William Shirer (February 23, 1904 - December 28, 1993) was a journalist, war correspondent and historian. His reporting and pioneering live broadcasts on the eve of WWII shed more light on Hitler’s ascendancy and the rise of the Nazi party than anyone else from the United States.
Shirer attended Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, and graduated from Coe College in 1925. While living in Iowa, Shirer got his first job in journalism as a sports reporter for the Cedar Rapids Republican. In 1931, Shirer married Austrian photographer Theresa (Tess) Stiberitz . They had two daughters, Eileen (Inga) and Linda before divorcing in 1970. An Alps skiing accident in 1932 left Shirer blind in one eye. He later married Irina Lugovskaya.
Shirer’s most famous book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, published in 1960, has been cited in scholarly work into the present day. He also wrote Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, Gandhi: A Memoir, and a three volume autobiography as well as numerous other nonfiction and fiction works. Critics and readers considered his popular history outstanding.
Shirer worked in Berlin for Universal News Service in 1934 and reported on the strengthening Nazi party in Germany. In 1937, Edward R. Murrow offered him a job as European Bureau Chief for CBS radio, making him the first of a group of journalists who would become known as “Murrow’s Boys.” He broadcast the first uncensored eyewitness account of the German annexation of Austria and covered mounting tensions with Poland which culminated in the invasion of Poland and launched WWII. Shirer moved forward with German troops, covering the invasions of Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium and France. He reported the signing of the German armistice with France before it was announced by the Germans.