Depiction of Internal Struggle in The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich and Generals Die in Bed

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About this sample


Words: 2025 |

Pages: 4|

11 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Words: 2025|Pages: 4|11 min read

Published: Oct 2, 2020

Throughout history war has caused casualties numbering in the hundreds of millions, and as much as people would enjoy to look at these past barbaric catastrophes as an act of Armageddon, that is almost simply never the case. War itself has never been, and will never be, black and white. While most literary, or even cinematic depictions of warfare seem to emphasise the idea that military conflict is consistently “good vs. evil”, and that the mere idea of the bad and good even remotely sharing characteristics, conflicts, or even morals, would be considered taboo. It is evident that when comparing their literary work The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer and Generals Die In Bed by Charles Yale Harrison, that the argument of the baleful and the ethical unable to share these characteristics is simply an apocryphal. In both books, it follows the story of men who most, undoubtedly, would view as polar opposites. Some would even go as far to suggest that comparing both these men would be distasteful, ill-minded, or even obscene, but regardless of who these individuals are or what they have done, both Adolf Hitler and the Narrator in Generals Die In Bed ultimately shared one similar distinctive trait, inner turmoil. They demonstrated this through their constant disparity, perpetual fear, and continual distrust of others around them.

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To begin, both Adolf Hitler in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and the narrator in Generals Die In Bed demonstrated a significant amount of inner turmoil with their continual hopelessness while placed in military conflict. Near the beginning of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich there was a part in which Adolf had expressed his feelings on the German loss toward the allied forces during World War I, ”I could stand it no longer,’ Hitler says in recounting the scene. ‘Everything went black again before my eyes; I tottered and groped my way back to the ward, threw myself on my bunk, and dug my burning head into my blanket and pillow . . . So it had all been in vain. In vain all the sacrifices and privations . . . in vain the hours in which, with mortal fear clutching at our hearts, we nevertheless did our duty; in vain the death of two millions who died . . . Had they died for this? . . . Did all this happen only so that a gang of wretched criminals could lay hands on the Fatherland?”. This demonstrates the high amount of inner turmoil Hitler had during the loss of the war. After the amount of years he had put into the Bavarian Army and the sacrifice he had to both witness and endure, it is undeniable that what he had gone through was not only physically demanding, but also emotionally demanding. Once he had discovered that all the time, energy, and indurment that he underwent was irrelevant towards the inevitable loss to both the German and Central Powers, the experience of it all had evidently taken a toll on his mental stability. Any individual under such stress and pressure would most definitely succumb to perpetuating feelings of misery and despair.

In continuation, near the end of the book, Adolf was in a situation in which he felt betrayed by all of those close around him “Since the July 20 attempt on his life he had grown distrustful of everyone, even of his old party stalwarts. ‘I am lied to on all sides,’ he fumed to one of his women secretaries in March”. This statement indicates a sense of hopelessness through the loss of the people he once trusted. This would evidently cause internal conflict due to the fact that he had absolutely no one he could have trusted. This would have pushed him further into a feeling of both isolation and loneliness. It would also cause a sense of paranoia within Hitler which is undeniably a trait of inner turmoil. In relation to this point, in the book Generals Die In Bed the narrator also displayed similar characteristics. There was a scene in which the narrator was having a conversation with one of the other soldiers he was friends with, while they were having the discussion at dinner his friend asked for his thoughts on the current state of the battle they were fighting, the narrator said “This is war; there is so much misery, heartaches, agony, and nothing can be done about it. Better to sit here and drink the sour, hard wine and try to forget.” This statement demonstrates the disparity in the situation he was facing at that point in time. It shows that the narrator in the book had evidently dealt with not only a war, but internal conflict. When he stated he’d rather drink to forget than face reality, it shows that he is mentally unprepared to face the the actualities of war which would ultimately cause inner turmoil.

In addition, both Adolf Hitler in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and the narrator in Generals Die In Bed demonstrated a significant amount of inner turmoil with their perpetual sense of fear while in the presence of war. Near the start of Generals Die In Bed there is a scene in which the narrator and his friend Fry were having a conversation about the enemy they were fighting, when Fry asked the narrator about his views on the Germans he stated “They take everything from us: our lives, our blood, our hearts…our job is to give, and theirs is to take”. That comment by the narrator demonstrates the sense of fear he had in association with the enemy. It depicts an idea that Germans would have taken absolutely everything away from him and his fellow soldiers. This would ultimately cause anxiety within the narrator whenever he would be engaging in combat with them. There would be a fear that if he had lost in the battle that everything he knew and once had would be robbed by the Germans, including his life. Because of this, it would have evidently caused him great internal conflict. Additionally, while the narrator was in the trenches there was a constant threat of both death and disease. The constant state of anxiety that he was in most definitely had taken a toll on how he lived his day to day life in a his situation of conflict and hostility. While he was in the trenches he stated “I can find nothing to console me, nothing to appease my terror”. This confession demonstrates the absolute terror and isolation he felt while he was at war. It shows that he was in such a constant state of panic and distress that he was unable to find any way to help himself cope with his situation and surroundings, all the narrator could ultimately do was drown in the endless cycle of fear he was living with.

In relation, in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler also displayed the same characteristics as the narrator did. Near the end of the book there is a scene in which it depicted the Russians marching into Berlin to take control of Germany, while Hitler tried realized that it was his end “Physical wreck though Hitler now was, with a disastrous end staring him in the face as the Russians approached Berlin and the Western Allies overran the Reich, he and a few of his most fanatical followers, Goebbels above all, clung stubbornly to their hopes of being saved at the last minute by a miracle.” This most evidently exhibits the despair and apprehension toward their inevitable defeat. It demonstrates the total and complete deterioration of a man who once was one of the most powerful individuals in Europe, to a man who ultimately failed to do the one thing he had always planned on doing, the forcible acquisition of Lebensraum. Once he had realized that everything he had fought for was crashing down right in front of him, and all the sacrifices he had made were all for nothing, it is undoubtedly undeniable that because of this he was unable to cope with feeling of terminal defeat and ultimately fell into an abyss of total and utter angst, and this doubtlessly exhibits inner turmoil through both men by their constant state of endless fear.

Furthermore, both Adolf Hitler in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and the narrator in Generals Die In Bed demonstrated a significant amount of inner turmoil with their continual distrust of others around them. In the book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Hitler displayed unquestionable doubt towards individuals and even those closely associated with him, “I can rely on no one. They all betray me. The whole business makes me sick . . . If anything happens to me, Germany will be left without a leader. 1 have no successor, Hess is mad, Goering has lost the sympathy of the people, and Himmler would be rejected by the Party – besides, he [Himmler] is so completely inartistic . . . Rack your brains and tell me who my successor is to be...”. This statement made by him showcased the complete suspicion and distrust that he held against even the most attentive of his followers. This demonstrates a turning point in which Adolf not only mistrusted his enemies, but also the ones close to him. Because of this, it is evident that he had most likely dealt with some form of paranoia to the point that he was willing to let it overcome his relations with others, which ultimately caused Hitler to suffer from inner turmoil. In relation to this, the narrator in Generals Die In Bed also displayed similar traits when he had spoken about the other soldiers he was working with, “Out on rest they behaved like human beings; here they are merely soldiers. We know what soldiering means. It means saving your own skin . . . that and nothing else . . . In a moment they are at each other’s throats like hungry, snarling animals . . . They strike at each other with their fists, they kick with their heavy boots. We intervene, tear them apart, and push them into separate corners of the dugout. Blood streams from Cleary's cheek. Broadbent is alive with hate, white with passion.” This demonstrated how the narrator alienated the rest of the people he was surrounded by. He placed distrust in them even though they were supposedly people that were close to him, just as Hitler did. Throughout the entirety of the time he was in trenches it became evident that he slowly began to not only mistrust the Germans, but also his fellow Canadians he was fighting alongside. By the end of the book the narrator had completely shifted his mentality and spoke of the Germans the same way he spoke about the spoilers fighting alongside him, “I am filled with frenzied hatred for these men. They want to kill me but i will stay here and shoot at them until I am either shot or stabbed down. I grit my teeth. We are snarling savage beasts”. This statement demonstrates the distrust he placed in everyone around him. War itself had damaged the way he viewed the individuals that surrounded him and his paranoia spread from just the Germans, to absolutely everyone he came in contact with, even his best friend Fry. This undoubtedly exhibits inner turmoil through both men by their continual distrust towards people around them.

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In conclusion, both Adolf Hitler in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and the narrator in Generals Die In Bed are individuals that the majority would view as opposites, but after analyzing both texts it became apparent that internal struggle is something that anyone can fall victim too, regardless of who they are or what they have done. Both Adolf Hitler and the narrator shared inner turmoil because of war they took part in through their constant disparity, perpetual fear, and continual distrust of others around them.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Depiction of Internal Struggle in the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and Generals Die in Bed. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from
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