The Third Reich in 100 Objects: A Material History of Nazi Germany by Roger Moorhouse
|The Third Reich in 100 Objects: A Material History of Nazi Germany by Roger Moorhouse|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Fascinating and disturbingly intimate portrait of the Third Reich through an interrogation of its artefacts. Clear and coherent, it shed light on little known aspects of lie under the Nazi regime.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 272||Date: May 2020|
|Publisher: Greenhill Books|
What is the first image that comes to mind when you think of the Third Reich? Hitler? A swastika? The Nazi salute? The gate to a concentration camp? None of these are comfortable images but they are emblematic of the Third Reich's fascist regime in all its iniquity. But some objects and images from that time may be less familiar to you. In this short volume, Roger Moorhouse has attempted to illustrate the period of the Third Reich through one hundred of its material artefacts.
Some of the objects will be familiar to you - the Judenstern or yellow star that the persecuted Jews were forced to wear, a copy of Mein Kampf, the swastika flag, a Luger pistol - while others are more obscure - a forced labourer's work card, Hitler's moustache brush, a little toy figure - but together, they paint a detailed picture of the Nazi regime in both its overarching ideology and the little details of its endless intrusions into everyday life.
And there are surprises. It had never occurred to me, for example, that the jerrycan (object #46) - a fuel can of such perfect design it was immediately copied by both the British and American armies - was named because... well, you've got it. I'm sure many of you are scoffing as you read - how did she not know that? - but it's only obvious to we ingenues of military history once it's been pointed out. Moorhouse's choices of artefact include both the obscure and the quotidian and I guarantee there'll be something in there that strikes the same chime of surprise for you. The entry for the Wehrmacht mittens (object #87) - part of the winter combat uniform sent to German soldiers freezing on the Eastern Front - remarks grimly that the Eastern Front medal was nicknamed by its recipients as the Order of the Frozen Flesh. These little details pervade the book and are enlighten just as they shock, even today.
A note - the book doesn't work well on Kindle format. Images and text don't align perfectly and some impact is lost. I'd originally downloaded The Third Reich in 100 Objects after happening across it being talked about on social media and reading Helen Dale's (immensely superior) review but have now also bought the physical book, which I wish I'd done in the first place. I recommend you do too.
The Third Reich in 100 Objects is both fascinating and unsettling, and both intimate and repulsive. The Nazis may have reigned for little more than a decade but the effort they put into the art and design underpinning their regime has left us with a store of objects that still fascinate and revolt us today.
More intimate reflections on the Nazi regime can be found in The Perfect Nazi: Uncovering My SS Grandfather's Secret Past and How Hitler Seduced a Generation by Martin Davidson - Davidson - an erstwhile commissioning editor of history documentaries for the BBC - did not find out about his grandfather's past in the SS until after his death, when his mother finally told him the truth.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Third Reich in 100 Objects: A Material History of Nazi Germany by Roger Moorhouse at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Third Reich in 100 Objects: A Material History of Nazi Germany by Roger Moorhouse at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.