Village in the Third Reich: How Ordinary Lives Were Transformed by the Rise of Fascism
A Waterstones Paperback of the Year 2022
‘Fascinating… You’ll learn more about the psychological workings of Nazism by reading this superbly researched chronicle… than you will by reading a shelf of wider-canvas volumes on the rise of Nazism.’ Daily Mail
‘An utterly absorbing insight into the full spectrum of responses from ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.’ The Times
‘Boyd is an outstanding micro-historian.’ iNews
Hidden deep in the Bavarian mountains lies the picturesque village of Oberstdorf – a place where for hundreds of years people lived simple lives while history was made elsewhere.
Yet even this remote idyll could not escape the brutal iron grip of the Nazi regime.
From the author of the bestselling Travellers in the Third Reich comes A Village in the Third Reich: an extraordinarily intimate portrait of Germany under Hitler, shining a light on the lives of ordinary people. Drawing on personal archives, letters, interviews and memoirs, it lays bare their brutality and love; courage and weakness; action, apathy and grief; hope, pain, joy and despair.
Within its pages we encounter people from all walks of life – foresters, priests, farmers and nuns; innkeepers, Nazi officials, veterans and party members; village councillors, mountaineers, socialists, slave labourers, schoolchildren, tourists and aristocrats. We meet the Jews who survived – and those who didn’t; the Nazi mayor who tried to shield those persecuted by the regime; and a blind boy whose life was judged ‘not worth living’.
This is a tale of conflicting loyalties and desires, of shattered dreams – but one in which, ultimately, human resilience triumphs.
These are the stories of ordinary lives at the crossroads of history.
‘Exceptional… Boyd’s book reminds us that even the most brutal regimes cannot extinguish all semblance of human feeling’ Mail on Sunday
‘Masterly… [an] important and gripping book… [Boyd is] a leading historian of human responses in political extremis.’ The Oldie
‘Gripping… vividly depicted… [a] humane and richly detailed book’ Spectator
‘Vivid, moving stories leave us asking “What would I have done?”’ Professor David Reynolds, author of Island Stories
‘Laying bare the tragedies, the compromises, the suffering and the disillusionment. Exemplary microhistory.’ Roger Moorehouse, author of First to Fight
‘Compelling and evocative’ All About History
‘The rise of Nazi Germany through the prism of one small village in Bavaria. […] Astonishing’ Jane Garvey on Fortunately… with Fi and Jane
‘incredibly engaging’ History of War magazine
‘Intensely detailed, exhaustively researched and rendered in almost cinematographic detail, Julia Boyd’s A Village In The Third Reich is deeply evocative, redolent of those times and truly revelatory. I learned so much. This is a book I will need to return to again and again, to relearn, refresh and remember. A triumph.’ Damien Lewis, author of The Flame of Resistance