Okay, to celebrate my 200+ followers, I’ve been asked by aghostlyreflection for a comprehensive book list of my favorite Third Reich books, so here it is!
1. War & Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust, by Doris L. Bergen. This book is a great overview of the Final Solution and will really give people who are just beginning to explore this part of history a well-rounded yet quick background on Nazi ideology and how they put their anti-Semitism into action.
2. The Spandau Diaries, by Albert Speer. A classic in the world of Third Reich literature, Speer’s prison diaries offer insight into a perpetrator’s mind and his journey over the course of 20 years trying to understand and come to terms with Nazism, war crimes, and his own life choices. I really loved this book because it was such an intimate glimpse into the mind of one of the Nazi leaders.
3. Soldiers of Evil, by Tom Segev. This book has two aims: to profile several concentration camp commandants from childhood to death, and to outline the structure, training, and culture of the SS. In addition (and in a similar vein), I also would recommend Rudolf Höss’ Death Dealer for those who want to hear it straight from the perpetrator’s point of view.
FOR THOSE WHO WANT A LITTLE BIT MORE…..
1. The Labyrinth, by Walter Schellenberg. I recommend this book with a bit of hesitation due to the sometimes blatantly self-serving manner in which Schellenberg portrays himself, often at the expense of colleagues. However, if you want a nice glimpse inside the Gestapo/RSHA/intelligence services of the Third Reich, this is a great volume if you take his boasting with a grain of salt.
2. The Good Old Days, by Klee, Dressen, and Riess. A collection of primary sources and personal testimonies of Nazi soldiers and SS men. In some ways, not for the faint of heart, but a valuable part of anyone’s library, especially if you’re taking college courses in German history.
3. Nazi Doctors: Medicine and the Psychology of Genocide, by Robert J. Lifton. For all the folks who want Mengele’s experiments and other atrocities, look no further. This is the comprehensive work for all of your interests. Again, not for the faint of heart!
IF YOU’RE SUPER OBSESSED…..
1. Doctors of Death, by Philippe Aziz. A four-volume set that, like the book mentioned above, covers T-4, eugenics, sterilization, experimentation, and the Doctor’s Trial at Nuremberg, as well as individual men and women involved in the medical world of the Third Reich. These are somewhat harder to find, so you’ll have to look out for them.
2. Strength Through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich, by Shelley Baranowski. I’ll be honest: I’ve never seen this book anywhere but my university’s library. That said, it’s a great glimpse into consumer and worker’s culture on the home front in the Nazi era, both before and during the war.
3. Ernst Kaltenbrunner: Ideological Soldier of the Third Reich, by Peter R. Black. This list has to branch out into individual biographies at some point, so why not start with my friend Ernst? Black’s book is delightfully well-researched, even going so far as to have conducted interviews with Kaltenbrunner’s ex-wife, Elisabeth, son Hansjörg, brother Werner, and other people who knew him personally. It’s refreshingly open-minded and does not indiscriminately condemn the man. Along with the aspect of providing information on Kaltenbrunner as an individual, it examines the roots of nationalism in Austria and the differences between their brand of Nazism and that of Germany itself. However, very difficult to find and often exorbitantly priced, often around $150-$200 US dollars. After a year of searching, I found one on eBay in pretty good condition for $50, but that was sheer luck and a seller who didn’t know the value of what they had. Luckily, however, my university library had it, and there’s probably a copy at a college near you as well.
4. The Nazi Doctor: Medicine and Power in the Third Reich. For all the Karl Brandt people out there, this is the one and apparently only biography on him. A good read, and I would certainly recommend it.
5. The Best of Signal: Hitler’s Wartime Picture Magazine, by S. Mayer. A compilation of the best of Signal, the Nazi equivalent to Life magazine. Shiny, happy pictures of soldiers and SS men, women and children, along with priceless examples of propaganda and old-fashioned chauvinism. Reading it, you feel like a German sitting in 1940’s Berlin, and it really gives you a sense of how Hitler and his gang seduced the populace into willing participants and bystanders to some of modern history’s greatest tragedies. Because of this, it’s sometimes uncomfortable. Be warned!
6. Any of the Nuremberg trial memoirs by Gilbert or Andrus, the psychiatrist and jailer. There are a few editions/titles floating around out there, but keep in mind those two names.
7. The IMT records, which can be found in published form. My university library, again, has them. There’s many volumes and one that is a directory for the entire set; that’s where you can look up whichever defendant you want to research.
This is a fairly complete list; however I’m sure that there are some books I’m forgetting because they’re at my house. And if anyone ever has any specific questions for books on a certain subject or person, feel free to message me, because I’ll probably be able to give you some recommendations.