The author explores the feelings of kinship U.S. and British citizens felt toward Germans during and after World War I; their love of German culture and countryside; how confusing it was to interpret propaganda and define fascism; and the disbelief that the warm, hospitable Germans they met were capable of such heinous acts ... This compelling, intricate, and meticulous work of how outsiders viewed Hitler's Germany will appeal to readers of World War II and 20th-century history.
Boyd's book distinguishes itself not only for the breadth of its investigation but also for the palpable tone of frustration that runs throughout. Historians are professionally wary of hindsight, and Boyd never blames her subjects for not knowing the future. But even so, her moral outrage is often obvious ... The final chapters of Boyd's book take the story past the point of no return, into the war-days and their ruinous aftermath ... readers will likely share Boyd's quiet outrage that more Germans didn't see—or weren't willing to admit—what was happening right in front of their eyes.
Historian and biographer Julia Boyd opens her riveting Travelers in the Third Reich with ... firsthand accounts by foreigners to convey what it was really like to visit, study or vacation in Germany during the 1920s and ’30s. Throughout, Boyd draws on contemporary letters, diaries and memorandums written by diplomats and politicians, college students, social workers, famous authors and Englishwomen married to Germans ... Shockingly few of these observers managed to see through the Nazis’ smoke and mirrors ... As Julia Boyd emphasizes, too many people allowed reverence for a nation’s glorious past to warp their judgment about its morally repugnant present. That’s a lesson still worth thinking about.
Julia Boyd has done exhaustive research on these visitors and their firsthand accounts of their visits [to Germany]. In her extraordinary and absorbing Travelers in the Third Reich: The Rise of Fascism: 1919-1945, she tells their stories, often in their own words, as they 'accidentally witnessed,' in varying degrees, the transformation of a government and its people before their eyes. The author’s nuanced and lively narrative shows that a vigorous propaganda campaign by the Nazis, targeted toward tourists and other visitors, was hugely successful for years ... These firsthand glimpses of a dark time in Germany show us the complexity of appearances, and Boyd’s book should be widely read.
Boyd’s fresh and instructive look at 1930s Germany as described in contemporaneous travel narratives reveals a tourist destination that continued to attract visitors even as the true intentions of the Nazis became obvious ... Boyd has some sympathy for visitors who, unsure what to make of a bewildering mix of prosperity and propaganda, initially gave Hitler the benefit of the doubt. But she remains shocked that bold signs of Nazi evil were so frequently ignored.
Boyd...adds a dimension to a well-known tale by noting Hitler’s famed refusal to shake the hand of African-American athlete Jesse Owens—but adding that ordinary Germans in the Olympic crowd 'took the great black athlete to their hearts, chanting ‘Oh-vens! Oh-vens’ whenever he appeared.' Even so, Boyd notes the still greater popular enthusiasm for the regime, concluding that returning visitors would have had no illusions, if honest with themselves, about the Nazis’ true colors. A well-conceived study of a little-known corner of history.
Boyd uncovers surprising facts ... Boyd offers no overriding thesis; instead, her book is a mosaic of impressions. This fresh, surprising perspective on how Nazi Germany was seen at the time will appeal to anyone looking for a new angle on that historical moment.