They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45

Paperback | May 19, 1966

byMilton Mayer

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First published in 1955, They Thought They Were Free is an eloquent and provocative examination of the development of fascism in Germany. Mayer’s book is a study of ten Germans and their lives from 1933-45, based on interviews he conducted after the war when he lived in Germany. Mayer had a position as a research professor at the University of Frankfurt and lived in a nearby small Hessian town which he disguised with the name “Kronenberg.” “These ten men were not men of distinction,” Mayer noted, but they had been members of the Nazi Party; Mayer wanted to discover what had made them Nazis.

“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.”--from Chapter 13, “But Then It Was Too Late”

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First published in 1955, They Thought They Were Free is an eloquent and provocative examination of the development of fascism in Germany. Mayer’s book is a study of ten Germans and their lives from 1933-45, based on interviews he conducted after the war when he lived in Germany. Mayer had a position as a research professor at the Unive...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 8.05 × 5.33 × 1.3 inPublished:May 19, 1966Publisher:University of Chicago Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226511928

ISBN - 13:9780226511924

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Customer Reviews of They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read!!!! For anyone who wants to understand how the most egregious acts can be committed by a people in an effort to prevent it in the future, this is a must read! I call myself an historian, and this book is extremely beneficial for us all!!
Date published: 2014-02-21

Extra Content

Table of Contents

Part I. Ten Men
Kronenberg
November 9, 1638
November 9, 1938
1. Ten Men
2. The Lives Men Lead
3. Hitler and I
4. "What Would You Have Done?"
5. The Joiners
6. The Way To Stop Communism
7. "We Think with Our Blood"
8. The Anti-Semitic Swindle
9. "Everybody Knew." "Nobody Knew"
10. "We Christians Had the Duty"
11. The Crimes of the Losers
12. "That's the Way We Are"
13. But Then It Was Too Late
14. Collective Shame
15. The Furies: Heinrich Hildebrandt
16. The Furies: Johann Kessler
17. The Furies: Furor Teutonicus
Part II. The Germans
Heat Wave
18. There Is No Such Thing
19. The Pressure Cooker
20. "Peoria Über Alles"
21. New Boy in the Neighborhood
22. Two New Boys in the Neighborhood
23. "Like God in France"
24. But a Man Must Believe in Something
25. Push-Button Panic
Part III. Their Cause and Cure
The Trial
November 9, 1948
26. The Broken Stones
27. The Liberators
28. The Re-educators and Re-educated
29. The Reluctant Phoenix
30. Born Yesterday
31. Tug of Peace
32. "Are We the Same as the Russians?"
33. Marx Talks to Michel
34. The Uncalculated Risk
Acknowledgments

Editorial Reviews

"Once again the German problem is at the center of our politics. No better, or more humane, or more literate discussion of its underlying nature could be had than in this book."