Arthur's Reviews > The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer
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did not like it

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich is littered with self serving commentary, germanophobic observations about their racial character (characterising Germans as 'Warlike' in their psyche) therefore attributing guilt to them without fair trial. His afterword from 1990 is no different. Shirer says on one hand "

-“A German-hater!” Adenauer called me--I was somewhat taken back by the vehemence of the
German reaction, but not entirely surprised."

Only to then make more of the same racist observations...

-"Soon, united, Germany will be strong again economically and, if it wishes, militarily, as it was in
the time of Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler. And Europe will be faced again with the German problem."
( read in full here)

-"So maybe the H-bomb and the rockets and planes and submarines designed to deliver it, horrible threat though they are to the survival of the planet, will, ironically, help, at least, to solve the German problem."

He goes on to insinuate that the use of the H-bomb would be the Final Solution to the German Problem (as quoted above). You do not need to do much to see the irony in Shirers characterisation of the Germans and the subsequent caricature view of Jews espoused by the Nazis. But of course as an attack against those we're told to hate it is therefore permissible in the eyes of the public and academic establishment.

Shirers observations aren't objective, but this is the most common problem with literature on the Third Reich, as it's seen that understanding and knowing WHY what happened happened without the Judaeophillic and Anglo establishment blinders on is a sign of apologetics. We thus, as R.H.S Stolfi has put it in his balanced interpretation of Hitler (Hitler Beyond Evil and Tyranny)...

-"The writers on the subject of Hitler have taken the view that rehabilitation is unthinkable, and in such a situation, they have presented verbal portraits that are either half empty or but lightly sketched-in. In the former case, we glimpse the antipathetic half of the verbal canvas with the remaining half empty. In the latter, we observe the entire face but see an image with half the clarifying lines missing."

- "Reality in the comprehending of Hitler demands that writers overcome the fear of being branded as “an apologist.” Comprehension also demands that writers extricate themselves from the style of excessive disparagement to arrive at a more realistic view."

- "The Hitler biographers dispose of their interpretive intellectual forces with a bias that can never be made good. The result: thanks, ironically, to the historical greatness of the subject, powerful minds gripped by a preconceived picture of evil have produced brilliant biographies…and every single one falls short of producing an adequate understanding of Hitler as a historical person. To this point in time, the biographers have lost the biographical war."

- "When it has become necessary at various points in most accounts of Hitler to reflect stunning achievement—successful action in the face of heavy odds—the same writers disparage the achievement and suggest that “a convincing study of Hitler” may just not be attainable at all."

There are few books on the Third Reich which do not assume guilt, motive, and evil before being researched and written, those that do come to conclusions too unbiased to be accepted. The fait accompli of historians has never ceased to amaze me, and I've become all the more wary of their so called infallible works of history.

Shirer's book is pretty much useless. As Third Reich historian Richard Evans himself has said...

-"Shirer's 'Rise and Fall of the Third Reich' is pretty much worthless. It was out of date even when it was written. The only real value is in his own participant observation, best approached through his wonderful 'Berlin Diary'." (


-"The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich was not abreast of academic research even when it was published in the 1960s, and it is hopelessly out of date now."(

Which echos the same sentiment by Ernst Nolte

-Even in 1960 William Shirer's trivial anti-German book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich could become a bestseller [Shirer had tried unsuccessfully for five years to place his manuscript, when Eichmann was kidnapped and taken to Israel. This reawakened public interest in the Third Reich and Shirer's work was published, though even in 1960 it was some ten years behind the current state of research.]" - Aspects of the Third Reich, Page 20

This, from two notable historians. Two quotes of which from the now considered standard Historian on the history of the Third Reich should utterly dismiss Shirer's work. In case you need more convincing there are numerous factual errors in 'Rise and Fall', which I shall list briefly to save time.

1. Jewish Soap, as Richard Evan's has said "William L. Shirer, in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, advanced the now defunct idea that the German used Jewish fat to make soap. Alleged eyewitness accounts were also summoned to propagate the same idea. Yet even Lipstadt now agrees that this is balderdash."

2 A. Relying HEAVILY on the liar Herman Rauschning's book "Hitler Speaks" Supposedly based on private conversations, the numerous "revealing" quotations attributed to Hitler by Rauschning apparently prove the German leader's dishonesty, duplicity and brutality. In fact, the often-cited quotations are entirely invented. Rauschning never had even a single private conversation with Hitler. (See: IHR Journal, Fall 1983, pp. 378 ff.; H. W. Koch, Aspects of the Third Reich, pp. 13 f.) See also (See Wolfgang Hänel, Hermann Rauschning's 'Gespräche mit Hitler' -- Eine Geschichtsfälschung, published by the Zeitgeschichtliche Forschungsstelle Ingolstadt in 1984.)

2 B. "Lothar Kettenacker is the first of the contributors to this volume to make use of Hermann Rauschning's Hitler Speaks (Gesprache mit Hitler), a source about whose original value some other historians have already expressed reservations. Ernst Nolte, for instance, once remarked that in no document, neither in Mein Kampf nor in his speeches nor in his table talk was Hitler as literate as in Rauschning's conversations with him. In 1983 the Swiss historian Wolfgang Hanel in a piece of highly detailed research concluded that Rauschning's work was a collaboration with a British and French journalists, backed by an American publishing house in 1939. Rauschning, by then a poor emigre in Paris, got to work and by using his own 'The Revolution of Nihilism' plus ample quotations from Ernst Junger as well as from Nietzsche turned this amalgam into Hitler's own words. Rauschning met Hitler on five occasions at most, and then always in the company of others." - Aspects of the Third Reich, Page 13-14 And "Emery Reeves (the very man
who was to assist Rauschning in the fabrication of his Hitler
Speaks)" - By HW Koch also in Aspects of the Third Reich, Page 55

3. The use of the Hossbach Protocol. This is a widely known fake, which, even if true, doesn't prove Hitler had any plan for anything more eastwards then Austria and Czechoslovakia. No long term plan for war, no gains in Russia, nothing. It isn't a useful document even to historians or Journalists such as Shirer, there has been much to question about it's authenticity. The Hossbach account is a fraud, as Revisionist scholars such as British historian A.J.P. Taylor established years ago. (See: Dankwart Kluge, Das Hossbach-'Protokoll,', 1980.; IHR Journal, Fall 1983, p. 372 ff.; A.J.P. Taylor, An Old Man's Diary, London: 1984, p. 154.) And also (Hitler and the Origins of the Second World War. Second Thoughts on the Status of Some of the Documents H. W. Koch The Historical Journal Vol. 11, No. 1 (1968), pp 125-26, 129, 132-35) Koch says quite illuminatingly "While the present writer finds it extremely difficult to define what Hitler meant as no evidence exists setting forth Hitler's declared intention to conquer the world", the same has been said by Richard Overy in his book '1939'. Also on the Hossbach Protocol, see (1939 - Der Krieg, der viele Väter hatte : Der lange Anlauf zum Zweiten Weltkrieg by Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof) And finally (IMT VOL XIV, p 34-37 for Raeder's account which leads us to the firm conclusion that Hitler has no intention for war and the 1937 conference left nobody thinking as such)

4. Something many books do (in more or less the same wording, sometimes different) when quoting the Secret Directive of August 16th, 1941. is like Shirer accuse Hitler of saying that

- "He did not mind, he said, that the Russians had ordered partisan warfare behind the German lines;" "it enables us to eradicate everyone who opposes us" (Rise and Fall of the Third Reich 50th anniversary edition, page 941)

Or JFC Fuller who has Hitler saying

-"“the vast territories have to be pacified as soon as possible; this can best be achieved by shooting everybody who shows a wry face.” (The Generalship of Alexander the Great) (quoting R. Ilnytzky's Russian World Ambitions and World Peace)

And John Toland's Adolf Hitler (the most well balanced Hitler biography, generally good, objectively superior to Shirer's book) has him saying on page 677. . .

- "The Russians have now given an order for partisan warfare behind our front. This guerrilla activity again has some advantage for us; it enables us to exterminate everyone who opposes us.”

These quotes are all wrong, and in fact, outright fabrications. When if you refer to Pages 12-13 of R. Ilnytzky's Russian World Ambitions and World peace ( You can see the quote is drastically different, and lacks the words "exterminate, shoot everybody, and eradicate". There in these 3 quotes a human element in place of what was actually said, something a lot more tame and impersonal. From Ilnytzky. . .

- "The Russians have now given an order for guerilla-war behind our lines. This has its own advantage: it provides us with the opportunity to destroy whatever is against us"

There is a very important difference here. In fact Bormann who quotes the minutes of this conference says that shooting and deportation might be necessary measures. Thus not definitive or policy, but crucially a possibility. Then he goes on to talk about how Slavs, Czechs, Cossacks or Ukranians cannot be allowed to carry weapons once occupied. Not even here is there mention of extermination/eradication of these groups. German policy since this time was to evolve and incorporate these groups into SS legions as well as the directives for independent socialist states which Shirer also mentions in pages 830-34. There was no policy, plan or anything here, simply conferences of possibilities.

5. The Reichstag Fire, Rise and Fall upholds the now thoroughly discredited historical lie that Hitler's stormtroopers set fire to the Reichstag building in February 1933. (See: Fritz Tobias, The Reichstag Fire, New York: 1964.) this fraud has also been pointed out by AJP Taylor

Shirer also on pages 832 dismisses Rosenberg's works and doesn't consider them worth quoting because it would 'impede' on his Germanophobic work. Of course to any sceptical mind the reasons for this is immediately obvious, Rosenberg has been shown in more recent literature to be a very moderating force of so-called Nazi Slavphobia, and his works and testimony to the Nuremberg trials make clear his confusion of the term "Master race" which he says 'I have never heard the word "master race" ("Herrenrasse") as often as in this court room.'.

Pages 231-233 are by far the most illuminating, and really displays Hitler's popular dictatorship as one not hiding like the Soviet Union, but free and open to those willing to see it, and becoming tolerable to those who were sceptical, even hostile but lucky enough to experience it.

I could probably go on longer, but I feel I've said enough. In the future there might be more to say, whether I read it or recall it. But this is it.

On the whole, you can drop Shirer and stroll more recently trimmed fields. Like me, I hope anyone reading this will think more critically about what is written about Nazi Germany. Shirer's book will be resigned to the role of mere bookshelf decoration, a brick like volume that will invoke shock at the emblazoned swastika on the spine, and when that happens you can merely discuss what you liked, didn't like and what you now know is false.

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Finished Reading
March 7, 2019 – Shelved

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Michael Bailey This account has no friends and no activity apart from this one single, extremely long-winded review. Hmm... curious.

Arthur Michael wrote: "This account has no friends and no activity apart from this one single, extremely long-winded review. Hmm... curious."
Yeah. I literally made this account to write that review. That's all I had to say.

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