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Geoffrey Wheatcroft, 18 December 1980

The Rise and Fall of Prussia 
by Sebastian Haffner.
Weidenfeld, 183 pp., £7.95, July 1980, 0 297 77810 2
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The Northern Crusades: The Baltic and the Catholic Frontier 1100-1525 
by Eric Christiansen.
Macmillan, 296 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 333 26243 3
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... Sometimes countries – the United States or Israel – arise from nothing. But the subject of Mr Haffner’s book is odder. It first appeared from nowhere and then disappeared quite without trace: to him, a sad disappearance. He is a distinguished journalist, who was born in Berlin but has spent much of his time in England and written for the British ...

Who Betrayed Us?

Neal Ascherson: The November Revolution, 17 December 2020

November 1918: The German Revolution 
by Robert Gerwarth.
Oxford, 368 pp., £20, June 2020, 978 0 19 954647 3
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... of his case, Gerwarth is up against a book first translated into English almost fifty years ago: Sebastian Haffner’s tremendous Failure of a Revolution. Haffner, who spent the war in Britain, returned to West Germany in the 1960s to become the giant of left-wing but non-Marxist commentary. When his book was first ...

A Gutter Subject

Neal Ascherson: Joachim Fest, 25 October 2012

Not Me: Memoirs of a German Childhood 
by Joachim Fest, translated by Martin Chalmers.
Atlantic, 316 pp., £20, August 2012, 978 1 84354 931 4
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... of any young German caught up in the war’s final bloodbath. Inevitably, it will be compared to Sebastian Haffner’s Defying Hitler (Geschichte eines Deutschen), the memoir Haffner wrote in 1939 at the start of his British exile which became a posthumous bestseller in 2000. A generation separated ...

Prussian Blues

Fredric Jameson, 17 October 1996

Ein weites Feld 
by Günter Grass.
Steidl, 784 pp., DM 49.80, August 1995, 3 88243 366 3
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... for example, the seductive arguments for Prussia pursued by that marvellous historian Sebastian Haffner). Yet the suggestion cannot rest on historical opinion; it must be demonstrated to be possible, in other words, to be concretely imaginable: and this is the vocation of Grass’s novel. His protagonist (there are really two of them, perhaps ...

They’re just not ready

Neal Ascherson: Gorbachev Betrayed, 7 January 2010

Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment 
by Stephen Kotkin, with Jan Gross.
Modern Library, 240 pp., $24, October 2009, 978 0 679 64276 3
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Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire 
by Victor Sebestyen.
Weidenfeld, 451 pp., £25, July 2009, 978 0 297 85223 0
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There Is No Freedom without Bread: 1989 and the Civil War that Brought Down Communism 
by Constantine Pleshakov.
Farrar, Straus, 289 pp., $26, November 2009, 978 0 374 28902 7
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1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe 
by Mary Elise Sarotte.
Princeton, 321 pp., £20.95, November 2009, 978 0 691 14306 4
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... if it surrendered more sovereignty to a more closely integrated European Union. The journalist Sebastian Haffner used to say that ‘we are living in Hitler’s Europe.’ He meant that the whole Cold War landscape – the division of Germany, the advance of Russian power into Central Europe – became inevitable when Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet ...

The Best Stuff

Ian Jack: David Astor, 2 June 2016

David Astor: A Life in Print 
by Jeremy Lewis.
Cape, 400 pp., £25, March 2016, 978 0 224 09090 2
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... anti-Nazi intellectuals, known to some on the staff as the ‘German exotics’. In fact, only Sebastian Haffner and E.F. Schumacher were German; Isaac Deutscher, Arthur Koestler and Jon Kimche came respectively from Poland, Hungary and Switzerland. Several were Jews; another new recruit, the reporter Cyril Dunn, wrote that Astor had an ...

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