I received a copy of A Village in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd and Angelika Patel from NetGalley. It follows the ordinary lives of people in a picturesque village in the Bavarian Alps called Oberstdorf. This non-fiction book tells us the story of how fascism affected the simple lives of these people even in a far corner of Germany before, during, and after World War II.
Oberstdorf is a beautiful village in the Bavarian Alps. A place where, for hundreds of years people lived a simple life, and most villagers were farmers. After the end of World War I, is when things started to change for the village. In the beginning, the author takes us through the immediate chaos that followed after the war, especially due to the defeat and later, the Treaty of Versailles. The German people struggled to get even the basic things or couldn’t afford them at all because of hyperinflation. Such difficult times led to rising of fascism in the country during that time.
It was a little difficult for me to remember all the names of the villagers mentioned, even though there is a list at the end. Other than that one issue, it was a fascinating read. All the stories of the villagers are drawn from archives or interviews and articles. It depicts a picture of how life changed for the people. A village this far would be seemingly unaffected, but that wasn’t the case. The effects of the Nazi regime were felt in their lives from the start. Though there were people who tried to help others as much as possible, be it by simply overlooking errors in the paperwork or actively risking life to save others. The consequence could have been horrible for anyone involved in such activities, whatever the case.
I am interested in history and so, I have read a lot related to it even about World War II. The book gave me a whole new perspective into the life of the German people after the First World War and during the tumultuous times of the Nazi regime. It explained in detail the chain of events that led to the rise of Fascism and the consequences that followed. The neutral tone of the narration is a huge plus because otherwise, it can be really easy to generalize people and make a judgment. It gave me a new insight and objective view of the events. Reading does become difficult, especially in certain parts of the book, because it is actual history. I needed to take a break for a day or two after these parts of the book.
The book is well researched. This adds the authenticity it needs for a historical book. Julia Boyd and Angelika Patel have maintained a certain tone. It has been a long time since I read a non-fiction book. This book is an interesting read, and it is different than the historical fiction of the time I have read before. It does get too much and, is not something I will necessarily go back to again, but it is an authentic book. It shows the cultural, social, and political upheaval in the village.
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