From William L. Shirer's 1960 definitive account of Nazi Germany, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:
The peasants, the laborers, even the middle-class burghers, were exploited to the limit by the princes, who held them down in a degrading state of servitude. The pursuit of learning and the arts all but ceased. The greedy rulers had no feeling for German nationalism and patriotism and stamped out any manifestations of them in their subjects. Civilization came to a standstill in Germany. The Reich, as one historian has put it, "was artificially stabilized at a medieval level of confusion of weakness."
Germany never recovered from this setback. Acceptance of autocracy, of blind obedience to the petty tyrants who ruled as princes, became ingrained in the German mind. The idea of democracy, of rule by parliament, which made such rapid headway in England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and which exploded in France in 1789, did not sprout in Germany. This political backwardness of the Germans, divided as they were into so many petty states and isolated in them from the surging currents of European thought and development, set Germany apart from and behind the other countries of the West. There was no natural growth of a nation. This has to be borne in mind if one is to comprehend the disastrous road this people subsequently took and the warped state of mind which settled over it. In the end the German nation was forged by naked force and held together by naked aggression.
Tags: William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich