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Weimarama

Richard J.Evans, 8 November 1990

Male Fantasies Vol. I: Women, Floods, Bodies, History 
by Klaus Theweleit, translated by Chris Turner, Erica Carter and Stephen Conway.
Polity, 517 pp., £35, May 1987, 0 7456 0382 3
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Male Fantasies Vol. II: Male Bodies: Psychoanalysing the White Terror 
by Klaus Theweleit, translated by Chris Turner, Erica Carter and Stephen Conway.
Polity, 507 pp., £35, September 1989, 0 7456 0556 7
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... with a sudden glowing shudder, a gust of wind across a placid lake. He says nothing, but with a jolt his breath rushes into his blood, filling it with pearls of pure, quivering bubbles, a gushing froth, just as the blood of men shot in the lungs leaves them lying yellow and silent like corpses, while the blood spurts ...

A Most Irksome Matter

Richard J.Evans: Murder in 18th-century Hamburg, 6 July 2006

Liaisons Dangereuses: Sex, Law and Diplomacy in the Age of Frederick the Great 
by Mary Lindemann.
Johns Hopkins, 353 pp., £23.50, May 2006, 0 8018 8317 2
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... ease their passage into the city’s cosmopolitan social life. One such was the Silesian nobleman Joseph, Baron von Kesslitz, who arrived in 1773 with a commission to recruit troops for the Prussian army. Forty years old, and unmarried, Kesslitz had fought for Frederick the Great in the Seven Years’ War. A brave and often impetuous officer, he was highly ...

Thank you, Dr Morell

Richard J.Evans: Was Hitler ill?, 21 February 2013

Was Hitler Ill? 
by Hans-Joachim Neumann and Henrik Eberle, translated by Nick Somers.
Polity, 244 pp., £20, November 2012, 978 0 7456 5222 1
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... deputy, Rudolf Hess, who had deluded himself that he could persuade the British to make peace, a joke went round Berlin. ‘So you’re the madman,’ Churchill says to Hess. ‘No,’ Hess replies, ‘only his deputy!’ That Hitler was insane was something many Germans came to believe in the later stages of the war. If they had known in 1932 what they knew ...

Let’s Learn from the English

Richard J.Evans: The Nazi Empire, 25 September 2008

Hitler’s Empire: Nazi Rule in Occupied Europe 
by Mark Mazower.
Allen Lane, 726 pp., £30, June 2008, 978 0 7139 9681 4
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... As a young man, Adolf Hitler became a devotee of the music-dramas of Richard Wagner, and spent much of his meagre income on tickets for performances of Lohengrin and other pseudo-medieval fantasies. Historians have spent a good deal of energy trying to trace the effects of this youthful passion on the later dictator’s ideas and beliefs ...

Who remembers the Poles?

Richard J.Evans: Between Hitler and Stalin, 4 November 2010

Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin 
by Timothy Snyder.
Bodley Head, 524 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 224 08141 2
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... Turks during the First World War, Hitler was referring to what he intended to do to Europe’s Jews. But he was not referring to the Jews: he was referring to the Poles. ‘I have sent my Death’s Head units to the East,’ he told the generals, ‘with the order to kill without mercy men, women and children of the ...

Lobbying

Richard J.Evans: Hitler’s Aristocratic Go-Betweens, 17 March 2016

Go-Betweens for Hitler 
by Karina Urbach.
Oxford, 389 pp., £20, July 2015, 978 0 19 870366 2
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... was obliged to declare her allegiance to Germany, her husband’s country. Aristocratic men could join the army of their choice, but many of the great families fell under suspicion because of their connections on the enemy side. The British royal family had to change its name to Windsor in 1917, and a Titles Deprivation Act was also passed that year which ...

Laid Down by Ranke

Peter Ghosh: Defending history, 15 October 1998

In Defence of History 
by Richard J.Evans.
Granta, 320 pp., £8.99, October 1998, 1 86207 068 7
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... Richard Evans hopes that this book will take the place of E.H. Carr’s What is History? and G.R. Elton’s The Practice of History as the ‘basic introduction’ to history as taught in the universities. Evans is a self-declared ‘Rankean’ empiricist, committed to Ranke’s view that facts and documents ‘speak for themselves ...

The Demented Dalek

Richard J.Evans: Michael Gove, 12 September 2019

Michael Gove: A Man in a Hurry 
by Owen Bennett.
Biteback, 422 pp., £20, July 2019, 978 1 78590 440 0
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... We’ve​ got form, Michael Gove and I. ‘Richard Evans may hold a professorship,’ he told the Daily Mail in 2014, after I had attacked him for claiming that Britain had fought the First World War for democracy, ‘but these arguments, like the interpretations of Oh! What a Lovely War! and Blackadder, are more reflective of the attitude of an undergraduate cynic playing to the gallery in a Cambridge Footlights revue rather than a sober academic contributing to a proper historical debate ...

One nation, two states

Richard J.Evans, 21 December 1989

... still things were never as bad as in Poland or Rumania. Yet material discontents have played a major role in popular dissatisfaction with the regime. When the first waves of East German refugees began to flood over the Bavarian border a few weeks ago, they were welcomed, so the newspaper reports noted, by crowds of West Germans brandishing bananas. It ...

Cite ourselves!

Richard J.Evans: The Annales School, 3 December 2009

The Annales School: An Intellectual History 
by André Burguière, translated by Jane Marie Todd.
Cornell, 309 pp., £24.95, 0 8014 4665 1
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... Hobsbawm, Christopher Hill and E.P. Thompson, German neo-Weberians such as Hans-Ulrich Wehler and rgen Kocka, American students of social inequality like Stephan Thernstrom, advocates of a social-anthropological approach such as Keith Thomas, partisans of a politically committed history of everyday life like Raphael Samuel and the History Workshop, and ...

Gruesomeness is my policy

Richard J.Evans: German Colonialism, 9 February 2012

German Colonialism: A Short History 
by Sebastian Conrad.
Cambridge, 233 pp., £17.99, November 2011, 978 1 107 40047 4
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... a few reminders of the fact that, between the 1880s and the First World War, Germany, like other major European powers, possessed an overseas colonial empire. If you go to Windhoek in Namibia, you can still pick up a copy of the Allgemeine Zeitung, a newspaper which caters for the remaining German-speaking residents of the town. If you fancy a trip to the ...

The Wonderfulness of Us

Richard J.Evans: The Tory Interpretation of History, 17 March 2011

... at primary, a cursory run through Henry VIII and Hitler at secondary and many give up the subject at 14, without knowing how the vivid episodes of our past become a connected narrative. Well, this trashing of our past has to stop. Simon Schama is the person entrusted with the job of putting things right; Schama, the ...

The Scramble for Europe

Richard J.Evans: German Imperialism, 3 February 2011

Nazi Empire: German Colonialism and Imperialism from Bismarck to Hitler 
by Shelley Baranowski.
Cambridge, 380 pp., £17.99, November 2010, 978 0 521 67408 9
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... argued, that had come by the outbreak of the First World War to distinguish Germany from other major European powers and set it on a ‘special path’ to modernity that ended not in the creation of a democratic political system and open society to go with an industrial economy, but in the rise and triumph of the Third Reich. Such arguments were discredited ...

Spot and Sink

Richard J.Evans: The End of WW1, 15 December 2011

With Our Backs to the Wall: Victory and Defeat in 1918 
by David Stevenson.
Allen Lane, 688 pp., £30, May 2011, 978 0 7139 9840 5
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... of morale. In October 1917, German reinforcements enabled the Austro-Hungarian army to win a major victory at Caporetto: 265,000 Italians surrendered and 400,000 fled in confusion, while the pursuing forces advanced 50 miles in just over two days. Most important of all, the October Revolution and the disintegration of ...

Into Dust

Richard J.Evans: Nazis 1945, 8 September 2011

The End: Hitler’s Germany 1944-45 
by Ian Kershaw.
Allen Lane, 564 pp., £30, August 2011, 978 0 7139 9716 3
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... end with an agreed peace as soon as one side concedes defeat. It is possible to think of major exceptions to this rule, from Napoleon’s France in 1814 to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq two centuries later. Sometimes, too, there is regime change before peace is concluded, as in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 or indeed the First World War. Still, the ...

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