* Lew’s review of “The Coming of the Third Reich” by Richard Evans … research for CHOOSING HITLER, Lew’s novel-in-progress

Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 15, 2013

evans - coming of 3rd reich - cover

A brilliantly clear and comprehensive exposition of the complex events of 1930-32 which led to the appointment of Hitler as Reich Chancellor on January 30, 1933, corresponding exactly to the next chapter(s) I will be writing in my novel-in-progress CHOOSING HITLER.

Evans paints a heartbreaking scenario of the many opportunities

(albeit with hindsight)

whereby Hitler could have been stopped.

These include …

… Nov 1932 vote was a disappointment to NS leaders … they had gathered splinter party votes but had not made inroads into Social Democrat or Centre Party voters … a feeling (among NS leaders) that NS vote may have peaked … Goebbels: “we won’t get to an absolute majority this way … something must happen … the time for (electoral) opposition is over … now deeds!” … Goebbels and Hitler agreed that, if they stuck to a parliamentary route to power, the stagnation of their vote suggested that the situation might start to slip out of their grasp … Hitler’s only open route to power was to get appointed Chancellor

… the unwillingness of the Centre Party (Catholic) and the Social Democrats (socialist) to work together … NS now (Nov 1932) had less seats (196) than the combined two Marxist parties – Communists (100) + Social Democrats (121) = 221 … Centre Party had 70 seats … the Nazis were jubilant at the failure of the Social Democrats and trade unions to respond to the Papen coup … Goebbels wrote in his diary … “They have missed their big chance. It’s never going to come again.”

… the arrogant assumptions by the military and some industrialists that Hitler could be used but also controlled … Schleicher: if Hitler establishes a dictatorship in Germany, the army will be the dictatorship within the dictatorship … Papen: within two months we will have pushed Hitler so far into a corner that he’ll squeak

… the evident peaking of the Nazi electorate … the NS vote (Nov 1932) fell from 13.7 million to 11.7 … seats fell from 230 to 196 … in local elections held in Thuringia (in Dec 1932) the NS vote plummeted by 40% from the previous July … NS was virtually bankrupt

This is where the Nazis stood on Jan 1 1933.

Yet just 30 days later, Hitler was Chancellor.

What made this turnaround possible was the fact that parliamentary government no longer functioned in Germany. The country was run by Presidential decree, exercised through an appointed Chancellor. Hindenburg, in his 80s and after 7 years as President, was tired and declining. He never considered democratic alternatives. There was no effective leadership from the more moderate parties.

… after 1930 election, Reichstag virtually unmanageable … 107 brown-shirted, uniformed Nazis joined 77 well-organized Communists … raising incessant points of order, chanting, shouting, interrupting, demonstrating their total contempt for the legislature at every juncture … power drained from the Reichstag … every session ended in an uproar … soon came to seem pointless to meet at all … after Sept 1930 only negative majorities were possible .. in Feb 1931, Reichstag adjourned itself for 6 months – did not return until Oct … from July 1932 to Feb 1933, Reichstag convened for 3 days in 6 months


One Response to “* Lew’s review of “The Coming of the Third Reich” by Richard Evans … research for CHOOSING HITLER, Lew’s novel-in-progress”

  1. Lilo Huhle-Poelzl said

    I want to read this book.

    I was born 1939 into Hitler’s Germany. Because of my ability to remember unusually far back, I was able to write an early-childhood memoir, covering the years 1940-1945. I grew up in a non-Nazi family surrounded by Nazis. The two SS-nephews of our landlady prided themselves with having thrown Jewish children from a 4th-floor window. I was an early developer and, when 2 1/2 years old, told the daughters of one of these murderers that my family listened to BBC, only to find out shortly after that there was the death penalty on listening to BBC. It was a miracle that we survived. — After the war, talking about Hitler and the Third Reich was a tabu in Germany. Quite understandable, as far as the former Nazis were concerned; not so understandable what the non-Nazis were concerned. Anyway, our history teachers never taught about either the Third Reich or WWII. They started three times with the old Greeks and stopped short all three times around 1900. Thus, even though having higher education I never learned much about this era, other than what I had experienced myself. I never even saw any related books in the bookstores. My mother — even though an avid non-Nazi – no longer wanted to talk or hear about Hitler and the Third Reich. (And I think, she wasn’t alone.)

    I have been living in the US for many years. When writing my memoir, I realized how little I knew about the Third Reich and WWII outside my personal experience. So I have started to look for and read related books. I definitely want to read this book.

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