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Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941

(Berlin Diary #1)

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  4,255 ratings  ·  245 reviews
By the acclaimed journalist and bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, this day-by-day, eyewitness account of the momentous events leading up to World War II in Europe is now available in a new paperback edition.

CBS radio broadcaster William L. Shirer was virtually unknown in 1940 when he decided there might be a book in the diary he had kept in Europe
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Paperback, 627 pages
Published April 17th 2002 by Johns Hopkins University Press (first published January 1941)
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John Allen Yes, as Shirer's day-by-day account, Berlin Diary conveys the experience of being present as developments unfold, without the benefit of…moreYes, as Shirer's day-by-day account, Berlin Diary conveys the experience of being present as developments unfold, without the benefit of retrospection. That is the situation everyone is in, living in real time. Berlin Diary is also a terrific read. I haven't read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich but I can expect that it is more ponderous. (less)

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Lilo
Aug 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone interested in the reality of the Third Reich
This book, a diary written by William L. Shirer (who later wrote “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”), takes you into Europe of the 1930s (more precisely, the time span from 1934 to 1941) and tells you about the day-to-day life of a foreign correspondent stationed in Berlin. Shirer’s diary is also a first-hand report of how Hitler and his henchmen kept deceiving the German public with propaganda and outright lies, this being simplified by having full control over the press, which also require ...more
Mara
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
A Personal Preamble
Reading William L. Shirer 's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich rocked my world. At the time, I wasn't much into reading historical tomes, and it swept me away by its sheer scope in addition to the material covered. When I read Eric Larson's In the Garden of Beasts a few months later, it seemed to be a sort of on-the-ground companion narrative of what life was like in Berlin during Hitler's ascent to power, and that was the end of my WWII erudition for a while. That
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David Gustafson
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just as I was finishing Neil MacGregor's engaging, "Germany: Memories of a Nation," a little voice reminded me that it was about time for a reread of William Shirer's classic, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," while another voice immediately scolded me for not having read his "Berlin Diary 1934-1941."

Maybe I should read that one first? When it arrived two days later, I placed it aside on my drawing table since I have way too many projects on my plate at the moment, but what harm will just
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Lewis Weinstein
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shirer's diary is a unique window into what was known and believed at the time in Nazi Germany ... I am currently focusing on the 1939-41 period when Shirer, in Berlin, had access to many sources and was able to put information together in a series of brilliant reporting, analyses and conjectures.

In my sequel to A FLOOD OF EVIL, I am thinking of having Shirer meet my fictional character Berthold Becker and carry on a series of conversations - in the Tiergarten, at the Adlon Hotel.

A Flood of Evi
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Lilo
Jun 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone interested in the reality of the Third Reich
This book, a diary written by William L. Shirer (who later wrote “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich”), takes you into Europe of the 1930s (more precisely, the time span from 1934 to 1941) and tells you about the day-to-day life of a foreign correspondent stationed in Berlin. Shirer’s diary is also a first-hand report of how Hitler and his henchmen kept deceiving the German public with propaganda and outright lies, this being simplified by having full control over the press, which also require ...more
Elizabeth
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the buildup of WWII
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Shannon Norton and Dale Churchett
This was a splendid book and not like anything I've read before, and I've read a lot of WWII stuff (both fiction and nf). Mr. Shirer knew at the time that things were afoot in Europe, where he'd been living and working since the age of 21, and he wrote his diary with the thought that it would be published--in other words, this is not the personal diary of someone musing about what they had for breakfast that day, and it's published b/c the person or some event in it became momentous later on. Th ...more
Owen
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww2, berlin, non-fiction
"Berlin Diary" is one of the more unusual documents to come out of World War II. First published in 1941, not long after America's entry into the war, it acted as a crucial means of informing the American public of the state of affairs in Germany up until the start of the war. Shirer spent the years from 1934 to 1940 in Europe as a foreign correspondent, and was mostly posted in Berlin during that time. As such, he witnessed the rise of Nazi fanaticism from a privileged position, often being giv ...more
Mahlon
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
As a European correspondent(first for a wire service, and later for CBS) stationed in Berlin from 34-40, Shirer was uniquely placed to comment on every major event of the early stages of WWII as they unfolded. Luckily for us, he kept a diary. In addition to reporting on war news he also provides keen insights into the psyche of both the Nazi leadership, and the regular German citizen.

Reading this book felt a little like watching WWII on CNN with Breaking News every other page. this book had a mu
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Brendan Lyons
Jun 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
William L. Shirer wrote the classic "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" based on his experiences as a foreign correspondent and his later exhaustive researches among the captured documents of the fallen regime. This book is his personal diary written during prewar working assignments in Vienna and Berlin and comprises many of the opinions that he was forbidden or unable to publish at the time and they make fascinating reading. Shirer is a prescient observer possessed of a sharp independent mind ( ...more
Jaksen
Dec 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A diary, a regular, honest-to-God, often mundane, sometimes tedious diary. But that's what makes it SO REAL. It's an account of what happened when, where and how from 1934 up to 1940, as the author lives, writes, experiences/witnesses, and reports on events happening in Europe, especially the cities of Berlin, Munich, Geneva, points in France and a few other countries. It's eye-opening, tragic, exhilarating and so personal it's often painful to read.

I loved it. As much as you can love a take on
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Mark Desetti
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting reading. I only wish I had read this concurrent with The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. This would have provided a really comprehensive look at these years. Having read both of Shirer's books as well as Klemperer's I Will Bear Witness (1933-1941), I really feel i'm getting a good sense of life in Nazi Germany up to the point where the US enters the war. For anyone interested in this time period and how these atrocities could apparently be accepted by the German people, i woul ...more
Derotha Ann
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I just picked this one up from the many many books in the house. . . William Shirer is a bit blunt with his assessment of the German population, implying that they lacked the perception to be able to assess a truly human gauge for morality. By today's standards, this may in itself be considered a racist assessment. This book was written before the real atrocities were known, but even so, the signs of genocide were there: the request for lists of psychiatric patients, the monitoring of public hos ...more
Alex
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
"He has become—even before his death—a myth, a legend, almost a god, with that quality of divinity which the Japanese people ascribe to their Emperor. To many Germans he is a figure remote, unreal, hardly human. For them he has become infallible."

Shirer's Berlin Diary documents his years as a reporter in the late 1930s, watching Hitler's rise as it unfolded. But Shirer plays more than reporter here. He's a war strategist, psychologist, patriot, soldier, husband, father, colleague, storyteller. A
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Gerry Claes
Dec 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
What an interesting life William Shirer must have lived. He was right in the thick of things when Hitler was developing his war machine and planning the total domination of Europe. Shirer had access to many of the top Nazi officials and got to know some of them quite well.

This book covers the period from 1934 until the end of 1940. Since America was not yet in the war Shirer, as an American reporter, was given significant access to the inner workings of the German government. Shirer had to be to
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April
Jan 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The author gives first account of Germany leading into WWII and the first years of being at war with England. He also writes about things that he saw and the rumors that he heard as he was a journalist in Berlin. He was around for the invasion of Poland, Holland, Belgium and France. He was able to see first hand the damage and also hear the propaganda of the Nazi's excuses.

William Shirer was an American radio journalist living in Berlin and covering the Nazi leaders. He saw first hand the attitu
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David
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the gold standard for documenting how a society can succumb to the evils of a dictator. The writer's style stayed true to the diary as he had written it down at great risk to himself in Nazi-held countries. It starts slowly and by almost unnoticeable steps until people start to wonder how they got there. It is the same pattern we see many times except often people in a society do not seem to recognize it and are OK to surrender seemingly minor rights. As with Hitler and the Nazis, one of ...more
Jeffrey
Jan 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-military
William L. Shirer's thoughts and experiences provide fascinating insight and invaluable context to what it was like to be there in Europe during the years leading up to World War 2. While most history books necessarily look at things in the hindsight of time, Shirer's account provides a raw, running commentary on what people who were there thought about Hitler's rise to power and the run-up to the war. Shirer is a great chronicler and a likeable protagonist, and his own story intertwines with th ...more
Erik Graff
Apr 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shirer fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
I don't know how much Shirer worked over his notes for this instant history of the Nazi rise to power during his years as a correspondent in Germany, but it was not enough to make this book at all comparable to his excellent The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich or his three-volume autobiography.
David Lowther
Oct 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shiver was a legendary foreign correspondent whose best known work is probably The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

His Berlin Diary is a more than interesting account of daily political life in Berlin between 1934 and his return to the USA at the end of 1940. Not surprisingly the diary had to be smuggled out. He was critical from the Nazis from the outset and became increasingly disenchanted with them as the years went by.

His style is vey simple and easy to read and this makes the narrative al
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Glen Chern
Oct 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Without question, William Shirer's Berlin Diary provides a remarkable look inside the rise of Hitler and Nazi Germany during the period of 1934-40. His descriptions of the people of Germany as well as the conditions they were forced to live under during this period are surpassed only by the horrific images of the devastation brought about by Hitler's thirst for domination of the European continent. This is a must read for history buffs.
John
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diary of William L. Shirer while he was CBS radio correspondent in Berlin and elsewhere in Europe. Good first-hand accounting of "breaking news" of the time, including the Austrian Anschluss, Munich crisis, invasion of Poland, invasion of Norway, and invasion of the low countries and France. Although I knew generally about the "home front" in Germany during the war, Shirer provides good information on German rationing and the effect of the Allied bombing raids on Berlin.
Grig O'
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
I'm at two minds about not having read this as a kid, or I surely would've become a foreign correspondent. It really sounds like the most exciting job. Then again the world today is a different place...

The diary feels like a beacon of reason and sensitivity in an island of brutality, so apt for those times as well as these. Shirer's account is always to the point and impressively perceptive, no extra fat in this book at all.

My only complaint is I wish Shirer had arrived in Berlin earlier and wri
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Jim
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: an interest in WWII history
Shirer begins by explaining that this work is not an actual diary but rather his notes made on a frequent, but not daily basis, from 1934 to 1940. How prescient for him to realize that he was living through an critical historical period. It is important to note that this is not your typical historical work. These are the notes of a journalist made in the present tense about his observations. some my quibble about the accuracy of those observation but it is important to remember that he was livin ...more
Lisasue
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: history nerds, fans of memoirs, those who try to understand fascism
Shelves: world-war-ii
This was one of the most fascinating books that I have ever read, which was totally unexpected. I have a slightly more than passing interest in the World War II time period, probably because of the sheer boredom I experienced in high school history. Imagine the wrong-headedness of forcing 16-year-old numbskulls to memorize battle dates and where the Beer Hall Putsch occurred. Of course I hated World War II history!

That being said, as an adult I have tried to wrap my head around how the German p
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Kelley
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review
This journal is a fascinating view of Nazi Germany from an American journalist who lived there at the time of the start of World War 2. William Shirer had amazing insight into critical events of the time. He had top access to insiders in the country to know so much about what was happening in the country. It was particularly insightful since he seemed to understand what was really happening in the government even when the regular German citizen didn't know at the time. He also was able to presen ...more
Nance
Jan 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Berlin Diary is correspondent William Shirer's recording of the Nazi's rise to power, mostly from his post in Berlin (and elsewhere is Europe) from 1934 to December 1940. It is a fascinating telling of what it was like to live in Berlin during the early years of Hitler's rule and how Hitler simply usurped control of other countries while telling his citizens just the opposite - that Germany was defending itself from attack. Every German news report was manipulated to show the Nazi's in the m ...more
David Sandager
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
William Shirer's engaging first hand account of life in Nazi Germany leading up to and during the Second World War provided an interesting view of a world which we often times generalize and analyze in a retrospective manner. This first-hand account describes Germany and Europe in the throes of radical change and conflict, and in doing so transports the reader back into a most historic time. While the times accounted in the is work are bleak and very much under the shadow of the Nazi Regime, (Sh ...more
Lynn Green
I have read William Shirer's The Nightmare Years and . This is journal mainly about Shirer's time spent as a correspondent inside Nazi Germany. Shirer makes note of the way Hitler dealt with other countries in his quest for domination mainly by accusing them, falsely, of conspiring against Germany. Hitler always played the victim needing recompense, and it was a song that played well in his day just as it is playing in our own day.

John Moonitz
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Incredible and riveting diary of Shirer, a journalist living in Berlin during the rise of Hitler's Nazi Germany . . . It is fantastic reading these first hand impressions of events that have become so well known to me over the years! Another must-read for all history buffs!!
John
Aug 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Riveting...compelling...A grim reminder that evil has to be confronted and conquered. A great historical record.
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William Lawrence Shirer was an American journalist and historian. He became known for his broadcasts on CBS from the German capital of Berlin through the first year of World War II.

Shirer first became famous through his account of those years in his Berlin Diary (published in 1941), but his greatest achievement was his 1960 book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, originally published by Simon
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Other books in the series

Berlin Diary (2 books)
  • End of a Berlin Diary
“Fascinating to watch the reactions of people suddenly seized by fear. Some can’t take it. They let themselves go to a point of hysteria, then in panic flee to—God knows where. Most take it, with various degrees of courage and coolness. In the lobby tonight: the newspapermen milling around trying to get telephone calls through the one lone operator. Jews excitedly trying to book on the last plane or train. The wildest rumours coming in with every new person that steps through the revolving door from outside, all of us gathering around to listen, believing or disbelieving according to our feelings.” 1 likes
“LONDON, March 16 Ed telephoned from Vienna. He said Major Emil Fey has committed suicide after putting bullets through his wife and nineteen-year-old son. He was a sinister man. Undoubtedly he feared the Nazis would murder him for having double-crossed them in 1934 when Dollfuss was shot. I return to Vienna day after tomorrow. The crisis is over. I think we’ve found something, though, for radio with these round-ups.” 1 likes
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