William Lawrence Shirer (February 23, 1904 – December 28, 1993) was an American journalist and war correspondent. He wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a history of Nazi Germany that has been read by many and cited in scholarly works for more than 50 years. Originally a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and the International News Service, Shirer was the first reporter hired by Edward R. Murrow for what would become a CBS radio team of journalists known as "Murrow's Boys." He became known for his broadcasts from Berlin, from the rise of the Nazi dictatorship through the first year of World War II (1940). With Murrow, he organized the first broadcast world news roundup, a format still followed by news broadcasts.
Shirer wrote more than a dozen books beside The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, including Berlin Diary (published in 1941); The Collapse of the Third Republic (1969), which drew on his experience living and working in France from 1925 to 1933; and a three-volume autobiography, Twentieth Century Journey (1976 to 1990). His brother was an analyst for the Securities and Exchange Commission and his niece, Jean Ingold, was an employee of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
William Shirer in 1943: OK. We were lying during WW1. But this time we're telling the truth. Why don't US citizens believe us?
William Shirer in 1990: "I couldn't believe it. I certainly missed the story myself. I did not get the story until Nuremburg."
June 17, 1990
BILL MOYERS: [voice-over] For most of his adult life, William L. Shirer has been an eyewitness to history. Fresh out of college, he arrived in Paris in 1925 to become a newspaper reporter. During the ’20s and ’30s, he covered stories throughout Europe and spent two years in India, reporting on Mahatma Gandhi. In 1937, Shirer was hired by Edward R. Murrow to open the European bureau of CBS News. As a pioneer in broadcast journalism, he was in Rome for the death of a pope, in Berlin for the rise of Hitler, on the front lines for the fall of France. When Nazi censorship made honest reporting impossible, Shirer returned to the United States, broadcasting a weekly news analysis on CBS and publishing his first best-seller, Berlin Diary. His career in broadcasting ended in 1947, when CBS canceled his program. But Shirer created a new career as an author, drawing on his years in Nazi Germany. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich became one of the biggest sellers in publishing history.
BILL MOYERS: But here, to me, is the key question. Do you think they thought that what they were doing was evil, or does the totalitarian mind obliterate the distinction between good and evil, right and wrong?
WILLIAM L. SHIRER: Obliterates it, certainly. There’s nothing at all in the documents which I read which include Hitler’s long talks to his cronies, there’s nothing in what they said to indicate that they considered what they were doing as evil. I mean, throwing these people into the gas chambers and so forth. We did not predict that. And I knew nothing about that for a time because I left Germany at the end of 1940. The Potsdam conference, I think, was a month or so after that, in January, in which the “final solution” was adopted.
BILL MOYERS: The program to exterminate the Jews?
WILLIAM L. SHIRER: Yeah. Terrible term in itself, the final solution. Awful. Makes my stomach off.
BILL MOYERS: When you first heard about it, when you first were told that a whole people were being systematically obliterated, did you believe it?
WILLIAM L. SHIRER: I couldn’t believe it, no. And that information came very slowly. And I certainly missed the story myself. But I remember first hearing it in London in ’43.
BILL MOYERS: That late?
WILLIAM L. SHIRER: That late, two years after it really started, or at least a good year. And I heard it from people in the British Foreign Office, and I remember one weekend I spent down with Eden, whom I’d known as a kid, practically, when he used to come to Geneva.
BILL MOYERS: Anthony Eden?
WILLIAM L. SHIRER: Anthony Eden, he was then foreign secretary. And I asked him about it, and he was somewhat, I think it’s fair to say, somewhat anti-Semitic. But anyway, he said it was-there was no truth in it, they were getting these reports, there was no truth in them. I checked when I came back into America, I think with Harry Hopkins, and he told me that Roosevelt had heard these things but Roosevelt, President Roosevelt, did not believe them.
During all that time, the Jews were trying to get the word out, and I believe they did. We know now that they did, and it’s a very bad record that. the British Foreign Office and the American State Department, lin which there were also some anti-Semites, I think they have a very bad record. I have a bad record, too. I did not get the story, really, until Nuremburg.
BILL MOYERS: After the war you sat there listening to this testimony, looking at these pictures.
WILLIAM L. SHIRER: I sat there. One day when they had these terrible pictures, and when we’d had the testimony of a guy named Hoess who’d been the commander at Auschwitz, he was almost proud of it. I went home that night and I couldn’t eat dinner. I think that would be true of my colleagues, too. And for-I was in a daze for three or four days, I think. 1-one’s imagination could not grasp it. They suddenly threw it at us. But we should have learned about it in ’44, and I didn’t, and the government didn’t put it out.
http://billmoyers.com/content/william-l ... -part-two/