The Impact of Nazism: New Perspectives on the Third Reich and Its Legacy

The Impact of Nazism: New Perspectives on the Third Reich and Its Legacy

The Impact of Nazism: New Perspectives on the Third Reich and Its Legacy

The Impact of Nazism: New Perspectives on the Third Reich and Its Legacy


The consequences of Germany's twelve-year Nazi regime continue to reverberate and to spark debate among scholars and the general public. In this volume leading scholars present provocative essays probing the nature, history, and aftermath of the Nazi regime, including its connections to the Federal Republic of Germany after the war. The essays address the nature of Nazism as reflected in contemporary perceptions of Nazi Germany in the United States; the origins and character of fascism; the many forms of antisemitism; German scholars' efforts to promote persecution in the Third Reich; the role of ethnic Germans in the anti-Jewish and anti-Slavic policies of the Reich; the actions of German police in the occupation of eastern Europe and in the Holocaust; Hitler's style of leadership; the nazification of the German military high command; and the politics surrounding the memory of Nazism and the Holocaust after 1945.

The Impact of Nazism employs diverse approaches, exploits a variety of new and long-available sources, and asks new questions, making clear the profound connections between the Nazis and the world that survived them.


The history of western European fascism in the interwar years continues to fascinate historians, but among the flood of publications the topic of relations between various fascist groups has been curiously neglected. There is an element of ahistoricity in this, since the fascists themselves thought of fascism as a Europe-wide phenomenon and had every intention of learning from the successes and failures of sister movements.

The object of this essay is to analyze the evolving, reciprocal relationship between the Nazis and fascists in two neighboring countries, France and the Netherlands, at the beginning of the Third Reich. The months covered here constitute a period when all three countries seemed to stand on the threshold of monumental changes. In Germany, the establishment of Nazi totalitarianism culminated in the Röhm affair. In France, the Stavisky riots raised hopes among some on the extreme right that the “dawn of a fascist France” was approaching, while the formation of the Popular Front led to widespread fears—not just among the fascists—that a Bolshevik takeover was imminent. In the Netherlands, the consequences of the gouden gulden (gold standard) policy increased economic hardship for many and helped the political fortunes of Dutch fascism, notably the National Socialist Movement (Nationaal Socialistische Beweging, nsb), founded by A. A. Mussert.

It was also a time when the contours of international fascism were still very much in flux. The Nazis were by no means agreed upon their attitude toward related movements in neighboring countries. All Nazis eagerly welcomed evidence that democracy was under attack in western Europe, but Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels, and others opposed a fascist takeover in France, fearing that such a regime might actually strengthen that country's determination to resist German aggression. In contrast, the Francophiles in the Büro Ribbentrop and the Hitler Youth leadership—men like Otto Abetz and Baldur von Schirach—dreamed of some sort of alliance between Nazi Germany and a future fascist France, with Nazi Germany as the senior partner, of course. As far as the Netherlands was concerned, most Nazis, as we shall see, favored good relations with the nsb, but a few wanted to nurture the totally unimportant Dutch clone of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, nsdap), the National Socialist Dutch Workers' Party (Nationaal Socialistische Nederlandse Arbeiderspartij, NSNAP).

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