The best books on Nazi Germany 📚

Browse the best books on Nazi Germany as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Fatherland

Fatherland

By Robert Harris

Why this book?

Fatherland was Robert Harris’s first book and arguably one of his finest. A portrait of functional totalitarian evil, it is a projection of what might have happened if Hitler won the war - the first of this genre. I loved it for both the visceral atmosphere of Berlin under fascism albeit futuristic and also the very fallible moral quandary of the German detective protagonist. Originally recommended by a Dutch boyfriend of mine, I found it both terrifying - I genetically would not have existed under such a regime - and fascinating. The other thing I love about this book is…
From the list:

The best thrillers to educate, illuminate, and escape into guilt-free

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Book cover of Winter: The Tragic Story of a Berlin Family 1899-1945

Winter: The Tragic Story of a Berlin Family 1899-1945

By Len Deighton

Why this book?

While technically a prequel to Deighton’s well-known Cold War Game, Set, Match trilogy, Winter can certainly be read as a standalone novel. As the subtitle indicates, this is a book about a family. But really, this is a novel about two brothers, Peter and Pauli. The evolution of their relationship over the course of nearly half a century, 1900-1945, is the foundation on which Deighton explores this tumultuous period of German history. From their innocent and carefree youth in the late Wilhelmine period, to the trauma of their military service during the First World War, through the rise and rule…

From the list:

The best fiction books set during the Third Reich

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Book cover of A Social History of the Third Reich. Richard Grunberger

A Social History of the Third Reich. Richard Grunberger

By Richard Grunberger

Why this book?

The Nazis developed a unique social structure of total compliance with fear and terror just out of sight. The work describes family life struggling with the ritual of Nazism from the privileged elite, the average German family seeking some normality to the open oppression of the Jews.

From the list:

The best books on the rise and fall of the Third Reich

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Book cover of Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany

Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany

By Marthe Cohn, Wendy Holden

Why this book?

Marthe Cohn played a major role in the final year of World War II, spying for the French troops in Germany. She grew up in Metz, France speaking flawless French and German, and became a spy when members of her family and friends were tortured and killed. Faced with death many times, she survived to be decorated by the French government and finally told the story to her children. She lived for many years in Palos Verdes, California, where I live. When I heard her speak, I couldn’t believe that a woman who never reached five feet could have done…

From the list:

The best fiction and nonfiction books about spies

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Book cover of Art, Ideology, and Economics in Nazi Germany: The Reich Chambers of Music, Theater, and the Visual Arts

Art, Ideology, and Economics in Nazi Germany: The Reich Chambers of Music, Theater, and the Visual Arts

By Alan E. Steinweis

Why this book?

This is one of the most influential studies of cultural politics in Nazi Germany which takes as its focus the bureaucracy Joseph Goebbels charged with integrating pre-National Socialist artists and their organizations into the new cultural and political order. Noteworthy, of course, throughout Steinweis’s masterpiece of institutional reconstruction, is the revelation that National Socialist aesthetic preferences were not novel but represented the appropriation of the prevailing conservative taste dominant in the late Weimar Republic.

From the list:

The best books on art and aesthetics in Nazi Germany

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Book cover of Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich

Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich

By Jeffrey Herf

Why this book?

Another highly original study—of the confluence of politics, technology, and culture in Nazi Germany as a holdover from tendencies already present in the Weimar Republic. Herf’s striking and influential phrase, “reactionary modernism,” encapsulates the seeming paradox of a future-oriented and technologically advanced regime that nonetheless adopted a seemingly archaic symbolic vernacular. 

From the list:

The best books on art and aesthetics in Nazi Germany

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