SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2016 PEN HESSELL-TILTMAN PRIZE. The Second World War was a German war like no other. The Nazi regime, having started the conflict, turned it into the most horrific war in European history, resorting to genocidal methods well before building the first gas chambers. Over its course, the Third Reich expended and exhausted all its moral and physical reserves, leading to total defeat in 1945. Yet 70 years on - despite whole libraries of books about the war's origins, course and atrocities - we still do not know what Germans thought they were fighting for and how they experienced and sustained the war until the bitter end. When war broke out in September 1939, it was deeply unpopular in Germany. Yet without the active participation and commitment of the German people, it could not have continued for almost six years. What, then, was the war Germans thought they were fighting? How did the changing course of the conflict - the victories of the Blitzkrieg, the first defeats in the east, the bombing of Germany's cities - change their views and expectations? And when did Germans first realise that they were fighting a genocidal war?
Drawing on a wealth of first-hand testimony, The German War is the first foray for many decades into how the German people experienced the Second World War. Told from the perspective of those who lived through it - soldiers, schoolteachers and housewives; Nazis, Christians and Jews - its masterful historical narrative sheds fresh and disturbing light on the beliefs, hopes and fears of a people who embarked on, continued and fought to the end a brutal war of conquest and genocide.
The first social history of Germany during the Second World War for over forty years
Winner of PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History 2016.
"A terrific book. Nicholas Stargardt brilliantly explores diaries, letters and other previously untapped sources to provide more vivid and nuanced insight than ever before achieved into the motivation of ordinary Germans fighting the most horrific war of all time" -- Ian Kershaw "Beautifully written and convincingly argued, this book is a must" -- Saul Friedlander, author of Nazi Germany and the Jews "For the first time, the wartime chronology of German sentiment, of popular hopes and fears, realism and fantasy, becomes truly visible. A powerful and compelling account" -- Mark Roseman, Professor of History, Indiana University "Insightful, illuminating, complex, and convincing... Seven decades and a mountain of monographs later, I wouldn't have thought there'd be much more to say about WWII. Stargardt has proven me wrong" -- Robert Moeller, Professor of History, University of California, Irvine "Stargardt negotiates the considerable risks of writing from inside German experiences of this brutally destructive war with subtlety, humanity, and wisdom. This is a rich and deeply impressive lesson" -- Jane Caplan, Emeritus Fellow, St Antony's College, Oxford "Stargardt negotiates the considerable risks of writing from inside German experiences of this brutally destructive war with subtlety, humanity, and wisdom. This is a rich and deeply impressive lesson" -- Jane Caplan, Emeritus Fellow, St Antony's College, Oxford "The German War is an outstanding book by a master historian... a masterpiece of historical writing, blending seamlessly a 'bird's eye' view with intimate micro-history of this calamitous period in twentieth century Europe" -- Jan Gross, author of Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland "Nicholas Stargardt spotlights the surprising twists and turns in the popular embrace of both the war and Nazi racial extremism. He explains-as few have-why the German people fought to the finish, whereas even the supposedly fanatical Japanese surrendered before an invasion of the homeland" -- Sheldon Garon, author of Molding Japanese Minds: The State in Everyday Life
Nicholas Stargardt is one of Britain's foremost scholars of Nazi Germany. He teaches Modern European History at Magdalen College, Oxford, and is the author of Witnesses of War: Children's Lives under the Nazis (Jonathan Cape, 2005).