I am finishing the Berlin Dairy by Willian Shirer. What an amazing book! I can’t believe I knew nothing about it until I saw a recommendation from a friend. William Shirer was a CBS broadcaster who worked in Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1941. He wrote several books about the history of WWII and the history of Nazism, and now I want to read them all!
I think that it is a combination of two factors that make this book so amazing: first, he was an outstanding journalist with an extraordinary analytical mind who knew both how to get access to information and how to interpret it. And second – that it is an actual diary, so the readers follow events in “real-time.” When he wrote something in his journal, he did not know what would happen next or the implications of the events he had just recorded. It’s something like: I can’t believe Molotov and Ribbentrop are meeting! How can they negotiate when Russia is the most fierce critic of Nazism. How is it possible that they could reach any agreement?! They did?!
It turned out there were lots of historical facts I didn’t know. Take the Winter War – I thought I knew everything as much as I could, visiting Finland several times a year. Still, I had no idea that it started with the air raid shelling Helsinki – I thought that all the war events happened at the frontline.
This book has way too many parallels with the current war in Ukraine, like when the author explains how Germans have “no morals.” A German is lamenting about “bad Finns who fight against Russians, and why they are doing such a horrible thing as resisting? When Shirer says that Finns are fighting for their independence and asks won’t the Germans do the same if they were invaded, the response it: but that’s different! Russians are our friends!
Or when he cites a conversation with a German waitress about the British air raids: why are they bombarding us? – Well, because you are bombarding London! – But we only shell military objects, and they through bombs on our civilian objects? – Why do you think that Germans only bombard military objects? – That’s what our newspapers say!
Sounds familiar, right?! Way too familiar!
I almost finished this book, and I have three other books in queue, but I am urged to drop them all and read all the rest of the books by Willian Shirer(which will definitely take a while!)