They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45

Written by:
Milton Mayer
Narrated by:
Michael Page

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
May 2017
10 hours 23 minutes
First published in 1955, They Thought They Were Free is an eloquent and provocative examination of the development of fascism in Germany. Milton Mayer's book is a study of ten Germans and their lives from 1933-45, based on interviews he conducted after the war when he lived in Germany. Mayer had a position as a research professor at the University of Frankfurt and lived in a nearby small Hessian town which he disguised with the name 'Kronenberg.' 'These ten men were not men of distinction,' Mayer noted, but they had been members of the Nazi Party; Mayer wanted to discover what had made them Nazis.
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Daniel L.

Important story for our times. Written soon after WW2, while memories were fresh. This book tries to answer the question: How did so many Germans end up going along with the Nazi program (with or without enthusiasm)? The first two sections of the book do a great job of setting the scene as 'National Socialism' gained power and then delving into the material, psychological and emotional aftermath. The final section of the book is written from the perspective of the depth of the cold war -- with Germany seeming to be lined up as the first battleground of WW3. This last section is interesting in retrospect as it speculated much on how the cold war would develop, but it is not what I came to the book for. I started reading this book before I switched over to audiobook. The author has a very unique perspective as a German-American jew returning to the land of his parents after the war. His perspective is very much part of the story. Unfortunately, Michael Page's clipped, *very* British accent was not at all the voice I had in my head -- I found it distracting.

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