores a multitude of rare and untapped resources to explore the darkest recesses of German social and military history.
Creating Hitler’s Germany presents a nation’s journey not only through everyday life and war, but through its own conscience, pain and inevitable search for some form of absolution from its past. It is real, painful and incredibly human – an essential history to further understand the mind-set of Germany during the most tumultuous years of the nation’s history.
Given the current political climate in many countries, I was very interested in reading this book. In the back of my mind I have always wondered how Germany got to the point of being Nazis. Maybe I’m too naive, but I can’t conceive of ever getting to the point in my head where I just hate a group of people so much I want to eradicate them completely. This book focuses less on Hitler himself and more on what was going on in the German society of the time. The book begins with the story of a young, newly-married couple just after World War I and traces their history through to the end of World War II, concluding with their son who was a staunch Nazi and alienated from his mother because of it. The author then intertwines with the historical facts excerpts from interviews and writings of German citizens of the time. Some of them were appalled by the actions of the Nazi regime, while others felt they were just carrying out their patriotic duty. The author also exposes how the political pressures from the “winners” of WWI affected the lives of everyday German citizens and how Hitler’s initial actions improved those lives, lulling them into believing that he was a good guy. It wasn’t until he had solidified his political power that his true colors begin to show. I take 2 things away from this book. First, a better understanding of how a government and it’s people can become corrupted. Second, a warning that as a citizen of a democratic country I need to be very careful when evaluating my leaders because it may not take much to tip the scales towards evil. Finally, I want to acknowledge the resilience and determination that Germany has demonstrated in turning around their country after WWII.