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Wolfgang Mommsen

Wolfgang Mommsen is an emeritus professor at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf.

Hitler

Wolfgang Mommsen, 19 August 1999

To write a satisfactory biography of Adolf Hitler is perhaps the greatest challenge a historian can face. Hitler was a demagogue and a skilful manipulator rather than a statesman, someone guided by a crude ideology which made up for its total lack of intellectual substance by a self-affirming radicalism. His worldview was simplistic and devoid of coherence, let alone plausibility. He attributed all the evils of his time to the sinister operations of world Jewry and Bolshevism, which he saw as closely intertwined, and bent on destroying not only the German people but all of Western culture. Even today it is difficult to see how a man with such absurd and insubstantial views could ever have taken charge of a major European nation with a sophisticated culture and a firmly established legal order.

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