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This essay has attempted to provide a critical review of Shelley Baranowski’s book Strength through Joy: Consumerism and Mass Tourism in the Third Reich. Quotes, statistics and examples were drawn from different sources to confirm, or more often to contrast, Baranowski’s findings in three main areas of her book – the success of KdF as a political tool, the impact of Beauty of Labour on workers’ view of the regime and the role of Strength through Joy for the increase in tourism in the 1930s. For all three points, some weaknesses and limitations of Baranowski’s work were pointed out. Admittedly, this essay has therefore taken a rather critical view of Baranowski’s book. However, most criticism has been directed not towards the author’s research, data, sources or methods of presentation, but rather towards her conclusions. Thus, this essay should not help diminish the importance of the book for the topic of tourism in the Third Reich. While Baranowski’s book may have potential for improvement, it is certainly one of the first and so far major sources on Strength through Joy available in English. The significance of the book is further elevated when one considers that KdF’s main archive and other related documents were largely destroyed during WWII, that the topic of tourism and popular appeal in a dictatorship are generally difficult to research and analyze, and that throughout most of the book the author has actually managed to preserve an organized, objective and fairly detailed view of her topic. In conclusion, a consideration of the points made in this essay may certainly contribute to Baranowski’s pioneering study, but even without them the book still remains a strong addition to the Third Reich’s historiography.


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