Martin Broszat (14 August 1926 – 14 October 1989) was a German historian specializing in modern German social history whose work has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians as indispensable for any serious study of Nazi Germany.
Broszat was born in Leipzig, Germany and studied history at the University of Leipzig (1944–1949) and at the University of Cologne (1949–1952). He married Alice Welter in 1953 and had three children. He served as a professor at the University of Cologne (1954–1955), at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich (1955–1989) and was a Professor Emeritus at the University of Konstanz (1969–1980). He was head of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte (Institute of Contemporary History) between 1972 and 1989.
Throughout his career, Broszat successfully hid the fact that he had been a member of the Nazi party since 1944. This only came out after his death, but did not seem to trouble his academic supporters. The concealment raises serious questions which have yet to be fully resolved.
|Born||14 August 1926|
|Died||14 October 1989 (aged 63)|
|Known for||Arguing against characterizing Nazi Germany as a totalitarian regime|
Throughout his academic career, a recurring interest for Broszat, like many German historians of the "Hitler Youth generation", was the question of why and how National Socialism occurred in Germany. Broszat wrote his dissertation on anti-Semitism in Germany during the Second Reich. As a historian, Broszat was most interested in exploring historical occurrences and the actions of individuals by scrutinizing the broader social structure that underlay the events of the past. In his 1960 book Der Nationalsozialismus (translated into English in 1966 as German National Socialism 1919–1945), Broszat examined Nazi ideology, which he regarded as incoherent. For Broszat, the constants were anti-communism, anti-Semitism and the perceived need for Lebensraum. In Broszat's view, these were a cloak for the essence of National Socialism, irrational emotions: an intense desire to realize the "rebirth" of "the German nation"; the need to "act" and irrational hatred directed against those considered Volksfeinde (enemies of the German People) and Volksfremde (those foreign to the German "race").
From the mid-1950s, Broszat served as one of the co-editors of the DTV Weltgeschichte journal. Initially, Broszat's work focused on German Ostpolitik (Eastern Policy) in the 19th and 20th centuries and of the muddled socialism of the Nazis. Broszat's work on German-Polish relations in the 19th–20th centuries was to ultimately win him accolades in Poland as one of the first German historians to offer an honest account of German–Polish relations.
In 1962, Broszat wrote a letter to the Die Zeit newspaper to "hammer home, once more, the persistently ignored or denied difference between concentration and extermination camps". Broszat noted the differences between concentration camps, which were places where the inmates were consistently mistreated but were not the subject of annihilation and death camps, which existed to exterminate people.
In 1961, when the Polish-Jewish historian Joseph Wulf accused the prominent German doctor Dr Wilhelm Hagen, who served in the health department of the General Government during the war, of helping to liquidate Jews living in the Warsaw Ghetto, Broszat together with other experts from the Institute of Contemporary History were involved in the effort to silence Wulf during an exchange of letters in 1963. The British historian Ian Kershaw wrote that the Broszat-Wulf letters did not present Broszat in the best light, especially that Broszat seemed to have abandoned his support for Dr. Hagen very reluctantly and to have accepted Wulf's version only half-heartedly.
At the 1963–1965 Auschwitz Trial in Frankfurt, Broszat together with other experts from the Institute of Contemporary History such as Helmut Krausnick, Hans-Adolf Jacobsen and Hans Buchheim served as expert witnesses for the prosecution. The report that they compiled for the prosecution served as the basis for their 1968 book Anatomy of the SS State, the first comprehensive study of the SS based on SS records. In 1983, Broszat together with the other experts from Institute for Contemporary History played a prominent role in debunking the Hitler Diaries.
Broszat argued against characterizing Nazi Germany as a totalitarian regime and criticized Karl Dietrich Bracher and Ernst Nolte for advancing such a notion. With Hans Mommsen, Broszat developed a "structuralist" interpretation of Nazi Germany. Broszat saw Nazi Germany as a welter of competing institutions, putting forth the thesis that this internal rivalry, not Adolf Hitler, provided the driving force behind Nazi Germany. Hitler in Broszat's controversial view, was (to use Mommsen's phrase), a "weak dictator"; as such, the Government of Nazi Germany was not a monocracy (rule by one man), rather a polycracy (rule by many).
In his 1969 book Der Staat Hitlers (The Hitler State), Broszat argued that Nazi Germany was dominated by a power struggle by various institutions and that these power struggles explained the course that Nazi Germany took. Broszat pointed out that the Nazi State was dualistic; the normal institutions of the German state, (theoretically Nazified) operating in parallel to institutions of the Nazi Party, a rival power structure.
That the Nazi state was a jumble of competing bureaucracies in perpetual power struggles has been widely accepted by historians. The second element, that Hitler was a "weak dictator" is less influential on the grounds that although Hitler did not involve himself much in daily administration, this apparent neglect stemmed not from an inability to do so (as Broszat suggested) but a lack of interest in the quotidian.
In Broszat's view, the evidence was lacking for the thesis that Hitler was executing a "Programme" in his foreign policy. In the same way, Broszat offered up harsh criticism of Hillgruber's book on German-Romanian relations by arguing that Hillgruber had seriously misunderstood the Reich's relations with Romania by focusing only on the Auswärtiges Amt and upon Hitler.
In an article first published in the Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte journal in 1977, later translated into English as "Hitler and the Genesis of the 'Final Solution': An Assessment of David Irving's Theses", Broszat criticized David Irving's argument in his book Hitler's War that Hitler was unaware of the Holocaust but did accept Irving's argument that there was no written order from Hitler for the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question". Broszat's essay was notable as the first account of the origins of the Holocaust by a respected historian in which responsibility for the genocide was not assigned entirely to Hitler.
Broszat argued that the radical anti-Semitism of the Nazis had led them to embark on increasingly extreme attempts to expel the Jews of Europe, and after the failure of successive deportation schemes, the lower officials of the Nazi state had started exterminating people on their own initiative.
In the same essay, Broszat was extremely critical of Irving's handling of sources, accusing him of repeatedly seeking to distort the historical record in Hitler's favor.
Broszat was a pioneer of Alltagsgeschichte (history of everyday life). To pursue this aim better he led the "Bavaria Project" between 1977 and 1983, which was intended be a comprehensive look at Alltagsgeschichte in Bavaria between 1933 and 1945. In Bayern in der NS-Zeit ("Bavaria in the National Socialist Era") as the six volumes written by the "Bavaria Project" team and edited by Broszat were entitled, depicted actions such as refusal to give the Nazi salute or regularly attending church as a type of resistance. The emphasis upon resistance in "everyday life" in the "Bavaria Project" portrayed Widerstand (resistance) not as a contrast between black and white but rather shades of grey, noting that people who often refused to behave as the Nazi regime wanted in one area often conformed in others; as an example the Bavarian peasants who did business with Jewish cattle dealers in the 1930s despite the efforts of the Nazi regime to stop these transactions otherwise often expressed approval of the anti-Semitic laws.
Through his work on the "Bavaria Project", Broszat formed the concept of Resistenz (immunity), which is not to be confused with resistance (in German Widerstand). Resistenz referred to the ability of institutions such as the Wehrmacht, the Roman Catholic Church and the bureaucracy to enjoy "immunity" from the Nazi claims to total power and to function according to their traditional values, without seeking to challenge the Nazi regime's political monopoly. Broszat used the Resistenz concept to advance the view that at the local level, there was much continuity in Germany between the Weimar Era and the Nazi era.
During the Historikerstreit of 1986–1988, Broszat again strongly criticized Nolte's views and work. In a 1986 essay entitled "Where the Roads Part" in Die Zeit on 3 October 1986, Broszat called Nolte an obnoxious crank and attacked him for his "offensive" claims that the Holocaust had in someway been forced on the Nazi regime by fear of the Soviet Union. As a socialist, Broszat argued against attempts to promote a "less extreme" view of the Nazi period.
He was best known for arguing in a 1985 essay "A Plea For the Historicization of National Socialism" that Nazi Germany should be treated as a "normal" period of history. His call for "historicization" of the treatment of Nazi Germany was controversial, as Broszat called for historians to cease judging the period in overtly moralistic tones and to embark instead upon scientific, dispassionate analysis as they would for any other time.
Broszat called the "normalization" of the Nazi era by focusing on Alltagsgeschichte approach that allow shades of gray by examining both the "normality" of "everyday life" and the "barbarity" of the regime. He wrote that "not all those historically significant developments which occurred in Germany during the Nazi period merely served the regime's goals of inhuman and dictatorial domination" and called for a broader look at the Nazi era. Broszat used as an example of his approach, the wide-ranging reform of the German social insurance system proposed in 1940 by the DAF, which Broszat argued was in many ways the forerunner of the West German social insurance plan of 1957 with such features as pensions guaranteed by the state indexed to the level of GNP (which was not surprising given that many of the same people worked on both plans) In response to Broszat's call for the "historization" of National Socialism, the historian Rainer Zitelmann suggested that Broszat's "historization" approach was a fruitful view that just as not everything was evil in the Soviet Union, not everything was evil about Nazi Germany and that the Nazi regime accomplished many successful social reforms
Broszat's call for the "historicization" of the Nazi era as opposed to the "demonization" of the period, involved him in a vigorous debate with three Israeli historians in the latter half of the 1980s. The three historians Broszat debated were Otto Dov Kulka, Dan Diner and above all with the Franco-Israeli historian Saul Friedländer. The debate between Broszat and Friedländer were conducted through a series of letters between 1987 until Broszat's death in 1989. In 1990, the Broszat-Friedländer correspondence were translated into English and published in Reworking the Past Hitler, The Holocaust and the Historians' Debate edited by Peter Baldwin. Broszat's position was highly questionable inasmuch as it refuted the legitimacy of Jewish historiography in favour of objective history. In effect this meant that the perpetrators were (in his view) better able to assess the Holocaust than the victims.
Broszat's "historicization" concept was criticized the Israeli historian Omer Bartov. By contrast, the American historian John Lukacs, the German philosopher Jürgen Habermas,, the German historian Hans Mommsen and the British historian Richard J. Evans supported Broszat's concept.
Broszat saw his work as kritische Aufklärungsarbeit ("critical enlightenment work") and criticized his colleagues for adopting what he perceived as an ahistorical, moralistic approach to history. Broszat's motto was "Geschichte ist nicht Wissen, sondern Leben" (History is not knowledge, but experience"). Broszat often attacked historians such as Klaus Hildebrand, Andreas Hillgruber and Eberhard Jäckel for concentrating upon Hitler and his beliefs as explanations for Nazi actions. Broszat saw professional history as a social science that should examine society and culture rather than an individual in explaining the past. Though in disagreement with some of Broszat's conclusions, the British historian Sir Ian Kershaw is Broszat's leading disciple.
In 2002, the American historian Nicholas Berg revealed that Broszat had joined the N.S.D.A.P, and then had hidden his party membership after the war, which Berg used to suggest that Broszat's work was an apologia for National Socialism. Berg's attack generated much controversy about the legacy of Broszat. In response, Kershaw wrote that though Broszat's letters to Wulf were a "mistake", Berg's claims that Broszat was a Nazi apologist were "absurd".
As part of the „Arbeitsscheu Reich“ (work-shy Reich) in April and in June 1938 in two waves of arrests more than 10,000 men as so-called "black triangle anti-social elements" to concentration camps. During the so-called June-action were also arrested about 2,500 Jews who had received previous convictions for varied reasons.Albert Buchmann
Albert Buchmann (28 October 1894 – 17 May 1975) was a German politician. He was a member of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) and was Reichstag deputy of the party from 1924 to 1933.Alter Botanischer Garten (Munich)
Old Botanical garden is located in Maxvorstadt, Munich, Bavaria, Germany.Antisemitism (authors)
This is a list of authors in the field of antisemitism in alphabetical order.Christopher Browning
Christopher Robert Browning (born May 22, 1944) is an American historian, known best for his works on the Holocaust. Browning received his bachelor's degree from Oberlin College in 1968 and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1975. He taught at Pacific Lutheran University from 1974 to 1999, eventually becoming a Distinguished Professor. In 1999, he moved to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to accept an appointment as Frank Porter Graham Professor of History. Browning was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006. Browning retired from teaching in Spring 2014.Encyclopedia of the Holocaust
The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust (1990) has been called "the most recognized reference book on the Holocaust". It was published in an English-language translated edition by Macmillan in tandem with the Hebrew language original edition published by Yad Vashem (יד ושם), the Holocaust Remembrance Authority in Israel. All its contributors are reputable Holocaust scholars and academics. Although the encyclopedia is easy to read and use and contains no disturbing pictures, it is not recommended for users younger than high school age.
The Encyclopedia was the winner of the 1991 American Library Association’s Dartmouth Medal.Frankfurt Auschwitz trials
The Frankfurt Auschwitz trials, known in German as der Auschwitz-Prozess, or der zweite Auschwitz-Prozess, (the "second Auschwitz trial") was a series of trials running from 20 December 1963 to 19 August 1965, charging 22 defendants under German criminal law for their roles in the Holocaust as mid- to lower-level officials in the Auschwitz-Birkenau death and concentration camp complex. Hans Hofmeyer led as Chief Judge the "criminal case against Mulka and others" (reference number 4 Ks 2/63).
Overall, only 789 individuals of the approximately 8,200 surviving SS personnel who served at Auschwitz and its sub-camps were ever tried, of which 750 received sentences. Unlike the first trial in Poland held almost two decades earlier, the trials in Frankfurt were not based on the legal definition of crimes against humanity as recognized by international law, but according to the state laws of the Federal Republic.Functionalism versus intentionalism
Functionalism versus intentionalism is a historiographical debate about the origins of the Holocaust as well as most aspects of the Third Reich, such as foreign policy. The debate on the origins of the Holocaust centres on essentially two questions:
Was there a master plan on the part of Adolf Hitler to launch the Holocaust? Intentionalists argue there was such a plan, while functionalists argue there was not.
Did the initiative for the Holocaust come from above with orders from Adolf Hitler or from below within the ranks of the German bureaucracy? Although neither side disputes the reality of the Holocaust, nor is there serious dispute over the premise that Hitler (as Führer) was personally responsible for encouraging the anti-Semitism that allowed the Holocaust to take place, intentionalists argue the initiative came from above, while functionalists contend it came from lower ranks within the bureaucracy.The terms were coined in a 1981 essay by the British Marxist historian Timothy Mason. Notable functionalists have included Raul Hilberg, Christopher Browning, Hans Mommsen, Martin Broszat, and Zygmunt Bauman. Notable intentionalists have included Andreas Hillgruber, Karl Dietrich Bracher, Klaus Hildebrand, Eberhard Jäckel, Richard Breitman, Lucy Dawidowicz and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen.Historiography of Germany
The historiography of Germany deals with the manner in which historians have depicted, analyzed and debated the History of Germany. It also covers the popular memory of critical historical events, ideas and leaders, as well as the depiction of those events in museums, monuments, reenactments, pageants and historic sites, and the editing of historical documents.Hitler's War
Hitler's War is a biographical book by David Irving. It describes the Second World War from the point of view of Adolf Hitler.
It was first published in April 1977 by Hodder & Stoughton and Viking Press. Avon Books reissued it in 1990. In 2002, Focal Point Publications published a revised illustrated edition, combined together with Irving's The War Path, as a 1024-page hardcover.Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw (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 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".Institute of Contemporary History (Munich)
The Institute of Contemporary History (Institut für Zeitgeschichte) in Munich was conceived in 1947 under the name Deutsches Institut für Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Zeit ("German Institute of the History of the National Socialist Era"). Founded by the German government and the State of Bavaria at the suggestion of the Allied Forces, it was established in 1949 and renamed in 1952. Its purpose is the analysis of contemporary German history.
The Institute is funded by the German government, and the German states of Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Brandenburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony. The first director of the Institute was Hans Rothfels, the second director was Martin Broszat. Representatives of the supporting states are also members of the Institute's board.
Since 1953, the Institute has been publishing the journal Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte ("Contemporary History Quarterly"), which is regarded as one of the most important publications of German historical research. The Institute has also published extensive editions of contemporary historical documents, such as The Foreign Policy Files of the Bundesrepublik Deutschland and The Diaries of Joseph Goebbels.
In 1994, the Institute founded a branch in Potsdam, which has been based near the German Federal Archives since 1996. The focus of research at the Berlin branch of the Institute is the history of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The branch Abteilung des IfZ im Auswärtigen Amt ("IfZ Department in the Foreign Office"), founded in 1990 (first situated in Bonn; in Berlin, since 2000), publishes documents from the German Foreign Office.
In 1999, the Institute conceived the Dokumentationszentrum Obersalzberg museum on the Obersalzberg near Berchtesgaden at the request of the Bavarian government. This exhibition documents the construction of the Obersalzberg into a showy residence for Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist leadership circles. Visitors can tour the bunker complex. (Access to the bunkers was closed for construction in September 2017 and remained closed in July 2018 "until further notice".)Magnum Crimen
The Magnum Crimen is a book about clericalism in Croatia from the end of 19th century until the end of the Second World War. The book, whose full title is Magnum crimen – pola vijeka klerikalizma u Hrvatskoj (The Great Crime – a half-century of clericalism in Croatia), was written by a former Catholic priest and a professor and historian at Belgrade University, Viktor Novak (1889–1977). The book was first published in Zagreb in 1948.Immediately after the book was published, the Roman Curia placed this book on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum and pronounced anathema against the author.Merger of the KPD and SPD into the Socialist Unity Party of Germany
The merger of the Communist Party of Germany (German: Kommunistische Partei Deutschlands, KPD) and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (German: Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands, SPD) into the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (German: Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands, SED) occurred on 21 April 1946 in the territory of the Soviet occupation zone. It is considered a forced merger. In the course of the merger, about 5,000 Social Democrats who opposed it were detained and sent to camps and jails.Although nominally a merger of equals, the merged party quickly fell under Communist domination. The SED became the ruling party of the German Democratic Republic in 1949; by then, it had become a full-fledged Communist party–for all intents and purposes, the KPD under a new name. It developed along lines similar to other Communist parties in what became the Eastern bloc. The SED would be the de facto sole party of the GDR until 1989.Nazi foreign policy debate
The foreign policy and war aims of the Nazis have been the subject of debate among historians. The Nazis governed Germany between 1933 and 1945. There has been disagreement over whether Adolf Hitler aimed solely at European expansion and domination, or whether he planned for a long-term global empire.RAVSIGUR
RAVSIGUR, a shortening of Ravnateljstvo za javni red i sigurnost ('Directorate for Public Order and Security'), later known as GRAVSIGUR in 1943, was a Croatian supervisory department in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The purpose of the department was to supervise police activities in Croatia. The system was similar in concept to that used in Germany under the Third Reich.Richard Glücks
Richard Glücks (22 April 1889 – 10 May 1945) was a high-ranking German Nazi official in the SS. From November 1939 until the end of World War II, he was Concentration Camps Inspector (CCI), which became Amt D: Konzentrationslagerwesen under the WVHA in Nazi Germany. As a direct subordinate of Heinrich Himmler, he was responsible for the forced labour of the camp inmates, and was also the supervisor for the medical practices in the camps, ranging from human experimentation to the implementation of the "Final Solution", in particular the mass murder of inmates with Zyklon-B gas. After Germany capitulated, Glücks committed suicide by swallowing a potassium cyanide capsule.Stoßtrupp-Hitler
Stoßtrupp-Hitler or Stosstrupp-Hitler ("Shock Troop-Hitler") was a small short-lived bodyguard unit set up specifically for Adolf Hitler in 1923. Notable members included Rudolf Hess, Julius Schreck, Joseph Berchtold, Emil Maurice, Erhard Heiden, Ulrich Graf, and Bruno Gesche.Ustashe Militia
The Ustaše Militia (Croatian: Ustaška vojnica) was military branch of the Ustaše, established by the fascist regime of Ante Pavelić in the Axis puppet state the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) in Yugoslavia during World War II.
The Ustaše militia went through a series of re-organisations during its existence, during which it expanded to include all armed elements of the NDH government outside of the Croatian Home Guard, navy and air force. It amalgamated with the Home Guard in December 1944 – January 1945 to form the Croatian Armed Forces (Hrvatske oružane snage, HOS), although the amalgamation did not result in a homogeneous organisation, and former Ustaše militia officers dominated its operations and held most HOS command positions.
The Ustaše militia were responsible for some of the most egregious atrocities committed during World War II, including performing a key role in the establishment and operation of about 20 concentration camps in the NDH. It included such notorious units as the Black Legion (Crna Legija) commanded by Jure Francetić and Rafael Boban and the Ustaša Defence Brigades commanded by Vjekoslav Luburić.