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  • The Good Germans

  • Resisting the Nazis, 1933-1945
  • By: Catrine Clay
  • Narrated by: Karen Cass
  • Length: 15 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (35 ratings)

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Summary

After 1933, as the terror regime took hold, most of the two-thirds of Germans who had never voted for the Nazis tried to keep their heads down and protect their families - they moved to the country or pretended to support the regime to avoid being denounced by neighbours and tried to work out what was really happening in the Reich, surrounded as they were by Nazi propaganda and fake news. 

The concentration camps, the invasions, the carnage on the front-lines - the horrors of Nazism are topics well-explored in Second World War history, but little is known about those who witnessed the rise of Nazism on the ground. How did ordinary Germans themselves experience the rule of Nazism? Catrine Clay recounts the personal stories of some who resisted the Nazis despite the full knowledge that they could be brutally sentenced to indefinite incarceration, torture or outright execution. And yet a remarkable number continued to resist: teachers, lawyers, factory and dock workers, housewives, shopkeepers, church members, trade unionists, army officers, aristocrats, Social Democrats, Socialists and Communists.

This is a story which has never been properly told, because for a long time after the war it was felt there was no such thing as a 'good' German. It is the story of ordinary, decent men and women faced with terrifying events and impossible decisions. Catrine Clay's groundbreaking book focuses on six very different characters, making them as wide a selection as possible: workers and aristocrats, Communists and conservatives, women as well as men, young as well as old. One of the six is Rudolf Ditzen, the already famous author Hans Fallada - best known for his novel Alone in Berlin. They are not seen in isolation but as part of their families: a brother and sister; a wife; a father with three children; an only son; the parents of a Communist pioneer daughter. Their stories are interwoven throughout the book, each experiencing the big events of Nazi history as they unfold in their own small lives - Good Germans all.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2020 Catrine Clay (P)2020 Orion Publishing Group

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A fantastic read. Many interesting people.

This has been one of favourite audio books to date.

I have studied the Nazi era for many years and this was a really refreshing take and I managed to learn a lot that I didn't already know. I'm definitely going to find further literature on Julius Leber and Ernst Thällman. The performance was delivered superbly.

2 people found this helpful

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Interesting but troubling

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. To many, the story of German resistance begins and ends with the July 20 plot and the failed coup attempt. The stories contained within this book go some way to adding depth and understanding to this subject. However, I do have some problems with the narrative. One fault is the simple perpetuation of the myth that the Reichstag fire was started by the Nazis as a pretext for mass arrests of communists. Richard J Evans has conclusively debunked this and all the evidence points to a lone wolf attack by Dutch communist, Marinus van der Lubbe as they German courts found at the time. The Nazis needed no such pretext. More grave, however is the charge that stems from the title, “The Good Germans.” The book, to my mind, reinforces the dichotomy that the Germans could be split in to two groups: Nazis = evil; ordinary Germans = good (and,by extension, resistors, or at least sympathetic to the resistance). This is very far from the truth. Without widespread approval, including at the ballot box, the Nazis would never have been able to go so far. The myth of the all knowing Gestapo has also been shown to be highly exaggerated. Within the Reich itself it was a much smaller organisation than might be imagined and relied heavily on denunciation for information. For ordinary Germans they may have feared the Gestapo and the concentration camps, but they were not directly affected by them. (Note: in countries occupied by the Nazis and the active resistance, both internal and foreign, the threat of the Gestapo and their methods of interrogation was all too real). This book shines great light on the inspirational resistance of Ernst Thälmann, Julius Leber and Fabien von Schlabrendorf among others, but it should not be forgotten that these people were in the tiny minority of Germans willing to oppose the Nazis. Statistics might be boring, but at least a chapter on putting these stories into a wider context might have been helpful.

1 person found this helpful

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fascinating listen

fascinating listen the history of the Germans against the Nazi regime shows that not all germans are bad

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant book

Loved it from the first minute. It was a real eye opener for me on the scale and sacrifice of the German resistance to the nazis and they're struggles. Would definitely recommend.

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fantastic

what a great read. It certainly puts paid to the myth that all Germans were nazis. Includes names I have heard before but mostly new to me. A book that I will listen to agsin.

1 person found this helpful

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An important book

A testimony to the best in people. Unimaginable cicumstances matched by unimaginable heroism. Truly inspiring.

1 person found this helpful

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A Lesson Learnt

Education for those of us who suspected there were many more nazis before the war than after. A little too much extraneous waffle, and more dramaric detail would have been enjoyed, but nevertheless an excellent read.

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Stunning

How wonderful to have these extraordinary people brought into my awareness, the love letters are enduring and so very moving. The way humanity loves in the midst of fear and death, is surely our great redeemer.

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What a weird narrator

Sorry, I couldn’t finish the book, I can hardly understand what the narrator is saying. It seems that the recording was made in a bathroom.
And the way she reads... It looks like it’s a first lecture for her.
Hard to understand for me how Aidible accepts such weird narrated books.

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Fascinating account

This is an extremely well researched and written book. It’s scope is wide yet the author captures the behaviour and experiences of many people. As she states very little was recounted of resisters from a left wing perspective and this provides interesting material alongside more commonly explored events.
Overall a great listen and read.