Academic journal article Journalism History

Electronic Media Reviews -- Eyewitness to History: William L. Shirer

Academic journal article Journalism History

Electronic Media Reviews -- Eyewitness to History: William L. Shirer

Article excerpt

"Eyewitness to History: William L. Shirer." Princeton, N.J.: Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 1994. 30 minutes, $395.

One of the most respected authorities on the Third Reich, William L. Shirer has for fifty years been the conscience for a world that tends to want to forget the horrors of death camps and genocide during World War II. His books, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and Berlin Diary, are some of our most incisive and penetrating accounts of the inner workings of a monstrous totalitarian regime. A correspondent for CBS radio during Germany's tragic years leading to war and including the first year of the war, Shirer was truly an eyewitness to history.

The video consists of an hour-long interview by NBC commentator Bill Moyers, who was a regular PBS host at the time of the Shirer interview and who at one time served as Lyndon Johnson's press secretary. Though he was in his eighties during the videotaping, Shirer was sharp and astute as always. He responded thoughtfully to Moyers' laid-back questioning and posed philosophical questions that he has struggled to answer. Why did Germans allow the Holocaust? How could such a liberal and tolerant nation quietly stand aside while ignorant bullies turned the country into a shambles? How could Hitler have mesmerized an intelligent people with such outlandish drivel? Shirer tried to address these questions and cite anecdotes to illustrate his points, but he conceded that he has great difficulty, even after fifty years, answering these questions. …

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