Criticizing William L Shirer’s ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany’

My review of William L. Shirer’s ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ was originally published on ‘Goodreads’[1] in march this year and on my old Redpill Action site in this form on the 20th of April 2019. I was inspired to write it after having my memory jogged while flipping through my 50th anniversary hardcover copy. Many sources of information i’ve since read have called into doubt many of the claims within the book. So I decided to turn that sloppily written review into this hopefully less sloppy informative article. I hope you enjoy!

Shirer’s monolithic book on Nazi Germany has been popular history in the western world since its original publication in 1960. Still widely read and I assume still the first book one might read on National Socialist Germany after having seen horribly inaccurate Hollywood portrayals. In this review I will point out many of its glaring flaws as well as Shirer’s outright biased nature.

‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ is littered with self serving commentary, germanophobic observations about the racial character of the German people (characterising them as ‘Warlike’ in their psyche) therefore attributing guilt to them without fair trial. Shirer’s afterword from 1990 bares plainly Shirer’s racism towards Germans. He says on the one hand…

In Germany to put it mildly, the book did not fare very well with the reviewers. The Germans simply could not face up to their past.–“A German-hater!” Adenauer called me–I was somewhat taken back by the vehemence of the German reaction, but not entirely surprised.” 

– William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), pp. 1146

Only to go on and suggest the use of the H-bomb to be the Final Solution to the German Problem.

Soon, united, Germany will be strong again economically and, if it wishes, militarily , as it was in the time of Wilhelm II and Adolf Hitler. And Europe will be faced again with the German problem. –Is there a solution to the German problem? Perhaps.–So maybe the H-Bomb and the rockets and planes and submarines designed to deliver it, horrible threat though they are to the survival of the planet, will, ironically, help at least, to solve the German problem.

– William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), pp. 1146-1147

You don’t have to search far and wide to see the irony in Shirer’s characterisation of the Germans and the caricature view of Jews espoused by the Nazis in these works of historical propaganda. But of course as an attack against those we’re told to hate it is therefore permissible in the eyes of the public and academic establishment. If Shirer was taken aback by being called a “German-Hater” I simply cannot see how he himself could possibly not have the slightest clue as to why.

Shirers observations aren’t objective, this isn’t unique of course. The most common problem with literature on the Third Reich is it’s lack of objectivity, one is derided to strive for it and even told that they simply cannot objectivity because ‘nobody is objective'[2]. To try and understand, to know WHY what happened happened without the Judaeophillic and Anglo-Saxon establishment blinders on is a sign of apologetics. As R.H.S Stolfi has put it in his balanced interpretation of Hitler[3] the great biographers have left the public as well as the academic establishment a portrait of Hitler and National Socialism that has been but lightly sketched in with half of the clarifying lines missing[4].

Reality in the comprehending of Hitler demands that writers overcome the fear of being branded as “an apologist.” Comprehension also demands that writers extricate themselves from the style of excessive disparagement to arrive at a more realistic view.

Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny, pp. 20

The Hitler biographers dispose of their interpretive intellectual forces with a bias that can never be made good. The result: thanks, ironically, to the historical greatness of the subject, powerful minds gripped by a preconceived picture of evil have produced brilliant biographies…and every single one falls short of producing an adequate understanding of Hitler as a historical person. To this point in time, the biographers have lost the biographical war.

Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny, pp. 17

When it has become necessary at various points in most accounts of Hitler to reflect stunning achievement—successful action in the face of heavy odds—the same writers disparage the achievement and suggest that “a convincing study of Hitler” may just not be attainable at all.

Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny, pp. 24-25

There are few books on the Third Reich which do not assume guilt, motive, and evil before being researched and written, those that do come to conclusions too unbiased to be accepted. The fait accompli of historians has never ceased to amaze me, and I’ve become all the more wary of their so called infallible works of history as a result.

As for Shirer’s book, something not many people seem to know is that it’s pretty much useless. Historians of course aren’t eager to tell people this because, after all, it’s more popular history than academic[5] and certainly serves as the perfect propaganda tool to trot out the old long debunked myths for new readers who have it assigned at university. These myths I will come to in a minute, but before that there are some very useful quotes which will prove it’s utter uselessness straight from the mouths of prominent academic historians.

Richard Evans, author of the Third Reich trilogy, now the standard work on Nazi Germany in the English language has said of Shirer’s tome…

Shirer’s ‘Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ is pretty much worthless. It was out of date even when it was written. The only real value is in his own participant observation, best approached through his wonderful ‘Berlin Diary’.

– Richard Evans[6], Author of the Third Reich trilogy


The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich was not abreast of academic research even when it was published in the 1960s, and it is hopelessly out of date now.

-Richard Evans, July 18 2011, in an interview with ‘The New Republic’[7]

Earlier than this, Ernst Nolte a PHD academic historian working in many German universities such as University of Cologne the University of Marburg and from 1973 to 1991 at the Free University of Berlin has written on Shirer. . .

Even in 1960 William Shirer’s trivial anti-German book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich could become a bestseller [Shirer had tried unsuccessfully for five years to place his manuscript, when Eichmann was kidnapped and taken to Israel. This reawakened public interest in the Third Reich and Shirer’s work was published, though even in 1960 it was some ten years behind the current state of research

– Ernst Nolte in Aspects of the Third Reich, New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1985, pp. 20

These quotes from two notable academic historians, one of which as previously mentioned has written the standard work on the Third Reich in the English language should utterly dismiss Shirer’s work.

There are also numerous factual errors, minor and major within the book. I’m going to list and debunk the ones which have stood out to me the most. There are no doubt numerous more than this, but that can be left for another time if I re-read the book and wish to write a second article.

No. 1 : Jewish Soap

Shirer accepts uncritically the claims made by Simon Wiesenthal[8] that the Nazis made soap out of Jewish fat[9] which today we know to be completely untrue[10][11][12].

William L. Shirer, in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, advanced the now defunct idea that the German used Jewish fat to make soap. Alleged eyewitness accounts were also summoned to propagate the same idea. Yet even Lipstadt now agrees that this is balderdash.

Richard Evans, Author of the Third Reich Trilogy[13]

No. 2 : The Fraudulent Hermann Rauschning memoirs

‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ also relied on the infamous Hermann Rauschning memoirs[14] supposedly based on private conversations, the numerous “revealing” quotations attributed to Hitler by Rauschning apparently prove the German leader’s dishonesty, duplicity and brutality. In fact, the often-cited quotations are entirely invented. Rauschning never had even a single private conversation with Hitler.[15][16]

Lothar Kettenacker is the first of the contributors to this volume to make use of Hermann Rauschning’s Hitler Speaks (Gesprache mit Hitler), a source about whose original value some other historians have already expressed reservations. Ernst Nolte, for instance, once remarked that in no document, neither in Mein Kampf nor in his speeches nor in his table talk was Hitler as literate as in Rauschning’s conversations with him. In 1983 the Swiss historian Wolfgang Hanel in a piece of highly detailed research concluded that Rauschning’s work was a collaboration with a British and French journalists, backed by an American publishing house in 1939. Rauschning, by then a poor emigre in Paris, got to work and by using his own ‘The Revolution of Nihilism’ plus ample quotations from Ernst Junger as well as from Nietzsche turned this amalgam into Hitler’s own words. Rauschning met Hitler on five occasions at most, and then always in the company of others.”

– Aspects of the Third Reich, pp. 13-14 [17]

Hermann Rauschning’s Conversations with Hitler (Zürich, 1940) has bedevilled analysis of Hitler’s policies ever since it was published by the evil propagandist Emery Reves (Imre Revész) along with a host of other fables. Rauschning, a former Nazi Danzig politician, met Hitler on only a couple of formal occasions. It was being republished in Vienna as recently as 1973, although even the otherwise uncritical West German historian Professor Eberhard Jäckel – who carelessly included 78 forgeries in a serious volume of Hitler’s manuscripts, and then dismissed this poisonous injection as making up less than 5 percent of the total volume! – emphasised in a learned article in Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht (No. 11, 1977) that Rauschning’s volume has no claim to credibility at all. Reves was also publisher of that other famous ‘source’ on early Nazi history, Fritz Thyssen’s ‘memoirs,’ I Paid Hitler (London, 1943). Henry Ashby Turner, Jr., has pointed out in a paper in Vierteljahrsheft für Zeitgeschichte (No. 3, 1971) that the luckless Thyssen never even saw eight of the book’s nineteen chapters, while the rest were drafted in French! The list of such spurious volumes is endless.

-David Irving, Hitler’s War and the War Path (Focal Point Publishers, 2002), pp. xiv,xv
Ian Kershaw’s two volume biography Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris & Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis : Fun Fact: Kershaw cites master of documents & controversial historian David Irving twice in Hubris and over 300 times in Nemesis

Historian Ian Kershaw whose two volume biographical magnum opus on Adolf Hitler is widely considered the standard work has also disregarded Hermann Rauschning ‘s hack job on Hitler

I have on no single occasion cited Hermann Rauschning’s Hitler Speaks, a work now regarded to have so little authenticity that it is best to disregard it altogether.

Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris, pp. xiv

No. 3 : The Hossbach Protocol

This next error concerns the essential document of guilt that’s used to prove Hitler’s supposed aggressive intentions to wage a war and disturb the peace. The Hossbach Memorandum. A document detailing a Hitler speech made on the 5th of November 1937 which is purported to be Hitler’s plot for the aggressive war we’ve come to know as World War Two. Of this document Shirer says it was

The decisive turning point in the life of the Third Reich–The die was cast. Hitler had communicated his irrevocable decision to go to war.

– William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), pp. 305,307

I do not think that I can truly describe how essential this document has been in pushing the german war guilt narrative. An example of this document being used against historians fighting for truth is in the case of David L. Hoggans magnum opus ‘The Forced War: When Peaceful Revision Failed’. Originally published in 1961 under the German title ‘Der erzwungene Krieg’ it came under heavy fire from the historical establishment around the western world. The battle of Hoggans work was fought in ‘The American Historical Review’ between Harry Elmer Barnes, David Hoggan and Gerhard Weinberg. Weinberg thought that Hoggan “ignored evidence in favor of German intentions for aggression such as the Hossbach Memorandum'[18]. Also in 1961 alongside ‘The Forced War’ (‘Rise and Fall’ a year earlier in 1960) Oxford historian A.J.P. Taylor published his most controversial and most influential book ‘The Origins of the Second World War’. This book caused a massive stir in the academic community, Taylor, known to be a Germanophobic historian himself had suddenly published a book which turned him into a Hitler apologist over night. Nevertheless Taylor today paved the way for mainstream revisionism of Nazi Germany and the Second World War putting forth among many other crucial arguments that the Hossbach Memo was fraudulent.

I was taken in by the Hossbach memorandum. Though I doubted whether it was as important as most writers made out, I still thought that it must have some importance for every writer to make so much of it. I was wrong

– A.J.P. Taylor, Origins of the Second World War, pp. 20

In modern practice, an official record demands three things. First, a secretary must attend to take notes which he writes up afterwards in orderly form. Then his draft must be submitted to the participants for correction and approval. Finally, the record must be placed in the official files. None of this took place in regard to the meeting on 5 November 1937, except that Hossbach attended. He took no notes. Five days later he wrote an account of the meeting from memory in longhand. He twice offered to show the manuscript to Hitler, who replied that he was too busy to read it. This was curiously casual treatment for what is supposed to be his ‘last will and testament’.

– A.J.P. Taylor, Origins of the Second World War, pp. 20-21

These are speculations. At the time, no one attached importance to the meeting. Hossbach left the staff soon afterwards. His manuscript was put in a file with other miscellaneous papers, and forgotten. In 1943 a German officer, Count Kirchbach, looked through the file, and copied the manuscript for the department of military history. After the war, the Americans found Kirchbach’s copy, and copied it in their turn for the prosecution at Nuremberg. Both Hossbach and Kirchbach thought that this copy was shorter than the original. In particular, according to Kirchbach, the original contained criticisms by Neurath, Blomberg, and Fritsch of Hitler’s argument – criticisms which have now fallen out. Maybe the Americans ‘edited’ the document; maybe Kirchbach, like other Germans, was trying to shift all the blame on to Hitler. There are no means of knowing. Hossbach’s original and Kirchbach’s copy have both disappeared. All that survives is a copy, perhaps shortened, perhaps ‘edited’, of a copy of an unauthenticated draft. It contains themes which Hitler also used in his public speeches: the need for Lebensraum, and his conviction that other countries would oppose the restoration of Germany as an independent Great Power. It contains no directives for action beyond a wish for increased armaments. Even at Nuremberg the Hossbach memorandum was not produced in order to prove Hitler’s war guilt.

– A.J.P. Taylor, Origins of the Second World War, pp 21

Something which Taylor doesn’t note here, is probably the most crucial bit of information pertaining the Hossbach memorandum which is even if the document were true it doesn’t at all prove that Hitler had any intentions beyond Austria and Czechoslovakia[19]. No long term plan for war, no gains in Russia, nothing. It isn’t a useful document even to historians or Journalists such as Shirer that desperately want to prove German guilt for the outbreak of the Second World War. There has been much to question about it’s authenticity. Though I think it’s more than safe to say that the Hossbach account is a fraud[20][21][22][23]. I want to let the Historians speak for themselves, to begin with H.W. Koch on the subject wrote revealingly in an 1969 article published by ‘The Historical Journal’ backing up Taylor in his criticism of the Hossbach memo, saying

A. J. P. Taylor’s Origins of the Second World War which seems to have withstood the mauling of its critics, a test of its quality perhaps.

– H.W. Koch, Hitler and the Origins of the Second World War. Second Thoughts on the status of some of the Documents, pp. 125

The first striking feature of the Hossbach Memorandum when compared with Mein Kampf is the almost complete lack of connexion between the two documents, save the insistence on the primacy of force and the desire to annex Austria–But what is significant is that the main theme of foreign policy in Mein Kampf, the obtaining of living space in Russia, is not mentioned at all in the memorandum. And yet Hitler in his introductory remarks asked for his views expressed at the meeting to be considered as his testament in case of death […] if Hitler meant what he said, if his discourse at the Reichskanzlei was a full exposition of his policy intentions, if he meant it to be his testament, Hitler’s refusal on two separate occasions to read the memorandum and approve it when asked to do so by his adjutant requires an adequate explanation. Whatever the explanation, it is bound to be so highly speculative as to make the document inadmissible in any other court except the Nuremberg Tribunal. […] On oath Hossbach declared that he made no protocol of the conference, instead a few days later (five to be exact) he wrote minutes based on his memory and written according to the best of his knowledge and conscience […] The considerable objections to Hitler’s plans which Neurath, Blomberg and Fritsche put up are not recorded in it, and in consequence the document does not agree with Kirchbach’s own copy. Hence, the original plus Kirchbach’s own copy are missing. It is therefore surprising that the relevant volume of the Documents on German Foreign Policy contains no reference to the somewhat chequered career of the ‘memorandum’ and to the fact that it is a copy of a copy, the original as well as the first copy of which are missing. —- Its value as Hitler’s ‘testament’ and as an indicator of his future policy can be seriously disputed. […] Another argument which has been raised is that once it had overcome all resistance to the assumption of full power inside Germany, the inherent dynamic of National Socialist policy would end inevitably in an aggressive foreign policy. This may be so, but it appears doubtful whether an aggressive foreign policy is a specifically National Socialist characteristic. After all, revisionism, meaning the revision of the Versailles treaty, was accepted and endorsed by the majority of Germans and was thus bound to be aggressive in terms of policy, which does not necessarily mean aggressive to the point of war

– H.W. Koch, Hitler and the Origins of the Second World War. Second Thoughts on the status of some of the Documents, pp. 132-134

Koch on the economic determinism of ‘academics’ such as Shirer in relation to the Hossbach memo says

This determinist thesis has now been extended to mean that by I936 the German economy had arrived at the crossroads at which Schacht’s policy of expedients had to be abandoned, the alternative facing Hitler being a return to the ordered channels of the international economy. Since the basic premise of Hitler’s policy was the extension of Lebensraum, such a return would tend to frustrate any rapid mobilization of Germany’s economic and military resources necessary for such a course. Consequently, Hitler had not only to continue the course of expedients but indeed to endeavour to extend it on a scale far wider than practised hitherto, with the result that, metaphorically speaking, cheques were drawn on non-existent capital, or more correctly the proceeds of living space were used before this space had actually been obtained. This seems plausible enough, but the theory is as good or as bad as any other. Its inherent major problem is the unsatisfactory state of the evidence cited, mostly polemical in nature, and the almost complete lack of figures. The one (but certainly not definitive) survey whose conclusions are backed up by relatively reliable figures, shows no evidence of an economic crisis between I936 and I939; moreover it reduces to its true proportions the myth, purpose- fully and apparently very successfully put about by Hitler, of the extent of German rearmament. The propounders of the thesis of inevitability of war for economic reasons interpret the Hossbach notes as being the military and political equivalent of Hitler’s Four-Year Plan of I936 in the economic field. This equation is juxtaposed with excerpts from Hitler’s Table Talk of I942-3. Apart from demonstrating that the method of juxtaposition is no satisfactory substitute for reliable and unequivocal evidence, since the Hossbach notes deal only with Austria and Czechoslovakia, they are irrelevant to Hitler’s concept of Lebensraum as such. Secondly, these territories hardly add-and this was clear to see in I937-8-sufficient resources to cope with a long-term economic crisis. This, of course, is provided such a serious crisis did exist, which is itself more than doubtful.

– H.W. Koch, Hitler and the Origins of the Second World War. Second Thoughts on the status of some of the Documents, pp. 134

Koch in the beginning of his article dismisses the ludacris idea that Hitler was out to conquer the world, a view point which many historians including Shirer believed decades ago and thankfully less so today.

Professor Trevor-Roper in his review of Taylor’s book writes that between I936 and I939 the British people came to accept that Hitler meant what he said, ‘that he was aiming-so oder so as he used to say-at world conquest’. While the present writer finds it extremely difficult to define what Hitler meant as no evidence exists setting forth Hitler’s declared intention to conquer the world

– H.W. Koch, Hitler and the Origins of the Second World War. Second Thoughts on the status of some of the Documents, pp. 126

Similarly and more recently in 2009 renowned Cambridge historian Richard Overy has written in his short work ‘1939 Countdown to War’ that

Few historians now accept that Hitler had any plan or blueprint for world conquest, in which Poland was a stepping stone to some distant German world empire. Indeed, recent research has suggested that there were almost no plans for what to do with a conquered Poland and that the vision of a new German empire in central and eastern Europe had to be improvised almost from scratch.

– Richard J. Overy, 1939: Countdown to War, (Penguin Publishing group, 2011), pp. 124

It’s worthwhile to read what Admiral Erich Raeder from the International Military Tribunal documents has said in relation to the meeting of November 5th 1937.

Erich Raeder at Nuremberg

RAEDER: No, I saw no document and no protocol of any speeches which Hitler made. No minutes were taken officially. Only in later years–I believe since 1941–were stenographers present who wrote down every word. These are really not minutes at all, since the document is written in indirect discourse.

Dr Siemers: It was written down by the author 5 days after the speech itself and is not even marked “secret”.—-Completed, the first goal is the overthrow of Czechoslovakia and Austria. Please explain to the court what effect the speech had on you at that time, and how it happened you ascribed no such importance to the speech as did Herr Von Neurath, for example, who was also present? And in spite of the speech how did you retain your opinion that Hitler would hold the old line and not seek a solution by force?

RAEDER: The subject of the speech was Austria and Czechoslovakia—-The Navy still had not a single battleship in service. The situation was similar in the Air Force and Army. In no way were we armed for war, and a war against England, for example, would have been sheer madness.—-and secondly, that he (Hitler) was convinced that France and England would not interfere. In the third place was the fact that just a few months before, in July 1937, the second naval agreement had been signed. These three facts seemed to me to make it certain that Hitler would not seek a warlike solution to these problems of Austria and Czechoslovakia. At that time it was a question of the Sudetenland under any circumstances and it seemed he would strive for a peaceful solution. For that reason the speech did not impress me with the fact that Hitler at that time wanted to change his policy—-that he wanted to turn from a policy of peace to one of war.—-I can imagine that the exaggerated character of the speech was specifically intended to force Von Neurath out of the cabinet, because I have learned that at that time the Fuhrer was already inclined to replace Von Neurath by Von Ribbentrop.—-For me the conclusions to be drawn from the speech were none other than these: The construction of the fleet in the ratio of one to three, relative to England was to be continued, and a friendly relationship with England was still to be striven for.

DR SIEMERS: What impression did Blomberg have after this speech? What did he say to you afterwards?

RAEDER: I believe Blomberg himself in a questionnaire stated to Field Marshal Keitel that when we military men left the room Blomberg, who was with the Fuhrer frequently, said that this again had not been meant so earnestly and was not to be judged so seriously. He believed that the Fuhrer would settle these questions peacefully, too. And as Dr. Siemers said, Blomberg and Fritsch had both already called the attention of the Fuhrer to the fact that under no circumstances should England and France be allowed to intervene, since the German Wehrmacht would not be able to cope with them.—-whenever I met the Führer, I told him, “Ceterum censeo, we must stay on the course in order to avoid entanglements with England.” And the Führer repeatedly confirmed this intention of his.—-This shows that it was again a question of exerting pressure. That was the speech of 5 November 1937. In fact he did not crush either Austria or Czechoslovakia at that time; but in 1938 the question was settled peacefully without bloodshed, and even with the agreement of the other powers.—-Hitler and Chamberlain jointly declared that the agreement signed the previous night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement were considered symbols of the desires of both nations never again to wage war against each other. The rest of the contents is well known.

– IMT VOL XIV, pp. 34-37

Frankly it’s astonishing how a book like ‘Rise and Fall’ can be based almost entirely on Nuremberg trial documents and yet Shirer somehow conveniently leaves out this admission by Admiral Raeder that would obliterate the document Shirer saw as the turning point in Hitler’s policy.

Echoing AJP Taylor, Alan Bullock too, author of the renowned groundbreaking biography of Hitler which is still a classic today and served as the basis for writing on the Third Reich praised even by Shirer as the standard work has also in its second edition published in 1962 criticized Shirer for his claims about the Hossbach document.

The significance of this meeting in November 1937 has been a subject of considerable controversy. It is surely wrong to suggest that this was the occasion when ‘the die was cast. Hitler had communicated his irrevocable decision to go to war.’ Hitler was far too skilful a politician to make an irrevocable decision on a series of hypothetical assumptions. Far from working to a time table, he was an opportunist, prepared to profit by whatever turned up, to wait for the mistakes made by others. For the best part of two years after November 1937, Hitler used all his skill to draw the maximum advantage from diplomacy backed by the threat of force without actual resort to the means of war. It is far more probable, therefore, that the reason for the meeting which Hossbach recorded was to override the doubts about the pace of rearmament expressed by General Fritsch, and earlier by Schacht, than to announce some newly conceived decision to commit Germany to a course deliberately aimed at war. But to look for such a decision is to misunderstand the character of Hitler’s foreign policy and his responsibility for the war which followed. For while Hitler’s tactics were always those of an opportunist, the aim of his foreign policy never changed from its first definition in Mein Kampf in the 1920s to the attack on Russia in 1941: German expansion towards the East. Such a policy, as Hitler explicitly recognized in Mein Kampf, involved the use of force and the risk of war. He repeated this in November 1937: ‘Germany’s problem could only be solved by force and this was never without attendant risk.’ What changed was not the objective or the means, but Hitler’s judgement of the risks he could afford to run.

Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1962), pp. 369-370

Telford Taylor similarly although more accepting of the Hossbach memo perhaps because he was a lawyer on the Counsel for the Prosecution at Nuremberg nevertheless doesn’t find it to be a blueprint for war but simply a “general strategic orientation”.

Hitler certainly did not mean to exclude other favorable contingencies, not yet foreseeable, which might arise. The burden of his song was that the Wehrmacht must be ready to strike quickly should opportunity knock.

Of course, the import of the Hossbach meeting has been overstated. Hitler offered nothing so precise as a “blueprint for aggression,” but rather a general strategic orientation. Nor was there was there a decision “to go to war,” as Shirer and Görlitz put it, since war might be avoided. But there was, indisputably, a decision to go to war if necessary and at the most propitious moment–a decision to use military force, or the threat of military force, for the annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia, 1943-45 at the latest, and sooner if it could be done without serious risk of war with Britain and France.

Telford Taylor, Munich: The Price of Peace (Hodder and Stoughton, 1979), pp. 305

I feel confident that we can put a cork in the Hossbach memorandum[24][25][26].

No 4. : The Secret Directive of August 16th 1941.

Something many books do (in more or less the same wording, sometimes different) when quoting the Secret Directive of August 16th, 1941. is like Shirer have Hitler saying

He did not mind, he said, that the Russians had ordered partisan warfare behind the German lines;” “it enables us to eradicate everyone who opposes us”

William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), pp. 941

Or maybe J.F.C. Fuller who’s quote is a bit different and goes like this…

“the vast territories have to be pacified as soon as possible; this can best be achieved by shooting everybody who shows a wry face.” 

– J.F.C. Fuller, The Generalship of Alexander the Great/Purporting to quote R. Ilnytzky’s Russian World Ambitions and World Peace pp. 12-13

And finally, John Toland’s version from my personal favorite full length biography of Adolf Hitler, a good book around the same length as Shirers but certainly superior lacking the kind of adjectives you’d find in standard histories.

The Russians have now given an order for partisan warfare behind our front. This guerrilla activity again has some advantage for us; it enables us to exterminate everyone who opposes us.

– John Toland, Adolf Hitler, (New York: Anchor Books), pp. 677

These 3 quotes are entirely wrong. Fullers quote is an outright lie in fact, as it’s source doesn’t match up at all. When you refer to Pages 12-13 of R. Ilnytzky’s Russian World Ambitions and World peace[27] you’ll notice the absence of the words ‘eradicate, shoot and exterminate’. And there’s no reference to anybody at all, no human element which all 3 quotes above have. The quote from Ilnytzky goes like this…

The Russians have now given an order for guerilla-war behind our lines. This has its own advantage: it provides us with the opportunity to destroy whatever is against us

– R. Ilnytzky’s Russian World Ambitions and World Peace pp. 12-13 [28]

In fact Bormann who quotes the minutes of this conference says that shooting and deportation might be necessary measures. Thus it was not a definitive action being taken, let alone German policy, crucially it was a distinctive possibility.

The document goes on to talk about how Slavs, Czechs, Cossacks and/or Ukrainians cannot be allowed to carry weapons once occupied. The logic behind such a decision should be abundantly clear. When Germany attacked the Soviet Union, Stalin had ordered partisan warfare behind the German lines (Ibid. p. 13) in this context, the Germans had little choice but to act as ruthless occupiers so as to avoid any devastating setbacks that such activity could cause. Partisan warfare, as ordered by Stalin, was illegal under the Geneva Convention (Article 2 Section 3, 27th September, 1929) that the Soviet Union was not a signatory of in the first place while Germany was. Hitler had obeyed the Convention while fighting the Democracies, but he would not do so while fighting the Soviet Union. Nor should we have expected him to.

However, not even here when these groups designated in this document were to be relegated little more than second or third class citizens, is there mention of extermination/eradication of these groups. German policy since this time was to evolve and incorporate these groups into SS legions as well as the directives for independent socialist states[29]. There was no policy, plan or anything here, simply conferences of possibilities. This is a very good example of how these small and apparently incriminating documents can be selectively quoted and mis translated, which is why I am always sceptical even now of this document and others used to incriminate Germany. Not only is there incentive to do so, but it has been done many a time[30].

No 5. : The Reichstag Fire

 Shirer upholds the now thoroughly discredited historical lie that Hitler’s stormtroopers set fire to the Reichstag building in February 1933[31]. A lie which has been disregarded by the entire current day academic establishment on the Third Reich, from Richard Evans[32] to Ian Kershaw[33]. But nevertheless the same song and dance has been published again, and again, and again in Shirer’s book. As the 60th anniversary of ‘Rise and Fall’ approaches I’m sure they’ll do it then too.

The whole truth about the Reichstag fire will probably never be known. Nearly all those who knew it are now dead, most of them slain by Hitler in the months that followed. Even at Nuremberg the mystery could not be entirely unraveled, though there is enough evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that it was the Nazis who planned the arson and carried it out for their own political ends. From Goering’s Reichstag President’s Palace an underground passage, built to carry the central heating system, ran to the Reichstag building. Through this tunnel Karl Ernst, a former hotel bellhop who had become the Berlin S.A leader, led a small detachment of storm troopers on the night of February 27 to the Reichstag, where they scattered gasoline and self-igniting chemicals and then made their way quickly back to the palace the way they had come. At the same time a half-witted Dutch Communist with a passion for arson, Marinus van der Lubbe, had made his way into the huge, darkened and to him unfamiliar building and set some small fires of his own. This feeble-minded pyromaniac was a godsend to the Nazis, He had been picked up by the S.A. a few days before after having been overheard in a bar boasting that he had attempted to set fire to several public buildings and that he was going to try the Reichstag next. The coincidence that the Nazis had found a demented Communist arsonist who was out to do exactly what they themselves had determined to do seems incredible but is nevertheless supported by the evidence. The idea for the fire almost certainly originated with Goebbels and Goering.

– William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), pp. 192

I seriously have to wonder if Shirer expects us to believe this rubbish. Because I do not. What kind of convenient wizardry is it that the National Socialists just happen to be listening in on the Communist who’s a mad pyromaniac that’s going to try and light the Reichstag on fire? Why not just let him do it instead of wasting their own time, risking their own necks to do something someone else, the enemy no less was going to do for you? On what evidence does Shirer base his previous assertion that the Nazis were going to set the Reichstag ablaze? None that I can see, and none that the Nuremberg trials could determine as Shirer himself admits.

Cover of the Putnam 1964 Edition

The standard work on the Reichstag fire by Fritz Tobias[31] first appeared in 1963 (Secker & Warburg, London) two years after the publication of Shirer’s book, in which he (Tobias) decimated the lie that the National Socialists had anything to do with the fire, and in all that time until his death Shirer never went back to make revisions to his book. He sat on it, writing anti-germanic afterwords in 1990 not ignorant, simply willing to lie by omission about new evidence that appeared and not correcting what he’d written. There is no excuse for this other than maliciousness.

The same point is illustrated in the story of the Reichstag fire. Everyone knows the legend. The Nazis wanted an excuse for introducing Exceptional Laws of political dictatorship; and themselves set fire to the Reichstag in order to provide this excuse. Perhaps Goebbels arranged the fire, perhaps Goering; perhaps Hitler himself did not know about the plan beforehand. At any rate somehow, the Nazis did it. This legend has now been shot to pieces by Fritz Tobias, in my opinion decisively. The Nazis had nothing to do with the burning of the Reichstag. The young Dutchman, van der Lubbe, did it all alone, exactly as he claimed. Hitler and the other Nazis were taken by surprise. They genuinely believed that the Communists had started the fire; and they introduced the Exceptional Laws because they genuinely believed that they were threatened with a Communist rising. Certainly there was a prepared list of those who should be arrested. But not prepared by the Nazis. It had been prepared by Goering’s predecessor: the Social Democrat, Severing. Here again there is no ‘vindication’ of Hitler, only a revision of his methods. He expected an opportunity to turn up; and one did. Of course the Communists, too, had nothing to do with the burning of the Reichstag. But Hitler thought they had. He was able to exploit the Communist danger so effectively largely because he believed in it himself. This, too, provides a parallel with Hitler’s attitude later in international affairs. When other countries thought that he was preparing aggressive war against them, Hitler was equally convinced that these others intended to prevent the restoration of Germany as an independent Great Power. His belief was not altogether unfounded.

– A.J.P. Taylor, Origins of the Second World War, pp 12

This example is one of the bigger lies and more well known comparatively to the others. However, if you talk to anyone about Nazi Germany and they know about the Reichstag fire it’s likely they’ll dribble out this lie perpetuated by Shirer; I think attributing it to him as the origin wouldn’t be accurate. Although he certainly did proliferate it through the generations with his widely read and popular book. But that’s really all it is, popular history, not real history.

A Few More Thoughts

Alfred Rosenberg, the befuddled Balt and officially the leading Nazi thinker, who had been as we have seen one of Hitler’s early mentors in the Munich days. On April 20 the Fuehrer appointed him “Commissioner for the Central Control of Questions Connected with the East-European Region” —-Rosenberg’s voluminous file were captured intact; like his books, they make dreary reading and will not be allowed to impede this narrative

– William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), pp. 832
Alfred Rosenberg and Adolf Hitler

Shirer here dismisses Rosenberg’s works and doesn’t consider them worth quoting because it would ‘impede’ on his Germanophobic work. Or rather, it has nothing particularly damning that’s worth quoting so Shirer simply dismisses it.

So why mention it in any capacity? I would guess to simply address it even if it does mean Shirer just simply got bored and couldn’t stomach the real research it takes to actually investigate the literature of the people you’re writing about to establish whether or not what you write about them has any basis in fact.

Not very journalistic of one of the most lauded “journalists” of the 20th century. I’m sure he just thought it’d save time to read the volumes of the IMT instead. That way he could ignore what he didn’t like, take what the IMT said as gospel and thereby avoiding any original research. After all that he could just plop out this book ready to be consumed by the information deprived, hate primed mass readership of the ‘victorious allies’. Ultimately his ‘narrative’ is a work of popular history, not objective fact, and thus he’s only interested in the horror stories, true or untrue so this shouldn’t really be of any surprise.

The other reason which may explain why he doesn’t quote Rosenberg has been shown in more recent literature where he’s been more so vindicated in his role of being a very moderating force of so-called “Nazi” Slavophobia[34][35].


His works and testimony to the Nuremberg trials make clear the confusion he had of the term “Master race” commonly attributed to National Socialism and it’s attribution found to be linked primarily to Rosenbergs ‘The Myth of the 20th Century”[36]. On this he elaborates:

DR. THOMA: Then I should like to ask the defendant how he will answer the charge that National Socialism preached a master race.

ROSENBERG: I know that this problem is the main point of the Indictment, and I realize that at present, in view of the number of terrible incidents, conclusions are automatically drawn about the past and the reason for the origin of the so-called racial science. I believe, however, that it is of decisive importance in judging this problem to know exactly what we were concerned with.

I have never heard the word “master race” (“Herrenrasse”) as often as in this courtroom. To my knowledge, I did not mention or use it at all in my writings. I leafed through my Writings and Speeches again and did not find this word. I spoke only once of super humans as mentioned by Homer , and I found a quotation from a British author, who in writing about the life of Lord Kitchener said the Englishman who had conquered the world had proved himself as a creative superman (Herrenmensch). Then I found the word “master race” (“Herrenrasse”) in a writing of the American ethnologist, Madison Grant, and of the French ethnologist, Lapouge.

I would like to admit, however-and not only to admit, but to emphasize-that the word “superman” (Herrenmensch) came to my attention particularly during my activity as Minister in the East- and very unpleasantly-when used by a number of leaders of the administration in the East. Perhaps when we come to the question of the East, I may return to this subject in detail and state what position I took in regard to these utterances which came to my attention. In principle, however, I was convinced that ethnology was, after all, not an invention of the National Socialist movement, but a biological discovery, which was the conclusion of 400 years of European research. The laws of heredity discovered in the 1860’s, and rediscovered several decades later, enable us to gain a deeper insight into history than many other earlier theories. Accordingly, race . . .

– Rosenberg, Nuremberg Trial Proceedings Volume 11, pp. 450[37]

For more information on Shirer and the ‘Master Race’ canard I would suggest reading the website of Carlos Whitlock Porter[38]. He’s gone through all the major histories on the Nazi period and documented each time the phrase has been used, and whether it’s been quoted or simply said by the authors. Porter says

“Master Race” is apparently not a word used by serious writers.  Wherever you find the word “Master Race” you generally find references to Hermann Rauschning, not because they are related, but because you are dealing with sensationalists. The more academic and “serious” a writer, the less likely he will be to use the term “Master Race”. There is no such thing as a “Master Race” theory or doctrine or basic principle.  To sum up, “Master Race” is a sort of neo-Marxist smear word, rarely used by serious people. It is tossed about for purposes of irony or sarcasm by wartime and post-war anti-Nazi writers. You will probably never see it in a quotation from any real life National Socialist. Some post-war neo-Nazis, maybe. Himmler always uses these terms sarcastically, I count 4 times so far. Apart from Erich Koch in one Nuremberg Trial document, I have yet to find one single National Socialist who uses the term in the sense alleged by anti-Nazi propagandists.

Use of Word “Master Race” in Standard Literature By C.W. Porter

There’s not much to like. But there’s still some that can be gleamed. My favorite section of ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ would have to be Chapter 8 ‘Life in the Third Reich 1933-1937’ pp. 231-233. These pages are by far the most illuminating in how Hitler’s popular dictatorship is displayed. Especially contrasted against the Soviet Union. The new Germany was open for all the world to see, Hitler and the top Nazis had nothing to hide and didn’t pretend otherwise. Nazi Germany became tolerable to even the staunchest anti-nazis, sceptics too could come and experience the new Germany and leave again without hostility.

There was much that impressed, puzzled and troubled a foreign observer about the new Germany. The overwhelming majority of Germans did not seem to mind that their personal freedom had been taken away—-Yet the Nazi Terror in the early years affected the lives of relatively few Germans and a newly arrived observer was somewhat surprised to see that the people of this country did not seem to feel that they were being cowed and held down by an unscrupulous and brutal dictatorship. On the contrary, they supported it with genuine enthusiasm. Somehow it imbued them with a new hope and a new confidence and an astonishing faith in the future of their country. Hitler was liquidating the past, with all its frustrations and disappointments. Step by step, and rapidly (as we shall see in detail later), he was freeing Germany from the shackles of Versailles, confounding the victorious Allies and making Germany militarily strong again. This was what most Germans wanted and they were willing to make the sacrifices which the Leader demanded of them to get it—-By the autumn of 1936 the problem of unemployment had been largely licked, almost everyone had a job again and one heard workers who had been deprived of their trade-union rights joking, over their full dinner pails, that at least under Hitler there was no more freedom to starve. ”Gemein-nutz vor Eigennutz!” (The Common Interest before Self!) was a popular Nazi slogan in those days.–there was no doubt that the masses were taken in by the new ”National Socialism” which ostensibly put the welfare of the community above one’s personal gain.[…] The racial laws which excluded the Jews from the German community seemed to a foreign observer to be a shocking throwback to primitive times, but since the Nazi racial theories exalted the Germans as the salt of the earth and the master race they were far from being unpopular. […] The Germans heard vaguely in their censored press and broadcasts of the revulsion abroad but they noticed that it did not prevent foreigners from flocking to the Third Reich and seemingly enjoying its hospitality. For Nazi Germany, much more than Soviet Russia, was open for all the world to see. The tourist business thrived and brought in vast sums of badly needed foreign currency. Apparently the Nazi leaders had nothing to hide. A foreigner, no matter how anti-Nazi, could come to Germany and see and study what he liked – with the exception of the concentration camps and, as in all countries, the military installations. And many did. And many returned who if they were not converted were at least rendered tolerant of the ”new Germany” and believed that they had seen, as they said, ”positive achievements.” Even a man as perspicacious as Lloyd George, who had led England to victory over Germany in 1918, and who in that year had campaigned with an election slogan of ”Hang the Kaiser” could visit Hitler at Obersalzberg in 1936 and go away enchanted with the Fuehrer and praise him publicly as ”a great man” who had the vision and the will to solve a modern nation’s social problems – above all, unemployment, a sore which still festered in England and in regard to which the great wartime Liberal leader with his program We Can Conquer Unemployment had found so little interest at home. Also, in contrast to the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany permitted all but a few thousand of its citizens who were in the black book of the secret police to travel abroad—-The point is that the Nazi rulers did not seem to be worried that the average German would be contaminated by anti-Nazism if he visited the democratic countries. […] especially those from England and America, were greatly impressed by what they saw: apparently a happy, healthy, friendly people united under Hitler – a far different picture, they said, than they had got from reading the newspaper dispatches from Berlin.

– William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), pp. 231-233


On the whole, you can drop Shirer and stroll more recently trimmed fields. His book is at its core an abridged edition of the Nuremberg trials, out of date, biased and an easy monolith to rely upon. If you were to follow every citation lord knows how many minor and major errors you would find, it would hardly bare counting. As the great Greek historian Polybius said “When one or two false statements have been discovered in a history, and they have been shown to be willful, it is clear that nothing which such an historian may say can be regarded as certain or trustworthy.” (Histories, 12.25) “, and Shirer is guilty of many more than simply two.

Like me, I hope anyone reading this will think more critically about what is written about Nazi Germany. Shirer’s book will be resigned to the role of mere bookshelf decoration, a brick like volume that will invoke shock at the emblazoned swastika on the spine, and when that happens you can merely discuss what you liked, didn’t like and what you now know is false.

Notes and Sources


[2] ‘The speaker that evening was Barbara Tuchman– She then asked me why I was writing about Hitler, and I said “I think that he was the greatest mover and shaker of our century. He changed all of our lives, and I’m going to try to tell the objective story of Hitler.” She then said to me: “Toland, nobody is objective.” And I replied, “Speak for yourself, Barbara.”, – John Toland, Living History, From remarks presented to the Tenth International Revisionist Conference, October 1990

[3] R.H.S. Stolfi, Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny

[4] “With Hitler, the perceived danger is that biography demands, or at least suggests, some empathy with its subject and a resulting understanding–and even admiration. The writers on the subject of Hitler have taken the view that rehabilitation is unthinkable, and in such a situation, they have presented verbal portraits that are either half empty or but lightly sketched-in. In the former case, we glimpse the antipathetic half of the verbal canvas with the remaining half empty. In the latter, we observe the entire face but see an image with half the clarifying lines missing.” – R.H.S. Stolfi, Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny, pp. 11

[5] Elizabeth Wiskemann concluded in a review that the book was “not sufficiently scholarly nor sufficiently well written to satisfy more academic demands. – Wiskemann, Elizabeth. International Affairs, Vol. 37, No. 2. (April 1961)



[8] Renowned “Nazi hunter” Simon Wiesenthal repeated the soap tale in a series of articles published in 1946 in the Austrian Jewish community paper Der Neue Weg. In the first of these he wrote: “During the last weeks of March the Romanian press reported an unusual piece of news: In the small Romanian city of Folticeni twenty boxes of soap were buried in the Jewish cemetery with full ceremony and complete funeral rites. This soap had been found recently in a former German army depot. On the boxes were the initials RIF, `Pure Jewish Fat.’ These boxes were destined for the Waffen-SS. The wrapping paper revealed with completely cynical objectivity that this soap was manufactured from Jewish bodies. Surprisingly, the thorough Germans forgot to describe whether the soap was produced from children, girls, men or elderly persons.” – note 18.

[9] William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990), pp. 971.





[14] William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster), pp. 150

[15] See: IHR Journal, Fall 1983, pp. 378 ff.; H. W. Koch, Aspects of the Third Reich, pp. 13 f.) See also (Wolfgang Hänel, Hermann Rauschning’s ‘Gespräche mit Hitler’ — Eine Geschichtsfälschung, published by the Zeitgeschichtliche Forschungsstelle Ingolstadt in 1984.)

[16] David Irving, Hitler’s War and The War Path (Focal Point Publishing ,2002), pp xiv-xv

[17] Emery Reeves (the very man who was to assist Rauschning in the fabrication of his Hitler Speaks), H.W. Koch also in Aspects of the Third Reich, pp. 55

[18] Weinberg, Gerhard Review of Der erzwungene Krieg pages 104-105 from The American Historical Review, Volume 68, No. 1, October 1962 page 104

[19] Hitler’s remarks on this evening, as written down by colonel Hossbach, deal exclusively with Lebensraum in Czechoslovakia and with the Union of Austria. There is no talk even once of Lebensraum in Eastern Europe. – G. Schultze Rhonhof, The War that Had Many Fathers, 6th edition LuLu publishing 2011, pp. 386

[20] See: Dankwart Kluge, Das Hossbach-‘Protokoll,’, 1980.; IHR Journal, Fall 1983, p. 372 ff.; A.J.P. Taylor, An Old Man’s Diary, London: 1984, p. 154.) 

[21] G. Schultze Rhonhof, The War that Had Many Fathers, 6th edition LuLu publishing 2011, pp. 380-389

[22] Hitler and the Origins of the Second World War. Second Thoughts on the Status of Some of the Documents H. W. Koch The Historical Journal Vol. 11, No. 1 (1968), pp. 125-26, 129, 132-3

[23] Udo Walendy, Who Started World War Two?, Castle Hill publishers 2014, pp. 349-352





[28] Ibid

[29] William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011), pp. 830-34.

[30] Panagiotis Heliotis, The Holocaust: A New History (Inconvenient History, Vol 9. No. 4)

[31] Fritz Tobias, The Reichstag Fire, New York: 1964

[32] On the morning of 27 February, van der Lubbe spent his last remaining money on matches and firelighters. After checking the building to establish the best way in, he waited until nightfall, then gained entry to the empty and darkened Reichstag building at about nine in the evening. His senses sharpened in the dark by long practice thanks to his impaired vision, he first tried to set light to the furniture in the restaurant, then, on meeting with no success, he found his way into the debating chamber, where the curtains proved easily combustible. Soon, the wooden panelling was blazing and the fire had gained sufficient strength for the dome above the chamber to act as a kind of chimney, fanning the flames by creating an upward draught. Meanwhile, van der Lubbe rushed through the rest of the building attempting to start other fires. Eventually, he was caught and overpowered by Reichstag officials. By the time he was arrested, the building was ablaze, and the fire brigade, despite arriving promptly on the scene, could do nothing but dampen the ruins of the main chamber and do its best to save the rest. —- Subsequent investigation turned up a mass of documentary evidence confirming his story that he had been acting alone– Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich, (Penguin Allen Lane), pp. 329-330

[33] But on 27 February, Marinus Van Der Lubbe set fire to the Reichstag.—- The first members of the police to interrogate van der Lubbe, who had been immediately apprehended and had straight away confessed, proclaiming his ‘protest’, had no doubt that he had set fire to the building alone, that no one else was implicated – Ian Kershaw, Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris, pp. 456,456

[34] and

[35] Rumors of these atrocities distressed Rosenberg, ordered by Hitler to draw up a blueprint for occupation of the conquered Eastern territories. He had envisaged a far different program with a degree of self-rule. Since the Führer had earlier agreed to establish “weak socialist states” in the conquered lands of Russia, Rosenberg optimistically assumed that Hitler approved his own plan in principle and that it would be accepted at a special conference on the subject to be held at the Wolfsschanze on July 16. “It is essential,” said Hitler (according to Bormann’s notes of the meeting), “that we do not proclaim our views before the whole world. There is no need for that but the main thing is that we ourselves know what we want.” If this did not reveal to Rosenberg that Hitler had changed his mind about establishing “weak socialist states,”—-Although Rosenberg left the meeting with the title of Reich Minister of the East, it was a hollow one, for he realized his own dream of the East now had little chance to materialize. What a tragedy, he thought, that Hitler still maintained the false conception of Slavs, born during his youthful days in Vienna out of inflammatory pamphlets which described the Slavs as lazy primitives, a hopelessly second-class race. Equally disastrous was Hitler’s complete misunderstanding of the structure of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainians and other tribes under the yoke of the Great Russians were potential allies of the Third Reich and could be a bulwark of defense against Bolshevism if treated properly and given a measure of self-rule. But the Führer had been persuaded by Bormann and Göring that they were enemies to be controlled by the whip. The struggle to turn Hitler from this path seemed hopeless but Rosenberg resolved to keep trying. – John Toland, Adolf Hitler, (New York Anchor Books), pp. 677

[36] Alfred Rosenberg’s Wikipedia page tried to pretend that in ‘The Myth of the 20th Century’ Rosenberg: “placed Blacks and Jews at the very bottom of the ladder, while at the very top stood the white “Aryan” race. Rosenberg promoted the Nordic Theory which regarded Nordics as the “master race”, superior to all others, including to other Aryans (Indo-Europeans).” However the sources/notes they provide for this in fact state the OPPOSITE in blind hope that whoever read this wouldn’t actually check to see the source nor the notes. Which read: “Though Rosenberg does not use the word “master race”. He uses the word “Herrenvolk” (i.e. ruling people) twice in his book The Myth, first referring to the Amorites (saying that Sayce described them as fair skinned and blue eyed) and secondly quoting Victor Wallace Germains’ description of the English in “The Truth about Kitchener”. (“The Myth of the Twentieth Century”) – Pages 26, 660 – 1930” This in no way supports their baseless claim that Rosenberg thought any race was the ‘master race’ in any ideological form, only that one race in context was a ‘ruling race’ in that they were ruling over others. Spot the difference. Their other oh so ‘damning’ quote is in fact the complete opposite of Allied propaganda proclaiming the Nazis believed in a ‘pure aryan race’ (not that there’s anything wrong with that, there isn’t): “Rosenberg wrote: “No people of Europe is racially homogeneous, also Germany is not. According to the latest research, we accept five races all of which reveal perceptibly different types. But it is beyond question that the true culture bearer for Europe has been in the first place the Nordic race. Great heroes, artists and founders of states have grown from this blood.” The Myth of the Twentieth Century (1930) p.576″ If the Wikipedia police really thought this supported their baseless assertion whoever wrote it must be blind.


[38] also see the amount of times in which Shirer has lied is truly tedious for anyone seriously wishing to gain a serious and truthful view of the period.

6 thoughts on “Criticizing William L Shirer’s ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany’

  1. Hi, I am grateful that I’ve stumbled upon this article while I am considering to buy this book. I had already listening to its audiobook version, but I had to stop because somehow I feel like the book is not giving a neutral view regarding Third Reich or AH (its like watching the documentary Nazi: A Warning From The Past).

    Could you please recommend me a good books that offers genuinely neutral view on this matter? I know perhaps it would be rather “unpopular” thus a rare book to find, but I really want to know from a neutral view point.

    Thank you in advance and I am sorry for my broken English.

    NB I’ve leave this same comment at your wordpress site before I found out about this one, apologies.

    1. Unfortunately nobody has yet written a comprehensive and unbiased history of the Third Reich.

      You will have to read multiple different books to get a more well-rounded picture.

      I would recommend R.H.S. Stolfi’s “Hitler Beyond Evil and Tyranny”, as well as Richard Tedor’s “Hitler’s Revolution”. Anything by David Irving is also very good, especially in comparison to the standard histories.

      1. Hi Nigel,

        Thank you very much for your reply, and for your suggestion regarding the books, and for saving me from spend my money on the Rise and Fall book.

        I will purchase Stolfi’s book (looks very very promising for me) and already buy Tedor’s. I just started listening to Ian Kershaw’s Hitler series, is that also a good book?

        Since you’ve mentioned David Irving, it comes to my memory that many years ago I actually found one of his books (about the Dresden bombing if I recall correctly) sitting in my dad’s book collection. Idk how that book ended there, since we Indonesians rarely pay any attention to Third Reich (and my dad didn’t even read English!).

        Anyways thank you again for your reply. Hopefully I will satisfy my curiosity and learn more about this matter–as in my personal viewpoint, this becomes very important nowadays.

        I hope I can interact with you again someday if I have any questions.

        1. It’s my pleasure. I’m happy to help!

          Kershaw’s books aren’t as bad as Shirer, but they’re not much better either.

          If you want to read a biography about Hitler, I would recommend you read John Toland’s ‘Adolf Hitler’ and Norman Stone’s ‘Hitler’. Any books by Leon Degrelle are also wonderful. If you were going to read a more modern mainstream and detailed biography I think Volker Ullrich’s two volumes are much more accessible. He goes some way in correcting Kershaw’s skewed version of Hitler as someone who had ‘no life outside of politics’. Rainer Zitelmann has also written some good books about Hitler and National Socialism, however they’re mostly in German, except for his excellent ‘Hitler: The Policies of Seduction’. Lastly, I would recommend you read Frederic Spotts’ ‘Hitler and the Power of Aesthetics’.

          You’ll also find some great articles here:

          Regards, good luck on your reading!

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