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Neanderthals, Denisovans and Modern Humans

Steven Mithen: Denisovans meet Neanderthals, 13 September 2018

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past 
by David Reich.
Oxford, 368 pp., £20, March 2018, 978 0 19 882125 0
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... past. The extraction and analysis of ancient DNA from human skeletal remains, the field in which David Reich is a leading researcher, is a technical advance that eclipses the advent of radiocarbon dating in the 1950s, and is already transforming our knowledge, not only of human biological evolution, but also of human history and culture. The potential ...


David Midgley: Martin Walser, 8 August 2002

Tod eines Kritikers 
by Martin Walser.
Suhrkamp, 219 pp., €19.90, June 2002, 3 518 41378 3
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... that it was a ‘document of hatred’, a fantasy ‘execution’ of the literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki. In Walser’s book a novelist called Hans Lach is under arrest on suspicion of murdering André Ehrl-König, critic and host of a TV book programme, who had excoriated Lach’s work on his show. Reich-Ranicki was ...

The Big Show

David Blackbourn, 3 March 1983

‘Hitler’: A Film from Germany 
by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg, translated by Joachim Neugroschel, introduced by Susan Sontag.
Carcanet, 268 pp., £9.95, December 1982, 0 85635 405 8
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... with the German past. It is anything but straightforward and brings its own snares. The Third Reich is chic. We have recently had a Hitler boom, works which peddle sex in the concentration camp and orgies in the bunker. Syberberg is not alone in his contempt for this. Less obviously pernicious, but arguably no more helpful, is a long-standing form of ...

The Greatest Warlord

David Blackbourn: Hitler, 22 March 2001

Hitler, 1936-45: Nemesis 
by Ian Kershaw.
Allen Lane, 1115 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 7139 9229 8
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... have engaged in heated debate over how exactly we should view Hitler’s role within the Third Reich. Was he a man whose blueprint was translated into action by subordinates, or did he stand on top of a ‘polycracy’ of competing power-structures? The argument between ‘intentionalists’ and ‘structuralists’ is where Ian Kershaw came in. Originally ...

Short Cuts

David Motadel: The Crimean Tatars, 17 April 2014

... all’, Manstein urged his soldiers to treat the Muslim population well and to present the Third Reich as a protector of Islam: ‘Respect for religious customs, particularly those of the Mohammedan Tartars, must be demanded.’ Wehrmacht officials supported the reopening of mosques, prayer halls and madrasas, and the reintroduction of religious holidays and ...

Drowning out the Newsreel

Katie Trumpener: Nazi Cinema, 12 March 2009

Nazis and the Cinema 
by Susan Tegel.
Continuum, 324 pp., £30, April 2008, 978 1 84725 211 1
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Cinema and the Swastika: The International Expansion of Third Reich Cinema 
edited by Roel Vande Winkel and David Welch.
Palgrave, 342 pp., £62, February 2007, 978 1 4039 9491 2
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Prague in Danger: The Years of German Occupation 1939-45 
by Peter Demetz.
Farrar, Straus, 274 pp., $25, April 2009, 978 0 374 28126 7
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... his newly created propaganda ministry set to work. During his first year in office, he founded the Reich Film Chamber, which systematically barred Jews and left-wingers from Germany’s film industry, pushing thousands into exile; in 1938, in a decree announced the day after Kristallnacht, Jewish viewers were banned from Germany’s cinemas. In the intervening ...


Christopher Turner: Summerhill School and the real Orgasmatron, 3 June 2004

... with steel wool – had been invented in 1940 by the eccentric Austrian psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich for the purpose of improving its users’ ‘orgastic potency’ and by extension their general, and above all mental, health. It became fashionable in the 1950s and 1960s, and was used by such countercultural figureheads as Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs ...

More Reconciliation than Truth

David Blackbourn: Germany’s Postwar Amnesties, 31 October 2002

Adenauer’s Germany and the Nazi Past: The Politics of Amnesty and Integration 
by Norbert Frei, translated by Joel Golb.
Columbia, 479 pp., £24.50, September 2002, 0 231 11882 1
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... term, Germans have made a good job of confronting the criminal, genocidal character of the Third Reich. Historical writing, schoolbooks, literary works, public and political debate all point to an engagement with the years 1933-45 that came earlier and was more intense than anything we find in Japan, or in Austria, self-styled ‘first victim’ of National ...

Black Legends

David Blackbourn: Prussia, 16 November 2006

Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600-1947 
by Christopher Clark.
Allen Lane, 777 pp., £30, August 2006, 0 7139 9466 5
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... West German historians laboured to deny any connection between historic Prussia and the Third Reich; the generation of ‘critical historians’ that followed saw the malign continuities of Prussia-Germany as axiomatic. During the 1980s these arguments were fought on the familiar terrain of exhibitions, museums and heritage, with the added twist that the ...

Soldier’s Soldier

Brian Bond, 4 March 1982

Auchinleck: The Lonely Soldier 
by Philip Warner.
Buchan and Enright, 288 pp., £10.50, November 1981, 9780907675006
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Das ReichResistance and the March of the 2nd SS Panzer Division through France, June 1944 
by Max Hastings.
Joseph, 264 pp., £9.95, November 1981, 0 7181 2074 4
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... offered much information on Auchinleck’s post-war reflections (in two recorded interviews with David Dimbleby), and assessments and anecdotes from a variety of admirers ranging from generals to an ex-batman. It is a pity that this material was not woven into the text in the appropriate places. Sadly it must be admitted that the Auk did not give much ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Dirtiest Player Around, 10 October 2013

... the way to understand Damian McBride’s relationship to Gordon Brown is by analogy with the Third Reich. McBride didn’t need to take direct orders from his boss because he already understood the violence that Brown wished on his enemies. The underling was working towards the Führer. Alastair Campbell, speaking on Andrew Neil’s Daily Politics, thinks the ...

In the Opposite Direction

David Blackbourn: Enzensberger, 25 March 2010

The Silences of Hammerstein 
by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, translated by Martin Chalmers.
Seagull, 465 pp., £20, 1 906497 22 2
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... inventors, engineers; a fair number of them – Charles Fourier, for example, and Wilhelm Reich – were completely crazy, though crazy in interesting ways. Enzensberger’s verse does two things superbly. It captures the mental states of its subjects (which often means their desolation or unhappiness), and it shows us that the ideas and artefacts of ...

Mrs Schumann’s Profession

Denis Arnold, 22 May 1986

The Cambridge Music Guide 
edited by Stanley Sadie and Alison Latham.
Cambridge, 544 pp., £15, October 1985, 0 521 25946 0
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Tudor Music 
by David Wulstan.
Dent, 378 pp., £20, October 1985, 0 460 04412 5
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The Music Profession in Britain since the 18th Century: A Social History 
by Cyril Ehrlich.
Oxford, 269 pp., £22.50, January 1986, 0 19 822665 9
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Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman 
by Nancy Reich.
Gollancz, 346 pp., £15.95, October 1985, 0 575 03755 5
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Lorenzo Da Ponte: The Life and Times of Mozart’s Librettist 
by Sheila Hodges.
Granada, 274 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 246 12001 0
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... the better class of sleeve-note in his record collection will hardly have need of it. The title of David Wulstan’s book Tudor Music promises well. The periodisation of music into ‘Medieval’ and ‘Renaissance’ is misleading for virtually every country except Italy, and Professor Wulstan’s selection of the Tudor monarchs as setting a time-scale has ...

At the RA

John-Paul Stonard: Anselm Kiefer , 6 November 2014

... taking place in West Germany. Those who were too young to have taken an active part in the Third Reich (the ‘blessed’ generation in Helmut Kohl’s phrase), were confronted with a society still dominated by collaborators. The task was to hold a mirror up to West German society, to show what it had been, and to some extent what it still was. Anselm ...

Theme-Park Prussia

David Blackbourn, 24 November 1994

Prussia: The Perversion of an Idea 
by Giles MacDonogh.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 456 pp., £20, July 1994, 1 85619 267 9
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... Gerhard Ritter insisted that the main line of Prussian history had nothing to do with the Third Reich: the aristocratic plotters of July 1944 represented the true Prussia, embodying an honourable ‘other Germany’ that stretched back to Frederick the Great and the Great Elector. Nazism was aberration, not culmination, the evil fruit of French Jacobin ...

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