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A History of Hitler's Empire, 2nd Edition

Investigate how history's greatest monster rose to power in a highly-educated, industrially developed country in this course taught by an Ivy League professor of History.
A History of Hitler's Empire, 2nd Edition is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 274.
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Rated 3 out of 5 by from What Exactly Was This Course About? Once I became a Great Courses Plus member I listened to lectures 8-10 and was so impressed and spellbound by them I purchased the course. After having listened to it in its entirety I am left quite perplexed wondering what the purpose of this course was and what it had set out to achieve. So the main question: what exactly was this course? Was it to explain how the Nazi’s came to power? An interesting topic no doubt. Yet why did this topic take up less than half the course? Was it about Hitler's treatment of Jews? Certainly this was a topic the professor came back to time and again and the topic with which he ended the course. Yet tally it all up and again this topic was probably close to only half the course. Well then based on the course's title surely these lectures would focus on Hitler’s empire in Europe. Yet "empire" typically entails discussions of border shifts, lists of lands conquered, how the conquerors ruled the lands, and how life was like under the new regime. Yet we get very little of this. I'm tempted to say none of it but I am giving the professor credit for at least mentioning some of the lands the Nazis overtook. Perhaps the best way I could classify this course is to label it a brief history of the Nazis. So why call this course a history of the empire?? Other than the extended time spent on how the Nazis came to power, it is easy to envision the rest of this course fitting in a grander course on World War II in general, leaving me with another question: why does this course exist as an independent entity? And even the early lectures on the rise of the Nazis were tough to get through. The early lectures focusing on the political situation within Germany (particularly lectures 3-7) were difficult to navigate as a viewer. Discussions on the various German political parties were lacking in details of exactly what each party represented and was campaigning on. We hear about the social democrats (were these socialists who did not believe in overthrowing the government?), Communists (were they looking to overthrow the government or just implement Marxist ideas?), and the Nazis themselves (sure they twisted their message to appeal to whomever they were looking to win over in the moment but what were their main over-arching points?). However, Professor Childers doesn't differentiate between the parties very much nor explain how elections and the government actually worked in Germany (i.e. when elections are held, the various executive positions and their individual powers), losing an opportunity to allow us to get into the heads of everyday Germans. One familiar with the U.S. style of government and democracy would be left confused about how things worked in Germany. A short explanation would have gone a long way. The professor’s penchant for saying a lot of filler words (especially the never-ending train of loud uhhhh's that seemed to burst out at me like piercing weapons) and long pauses as he looked over his notes made it difficult to focus on the message a lot of times. These became so increasingly annoying and distracting that I wanted to yell at my phone. Surely such an esteemed intellectual as Dr. Childers can polish up his speaking skills even slightly to avoid risking losing his audience's attention? Okay so that is all of the bad. But I do not want my review to come off as an assessment that this course had no value. Despite his annoying presentation tendencies, Professor Childers is a top notch instructor. His other courses are fabulous and you know you are listening to an expert when listening to this or any of his other courses. I have much respect for the man. And as I previously mentioned, lectures 8-10 were riveting. The series of events involving Hitler’s acts of aggression leading towards war and of the early years of the war were expertly told in a masterful manner that drew me in more and more by the episode. For those lectures alone I would recommend this course. However, I would also say there is some value in some of the other lectures if you're willing to get past the feeling this course has little in the way of unifying purpose and the barrage of Uhhhs shouting at you.
Date published: 2024-07-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from poor speaker The scope of the lectures is sketchy as the information presented is superficial. Since Dr. Childers previous lecture courses, hle has developed a speech defect in which every other sentense and many major thoughts are preceded by uuuhhhhh or aaaahhhhh. This makes listening annoying.
Date published: 2023-10-31
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Wake up Professor Childers!! Any course on the despicable Hitler is fraught with "issues." I thought Professor Childers did a credible job explaining how Hitler came to power and how the Treaty of Versailles led to the economic circumstances that would allow a maniac like Hitler to take over the German government. His final lecture was well done and clearly heartfelt. However, I could tell after listening to the first sentence of the first lecture the professor's presentation was going to be beyond dry. It turned out to be exactly that, if not more. I somewhat reluctantly answer "yes" that I would recommend this product but it is not with much enthusiasm.
Date published: 2023-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Informative - Many Detail Hitler was an animal. A very good presentation on: 1) How the German people got this way (government by decree) and 2) The trickery politicians use to get "what they want". War is never good for anyone. About some individuals complaining about the speaker. He did a great job on a subject that is very detailed (facts, dates, german language, etc). Good job.
Date published: 2023-04-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy to listen to and Knowledgeable I understand so much better now the causes of the Nazi party grabbing power in this series which attempts to present all sides of what led to the disaster. 55 million people were killed in WW2. Yet the material was easier to handle than I thought it would be until the last two lectures going into more detail about the Holocaust. Even so, I knew most of that. But I did not know all details leading up to it, especially how poverty ridden Germany was after WWII. I finally understood the anger at the Versailles Treaty. Antisemitism will always be hard for me to understand, but I appreciated the warning at the end by the lecturer to beware anyone trying to limit any group's liberty and rights...a philosophy like that could lead to one's one liberty and rights being at risk.
Date published: 2023-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course!!! Dr. Childers did a fabulous job in explaining events that took place to make the rise of the Third Reich eve possible. He brought in facts that I never heard of before, and they made so much sense to bring this event into clearer focus to my understanding. Thank you for this great course. Thanks for this wonderful Professor!
Date published: 2023-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from History of Hitler's empire This course is great for history buffs interested in WW2. Helped to explain Hitler's rise to power. Well done!
Date published: 2022-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Relevant Today Childers is always a favorite because of his clarity, his logical flow, and the surprise insights of his research. The Guide is extremely short at 24 pages, though well written. Childers specifically cautions (Lecture 8=L8): "It will not do to think of Hitler as simply a madman bent on world domination". Germany before WW1 was a cobbled together (L2) state divided by religion, regions, and classes. Rapid industrialization put its workers next door to artisans still in Guilds. Worse, the terrible post-WW1 reparations were not expected because propaganda kept the populace from knowing Germany was losing until the war was over. Then starvation killed a quarter million people and France occupied Germany's prized industrial Ruhr valley. Terror and instability reigned from 1919 to 1924 including assassinations on both ends of the political spectrum, enormous government debt, 9 cabinet changes, and (by 1932) frequent emergency powers decrees were commonplace. Hitler had originally been sent by the military (L3) to investigate the NSDAP but was soon running it. And he did so brilliantly, especially through radio broadcasts (L6). The party seemed to offer something for everyone…and especially hope against the terrors background. Although in the Great Course “Europe and Western Civilization”, Childers had many positives to say about Bismark's "Realpolitik", in this course Bismark seems to be played by Hitler rather vice-versa. L7 concentrates on the racial policy of Hitler’s totalitarian state. “Europe and Western Civilization" L19 explained its origins: academia's Social Darwinists “survival of the fittest" mentality views races in hierarchical terms. Using this, Hitler, like so many politicians, found “somebody to blame": in Hitler’s case it was non-Germans especially Jews, Poles, and Russians. I was somewhat stunned to hear in “racial hierarchical ratings” echoes of Ibram X. Kendi. This course carefully rebuilds Hitler's story including L11’s detailed account of the Allied logical (but unexpected) decision not to attack the camps. L10 briefly reviews the buildup to WW2. One of the problems with being “the only voice allowed” is that Hitler's solutions lacked oppositional feedback. Complexity theory (see the Great Course “Chaos” by Strogatz) predicts failure of such an approach. One of the great qualities of President Lincoln (Great Course “American Civil War" by Gallagher, L15-18) is that oppositional feedback from multiple sources moved his own political POV on slavery from moderate Republican toleration towards radical Republican anti-slavery and eventually the Emancipation Proclamation. That “listening to others” approach was apparently part of what forestalled Civil War intervention by Great Britain or France. RELEVANCE TODAY: At a meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) its founder, Klaus Schwab addressed the world’s elites: “The future is not just happening. The future is built by us, a powerful community. You here in this room: WE HAVE THE MEANS TO IMPOSE THIS STATE ON THE WORLD (emphasis mine) …(through) stakeholder responsibility”. What is” stakeholder responsibility”? Jamie Dimon (CEO of JP Morgan Chase and previously the New York Fed’s board) explains: “Every major international company, across every industry, works toward a ‘common future’ guided by a single world organization” (such as the WEF). Yet Prof Rufus Fear’s warns: “The American Revolution offers a fruitful...study about what happens when a government (Britain) decides that it knows what is best for its constituents" (Great Course: "World Was Never the Same”, L21). This course will help you responsibly decide: Is someone like the WEF’s Klaus best viewed as a wise leader? Is he similar to Epictetus: a leader who knew when to “stop” (Great Course "Famous Romans", Fears, L21). Or is Klaus a potential Hitler? CONCLUSION: Under a storm of propaganda and intimidation (L5, 6) the German people did not do their homework…and suffered horribly. Childers concluded his course: “Let us hope that being forewarned of such horrors will make us vigilant. (L12)
Date published: 2022-09-04
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Overview

This course, graphic at times, helps you solve the puzzle of Hitler's rise to power in a highly-educated, industrially developed country. Professor Childers meticulously investigates the roots of Nazi support, bringing you back to the disastrous Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I and taking you through the horrifying details of Hitler's ideology and the holocaust.

About

Thomas Childers

Facts don't change, but we do, and our perspective on them changes. We learn new things, and as a result of this, it is necessary to reevaluate ... what we have known and how it looks different to us at this particular point.

INSTITUTION

University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Thomas Childers is Sheldon and Lucy Hackney Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, where he has been teaching for over 25 years. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Tennessee and his Ph.D. in History from Harvard University.

Professor Childers has held visiting professorships at Trinity Hall College, Cambridge, Smith College, and Swarthmore College. He is a popular lecturer abroad as well, in London, Oxford, Berlin, and Munich.

Professor Childers has won several teaching awards, including the Ira T. Abrahms Award for Distinguished Teaching and Challenging Teaching in the Arts and Sciences, the Richard S. Dunn Award for Distinguished Teaching in History, and the Senior Class Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Professor Childers is the author and editor of several books on modern German history and the Second World War. He is currently completing a trilogy on the Second World War. The first volume, Wings of Morning: The Story of the Last American Bomber Shot Down over Germany in World War II, was praised by Jonathan Yardley in The Washington Post as "a powerful and unselfconsciously beautiful book."

By This Professor

A History of Hitler's Empire, 2nd Edition
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World War II: A Military and Social History
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A History of Hitler's Empire, 2nd Edition

Trailer

The Third Reich, Hitler, and the 20th Century

01: The Third Reich, Hitler, and the 20th Century

Why is it important to study the Nazi movement? What was it about the political context of post-WWI Europe and Germany that allowed an extremist group which, at its start, had just a handful of members, to take over the country in less than 15 years' time?

32 min
The First World War and Its Legacy

02: The First World War and Its Legacy

After suffering terrible losses and hearing constantly from their rulers that they would win, Germans-and none more so than a wounded Austrian-born volunteer soldier named Adolf Hitler-were shocked by the Armistice of 1918 and the harsh Versailles Treaty that followed.

31 min
The Weimar Republic and the Rise of the Nazi Party

03: The Weimar Republic and the Rise of the Nazi Party

Examine the problems that beset Germany's new democratic government after WWI, and trace the origins of the tiny National Socialist party and Hitler's emergence as its leader between 1919 and the "Beer Hall Putsch" of November 1923.

31 min
The Twenties and the Great Depression

04: The Twenties and the Great Depression

The late '20s were politically quiet but economically harsh years for Germany. The Nazi party focused on winning members and votes but remained stuck on the fringe of German politics.

31 min
The Nazi Breakthrough

05: The Nazi Breakthrough

The economic crisis from 1929 to 1932 enabled Nazism to thrust itself into the mainstream. Using a revolutionary strategy of perpetual campaigning and other new techniques, the Nazis became Germany's largest political party with 38 percent of the vote.

31 min
Hitler's Assumption of Power

06: Hitler's Assumption of Power

The November 1932 elections showed signs that the Nazi voter coalition was unraveling. How, then, did Hitler get appointed chancellor in early 1933? How did he consolidate the bases of Nazi power once in office?

31 min
Racial Policy and the Totalitarian State

07: Racial Policy and the Totalitarian State

The events of the first two years after Hitler took power can be seen as the prelude to worse terrors to come, this time aimed not at possible political opponents, but at those considered to be racial or social "undesirables."

32 min
Hitler's Foreign Policy

08: Hitler's Foreign Policy

Why is it not enough to think of Hitler simply as a "madman bent on world domination"? What were his aims and strategy, and how did they drive the world rapidly toward global war?

32 min
Munich and the Triumph of National Socialism

09: Munich and the Triumph of National Socialism

This lecture covers the stunning advance of the Nazi regime beginning with the Munich Agreement of 1938. Hitler swallowed Czechoslovakia, signed a cynical pact with Stalin, invaded Poland, and stood on the verge of becoming master of the European continent.

31 min
War in the West, War in the East

10: War in the West, War in the East

To Hitler, the brutal war against the "Judeo-Bolshevik" Soviet Union, unleashed on June 22, 1941, was always the main event. On his western flank, however, Churchill's Britain remained unbroken and defiant, and America was slowly coming to her aid.

31 min
Holocaust-Hitler's War Against the Jews

11: Holocaust-Hitler's War Against the Jews

Between 1939 and 1942, the Nazis pursued several options regarding what they called "the Jewish question." In late 1941, they finally opted for what they called "the final solution." It called for mass murder hidden behind a program of fictive "resettlement in the east."

31 min
The Final Solution

12: The Final Solution

Here you examine the later stages of the Nazi murder campaign, asking also what the Allies knew and what they did. The lecture and the course close with the final destruction of the Third Reich, and a reflection on the lessons to be drawn from this chapter in what Churchill called "the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime."

36 min