The major portion of Holocaust study focuses on the victims and the survivors of Nazi persecution, an understandable tendency. Recently, however, much attention has been given to the psychological motivations of Adolf Hitler and his followers. If the goal of Holocaust education is to prevent the recurrence of such a tragedy, then we must carefully study the people and circumstances that precipitated the rise of Nazism. Researchers now examine the cultural climate, the specific personalities, and the precise historical elements that came into play during Hitler's rise to power. Many then analyze the issue concerning Germany's awareness of the Holocaust that was taking place in its own backyard. The purpose of this examination is not to glorify the regime that brought such horror to the world, nor to assign blame to the German people, but rather to uncover and to learn from the intolerance and hatred that led to attempted eradication of an entire people from the face of the earth. Only by honestly facing Germany's past moral failure can we hope to instill in our own students the value of tolerating diversity and the courage of conviction that would stand against such brutal ideology. Each of the issues, problems, and dilemmas of the German Third Reich has parallels in current world events. With careful and close analysis of the Holocaust, the world can better understand how to protect itself against tyrannical elements at work today in all societies that threaten to undermine and degrade humanity.

Mein Kampf  (My Struggle)
 translated by Ralph Manheim

This work of Hitler's, written during a short stay in prison, was first published in 1925. It contains Hitler's own words about his youth, early days in the Nazi party, future plans for Germany, and ideas on politics and race. Hitler outlines his views of a racial, religious, and cultural hierarchy, placing "Aryans" at the top as the superior race, and Jews, Gypsies, and Slavic peoples at the bottom. He believed in a worldwide struggle for power between the Aryans and the Jews, a struggle that, in his view, could only end in complete Aryan domination. Hitler also states his goal or desire for expanding the Aryan race and acquiring more land for Germany. These revelations concerning the character of the world's most infamous dictator served as a warning to the world, but this warning was largely ignored. Today, hopefully, it can be studied for insight into the mental workings of an insane political genius. Recommended for high school students.

Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922 - August 1939
 edited by Norman H. Baynes

Extracts of Hitler's major political speeches are translated and edited by Norman H. Baynes. Recommended for high school students.

Hitler: A Study in Tyranny
 by Alan Bullock

Published in 1962, this in-depth volume by Oxford scholar Alan Bullock is considered the best general biography of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Because of this work, Hitler is far better understood than other dictators such as the secretive Joseph Stalin or the flamboyant Benito Mussolini. Bullock offers a liberal and rationalistic interpretation, analyzing the roles of economics and foreign affairs in Hitler's regime. A useful historical index is provided. Recommended for high school students.

The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda
 by David Welch

The correlation between politics, public opinion, and propaganda is firmly established. From his early days in politics, Hitler clearly understood the importance of manipulative propaganda, which was a central part of his plan to control the subjects of the Third Reich. David Welch analyzes the interaction between State-controlled Nazi propaganda and the various public reactions to it. Welch arrives at certain conclusions about the effectiveness and the limitations of Hitler's manipulation. Recommended for high school students.

In Hitler's Germany: Everyday Life in the Third Reich
 by Bernt Engelmann

Bernt Engelmann was only twenty-four when General Patton's Third Army liberated him from the Dachau concentration camp. In his book, he takes a journey back in time, visiting people and places he knew as a child growing up in Germany between the years 1933 and 1945. Looking back on the past, he asks questions such as, "What was everyday life like under Hitler? How was it on the job? How did family conversations go in the family parlor?" By focusing on average people living in Germany during the Third Reich, Engelmann examines the cultural climate that contributed to the moral collapse of a civilized nation. This account is based on the memories and actual recorded statements of Germans who lived through the Hitler era. Recommended for junior high school and high school students.

Hitler's Children: Sons and Daughters of the Leaders of the Third Reich Talk about Themselves and Their Fathers
 by Gerald Posner (with photos)

While interviewing the subjects of this book, Gerald Posner realized it is not easy to be sentenced to a life as the child of a Nazi war criminal. In a series of candid discussions, Posner speaks with the children of Reich leaders such as Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess, Joseph Mengele, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, and others who were the principal architects of Nazism. Most of these criminals were sentenced to death in either the main Nuremberg trial or in subsequent tribunals. The opinions and recollections of the children of these men shed a new light on the psychological motivations of Nazi leaders. Recommended for high school students.

War Without Friends
 by Evert Hartman

In this novel, Evert Hartman examines the psychological struggle of a young boy who grows up under the shadow of Nazism. Fourteen-year-old Arnold lives under the strict control of his father, a fanatical supporter of the Nazis and a member of the Dutch National Socialist Party. Pressured by his father, Arnold becomes a member of the Hitler Youth in his small Dutch town. He is scorned and alienated by his classmates, who believe him to be a German informer. Caught between these two forces, Arnold must wrestle with the increasing uneasiness of his conscience and make some tough choices. Recommended for junior high school and high school students.

I Was There
 by Hans Peter Richter (translated by Edite Kroll)

This powerful book is a first person account of daily events and attitudes of life in Germany during Hitler's reign. The author states, "I am reporting how I lived through that time and what I saw-- no more." In this work of historical fiction, three German boys, each in his own way, are caught up in the violence and power of the Third Reich. For different reasons, they join the Hitler Youth movement as young boys and then the infantry as teenagers. Although the reading level of this story is relatively easy, the issues are complex. Recommended for junior high students and high school students.

The Wave
 by Todd Strasser

This written version of a television drama is based on an actual classroom situation that occurred in 1969 in a high school history class during a unit on World War II. The teacher created a simulation, or experiment, called the Wave, to demonstrate to students how Nazism gained influence in Germany. In this fictionalized account, the teacher imposes a new system of rigid rules and regulations. Students have a special salute, a code of behavior, and a slogan that defines their principles: "Strength through Discipline, Strength through Community." In this new community, which attracts attention all over the school, students soon gain a sense of belonging that rapidly gets out of control. The teacher realizes that action must be taken to stop the experiment. Recommended for high school students.

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A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 1997-2013.

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