William Shirer published Berlin Diary in 1941, the year following his departure as a correspondent from Berlin. While the book derives largely from contemporaneous notes, it is not the transcript of a daily ledger. There was difficulty getting his notes out of Germany, considerable danger being attached should they be discovered at the border. At the least, such inflammatory material would have been confiscated. A consequence is that Shirer composed the bulk of the book once safely outside Nazi Germany. This is one of a series reviewing the book.
The previous post includes Shirer’s account of his visit to Nuremberg in September 1934 to cover the annual Nazi rally. It highlights impressions he gained observing the Nazis first hand. In October Shirer and his wife Theresa (Tess) settled into a more or less permanent home in Berlin. Shirer began to observe life under Nazi rule:
BERLIN, October 9
We’ve taken a comfortable studio flat in the Tauenzienstrasse. The owner, a Jewish sculptor, says he is getting off for England while the getting is good— probably a wise man. He left us a fine German library, which I hope I will get time to use.
Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 306-308). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
Shirer’s Jewish landlord is representative of the situation of German Jews in the 1930s. Hitler never made a secret of his desire to eliminate German (European?) Jewry, and Jews came under immediate oppression when the Nazis took power in 1933. Two out of every three were to die by 1945. The landlord was one of the lucky ones.
Shirer continues to observe the dissolution of European society. The same day:
LATER.— On my eight o’clock call to the Paris office tonight, they told me that the King of Yugoslavia had been assassinated at Marseille this afternoon and that Louis Barthou, the French Foreign Minister, had been badly wounded. Berlin will not be greatly disappointed, as King Alexander seemed disposed to work more closely with the French bloc against Germany, and Barthou had been doing some good work in strengthening French alliances in eastern Europe and in attempting
Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 311-315). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
Adolf Hitler was born and raised a Catholic, and was a choir boy in the church. Despite his impious reputation, Hitler never renounced his faith, even reaffirming it in at least one communication. However, it was necessary for Nazism to dominate, and the Christian churches represented an opposing authority Hitler needed to bring into line:
BERLIN, November 15
Not much news these days. Have been covering the fight in the Protestant church. A section of the Protestants seem to be showing more guts in the face of Gleichschaltung (co-ordination) than the Socialists or Communists did. But I think Hitler will get them in the end and gradually force on the country a brand of early German paganism which the “intellectuals” like Rosenberg are hatching up.
Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 316-319). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
Complete political control requires elimination of opposing thought, and control of the public education system is a goal appreciated, even in the United States, by certain political factions. The same day:
Bernhard Rust, the Nazi Minister of Education, was the speaker, but my mind wandered during his speech. Rust is not without ability and is completely Nazifying the schools. This includes new Nazi textbooks falsifying history— sometimes ludicrously.
Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 325-327). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
German rearmament, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, was an open secret that the Allies, victors in the previous war, found it convenient to ignore. Why stir the pot? The secret was becoming less so:
BERLIN, November 28
Much talk here that Germany is secretly arming, though it is difficult to get definite dope, and if you did get it and sent it, you’d probably be expelled.
Shirer, William L.. Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941 (Kindle Locations 327-329). RosettaBooks. Kindle Edition.
This rounds out the year 1934. Shirer came to Germany during that year, and the full nature of Nazism was becoming apparent. The following year, 1935, was the year during which Nazi Germany began to assert itself on the world stage. Hints of Hitler’s plan for expansion began to show through to anybody with sufficient vision. The following installment of this series will cover that year entirely.