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The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of the Nazi Leadership

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  140 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
In these searing profiles the author dissects the lives of fifteen infamous Nazis—including Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels, Heinrich Himmler, Martin Bormann, Ernst Röhm, Hans Frank, Rudolph Höss, Albert Speer, and Hitler himself. He also analyzes the archetypal roles of the officer corps, intellectuals, and women. This work provides fresh perspectives into how dysfunction ...more
Paperback, 420 pages
Published May 7th 1999 by Da Capo Press (first published 1963)
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Reading this book is an uncomfortable mixture of the interesting and the disturbing. It is a set of mini-biographies of various senior Nazi functionaries including Himmler, Hess, Frank, Speer, Bormann and Heydrich. By turn they come across as very odd, cynical or power-hungry. Each portrait is free-standing - they were originally designed as radio broadcasts - but certain themes recur including inevitably the role of the First World War and similar family circumstances.

Odd to the point of being
Lewis Weinstein
Joachim Fest has created fascinating, terrifying portraits of the major figures in the Nazi leadership.

I just read the chapter on Reinhardt Heydrich, described by Fest as ... the architect and brain behind the SS state ... a man free from humanitarian restraints ... with an insatiable greed for power ... and unencumbered by either ideologies or emotions.

Heydrich was the man who fashioned the Final Solution to murder all the Jews of Europe. Yet, according to Fest ... Heydrich lived under the con
Mikey B.
Jan 25, 2013 Mikey B. rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent accounting of the personalities who made the Nazi era. There is an extensive analysis of Hitler and his cohorts. The main focus is on the rise to power. Hitler (and rightly so) is presented as the main focal point through-out. No Hitler – no rise of the Nazi Party, no World War II.

There is a comprehensive probing of Hitler’s speeches with their presentation and impact. The ideology of the Nazi regime is what Hitler desired it to be. As Mr. Fest points out, it could be many t
Apr 12, 2015 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: World War II buffs, History buffs, Historiographers
Recommended to Michael by: Serendipity
In his book, The Third Reich: A New History, Michael Burleigh states: “The Nazi leadership have become overly familiar, albeit as a galère of grotesques rather than as gods in ancient or pagan pantheons.” I suspect he was thinking of books like this one, although perhaps more of its many imitators, not of Fest’s original work. However, it is no stretch to call this a gallery of monsters, with some similarity to the room in a wax museum dedicated to (in)famous murderers and criminals. Written les ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Probably not my favorite book on the personalities of the major players in the Third Reich......but certainly an interesting look at the psychological profiles of the men who visited such horrors on the world. Each chapter is dedicated to a specific individual and dissects his actions and the possible reasons for them. I found the chapter on Martin Bormann the most informative since little is written about him and his fate is still being discussed sixty-seven years after he disappeared from the ...more
David James
May 23, 2016 David James rated it really liked it
Fest, Joachim C. The Face of the Third Reich

This insightful book into the characters of The Reich Chancellor, Adolph Hitler, and his closest National Socialist consorts goes some way to explaining the almost inexplicable power that bound its leaders. At the core of National Socialism lies the idea of racial superiority. As Fest explains in his chapter on Reinhard Heydrich. ‘It was directed at will against whatever groups those in power wished to destroy … beginning with the sterilization and eut
Oct 27, 2015 Catherine rated it it was ok
Ok, I only finished chapter one. This is not a simple book for just anyone to read out of passing interest. It's an academic study of the psychology of the nazi leaders in context of their time and place.
I really enjoyed this book. I was expecting short biographical sketches, but this is more psychological snapshots of the leading figures of Nazi Germany. Loved it. I do wish there had been a few photos included, though.
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Joachim Fest was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance to Nazism. He was a leading figure in the debate among German historians about the Nazi period.
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