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The Nazis: A Warning from History

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  589 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Published in conjunction with the History Channel and the BBC, this prizewinning volume, now back in print, contains previously unpublished material and photographs documenting the reality of life under Nazi rule and the evolution of the ruthless slaughter of millions of people in Germany.

In this handsome edition, BBC producer and renowned historian Laurence Rees has colle
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 15th 1998 by The New Press (first published January 1st 1997)
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Alastair Rosie
May 27, 2013 Alastair Rosie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
There was a period of my life when I studiously avoided history books about World War Two, there were so many, enough to fill a library and each year there seem to be even more books. I don’t know why I picked this book up, it was probably on sale somewhere and I seem to recall it was part of a special, three books for £5 or something like that and it’s stayed on my bookshelf until the other night when I actually sat down and started reading it.
The Nazi horror that affected millions is part of c
Adam Balshan
2.5 stars, low [History].
A passable work of history with a sociological implication.

There were 3 good elements to the book: 1) His use of interviews, 2) The description of Treblinka, and 3) His last chapter, "Reaping the Whirlwind," about the anti-Bolshevist ideology and other elements which led the Germans to fight to the last. I would have added as fourth his special bent for the book, a look at sociology to form a "warning from history." Unfortunately, I think he failed in this.

Bad points wer
Mar 21, 2013 Glorious rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
"Reading another Nazi book are you?! I'm starting to think that you've got some kind of secret fetish!" is what someone once said when they discovered I was reading this book. I'd been trying to read this book for over two years now and hadn't got round to it. They were right and wrong about some things, however. While I do not have a fetish for Nazis or Nazism in general, I certainly do have a zest for learning about one of the most awful periods in the history of the human race. And an even th ...more
Dec 21, 2007 Nadiya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are interested in history told in vivid pictures
The collection of interviews is priceless. The amount of detail and personal viewpoints of very different hues, makes the book a fascinating picture of the WW2.

Unfortunately, the author descends to making harsh personal judgements on the people who he interviews, sometimes making the interview questions tactless and rude. These passages of author's personal emotional reaction to the veterans' or former-Nazis' answers, and a stubborn search for the 'feeling of guilt or remorse', which made many
Kevin Cole
May 15, 2014 Kevin Cole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Because there was an abundance of good and evil in World War II, history since then looks on those days like Lord of the Rings. But real life, real people are more interesting than that. It is Mr Rees' gift to present to us the history of that war that's ignored. He doesn't do it by drowning us in detail. He doesn't do it by a tidal wave of after-the-fact analysis. He does it by simply paying attention to what happened day-to-day. We all know Poland was invaded in September 1939. What do we know ...more
Gillian King
May 06, 2017 Gillian King rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laurence Rees says in 'The Nazis: A Warning from History' p101:

'I thought more than once from talking to these people that their travels through Nazism had been like a rocket ride. They had started on the journey because they wanted an exciting new experience. Then, when the rocket went up through the clouds, they grew uneasy. 'That was fun, but now it's time to return' they would have said. But the rocket did not return. It went on and on into the dark, a bleak and horrible place. 'But I only a
Steven Bergson
As we approach the end of the 21st century, it is important that we learn all that we can from those who have lived through the horrors of this current century while they are still alive. In the case of the Holocaust, those who lived through it - victims, victimizers and bystanders - are dying out and taking their memories and ideas with them. It is timely then, that Laurence Rees of the world-renowned BBC has both produced the television series The Nazis and has authored this companion book The ...more
Anyway, after that first impact, 'o no another book on the holocaust', I actually enjoyed this book. This is because I was never able to watch a documentary on the WWII even though there were so many of them. They look all the same, those black and white images of living dead people at Auchwitz, etc. But reading about war is completely different experience, for those who haven't tried, you should. The other thing I liked is that it focuses on the Eastern front rather than the D-day and the autho ...more
Krista Ashe
Mar 28, 2010 Krista Ashe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book as a bit of research for one of the books I'm writing. The Holocaust has always interested me, and I'm also teaching Night right now. It was a pretty thorough look at the Nazi party from it's inception in the 1920's to it's end at the end of WWII. It also took a look at how policy came about and how it was implemented all through Europe, not only Germany. It was based on a BBC documentary, and the author took time to hunt down survivors as well as the actual former Nazi's who in ...more
Eva Leger
Jan 03, 2010 Eva Leger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Holocaust readers
Recommended to Eva by: found @ Borders
Wow - I learned a decent amount from this book. There are a few very graphic pictures in here which I wasn't expecting, only because the books I've read as yet haven't had any. I doubt there was one page where I didn't learn something new, whether it was small or large, there was always something.
Rees didn't seem to be an unbiased as I felt he should be on a few details. I'm sure there are plenty of others who would feel he was unbiased. Most of the time, IMO, he was, but a few minor parts both
Dec 10, 2008 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gave eye-witness accounts of various aspects of the rise and fall of the Nazi's. The most interesting part for me was the war on the Eastern front, about which I knew little, especially the tactical errors made by Stalin in the beginning of that struggle. For me, it was frightening to learn how amoral the Nazi leaders were, how many sadists came to the fore during the Nazi occupation of the Baltic and Ukranian regions, how ordinary "law abiding" people turned a blind eye to the killing ...more
Jan 26, 2014 Aline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some fascinating first hand accounts from a range of people. It is however limited in its range.

The book, not unreasonably, can only cover to a limited depth. I'd liked to have seen more breadth and depth. The focus is almost entirely on the war to the east and the eventual fall of Germany to the Red Army is dealt with very superficially.

There's a single chapter on the 'final solution' but again only a superficial coverage of things (perhaps mercifully given the nature of it).

There's nothing abo
Mar 19, 2014 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'A warning from history' in the title is very relevant.

The phrase 'Man's inhumanity to man' pales by comparison with the atrocities covered in this book, which include a multitude of photographs, many of which are harrowing in the extreme.

To quote from the back cover:

“That which has happened is a warning.
To forget it is guilt. It must be continually remembered.
It was possible for this to happen, and it remains possible for it to happen again at any minute. Only in knowledge can it be prevented.
Apr 16, 2015 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned so much from this book. I liked the fact that it concerned itself not so much with the specific events of the war but the Nazis as a political party, how it came to be where it ended up, what it was based on, etc. So it was about the party, not just Hitler but it clearly gave context to Hitler's role in the party.
The two stars are for the pictures. This isn't any sort of original book. It's just one of the thousands filled with pictures and the same information that everyone learned in fifth grade. This might be enjoyed by someone who doesn't know much about history or the holocaust, but it isn't something that was particularly interesting to me.
Jan 17, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good material. I also watched the dvd too. Helps you understand nazi germany and what is possible in this world. Mature and independent assessment. None of the typical British arrogance about the era. Excellent author and producer. Makes you want to read more about the subject. Not too heavy of a read.
Effendy Yahaya
Jan 11, 2015 Effendy Yahaya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
war...its a scene of a different ideology and principal. it was easy to mark on certain agenda on force. for whatever reason, it can easily perceived it as a total different than others. there are lots of why? in the first place that war as it first started. am yet to read on auschwitz and soon I will. this book had makes me run a terrible feeling, unimaginable. next book on stalin and warfare.
Jun 30, 2009 Simon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Remarkable revisiting of a vital subject for our understanding of humanity. Rees presents personal views of those involved, a group that is rapidly disappearing, which reveal the thoughts, both past and current, of former(?) Nazis and their victims. Must reading for anyone interested in the Holocaust or genocide in general.
Mar 23, 2015 MCBod rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Both disturbing and engaging as this subject matter always is. Certainly appears to be very well researched. the greatest impacts for me were: A sense of the Darwinism of Hitler, the emerging understanding of the Nazis as being highly unorganised and untalented and the collective implication of all Nazis and indeed the entire country in responsibility.
Hannah Jones
Jan 10, 2015 Hannah Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book; it almost makes you understand the thoughts and feelings of ordinary German people who voted the Nazis in. I did feel that the DVD which this book is partly based on is important though as without it I felt like I didn't get a full picture of everything.
Would highly recommend for a more personal, intimate view of this period in time.
Stuart Douglas
Jun 19, 2009 Stuart Douglas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent companion volume to a landmark docuemntary series. The only fault with the book version is that, in an effort to provide a reason for purchase for those who have seen the series, the author includes large chunks from another of his books about the war in the Soviet Union which, while interesting, does imbalance the narrative a little.
May 06, 2008 Durdles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
The book of a riveting TV series that explores the mindset that led eventually to the Nazi development of the Final Solution, seeking first hand accounts of the brutality of the regime and its underlying chaos; a chaos that led inevitably to the self destruction of the Third Reich. However many of those interviewed who helped implement the horror remain unrepentant.
Elizabeth Tomer
I'm not typically a non-fiction reader, but the hubby wanted me to read this one. I appreciated that it didn't read as though the authors used a thesaurus to write it. The flow was logical, and the pictures made their point. For someone more serious about history, this book may be lacking.
Jun 20, 2012 M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant for anyone interested in the subject... Explores some issues more intelligently than other works (i.e. how much did the German people know) and dispells a few popular myths (e.g. that the regime was organised - it wasn't). Accessible and engrossing.
A truly brilliant book which goes some way to explaining how the Nazis came to power and held on to it as well as their inevitable downfall. Very engaging and easy to read. A lesson from history that everyone should learn.
Anna Maria Ballester Bohn
A dissappointment. I didn't learn anything new, and there was too much emphasis on the battles, while I bought this book because I thought it was going to be more psychological. Definitely a "boy"-book. Some sloppy writing too, and I got the feeling the author was a bit too enamored with himself.
The first time I tried to read this I think I was too young for it.

It resonated with me a lot more when I read it a second time.

An interesting look at a period of history that we should remember in detail.
Oct 17, 2008 Heymikeburns rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is truly a cautionary tale and many of the arguments used by Hitler are frighteningly similar to the arguments used by our own "leaders" today. But warned that is in most books of this genre the photographs are a bit graphic.
The first book I read about Nazism and WWII as such and while it is not detailed as some other books on this topic, it provides a very good overview about WWII, Nazi motives and deeds during 1940s. Important read.
Brian Morin
Jan 04, 2011 Brian Morin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great information and interviews, and an interesting perspective on how the Nazi organization worked, but not terrifically well written.
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In addition to writing, Rees has also produced films about World War II for the BBC.

In New York in January 2009, Laurence was presented with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ by ‘History Makers’, the worldwide congress of History and Current Affairs programme makers

In 2011 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate (DUniv) by The Open University(UK).
More about Laurence Rees...

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