Travellers In The Third Reich

Travellers In The Third Reich –

The Rise Of Fascism Through The Eyes Of Everyday People

By Julia Boyd

Elliott Thompson – £10.99

The German people, like their master,’ wrote Francois-Poncet, ‘combined an inferiority complex with a sense of pride.’

(‘Hitler’s Games’)

Why, one wanders, did Du Bois not point out more robustly the hypocrisy of Americans who, while expressing righteous indignation at the treatment of German Jews, were content to ignore the lynching and torture of African-Americans?

(‘Academic Wasteland’)

A more than interesting premise from which to historically grapple, this overtly readable/if not enjoyable book, sheds an array of politically illuminating light on a period of Germany’s history that was cloyingly calamitous to say the least.

But where Travellers In The Third Reich – The Rise Of Fascism Through The Eyes Of Everyday People really comes into its own, is the extent to which it (perhaps inadvertently) substantiates how much of the horribly English class divide, was responsible for turning a blind-eye.

A seethingly calculated blind-eye might one add, to what was fundamentally taking place right under Hitler’s altogether ghastly watch during the thirties.

As much is nigh wholeheartedly brought to bear in the aforementioned chapter ‘Academic Wasteland,’ where Julia Boyd writes: ‘’There were of course professors […] who genuinely sympathised with Nazi ideology and eagerly sought to identify with the regime. But many other academics chose to travel in the Third Reich because Germany’s cultural heritage was simply too precious to renounce for politics, however unpleasant those politics might be. They allowed their reverence for the past to warp their judgement of the present. As a result they wilfully ignored the realities of a dictatorship that by 1936 – despite the Olympic mirage – was unashamedly parading itself in all its unspeakable colours’’ (my italics).

Moreover, what I really like about Boyd’s enticingly understated writing, is how every now and then, she is able to establish the degree to which history really does repeat itself before our very eyes.

If we’re prepared to open them that is.

For instance, just how exceedingly pertinent is the following in direct relation to Boris Johnson’s current abysmal excuse for a government: ‘’Tugged by forces within and without, by foreign powers and foreign money-lenders, industrialist plotters, embittered generals, impoverished landed gentry, potential dictators, refugees from Eastern Europe, the government reeled from crisis to crisis, within a permanent crisis’’ (‘The Noose Tightens’).

As Lucy Lethbridge has since written in The Tablet: ‘’This absorbing and beautifully organised book is full of small encounters that jolt the reader into a historical past that seems still very near.’’

To be sure, much of Julia Boyd’s writing appears to float like the quintessential butterfly, yet sting like an over zealous bee; which, given some of the perplexing subject matter herein, is no mean feat.

David Marx

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