Suicide at the end of the Third Reich

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Abstract

The Third Reich culminated in a massive wave of suicides. This article traces the origins of this wave, which took place in the spring of 1945, when there was a general feeling among Germans that everything was coming to an end, and analyses its background with reference to nazi propaganda, the nazi cult of death and the Allied occupation of Germany and its aftermath. It will ask whether this wave of suicides also sheds light on the extent to which German society as a whole had developed an ideological commitment to the nazis. Many Germans felt that there had been a complete breakdown of norms and values, which cannot be explained only by the breakdown of the Third Reich. Many people who committed suicide did not perceive politics, war and everyday life as unconnected, but as elements that merged during a very difficult time. The history of the wave of suicides at the end of the Third Reich sheds new light on the decline and fall of the Third Reich and the difficult transition of Germany from a fascist to a post-fascist society. Copyright © 2006 SAGE Publications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-200
Number of pages47
JournalJournal of Contemporary History
Volume41
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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