Well I just finished today William Shirer’s The Rise and the Fall of the Third Reich. A couple of thoughts.
- If Churchill and England would have capitulated, England would have been devastated in a Poland like genocide. That goes against what I have read over the years that Hitler never wanted to go to war against Britain. It does have a bizarre section where it appears that Hitler is trying to recruit former king Edward VIII to take the throne if the invasion is successful. The book leaves it unclear how serious Edward took his offer.
- I was amazed at how soon the Germans realized the war was lost but other than fretting about it, did nothing to stop it. While there are many references to trying to negotiate with the English and the Russians (not that it would have done any good), as far as I know, there were no attempts and instead military delusions kicked in.
- The idea that Germany was going to rule the world as enslave everyone that wasn’t enslaved by Japan or Italy is factually correct but still a little hard to grasp. Maybe as a Canadian I can’t get my head around the idea of manifest destiny unless it involves hockey.
- In the end it did answer some of my questions about the WWII, like why Hitler launched the Battle of the Bulge (even if he had driven the Allies to Antwerp, then what? He was out the fuel, tanks, and men to push the offensive any further) and why did he not order a retreat from Stalingrad?
- Hitler never went to one of the bomb ravaged cities. By contrast we have all seen the photos of Winston Churchill during the Blitz. There is one video of people cheering Churchill as they were digging out the next morning and yet Hitler said “it was too hard on him”.
It was a good but really, really, really long book that if you haven’t read and enjoy reading history, it is worth reading. There is a lot more to think about then what I could cover here. It may make a wonderful addition to your summer reading list.