We've grown to understand in the past few weeks how worlds can change in just a few days. Peter Fritzsche
's new book Hitler's First Hundred Days: When Germans Embraced the Third Reich
(Basic Books, 2020) is an extraordinary examination of how, in just a few months, Germans got used to living around, among, and, mostly, in unity with, Nazis.
Fritzsche's argument is sophisticated and nuanced. But it's the details of everyday life he provides that make this book stand out. Fritzsche uses diaries, newspaper articles, letters and other sources to provide a journalistic (in the best sense of the world) sense of how people lived through and in a revolution. He highlights moments of collective experience--the anti-jewish boycott, national celebrations, elections. But he also tells us about an influenza outbreak that closed school in a small town shortly after Hitler became chancellor, reminding us that many live through moments of high drama in very ordinary ways.
Historians and genocide scholars routinely try to understand how societies grow to support authoritarian. oppressive or racist governments. Fritzsche's books is a significant contribution to this scholarship.