Sir Ian Kershaw FBA (born 29 April 1943) is an English historian and author whose work has chiefly focused on the social history of 20th-century Germany. He is regarded by many as one of the world's leading experts on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, and is particularly noted for his biographies of Hitler.
He was the leading disciple of the late German historian Martin Broszat, and (until his retirement) professor at the University of Sheffield. Kershaw has called Broszat an "inspirational mentor" who did much to shape his understanding of National Socialist Germany. Kershaw served as historical adviser on numerous BBC documentaries, notably The Nazis: A Warning from History and War of the Century. He taught a module titled 'Germans against Hitler'.
Sir Ian Kershaw
Kershaw at the 2012 Leipzig Book Fair
|Born||29 April 1943|
Oldham, Greater Manchester, England
|Known for||Studies of German social history, especially Alltagsgeschichte, and advancing the "Working Towards the Führer" concept|
|Spouse(s)||Dame Betty Kershaw|
Kershaw was born on 29 April 1943 in Oldham, Lancashire, England, to Joseph Kershaw and Alice Robinson. He was educated at Counthill Grammar School, St Bede's College, Manchester, the University of Liverpool (BA) and Merton College, Oxford (D.Phil). He was originally trained as a medievalist but turned to the study of modern German social history in the 1970s. At first, he was mainly concerned with the economic history of Bolton Abbey. As a lecturer in medieval history at Manchester, Kershaw learned German to study the German peasantry in the Middle Ages. In 1972, he visited Bavaria and was shocked to hear the views of an old man he met in a Munich café who told him: "You English were so foolish. If only you had sided with us. Together we could have defeated Bolshevism and ruled the earth!"—adding in for good measure that "The Jew is a louse!" As a result of this incident, Kershaw became keen to learn how and why ordinary people in Germany could support the Nazi ideology (National Socialism or Nazism).
In 1975, Kershaw joined Martin Broszat's "Bavaria Project". During his work, Broszat encouraged Kershaw to examine how ordinary people viewed Hitler. As a result of his work in the 1970s on Broszat's "Bavaria Project", Kershaw wrote his first book on Nazi Germany, The "Hitler Myth": Image and Reality in the Third Reich, which was first published in German in 1980 as Der Hitler-Mythos: Volksmeinung und Propaganda im Dritten Reich. This book examined the "Hitler cult" in Germany, how it was developed by Joseph Goebbels, what social groups the Hitler Myth appealed to and how it rose and fell.
Also arising from the "Bavaria Project" and Kershaw's work in the field of Alltagsgeschichte was Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich. In this 1983 book, Kershaw examined the experience of the Nazi era at the grass-roots in Bavaria. Kershaw showed how ordinary people reacted to the Nazi dictatorship, looking at how people conformed to the regime and to the extent and limits of dissent. Kershaw described his subject as ordinary Bavarians:
the muddled majority, neither full-hearted Nazis nor outright opponents, whose attitudes at one and the same time betray signs of Nazi ideological penetration and yet show the clear limits of propaganda manipulation.
Kershaw went on to write in his preface:
I should like to think that had I been around at the time I would have been a convinced anti-Nazi engaged in the underground resistance fight. However, I know really that I would have been as confused and felt as helpless as most of the people I am writing about.
Kershaw argued that Goebbels failed to create the Volksgemeinschaft (people's community) of Nazi propaganda, and that most Bavarians were far more interested in their day-to-day lives than in politics during the Third Reich. Kershaw concluded that the majority of Bavarians were either antisemitic or more commonly simply did not care about what was happening to the Jews. Kershaw also concluded that there was a fundamental difference between the antisemitism of the majority of ordinary people, who disliked Jews and were much coloured by traditional Catholic prejudices, and the ideological and far more radical völkische antisemitism of the Nazi Party, who hated Jews.
Kershaw found that the majority of Bavarians disapproved of the violence of the Kristallnacht pogrom, and that despite the efforts of the Nazis, continued to maintain social relations with members of the Bavarian Jewish community. Kershaw documented numerous campaigns on the part of the Nazi Party to increase antisemitic hatred, and noted that the overwhelming majority of antisemitic activities in Bavaria were the work of a small number of committed Nazi Party members. Overall, Kershaw noted that the popular mood towards Jews was indifference to their fate. Kershaw argued that during World War II, most Bavarians were vaguely aware of the Holocaust, but were vastly more concerned about and interested in the war than about the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question".
Kershaw made the notable claim that "the road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with indifference." By this, Kershaw meant the progress leading up to Auschwitz was motivated by antisemitism of the most vicious kind held by the Nazi elite, but it took place in a context where the majority of German public opinion was completely indifferent to what was happening.
Kershaw's assessment that most Bavarians, and by implication Germans, were "indifferent" to the Shoah faced criticism from the Israeli historian Otto Dov Kulka and the Canadian historian Michael Kater. Kater contended that Kershaw downplayed the extent of popular antisemitism, and that though admitting that most of the "spontaneous" antisemitic actions of Nazi Germany were staged, argued that because these actions involved substantial numbers of Germans, it is wrong to see the extreme antisemitism of the Nazis as coming solely from above.
Kulka argued that most Germans were more antisemitic than Kershaw portrayed them in Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich, and that rather than "indifference" argued that "passive complicity" would be a better term to describe the reaction of the German people to the Shoah.
In 1985, Kershaw published a book on the historiography of Nazi Germany, The Nazi Dictatorship, in which he reflected on the problems in historiography of the Nazi era. Kershaw noted the huge disparity of often incompatible views about the Nazi era such as the debate between:
As Kershaw noted, these divergent interpretations such as the differences between the functionalist view of the Holocaust as caused by a process and the intentionalist view of the Holocaust as caused by a plan are not easily reconciled, and that there was in his opinion the need for a guide to explain the complex historiography surrounding these issues.
Likewise, if one accepts the Marxist view of National Socialism as the culmination of capitalism, then the Nazi phenomenon is universal, and fascism can come to power in any society where capitalism is the dominant economic system, whereas the view of National Socialism as the culmination of Deutschtum means that the Nazi phenomenon is local and particular only to Germany. For Kershaw, any historian writing about the period had to take account of the "historical-philosophical", "political-ideological" and moral problems associated with the period, which thus poses special challenges for the historian. In The Nazi Dictatorship, Kershaw surveyed the historical literature and offered his own assessment of the pros and cons of the various approaches.
In a 2008 interview, Kershaw lists as his major intellectual influences Martin Broszat, Hans Mommsen, Alan Milward, Timothy Mason, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, William Carr and Jeremy Noakes. In the same interview, Kershaw expressed strong approval of Mason's "Primacy of Politics" concept, in which it was German Big Business that served the Nazi regime rather than the other way around, against the orthodox Marxist "Primacy of Economics" concept. Despite his praise and admiration for Mason, in the 2000 edition of The Nazi Dictatorship, Kershaw was highly skeptical of Mason's "Flight into War" theory of an economic crisis in 1939 forcing the Nazi regime into war.
In the Historikerstreit (Historians' Dispute) of 1986-89, Kershaw followed Broszat in criticising the work and views of Ernst Nolte, Andreas Hillgruber, Michael Stürmer, Joachim Fest and Klaus Hildebrand, all of whom Kershaw saw as German apologists attempting to white-wash the German past in various ways. In the 1989 edition of The Nazi Dictatorship, Kershaw devoted an entire chapter towards rebutting the views of Nolte, Hillgruber, Fest, Hildebrand, and Stürmer. In regard to the debate between those who regard National Socialism as a type of totalitarianism (and thus having more in common with the Soviet Union) versus those who regard Nazism as a type of fascism (and thus having more in common with Fascist Italy), Kershaw, though feeling that the totalitarianism approach is not without value, has argued that in essence, Nazism should be viewed as a type of fascism, albeit fascism of a very radical type. Writing of the Sonderweg debate, Kershaw finds the moderate Sonderweg approach of Jürgen Kocka the most satisfactory historical explanation for why the Nazi era occurred. In the 2000 edition of The Nazi Dictatorship, Kershaw wrote he considered Gerhard Ritter's claim that one "madman" (i.e. Hitler) single-handedly caused the Second World War to be that of a German apologist, and that he found the historical approach of Ritter's arch-enemy Fritz Fischer to be a far better way of understanding German history. Along the same lines, Kershaw criticised as German apologetics the 1946 statement by the German historian Friedrich Meinecke that National Socialism was just a particularly unfortunate Betriebsunfall (industrial accident) of history.
Kershaw was later in a 2003 essay to criticise both Ritter and Meinecke as German apologists who either through the Betriebsunfall theory and by blaming everything upon Hitler was seeking to white-wash the German past. Writing of the work of the German historian Rainer Zitelmann, Kershaw has argued that Zitelmann has elevated what were merely secondary considerations in Hitler's remarks to the primary level, and that Zitelmann has not offered a clear definition of what he means by "modernization".
With regard to the Nazi foreign policy debate between "globalists" such as Klaus Hildebrand, Andreas Hillgruber, Jochen Thies, Gunter Moltman and Gerhard Weinberg, who argue that Germany aimed at world conquest, and the "continentalists" such as Hugh Trevor-Roper, Eberhard Jäckel and Axel Kuhn, who argue that Germany aimed only at the conquest of Europe, Kershaw tends towards the "continental" position. Kershaw agrees with the thesis that Hitler did formulate a programme for foreign policy centering on an alliance with Britain to achieve the destruction of the Soviet Union, but has argued that a British lack of interest doomed the project, thus leading to the situation in 1939, where Hitler went to war with Britain, the country he wanted as an ally, not as an enemy, and the country he wanted as an enemy, the Soviet Union, as his ally. At the same time, Kershaw sees considerable merit in the work of such historians as Timothy Mason, Hans Mommsen, Martin Broszat and Wolfgang Schieder, who argue that Hitler had no "programme" in foreign policy, and instead contend that his foreign policy was simply a kneejerk reaction to domestic pressures in the economy and his need to maintain his popularity.
Regarding the historical debates about Widerstand (resistance) in German society, Kershaw has argued that there are two approaches to the question, one of which he calls the fundamentalist (dealing with those committed to overthrowing the Nazi regime) and the societal (dealing with forms of dissent in "everyday life"). In Kershaw's view, Broszat's Resistenz (immunity) concept works well in an Alltagsgeschichte approach, but works less well in the field of high politics, and moreover by focusing only on the "effect" of one's actions, fails to consider the crucial element of the "intention" behind one's actions. Kershaw has argued that the term Widerstand should be used only for those working for the total overthrow of the Nazi system, and those engaging in behaviour that was counter to the regime's wishes without seeking to overthrow the regime should be included under the terms opposition and dissent, depending upon their motives and actions. In Kershaw's opinion, there were three bands ranging from dissent to opposition to resistance. Kershaw has used the Edelweiss Pirates as an example of a group whose behavior initially fell under dissent, and who advanced from there to opposition and finally to resistance.
In Kershaw's view, there was much dissent and opposition within German society, but outside of the working class, very little resistance. Although Kershaw has argued that the Resistenz concept has much merit, he concluded that the Nazi regime had a broad basis of support and it is correct to speak of "resistance without the people".
Regarding the debate in the late 1980s between Martin Broszat and Saul Friedländer over Broszat's call for the "historicization" of National Socialism, Kershaw wrote that he agreed with Friedländer that the Nazi period could not be treated as a "normal" period of history, but he felt that historians should approach the Nazi period as they would any other period of history. In support of Broszat, Kershaw wrote that an Alltagsgeschichte approach to German history, provided that it did not lose sight of Nazi crimes, had much to offer as a way of understanding how those crimes occurred.
During the "Goldhagen Controversy" of 1996, Kershaw took the view that his friend, Hans Mommsen, had "destroyed" Daniel Goldhagen's arguments about a culture of "eliminationist antisemitism" in Germany during their frequent debates on German TV. Kershaw wrote that he agreed with Eberhard Jäckel's assessment that Hitler's Willing Executioners was "simply a bad book". Though Kershaw had little positive to say about Goldhagen, he wrote that he felt that Norman Finkelstein's attack on Goldhagen had been over-the-top and did little to help historical understanding. However, Kershaw later went on to recommend Norman Finkelstein and Ruth Bettina Birn's extremely critical assessment of Goldhagen's book, A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth; stating that "Finkelstein and Birn provide a devastating critique of Daniel Goldhagen's simplistic and misleading interpretation of the Holocaust. Their contribution to the debate is, in my view, indispensable."
Like Broszat, Kershaw sees the structures of the Nazi state as far more important than the personality of Hitler (or any other individual for that matter) as an explanation for the way Nazi Germany developed. In particular, Kershaw subscribes to the view argued by Broszat and the German historian Hans Mommsen that Nazi Germany was a chaotic collection of rival bureaucracies in perpetual power struggles with each other. In Kershaw's view, the Nazi dictatorship was not a totalitarian monolith, but rather an unstable coalition of several blocs in a "power cartel" comprising the NSDAP, big business, the German state bureaucracy, the Army and SS/police agencies (and moreover, each of the "power blocs" in turn were divided into several factions). In Kershaw's opinion, the more "radical" blocs such as the SS/police and the Nazi Party gained increasing ascendancy over the other blocs after the 1936 economic crisis, and from then onwards increased their power at the expense of the other blocs.
For Kershaw, the real significance of Hitler lies not in the dictator himself, but rather in the German people's perception of him. In his biography of Hitler, Kershaw presented him as the ultimate "unperson"; a boring, pedestrian man devoid of even the "negative greatness" attributed to him by Joachim Fest. Kershaw rejects the Great Man theory of history and has criticised those who seek to explain everything that happened in Nazi Germany as the result of Hitler's will and intentions. Kershaw has argued that it is absurd to seek to explain German history in the Nazi era solely through Hitler, as Germany had sixty-eight million people during the Nazi era, and to seek to explain the fate of sixty-eight million people solely through the prism of one man is in Kershaw's opinion a flawed position. Kershaw wrote about the problems of an excessive focus on Hitler that "... even the best biographies have seemed at times in danger of elevating Hitler's personal power to a level where the history of Germany between 1933 and 1945 becomes reduced to little more than an expression of the dictator's will". Kershaw has a low opinion of those who seek to provide "personalized" theories about the Holocaust and/or World War II as due to some defect, medical or otherwise, in Hitler. In his 2000 edition of The Nazi Dictatorship, Kershaw quoted with approval the dismissive remarks made by the German historian Hans-Ulrich Wehler in 1980 about such theories. Wehler wrote:
Does our understanding of National Socialist policies really depend on whether Hitler had only one testicle? ... Perhaps the Führer had three, which made things difficult for him, who knows? ... Even if Hitler could be regarded irrefutably as a sadomasochist, which scientific interest does that further? ... Does the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" thus become more easily understandable or the "twisted road to Auschwitz" become the one-way street of a psychopath in power?
Kershaw shares Wehler's opinion, that, besides the problem that such theories about Hitler's medical condition were extremely difficult to prove, they had the effect of personalising the phenomena of Nazi Germany by more or less attributing everything that happened in Nazi Germany to one flawed individual.
Kershaw's biography of Hitler is an examination of Hitler's power; how he obtained it and how he maintained it. Following up on ideas that he had first introduced in a 1991 book about Hitler, Kershaw has argued that Hitler's leadership is a model example of Max Weber's theory of charismatic leadership. Kershaw's 1991 book Hitler: A Profile in Power marked a change for him from writing about how people viewed Hitler to writing about Hitler himself. In his two-volume biography of Hitler published in 1998 and 2000, Kershaw stated, "What I tried to do was to embed Hitler into the social and political context that I had already studied." Kershaw finds the picture of Hitler as a "mountebank" (opportunistic adventurer) in Alan Bullock's biography unsatisfactory, and Joachim Fest's quest to determine how "great" Hitler was senseless. In a wider sense, Kershaw sees the Nazi regime as part of a broader crisis that afflicted European society from 1914 to 1945. Though in disagreement with many of their claims (especially Nolte's), Kershaw's concept of a "Second Thirty Years' War" reflects many similarities with Ernst Nolte, A. J. P. Taylor and Arno J. Mayer who have also advanced the concept of a "Thirty Years' Crisis" to explain European history between 1914 and 1945.
In the functionalism versus intentionalism debate, Kershaw has argued for a synthesis of the two schools, though leaning towards the functionalist school. Despite some disagreements, Kerhaw has called Mommsen a "good personal friend" and an "important further vital stimulus to my own work on Nazism". Kershaw has argued in his two-volume biography of Hitler that Hitler did play a decisive role in the development of policies of genocide, but also argued that many of the measures that led to the Holocaust were undertaken by many lower-ranking officials without direct orders from Hitler in the expectation that such steps would win them favour. Though Kershaw does not deny the radical antisemitism of the Nazis, he favours Mommsen's view of the Holocaust being caused by the "cumulative radicalization" of Nazi Germany caused by the endless bureaucratic power struggles and a turn towards increasingly radical antisemitism within the Nazi elite. Despite his background in the functionalist historiography, Kershaw admits that his account of Hitler in World War II owes much to intentionalist historians like Gerhard Weinberg, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Lucy Dawidowicz and Eberhard Jäckel. Kershaw accepts the picture of Hitler drawn by intentionalist historians as a fanatical ideologue who was obsessed with social Darwinism, völkisch antisemitism (in which the Jewish people were viewed as a "race" biologically different from the rest of humanity rather than a religion), militarism and the perceived need for Lebensraum. However, in a 1992 essay, "Improvised genocide?", in which Kershaw traces how the ethnic cleansing campaign of Gauleiter Arthur Greiser in the Warthegau region annexed to Germany from Poland in 1939 led to a campaign of genocide by 1941, Kershaw argued that the process was indeed "improvised genocide" rather the fulfilment of a master plan. Kershaw views the Holocaust not as a plan, as argued by the intentionalists, but rather a process caused by the "cumulative radicalization" of the Nazi state as articulated by the functionalists. Citing the work of the American historian Christopher Browning in his biography of Hitler, Kershaw argues that in the period 1939–41 the phrase "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" was a "territorial solution", that such plans as the Nisko Plan and Madagascar Plan were serious and only in the latter half of 1941 did the phrase "Final Solution" come to refer to genocide. This view of the Holocaust as a process rather than a plan is the antithesis of the extreme intentionalist approach as advocated by Lucy Dawidowicz, who argues that Hitler had decided upon genocide as early as November 1918, and that everything he did from that time onwards was directed towards that goal.
In recent years Kershaw has come to form a thesis based on the ideas of both traditions of Nazi theory.
Kershaw disagrees with Mommsen's "Weak Dictator" thesis: the idea that Hitler was a relatively unimportant player in Nazi Germany. However, he has agreed with his idea that Hitler did not play much of a role in the day-to-day administration of the government of Nazi Germany. Kershaw's way of explaining this paradox is his theory of "Working Towards the Führer", the phrase being taken from a 1934 speech by the Prussian civil servant Werner Willikens:
Everyone who has the opportunity to observe it knows that the Fuhrer can hardly dictate from above everything which he intends to realize sooner or later. On the contrary, up till now, everyone with a post in the new Germany has worked best when he has, so to speak, worked towards the Fuhrer. Very often and in many spheres, it has been the case—in previous years as well—that individuals have simply waited for orders and instructions. Unfortunately, the same will be true in the future; but in fact, it is the duty of everybody to try to work towards the Fuhrer along the lines he would wish. Anyone who makes mistakes will notice it soon enough. But anyone who really works towards the Fuhrer along his lines and towards his goal will certainly both now and in the future, one day have the finest reward in the form of the sudden legal confirmation of his work.
Kershaw has argued that in Nazi Germany officials of both the German state and Party bureaucracy usually took the initiative in initiating policy to meet Hitler's perceived wishes, or alternatively attempted to turn into policy Hitler's often loosely and indistinctly phrased wishes. Though Kershaw does agree that Hitler possessed the powers that the "Master of the Third Reich" thesis championed by Norman Rich and Karl Dietrich Bracher would suggest, he has argued that Hitler was a "lazy dictator"; an indifferent dictator who was really not interested in involving himself much in the daily running of Nazi Germany. The only exceptions were the areas of foreign policy and military decisions, both areas that Hitler increasingly involved himself in from the late 1930s.
In a 1993 essay "Working Towards the Führer", Kershaw argued that the German and Soviet dictatorships had more differences than similarities. Kershaw argued that Hitler was a very unbureaucratic leader who was highly averse to paper work in marked contrast to Stalin. Likewise, Kershaw argued that Stalin was highly involved in the running of the Soviet Union in contrast to Hitler whose involvement in day-to-day decision making was limited, infrequent and capricious. Kershaw argued that the Soviet regime, despite all of its extreme brutality and utter ruthlessness, was basically rational in its goal of seeking to modernise a backward country and had no equivalent of the "cumulative radicalization" towards increasingly irrational goals that Kershaw sees as characteristic of Nazi Germany. In Kershaw's opinion, Stalin's power corresponded to Weber's category of bureaucratic authority, whereas Hitler's power corresponded to Weber's category of charismatic authority. In Kershaw's view, what happened in Germany after 1933 was the imposition of Hitler's charismatic authority on top of the "legal-rational" authority system that had existed prior to 1933, leading to a gradual breakdown of any system of ordered authority in Germany. Kershaw argues that by 1938 the German state had been reduced to a hopeless, polycratic shambles of rival agencies all competing with each other to win Hitler's favour, which by that time had become the only source of political legitimacy. Kershaw sees this rivalry as causing the "cumulative radicalization" of Germany, and argues that though Hitler always favoured the most radical solution to any problem, it was German officials themselves who for the most part, in attempting to win the Führer's approval, carried out on their own initiative increasingly "radical" solutions to perceived problems like the "Jewish Question", as opposed to being ordered to do so by Hitler. In this, Kershaw largely agrees with Mommsen's portrait of Hitler as a distant and remote leader standing in many ways above his own system, whose charisma and ideas served to set the general tone of politics. As an example of how Hitler's power functioned in practice, Kershaw used Hitler's directive to the Gauleiters Albert Forster and Arthur Greiser to "Germanize" the part of north-western Poland annexed to Germany in 1939 within the next 10 years with his promise that "no questions would be asked" about how this would be done. As Kershaw notes, the completely different ways Forster and Greiser sought to "Germanize" their Gaue with Forster simply having the local Polish population in his Gau signing forms saying they had "German blood" and Greiser carrying out a program of brutal ethnic cleansing of Poles in his Gau showed both how Hitler set events in motion, and how his Gauleiters could carry out totally different policies in pursuit of what they believed to be Hitler's wishes. In Kershaw's opinion, Hitler's vision of a racially cleansed Volksgemeinschaft provided the impetus for German officials to carry out increasingly extreme measures to win his approval, which ended with the Shoah.
The Israeli historian Otto Dov Kulka has praised the concept of "working towards the Führer" as the best way of understanding how the Holocaust occurred, combining the best features and avoiding the weaknesses of both the "functionalist" and "intentionalist" methods.
Thus, for Kershaw Nazi Germany was both a monocracy (rule of one) and polycracy (rule of many). Hitler held absolute power but did not choose to exercise it very much; the rival fiefdoms of the Nazi state fought each other and attempted to carry out Hitler's vaguely worded wishes and dimly defined orders by "Working Towards the Führer".
By KershawChristian Weber (SS general)
Christian Weber (25 August 1883 in Polsingen – 11 May 1945 in the Swabian Jura) was a German Nazi Party (NSDAP) official and member of the Schutzstaffel (SS).Comparison of Nazism and Stalinism
A number of authors have carried out comparisons of Nazism and Stalinism, in which they have considered the similarities and differences of the two ideologies and political systems, what relationship existed between the two regimes, and why both of them came to prominence at the same time. During the 20th century, the comparison of Stalinism and Nazism was made on the topics of totalitarianism, ideology, and personality cult. Both regimes were seen in contrast to the liberal West, with an emphasis on the similarities between the two. The political scientists Zbigniew Brzezinski, Hannah Arendt and Carl Friedrich and historian Robert Conquest were prominent advocates of applying the "totalitarian" concept to compare Nazism and Stalinism.Goebbels Diaries
The Goebbels Diaries are a collection of writings by Joseph Goebbels, a leading member of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) and the Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in Adolf Hitler's government from 1933 to 1945. The diaries, which have only recently been published in full in German and are available only in part in English, are a major source for the inner history of the Nazi Party and of its twelve years in power in Germany. The British historian Ian Kershaw wrote in the preface to his biography of Hitler: "For all the caution which must naturally be attached to Goebbels's regularly reported remarks by Hitler ... the immediacy as well as the frequency of the comments makes them a vitally important source of insight into Hitler's thinking and action."Holocaust victims
Holocaust victims were people who were targeted by the government of Nazi Germany for various discriminatory practices due to their ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, or sexual orientation. These institutionalized practices came to be called The Holocaust, and they began with legalized social discrimination against specific groups, and involuntary hospitalization, euthanasia, and forced sterilization of those considered physically or mentally unfit for society. These practices escalated during World War II to include non-judicial incarceration, confiscation of property, forced labor, sexual slavery, medical experimentation, and death through overwork, undernourishment, and execution through a variety of methods, with the genocide of different groups as the primary goal.
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), the country's official memorial to the Holocaust, "The Holocaust was the murder of six million Jews and millions of others by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II." The museum puts the total number of murdered during the Holocaust at 17 million: 6 million Jews and 11 million others.List of The Dumping Ground episodes
The Dumping Ground is a British children's drama series that focuses on the lives and experiences of young people and their care workers in care, broadcast on CBBC. The programme began on 4 January 2013, with one series airing each year since. As of 15 March 2019, 129 episodes of The Dumping Ground have aired.List of speeches given by Adolf Hitler
This list of speeches given by Adolf Hitler is an attempt to aggregate Adolf Hitler's speeches.Mit brennender Sorge
Mit brennender Sorge (listen ) German pronunciation: [mɪt ˈbʀɛnəndɐ ˈzɔʁɡə], "With burning concern") On the Church and the German Reich is an encyclical of Pope Pius XI, issued during the Nazi era on 10 March 1937 (but bearing a date of Passion Sunday, 14 March). Written in German, not the usual Latin, it was smuggled into Germany for fear of censorship and was read from the pulpits of all German Catholic churches on one of the Church's busiest Sundays, Palm Sunday (21 March that year).The encyclical condemned breaches of the 1933 Reichskonkordat agreement signed between the German Reich and the Holy See. It condemned "pantheistic confusion", "neopaganism", "the so-called myth of race and blood", and the idolizing of the State. It contained a vigorous defense of the Old Testament with the belief that it prepares the way for the New. The encyclical states that race is a fundamental value of the human community, which is necessary and honorable but condemns the exaltation of race, or the people, or the state, above their standard value to an idolatrous level. The encyclical declares "that man as a person possesses rights he holds from God, and which any collectivity must protect against denial, suppression or neglect." National Socialism, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party are not named in the document. The term "Reichsregierung" is used.The effort to produce and distribute over 300,000 copies of the letter was entirely secret, allowing priests across Germany to read the letter without interference. The Gestapo raided the churches the next day to confiscate all the copies they could find, and the presses that had printed the letter were closed. According to historian Ian Kershaw, an intensification of the general anti-church struggle began around April in response to the encyclical. Scholder wrote: "state officials and the Party reacted with anger and disapproval. Nevertheless the great reprisal that was feared did not come. The concordat remained in force and despite everything the intensification of the battle against the two churches which then began remained within ordinary limits." The regime further constrained the actions of the Church and harassed monks with staged prosecutions. Though Hitler is not named in the encyclical, it does refer to a "mad prophet" that some claim refers to Hitler himself.Peter Longerich
Peter Longerich (born 1955) is a German professor of history. He is regarded by fellow historians, including Ian Kershaw, Richard Evans, Timothy Snyder, Mark Roseman and Richard Overy, as one of the leading German authorities on the Holocaust.Religious aspects of Nazism
Historians, political scientists and philosophers have studied Nazism with a specific focus on its religious and pseudo-religious aspects. It has been debated whether Nazism would constitute a political religion, and there has also been research on the millenarian, messianic, and occult or esoteric aspects of Nazism.Religious views of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler's religious beliefs have been a matter of debate; Hitler considered himself and the Nazi movement to be strictly Christian. the wide consensus of historians consider him to have been irreligious, anti-Christian, anti-clerical and scientistic. In light of evidence such as his fierce criticism and vocal rejection of the tenets of Christianity, numerous private statements to confidants denouncing Christianity as a harmful superstition, and his strenuous efforts to reduce the influence and independence of Christianity in Germany after he came to power, Hitler's major academic biographers conclude that he was irreligious and an opponent of Christianity. Historian Laurence Rees found no evidence that "Hitler, in his personal life, ever expressed belief in the basic tenets of the Christian church". Ernst Hanfstaengl, a friend from his early days in politics, says Hitler "was to all intents and purposes an atheist by the time I got to know him". However, historians such as Richard Weikart and Alan Bullock doubt the assessment that he was a true atheist, suggesting that despite his dislike of Christianity he still clung to a form of spiritual belief.Hitler was born to a practicing Catholic mother, and was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church. From a young age, he expressed disbelief and hostility to Christianity. But in 1904, acquiescing to his mother's wish, he was confirmed at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Linz, Austria, where the family lived. According to John Willard Toland, witnesses indicate that Hitler's confirmation sponsor had to "drag the words out of him ... almost as though the whole confirmation was repugnant to him". Rissmann notes that, according to several witnesses who lived with Hitler in a men's home in Vienna, Hitler never again attended Mass or received the sacraments after leaving home.
Several eyewitnesses who lived with Hitler while he was in his late teens and early-to-mid 20s in Vienna state that he never attended church after leaving home at 18.In Hitler's early political statements, he attempted to express himself to the German public as a Christian. In his book Mein Kampf and in public speeches prior to and in the early years of his rule, he described himself as a Christian. Hitler and the Nazi party promoted "Positive Christianity", a movement which rejected most traditional Christian doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus, as well as Jewish elements such as the Old Testament. In one widely quoted remark, he described Jesus as an "Aryan fighter" who struggled against "the power and pretensions of the corrupt Pharisees" and Jewish materialism.While a small minority of historians accept these publicly stated views as genuine expressions of his spirituality, the vast majority believe that Hitler was skeptical of religion and anti-Christian, but recognized that he could only be elected and preserve his political power if he feigned a commitment to and belief in Christianity, which the overwhelming majority of Germans believed in. Privately, Hitler repeatedly deprecated Christianity, and told confidants that his reluctance to make public attacks on the Church was not a matter of principle, but a pragmatic political move. In his private diaries, Goebbels wrote in April 1941 that though Hitler was "a fierce opponent" of the Vatican and Christianity, "he forbids me to leave the church. For tactical reasons." Hitler's remarks to confidants, as described in the Goebbels Diaries, the memoirs of Albert Speer, and transcripts of Hitler's private conversations recorded by Martin Bormann in Hitler's Table Talk, are further evidence of his irreligious and anti-Christian beliefs; these sources record a number of private remarks in which Hitler ridicules Christian doctrine as absurd, contrary to scientific advancement, and socially destructive.Once in office, Hitler and his regime sought to reduce the influence of Christianity on society. From the mid-1930s, his government was increasingly dominated by militant anti-church proponents like Goebbels, Bormann, Himmler, Rosenberg and Heydrich whom Hitler appointed to key posts. These anti-church radicals were generally permitted or encouraged to perpetrate the Nazi persecutions of the churches. The regime launched an effort toward coordination of German Protestants under a unified Protestant Reich Church (but this was resisted by the Confessing Church), and moved early to eliminate political Catholicism. Hitler agreed to the Reich concordat with the Vatican, but then routinely ignored it, and permitted persecutions of the Catholic Church. Smaller religious minorities faced harsher repression, with the Jews of Germany expelled for extermination on the grounds of Nazi racial ideology. Jehovah's Witnesses were ruthlessly persecuted for refusing both military service and allegiance to Hitler's movement. Hitler said he anticipated a coming collapse of Christianity in the wake of scientific advances, and that Nazism and religion could not co-exist long term. Although he was prepared to delay conflicts for political reasons, historians conclude that he ultimately intended the destruction of Christianity in Germany, or at least its distortion or subjugation to a Nazi outlook.Sexuality of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler's sexuality has long been a matter of historical and scholarly debate, as well as speculation and rumour. There is evidence that he had relationships with a number of women during his lifetime, as well as evidence of his antipathy to homosexuality, and no evidence of homosexual encounters. His name has been linked to a number of possible female lovers, two of whom committed suicide. A third died of complications eight years after a suicide attempt, and a fourth also attempted suicide.
Hitler created a public image of a celibate man without a domestic life, dedicated entirely to his political mission and the nation of Nazi Germany. His relationship with Eva Braun, which lasted nearly 14 years, was hidden from the public and all but his inner circle. Braun biographer Heike Görtemaker notes that the couple enjoyed a normal sex life. Hitler and Braun married in late April 1945, less than 40 hours before committing suicide together.
Two wartime reports by the Allies attempted to analyse Hitler psychologically. Walter C. Langer's 1943 report for the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) describes Hitler as having repressed homosexual tendencies and opined that he was an impotent coprophile. Psychologist Henry Murray wrote a separate psychoanalytical report for the OSS in 1943 that drew similar conclusions. Otto Strasser, one of Hitler's opponents in the Nazi Party, also told his post-war interrogators a similar story. British historian Sir Ian Kershaw describes Strasser's statement as "anti-Hitler propaganda".In research following Hitler's death, a variety of claims have been made about Hitler's sexual orientation: that he was gay, bisexual, or asexual. Conclusive evidence is lacking, but most historians believe he was heterosexual. There is at least one claim that Hitler had an illegitimate child (named Jean-Marie Loret) with one of his lovers. Mainstream historians, such as Kershaw, dismiss this as unlikely or impossible.Strasserism
Strasserism (German: Strasserismus or Straßerismus) is a strand of Nazism that calls for a more radical, mass-action and worker-based form of Nazism—hostile to Jews not from a racial, ethnic, cultural or religious perspective, but from an anti-capitalist basis—to achieve a national rebirth. It derives its name from Gregor and Otto Strasser, the two Nazi brothers initially associated with this position.
Otto Strasser, opposed on strategic views to Adolf Hitler, was expelled from the Nazi Party in 1930 and went into exile in Czechoslovakia, while Gregor Strasser was murdered in Germany on 30 June 1934 during the Night of the Long Knives. Strasserism remains an active position within strands of neo-Nazism.The Third Reich Trilogy
The Third Reich Trilogy is a series of three narrative history books by the British historian Richard J. Evans covering the rise and collapse of Nazi Germany in detail, with a focus on the internal politics and the decision-making process. According to Ian Kershaw, it is "the most comprehensive history in any language of the disastrous epoch of the Third Reich", which has been hailed as a "masterpiece of historical scholarship." The three volumes of the trilogy were published between 2003 and 2008.
All of the maps were created by András Bereznay.Thule Society
The Thule Society (; German: Thule-Gesellschaft), originally the Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum ("Study Group for Germanic Antiquity"), was a German occultist and völkisch group founded in Munich right after World War I, named after a mythical northern country in Greek legend. The society is notable chiefly as the organization that sponsored the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP; German Workers' Party), which was later reorganized by Adolf Hitler into the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP or Nazi Party). According to Hitler biographer Ian Kershaw, the organization's "membership list ... reads like a Who's Who of early Nazi sympathizers and leading figures in Munich", including Rudolf Hess, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Julius Lehmann, Gottfried Feder, Dietrich Eckart, and Karl Harrer.However, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke contends that Hans Frank and Rudolf Hess had been Thule members, but other leading Nazis had only been invited to speak at Thule meetings or they were entirely unconnected with it. According to Johannes Hering, "There is no evidence that Hitler ever attended the Thule Society."War of the Century
War of the Century: When Hitler Fought Stalin, is a BBC documentary film series that examines Adolf Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and the no-holds-barred war on both sides. It not only examines the war but also the terror inside the Soviet Union at the time due to the paranoia of Joseph Stalin—the revenge atrocities, the Great Purge of army officers, the near-lunatic orders, and the paranoia of being upstaged by others, especially Marshal Zhukov. The historical adviser is Ian Kershaw.Werner Willikens
Werner Willikens (8 February 1893 in Vienenburg – 25 October 1961 in Wolfenbüttel) was a German politician with the Nazi Party. His phrase "working towards the Fuehrer", which he used in a 1934 speech, has become a common description of Nazi bureaucracy in the literature.
Winners of the Wolfson History Prize