Coming generations will ask themselves how it was possible that millions of people, victims of an artificially induced enthusiasm, could be moved to do the very things which led to their own ruin.
The answer could be given in hundreds of thousands of words, but, if it were expressed in one word alone, that word would be: Goebbels.
Curt Riess, a Jewish Berliner who fled Germany upon Hitler's appointment as Chancellor in 1933, considered Goebbels to be 'the most outstanding man of the Nazi regime, not even barring Hitler himself.' Without Goebbels' genius for organisation and propaganda, Nazism could never have amassed the support it needed to gain and keep power in Germany.
From provincial obscurity, Goebbels scurried through the Nazi ranks to become one of the most dominant and trusted members of Hitler's inner circle.
His career was marked by formidable powers of administration, his ruthless hatred of the Jews, his resourcefulness in promoting Nazi ideals, and his inflexible devotion to the Fuhrer, asserted in his final morbid gesture of propaganda: the sacrifice of his wife, six children, and himself in Hitler's bunker in 1945.Riess' biography was first published in 1949 and benefitted greatly from the discovery of Goebbels' diaries in 1946. It explores the many fascinating and pertinent aspects of Goebbels' character: the insecurities brought on by his diminutive stature; his rejection by his family; his consuming jealousy of his rivals; and his obsession with sex.
It remains one of the most authoritative biographies of the man whose manipulative genius steered the German nation to ruin.