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German Voices

German Voices: Memories of Life during Hitler's Third Reich

Frederic C. Tubach
with Sally Patterson Tubach
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    German Voices
    Book Description:

    What was it like to grow up German during Hitler’s Third Reich? In this extraordinary book, Frederic C. Tubach returns to the country of his roots to interview average Germans who, like him, came of age between 1933 and 1945. Tubach sets their recollections and his own memories into a broad historical overview of Nazism—a regime that shaped minds through persuasion (meetings, Nazi Party rallies, the 1936 Olympics, the new mass media of radio and film) and coercion (violence and political suppression). The voices of this long-overlooked population—ordinary people who were neither victims nor perpetrators—reveal the rich complexity of their attitudes and emotions. The book also presents selections from approximately 80,000 unpublished letters (now archived in Berlin) written during the war by civilians and German soldiers. Tubach powerfully provides new insights into Germany’s most tragic years, offering a nuanced response to the abiding question of how a nation made the quantum leap from anti-Semitism to systematic genocide.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94888-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Frederic Tubach
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-19)

    The initial impulse for this project arose during a conference of Germans, many of them elderly, who grew up during the Third Reich. My wife and I became members of theEvangelische Wirtschaftsgildeby chance. The organization, founded after World War II, was made up originally of business leaders and company owners located primarily in southern Germany who had grown up in Hitler’sReichand then played an important role in the economic reconstruction of postwar Germany. Their meetings have been devoted primarily to the study of ethics in business and society within the emergent market economy. At present the...

  7. CHAPTER ONE Jobs and the Olympic Games
    (pp. 20-41)

    Following the swift Nazi takeover in 1933, the interplay of persuasion and coercion alone was not enough to consolidate the party’s authority. Other factors, including the Olympic Games of 1936, which legitimized the Nazi movement before the world,¹ and the completion in 1937 of Hitler’s fi rst, successful Four-Year Economic Plan—profound displays of harmony and accomplishment, requiring three years of careful preparation on all levels of society—brought Hitler to the apex of power.

    The generation growing up in the early 1930s saw hunger and unemployment all around them. If they lived in nice houses and their parents patronized...

  8. CHAPTER TWO Jungvolk and Hitler Youth
    (pp. 42-59)

    In Grimm’s fairy tale “The Frog King,” a girl tries to retrieve a ball, loses her balance, and falls into a deep well. At the bottom of the well she finds herself in an unfamiliar world governed by unfamiliar laws. Strange rituals surround her, and tasks must be completed for rich rewards or dire punishments. Laws of cause and effect operate diff erently in this world, suspended as it is between make-believe and a reality unlike our own. Motivations for actions determine rewards and punishments: you may perform the same task, but if your motivation is wrong, you will be...

  9. CHAPTER THREE War and the Holocaust
    (pp. 60-99)

    Before 1938, the Nazis hoped to remove Jews from the social fabric of the nation with a minimal use of force. A Gestapo report of September 1935, while noting with satisfaction that “Jews are being forced socially and economically into isolation,” cautioned that public acts of violence, such as breaking windows and drawing graffiti on house fronts, should be avoided. Indeed, the Gestapo demanded that theKreisleiter(district leaders) stop individual attacks against Jews and discouraged any posters and signs directed against the Jews.¹ Economic boycotts were encouraged, but the Nazis decided that German society in 1935 was not yet...

  10. CHAPTER FOUR In Search of Individuals
    (pp. 100-197)

    It is very hard for my generation of Germans to revisit the time before the collapse of theReichin the spring of 1945. For mere physical and psychological survival, it was necessary for us to look forward; to look back meant facing a wall too high and formidable to be easily scaled. When I began recording the stories of my older friends and acquaintances in theWirtschaftsgilde,I realized that none of us seemed to have kept a diary of our traumatic early years. Only one member, Siegfried Spiecker, had made an effort to record a brief episode in...

  11. CHAPTER FIVE German Soldiers Write Home
    (pp. 198-262)

    Kurt Weidemann left his wartime diaries locked up for over fifty years. He told the German journalist Marlis Prinzing that when he finally opened them, he feared he might encounter a Nazi soldier in his younger self; instead he found a patriot critical of the Nazi regime but interested in defending his country.¹ In 2002, these writings were published under the titleKaum ich(Barely myself). In it, he shows himself to be an observant, sensitive writer. On June 3, 1941, for example, stationed near the Soviet border, he wrote: “I am sitting on an old wooden beam. Two calves...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 263-273)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 274-274)