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Suicide in Nazi Germany$
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Christian Goeschel

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199532568

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199532568.001.0001

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(p.149) 5 Downfall
Suicide in Nazi Germany

Christian Goeschel

Oxford University Press

In the spring of 1945, the Third Reich met its end in a massive wave of suicides. The war's final period from July 1944 until May 1945 was by far the most lethal and violent one for Germans. Debates on public memory focus on other acts of violence that Germans experienced towards the end of World War II, such as rape, mass Allied bombings, and expulsion from the East, not to mention the massively destructive and aggressive policies of the Nazis. The suicides which occurred in Germany before the Nazi regime's downfall had in common a general feeling of insecurity and the lack of a future perspective. Nazism was cited as a directionless revolution of nihilism that would end in 1945 in self-destruction and total chaos. Even top Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, and Heinrich Himmler committed suicide. The suicide wave in Nazi Germany sheds light on the collective emotions of fear and anxiety towards the end of the war.

Keywords:   World War II, Nazi Germany, bombings, rape, fear, anxiety, Adolf Hitler, Nazism

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