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Society & Culture
History

New Books in German Studies

Updated 12 days ago

Society & Culture
History
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Interviews with Scholars of Germany about their New Books

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Interviews with Scholars of Germany about their New Books

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20 Ratings
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Timely and topical

By Robinson76879648 - Nov 24 2017
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Given that our President is a belligerent Fascist Ethno-Nationalist, it’s a crucial time to learn your Nazi history. This is an amazing resource.

should be called N*ZI studies

By JardinCook - Feb 21 2016
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Over 90% of these episodes are interviews of writers on the War, Nazi Germany and/or the Holocaust—all subjects that are already well covered elsewhere, as they should be. But there is actually more to Germany’s past and present than that.

iTunes Ratings

20 Ratings
Average Ratings
15
4
0
1
0

Timely and topical

By Robinson76879648 - Nov 24 2017
Read more
Given that our President is a belligerent Fascist Ethno-Nationalist, it’s a crucial time to learn your Nazi history. This is an amazing resource.

should be called N*ZI studies

By JardinCook - Feb 21 2016
Read more
Over 90% of these episodes are interviews of writers on the War, Nazi Germany and/or the Holocaust—all subjects that are already well covered elsewhere, as they should be. But there is actually more to Germany’s past and present than that.
Cover image of New Books in German Studies

New Books in German Studies

Latest release on Oct 21, 2020

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Interviews with Scholars of Germany about their New Books

Rank #1: Benjamin Carter Hett, “The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic” (Henry Holt, 2018)

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The downfall of the Weimar Republic in Germany has long fascinated historians, but this catastrophe gained increasing prominence as a touchstone for contemporary political commentators in recent years. In his new book, The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic (Henry Holt, 2018), Benjamin Carter Hett provides a new narrative about end of the first German democratic experiment and the rise of National Socialism. He synthesizes much of the new research on this era from the last twenty years while also subtly pointing out connections between the 1920s and the present political environment. Utilizing captivating anecdotes, a deep understanding for the state of the field, and an immersive grasp of the most important political personalities of the era, Hett’s new book is essential for anyone interested in modern German history.


Michael E. O’Sullivan is Associate Professor of History at Marist College where he teaches courses about Modern Europe. He will publish Disruptive Power: Catholic Women, Miracles, and Politics in Modern Germany, 1918-1965 with University of Toronto Press in the fall of 2018.

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Sep 11 2018

1hr

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Rank #2: Robert Citino, “Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942” (UP of Kansas, 2007)

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Robert Citino is one of a handful of scholars working in German military history whose books I would describe as reliably rewarding. Even when one quibbles with some of the details of his argument, one is sure to profit from reading his work. When a Citino book appears in print, it automatically goes in my “to read” pile. Death of the Wehrmacht: The German Campaigns of 1942 (UP of Kansas, 2007), which recently appeared in a paperback edition for the first time, was one of the first books I wanted to review for New Books in Military History. The book is operational history at its best. It is written with both clarity and drama, as good operational history should be; it adds to our understanding of the German war in the East through its careful synthesis of the best research in German and English on the subject in the last ten or fifteen years; it mines Wehrmacht military journals for insights into “the German Way of War” (a topic discussed in an early Citino book of that title – see the interview for more). Even avid readers on the subject will learn much that they did not know about Manstein in Crimea, Rommel in North Africa, Hoth approaching Stalingrad, and many of the other campaigns of 1942.

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Apr 22 2011

1hr 4mins

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Rank #3: Henning Pieper, "Fegelein’s Horsemen and Genocidal Warfare: The SS Cavalry Brigade in the Soviet Union" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

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In his book, Fegelein’s Horsemen and Genocidal Warfare: The SS Cavalry Brigade in the Soviet Union (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), Dr. Henning Pieper, examines the conduct of the SS Cavalry Brigade during World War II. The SS Cavalry Brigade was a unit of the Waffen-SS that differed from other German military formations as it developed a dual role: SS cavalrymen both helped to initiate the Holocaust in the Soviet Union and experienced combat at the front. Pieper’s book highlights an understudied aspect of both the Holocaust and World War II.

Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern European history at the University of Florida. He specializes in Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. He can be reached at craig.sorvillo@gmail.com or on twitter @craig_sorvillo.

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Apr 30 2019

56mins

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Rank #4: Timothy Nunan, “Carl Schmitt, ‘Writings on War'” (Polity Press, 2011)

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Carl Schmitt (1888-1985) was the author of numerous influential books and essays on political theory, law, and other subjects. In Carl Schmitt: Writings on War (Polity Press, 2011), Rhodes Scholar Timothy Nunan has provided us with an excellent translation of three of Schmitt’s essay on military affairs. These essays are relevant from a variety of perspectives. They reflect interwar debates about international law, neutrality, and the League of Nations and so are of interest to historians of the period. Schmitt was also a fervent supporter of Hitler and the Nazi party and so it may be surprising that his influence (note his longevity) may in some ways be increasing. His ideas about what constitutes an empire, his thoughts on “just war,” and on war crimes demand our attention despite our revulsion at his political views. For making more of Schmitt’s work accessible to an English-speaking audience, Nunan is to be thanked.

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Oct 25 2011

1hr 7mins

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Rank #5: Tobias Straumann, "1931: Debt, Crisis, and the Rise of Hitler" (Oxford UP, 2019)

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What can we learn from the financial crisis that brought Hitler to power? How did diplomatic deadlock fuel the rise of authoritarianism? Tobias Straumann shares vital insights with 1931: Debt, Crisis, and the Rise of Hitler (Oxford University Press, 2019). Through his fast-paced narrative, Straumann reveals how inflexible treaties created an inescapable debt trap that spawned Nazism. Caught between investor confidence and domestic political pressure, unrealistic agreements left decision makers little room for maneuver when crisis struck. 1931 reminds us of hard lessons relevant to designing resilient agreements today.

Tobias Straumann is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Zurich and teaches economic history both to historians and economists. His research interests span numerous contributions to contemporary European business, monetary, and financial history. 1931 is his fourth book.

Ryan Stackhouse is a historian of Europe specializing in modern Germany and political policing under dictatorship. His book exploring Gestapo enforcement practices toward different social groups is nearing completion under the working title A Discriminating Terror. He also cohosts the Third Reich History Podcast and can be reached at john.ryan.stackhouse@gmail.com or @Staxomatix.

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Jun 27 2019

1hr 2mins

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Rank #6: Eric Kurlander, “Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich” (Yale UP, 2017)

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The idea that there is some unholy connection between Nazism and occultism has a lengthy history. It long predates 1933, when the National Socialist party took power in Germany. But what’s behind that idea? Some top-ranking members of the party were deeply engaged with the occult, perhaps most notably Rudolf Hess and Heinrich Himmler. Was Nazi occultism just a predilection of a handful of Nazi elites, some weird novelty?


No, in short, is the answer Professor Eric Kurlander gives in this astonishing history of occult ideas and their influence on National Socialism from its origins to the end of the Third Reich. The party drew upon border science, alternative religious traditions, mythologies, the paranormal, and all manner of esoteric ideas in ways that, Professor Kurlander argues, no other mass political party has ever done. What Kurlander calls a supernatural imaginary was in fact central to the entire project of National Socialism. Hitler’s Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich (Yale University Press, 2017) deals soberly with a provocative topic that has often been sensationalized. Even for those very knowledgeable of the Third Reich, the book–the result of years of archival research by a judicious and prolific scholar–will likely be quite unexpected. Professor Eric Kurlander teaches history at Stetson University.

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Jul 11 2017

53mins

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Rank #7: Waitman Beorn, “The Holocaust in Eastern Europe: At the Epicenter of the Final Solution” (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018)

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Most of the Jews and other victims the Nazis murdered in the Holocaust were from Eastern Europe, and the vast majority of the actual killing was done there. In his new book,  The Holocaust in Eastern Europe (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018), Waitman Beorn gives us a detailed overview of the Holocaust precisely here, in what he well called “the Epicenter of the Final Solution.” Waitman does an excellent job of describing Eastern European Jewry, the crooked path the Nazis took in deciding to attempt to obliterate it, the various ways in which they put that horrible decision into practice, and the ways the Jews resisted.

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Jun 20 2018

1hr 37mins

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Rank #8: Monica Black, “Death in Berlin: From Weimar to Divided Germany” (Cambridge UP, 2011)

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Over 2.5 million Germans died as a result of World War I, or about 4% of the German population at the time. Somewhere between 7 and 9 million Germans died as a result of World War II, or between 8% to 11% of the German population at the time.* It’s hardly any wonder, then, that in the first half of the twentieth century the Germans were preoccupied with death and how to deal with it–it was all around them.

Monica Black‘s impressive Death in Berlin: From Weimar to Divided Germany (Cambridge University Press, 2011) explains how they did it. She focuses on remembrances of various sorts (funerals, monuments, eulogies, etc.) and the ways in which they were shaped by German tradition, transient ideology, and exigency. As Monica demonstrates, Germans themselves changed “German Way of Death” radically over this short period as they attempted to deal with a whole variety of competing pressures, values and interests. This is a fascinating book as it shows how the dead, though gone, are really (and particularly in the German case) still with us.


*To put German losses in perspective, 117,000 Americans died in World War I (.13% of the population) and 418,000 Americans died in World War II (.37% of the population).

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Apr 27 2012

1hr 6mins

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Rank #9: Hilary Earl, “The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, 1945-1958: Atrocity, Law, and History” (Cambridge UP, 2010)

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Hitler caused the Holocaust, that much we know (no Hitler, no Holocaust). But did he directly order it and, if so, how and when? This is one of the many interesting questions posed by Hilary Earl in her outstanding new book The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, 1945-1958: Atrocity, Law, and History (Cambridge UP, 2009). The book is about the trial of the leaders of the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile killing units that, in 1941 and 1942, spearheaded the Nazi effort to eradicate the Jewish people. The Einsatzgruppen murdered something on the order of a million people using almost nothing but firearms. In 1947, their commanders were brought to justice in what might be called the “other” (forgotten) Nuremberg Trials. The trial left an enormous body of reasonably fresh-after-the-fact testimony for historians to work with in trying to understand this episode in the Holocaust. Hilary does a masterful job of mining this material. She also points out that the roots of our own understanding of the Holocaust can in large measure be traced to these disturbing trials. The defendants were the first Nazi genocidaires to publicly describe what they had done and why they had done it. To be sure, their testimony was self-serving and is therefore suspect. But–and this is perhaps the most remarkable part–in many instances it was remarkably accurate. They (and Otto Ohlendorf in particular) “told it like it was” because they believed they had not really done anything wrong. Hitler had said that the Jews were the mortal enemies of the Reich; they believed him. Thus when Hitler ordered them to kill the Jews man, woman, and child they were not particularly conflicted–they were simply following orders, orders they believed to be in the objective interest of Germany. Just how they came to hold this completely irrational view is another, and very interesting, question. For those interested in it, I refer you to Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience (Harvard UP, 2003).


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Feb 26 2010

1hr 6mins

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Rank #10: Andrew Demshuk, “The Lost German East: Forced Migration and the Politics of Memory, 1945-1970” (Cambridge UP, 2012)

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At the close of the Second World War, the Allies expelled several million Germans from the eastern portion of the former Reich. Thanks to the work of many historians, we know quite a bit about Allied planning for the expulsion, when and how it took place, and the multitude of deaths that occurred as a result of it.


We know much less about what happened to the expellees after the expulsion. Where did they go? What did they do? And, perhaps most interestingly, what did they think about their former Heimat? In The Lost German East: Forced Migration and the Politics of Memory, 1945-1970 (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Andrew Demshuk answers many of these questions and thereby sheds considerable light on post-war German history. He shows that though most of the expellees made good in West Germany, they still thought often about the “lost East.” Not surprisingly given the twists and turns of nostalgia, they created an idealized image of these territories, one without Nazis. Yet they also created a kind of counter-image–equally mythical–of an East thoroughly and irrevocably corrupted by Polish administration. Naturally, the idealized East of the past was far preferable to the (putatively) spoiled East of the present, so most of them had no desire to go back. Simply remembering what supposedly had been was enough to satisfy their homesickness.

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Jul 23 2014

1hr 11mins

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Rank #11: Filip Slaveski, “The Soviet Occupation of Germany” (Cambridge UP, 2013)

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For over three years, from June 1941 to late 1944, the German Army and related Nazi forces (the SS, occupation troops, administrative organizations) conducted a Vernichtungskrieg–a war of annihilation–against the Soviet Union on Soviet soil. The Germans killed millions upon millions of Red Army soldiers, Communist Party officials, and ordinary Soviet citizens. As the Germans were pushed back by the Soviets, they conducted a ruthless scorched-earth policy. Stalin’s propaganda organs made much of German atrocities and encouraged Soviet soldiers to punish Germans wherever they found them.


It’s little wonder, then, that Soviet troops sought a kind of wild, indiscriminate revenge against the Germans as they crossed into German territory. They murdered, raped, and pillaged on an incredible scale. But, as Filip Slaveski shows in his remarkable new book The Soviet Occupation of Germany: Hunger, Mass Violence and the Struggle for Peace, 1945-1947 (Cambridge University Press, 2013), the Soviet authorities did not turn a blind-eye to this sort of retribution. Though they wanted to demilitarize Germany and to strip it of industry, they did not plan or condone mass violence against Germans. Moscow quickly replaced the Red Army as an occupying force with SVAG, the Soviet Military Administration in Germany. It’s task was to end the wild violence and govern (indeed, protect) the German population.


Slaveski demonstrates that SVAG’s task was very difficult or, perhaps, impossible. It neither had the political support from the top (Stalin pitted it against the army) nor the resources to both police the million plus vengeful Soviet troops in occupied Germany nor manage the impoverished German population. Ultimately, the violence only ended when most of the Soviet troops left.


Listen in.

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Jul 02 2014

1hr 10mins

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Rank #12: Guenter Lewy, “Perpetrators: The World of the Holocaust Killers” (Oxford UP, 2017)

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“Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous.”


Thus begins Guenter Lewy’s latest book, Perpetrators: The World of the Holocaust Killers (Oxford University Press, 2017), a welcome attempt to challenge the idea that all Nazi perpetrators were the same, and that they were all driven by the same bass motivations. Largely a synthesis of material previously only available in German, Lewy presents a typology of perpetrator types and dispels the idea that it was impossible for killers to walk away. He also presents arguably the most accessible analysis of the post-war justice available in English. Undoubtedly a must-read for anyone wishing to understand how and why people participate in acts of mass violence.


Darren O’Byrne is a PhD student in History at Cambridge University. His dissertation, Political Civil Servants and the German Administration under Nazism, explores the dynamics of Civil Service behaviour under National Socialism, asking why senior administrators assisted the regime in pursuit of its ideological goals. He has forthcoming publications with the Journal of Contemporary History and the Routledge Studies in Genocide and Crimes against Humanity. He can be contacted at obyrne.darren@gmail.com or on twitter at @darrenobyrne1.

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Nov 29 2017

40mins

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Rank #13: Steven P. Remy, “The Malmedy Massacre: The War Crimes Trial Controversy” (Harvard UP, 2017)

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In his new book, The Malmedy Massacre: The War Crimes Trial Controversy (Harvard University Press, 2017), Steven Remy, professor of history at City University of New York, examines the Malmedy massacre which took place on December 17, 1944 and the trial that followed after the conclusion of World War II. Remy effectively demonstrates how in the decade following the trial how a network of German and American sympathizers succeeded in discrediting the trial. Remy directly looks at the accusations of torture, which the defendants and their allies alleged led to false confessions. Although these allegations were false, Remy demonstrates how amnesty advocates used them successfully to not only discredit the trial, but distorted our understanding of one of the most brutal massacres in American military history.

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Dec 13 2017

56mins

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Rank #14: Mary Fulbrook, “A Small Near Town Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust” (Oxford UP, 2012)

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The question of how “ordinary Germans” managed to commit genocide is a classic (and troubling) one in modern historiography. It’s been well studied and so it’s hard to say anything new about it. But Mary Fulbrook has done precisely that in A Small Town Near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust (Oxford University Press, 2012). In the book she examines the career of a single Nazi administrator in “the East”, Udo Klusa, in minute detail day by day, week by week, month by month while the Germans were improvising what became known as the “Holocaust.” Klausa was not a big wig; he was a functionary, a part of a (particularly awful) colonial machine. He believed in the Nazi mission to “Germanize” Poland, but he was by no means a “fanatical” Nazi. He followed orders (by our standards horrendous ones), but he did not do so mindlessly. He wanted to build a career, but he was not–apparently–willing to do anything to do so. Fullbrook investigates just how far Klausa was willing to go, what he found acceptable and what he found (or seemed to find) objectionable. It’s a tricky subject because Klausa himself tried to cover his tracks after the war. He seems to have seen that policies he once found quite sensible were, after the war, not so. Fullbrook does a masterful job of using archival sources to show where Klausa’s memory becomes particularly selective. Though it would be too much to call Fullbrook’s portrait of Klausa “sympathetic,” it is certainly both historically and psychologically nuanced and therefore helps us understand his mentality both during the war and after.

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Dec 19 2012

1hr 2mins

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Rank #15: Donald Bloxham, “The Final Solution: A Genocide” (Oxford UP, 2009)

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The end of the Cold War dramatically changed research into the Holocaust. The gradual opening up of archives across Eastern Europe allowed a flood of local and regional studies that transformed our understanding of the Final Solution. We now know much more about the mechanics of destruction in the East, about the interaction between center and periphery in planning and carrying out mass killings, and about the interaction between Germans, local inhabitants and Jews.


Twenty years later, historians have begun to integrate these new studies into broad reexaminations of the Holocaust. Donald Bloxham has written one of the best of these. His book, The Final Solution: A Genocide (Oxford UP, 2009), is a remarkable attempt to put the Holocaust into the broader context of global history. It’s analytical rather than narrative. Its arguments are careful and always attentive to nuance and complexity. And Bloxham demonstrates a deep understanding of research on the Holocaust and in the broader field of Genocide Studies. Whether you agree with his conclusions or not, you will come out of this book having reconsidered what you thought you knew about the Holocaust and about European history in the first half of the Twentieth Century.

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Feb 12 2013

1hr 13mins

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Rank #16: Konrad H. Jarausch, “Reluctant Accomplice: A Wehrmacht Soldier’s Letters from the Eastern Front” (Princeton University Press, 2011)

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Konrad H. Jarausch, whose varied and important works on German history have been required reading for scholars for several decades, has published Reluctant Accomplice: A Wehrmacht Soldier’s Letters from the Eastern Front (Princeton University Press, 2011), a collection of his father’s missives from Poland and Russia during the early years of the Second World War, now translated into English. As you can imagine, this was an intensely personal project, and one that says almost as much about the postwar generation of “fatherless children” like Jarausch as it reveals about men like his father (also named Konrad) who found themselves in the cauldron of war.


Jarausch seems to resist the comparison but I liken this work to Victor Klemperer’s diaries, I Shall Bear Witness, that were published with great fanfare almost fifteen years ago. The circumstances of the two men were vastly different (Klemperer was converted Jew, married to an “Aryan,” living in Dresden during the years of Nazi rule). But both men were deeply humanist members of Germany’s educated middle class (Bildungsburgertum) who saw their fellow Germans go insane and take the nation they loved down the path of moral and physical ruin.


This work is of special interest to military historians because the elder Jarausch documents areas of activity rarely touched upon by other Wehrmacht memoirists and writers. Too old to serve in the combat arm, Jarausch spent his time in rear areas in Poland and the Soviet Union, training recruits and guarding prisoners. In clear and often touching prose, Jarausch documents both the drudgery and the deadly dilemmas of service in Hitler’s army.

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Jul 12 2011

57mins

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Rank #17: Katharina Karcher, "Sisters in Arms: Militant Feminisms in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1968" (Berghahn, 2017)

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In her new book, Sisters in Arms: Militant Feminisms in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1968 (Berghahn, 2017), Katharina Karcher Lecturer in German at the University of Birmingham, examines a critical time in the history and development of the feminist movement in Germany. Sisters in Arms gives a bracing account of how feminist ideas were enacted by West German leftist organizations from the infamous Red Army Faction to less well-known groups such as the Red Zora. It analyzes their confrontational and violent tactics in challenging the abortion ban, opposing violence against women, and campaigning for solidarity with Third World women workers. Though these groups often diverged ideologically and tactically, they all demonstrated the potency of militant feminism within postwar protest movements.

Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern European history at the University of Florida. He specializes in Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. He can be reached at craig.sorvillo@gmail.com or on twitter @craig_sorvillo.

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Jul 31 2019

55mins

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Rank #18: Jannica Budde, “Turkish Women Writers in German Cities” (Königshausen and Neumann, 2017)

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In Germany, beginning in the 1960s, a major population shift took place. The reason for it was the German guest worker program. Due to the German ‘economic miracle,’ the country was in growing need of cheap labor, and it found it in places like Turkey. Although it was assumed that these ‘guests’ would later on move back to their home countries, they unexpectedly often stayed in Germany, founded families and became Germans. In her new book Women Between Strange Cities (Interkulturelle Stadtnomadinnen: Inszenierungen weiblicher Flanerie- und Migrationserfahrung in der deutsch-türkischen und türkischen Gegenwartsliteratur am Beispiel von Aysel Özakın, Emine Sevgi Özdamar und Aslı Erdoğan [Königshausen & Neumann, 2017]), Jannica Budde, a postdoc at Paderborn University, analyzes German-Turkish as well as Turkish contemporary literature thus shedding some light on the German-Tukish-cultural relationship. Reading works from Aysel Özakın, Emine Sevgi Özdamar and Aslı Erdoğan, she places particular emphasis on the female perspective. In Budde’s study, it becomes clear how German-Turkish and Turkish literature transcends stereotypical perceptions of Germany’s guest workers.

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Apr 25 2018

21mins

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Rank #19: Alex J. Kay and David Stahel, "Mass Violence in Nazi-Occupied Europe" (Indiana UP, 2018)

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Alex J. Kay (senior lecture of History at Potsdam University in Berlin) and David Stahel (senior lecturer in History at the University of New South Wales in Canberra) have edited a groundbreaking series of articles on German mass killing and violence during World War II. Four years in the making, this collection of articles spans the breadth of research on these topics and includes some non-English speaking scholars for the first time in a work of this magnitude.

Mass Violence in Nazi-Occupied Europe (Indiana UP, 2018) argues for a more comprehensive understanding of what constitutes Nazi violence and who was affected by this violence. The works gathered consider sexual violence, food depravation, and forced labor as aspects of Nazi aggression. Contributors focus in particular on the Holocaust, the persecution of the Sinti and Roma, the eradication of "useless eaters" (psychiatric patients and Soviet prisoners of war), and the crimes of the Wehrmacht. The collection concludes with a consideration of memorialization and a comparison of Soviet and Nazi mass crimes. While it has been over 70 years since the fall of the Nazi regime, the full extent of the ways violence was used against prisoners of war and civilians is only now coming to be fully understood. Mass Violence in Nazi-Occupied Europe provides new insight into the scale of the violence suffered and brings fresh urgency to the need for a deeper understanding of this horrific moment in history.

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Feb 11 2020

42mins

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Rank #20: Kevin Simpson, “Soccer under the Swastika: Stories of Survival and Resistance during the Holocaust” (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016)

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Today we are joined by Kevin Simpson, the author of Soccer under the Swastika: Stories of Survival and Resistance during the Holocaust (Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2016). In Soccer under the Swastika, Simpson recovers a largely forgotten history of the sports during Holocaust. Through a close reading of wartime memoirs, oral histories, newspapers, and records from camps across Europe including Thereseinstadt and Auschwitz, Simpson illustrates the politicization of sports by the Nazi regime, traces the diverse histories of soccer in the Nazi camp system, and shines a light on the lives to the various sportsmen who competed behind the barbed wire. He discovers a complicated sports system that simultaneously existed to entertain the inmates and the Nazis, created a privileged class of athlete-prisoners that frequently received better rations and treatment, and ultimately restored the humanity of athletes that took to the fields and the spectators that enjoyed watching them play. The histories Simpson uncovers span Europe, centering on the Jewish clubs, like Hakoah Vienna, that dominated European soccer in the interwar period, but also encompassing teams as far west as the Netherlands and deep in Soviet Ukraine. Throughout his analysis, Simpson emphasizes the individual agency of soccer players who used their sport to maintain their identities in spite of Nazi persecution, reestablish their Jewish communities in displaced persons camps after the war, and even find spaces for joy and triumph inside of the death camps.

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Apr 12 2018

59mins

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D. Bilak and T. Nummedal, "Furnace and Fugue. A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s 'Atalanta fugiens' (1618)" (U Virginia Press, 2020)

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In 1618, on the eve of the Thirty Years’ War, the German alchemist and physician Michael Maier published Atalanta fugiens, an intriguing and complex musical alchemical emblem book designed to engage the ear, eye, and intellect. The book unfolds as a series of fifty emblems, each of which contains an accompanying "fugue" music scored for three voices. Historians of alchemy have long understood this virtuoso work as an ambitious demonstration of the art’s literary potential and of the possibilities of the early modern printed book.

Atalanta fugiens lends itself unusually well to today’s digital tools. Re-rendering Maier’s multimedia alchemical project as an enhanced online publication, Furnace and Fugue allows contemporary readers to hear, see, manipulate, and investigate Atalanta fugiens in ways that Maier perhaps imagined but that were impossible to fully realize before now. An interactive, layered digital edition provides accessibility and flexibility, presenting all the elements of the original book along with significant enhancements that allow for deep engagement by specialists and nonspecialists alike.

Three short introductory essays invite readers to get acquainted with early modern alchemy, and Michael Maier. Eight extended interpretive essays explore Atalanta fugiens and its place in the history of music, science, print, and visual culture in early modern Europe. These interdisciplinary essays also include interactive features that clarify and/or advance the authors’ arguments while positioning Furnace and Fugue as an original, uniquely engaging contribution to our understanding of early modern culture.

Drs. Bilak and Nummedal are the editors of this innovative digital edition of a seventeenth-century alchemical text that combines text, image, and music. Furnace & Fugue was developed by Brown University’s Mellon-supported Digital Publications Initiative, and published by the University of Virginia Press (2020) as an open-access edition.

Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, and the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Social Science Research Institute at Brown University.

Dr. Bilak is an academic and a goldsmith. She is the Creative Director of 12 Keys Consultancy & Design, LLC, and an Independent Scholar. She is an historian of early modern science Donna's research extends to the cross-cultural examination of jewellery, artisanal technologies, and meaning-making with materials. Dr. Nummedal is Professor of History and of Italian Studies at Brown University. She is the author of Alchemy and Authority in the Holy Roman Empire (University of Chicago Press, 2007), Anna Zieglerin and the Lion’s Blood: Alchemy and End Times in Reformation Germany (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019). With Janice Neri and John V. Calhoun, she published John Abbot and William Swainson: Art, Science, and Commerce in Nineteenth-Century Natural History.

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Oct 21 2020

58mins

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Martyn Rady, "The Habsburgs: To Rule the World" (Basic Books, 2020)

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In The Habsburgs: To Rule the World (Basic Books, 2020), Martyn Rady, Masaryk Professor of Central European History at University College London, tells the epic story of a dynasty and the world it built -- and then lost -- over nearly a millennium. From modest origins in what is to-day southern Germany and Switzerland, the Habsburgs gained control first of Austria in the 12th century and then the Holy Roman Empire in the fifteenth century. Then, in just a few decades, their possessions rapidly expanded to take in a large part of Europe, stretching from Hungary to Spain, and parts of the New World and the Far East. The Habsburgs continued to dominate Central Europe through the First World War.

Historians often depict the Habsburgs as leaders of a ramshackle empire. But in this wide-ranging view of their past, Professor Rady reveals Habsburg’s enduring power, driven by the belief that they were destined to rule the world as defenders of the Roman Catholic Church, guarantors of peace, and patrons of learning. The Habsburgs is a highly interesting and readable history of a remarkable dynasty that forever changed Europe and the world. A perfect book for the lay educated reader who has heard of the dynasty but wants to know more.

Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.

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Oct 20 2020

1hr

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Adam Knowles, "Heidegger’s Fascist Affinities: A Politics of Silence" (Stanford UP, 2019)

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The German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s influence over the last several decades of philosophy is undeniable, but his place in the canon has been called into question in recent years in the wake of the publication of his private journals kept throughout his life, including during his involvement with the Nazi Party. This has led to a renewal of an intense series of debates about the relationship between Heidegger’s thought and his politics, and the broader implications this relationship may have for philosophy more broadly.

Diving into some of these discussions is Adam Knowles with his recent book ​Heidegger’s Fascist Affinities: A Politics of Silence (Stanford UP, 2019). Combining both philosophical and cultural analysis, the book argues that Heidegger’s philosophy of language and his interest in Greek philosophy left him open to some of the reactionary currents that were active in his own time, and that his intellectual orientations left him with an easy path into Nazism. But beyond studying Heidegger in isolation, this book wants to use Heidegger as a gateway to understand some of the deeper problems that may plague philosophy today, for given how far his influence reaches, the size of the shadow demands we try to be vigilant about potential blind spots.

Adam Knowles completed his PhD at the New School for Social Research, and is an assistant teaching professor of philosophy at Drexel University.

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Oct 19 2020

1hr 30mins

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Rhodri Jeffreys Jones, "The Nazi Spy Ring in America: Hitler’s Agents, the FBI and the Case that Stirred the Nation" (Georgetown UP, 2020)

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In his new book, The Nazi Spy Ring in America: Hitler’s Agents, the FBI & the Case that Stirred the Nation (Georgetown University Press, 2020), Rhodri Jeffreys Jones tells the dramatic story of the Nazi spy ring in America. In the mid-1930s just as the United States was embarking on a policy of neutrality, Nazi Germany launched a program of espionage against the unwary nation. The Nazi Spy Ring in America tells the story of Hitler's attempts to interfere in American affairs by spreading anti-Semitic propaganda, stealing military technology, and mapping US defenses.

This fast-paced history provides essential insight into the role of espionage in shaping American perceptions of Germany in the years leading up to US entry into World War II. Fascinating and thoroughly researched, The Nazi Spy Ring in America sheds light on a now forgotten but significant episode in the history of international relations and the development of the FBI.

Using recently declassified documents, prize-winning historian Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones narrates this little-known chapter in US history. He shows how Germany's foreign intelligence service, the Abwehr, was able to steal top secret US technology such as a prototype codebreaking machine and data about the latest fighter planes.

At the center of the story is Leon Turrou, the FBI agent who helped bring down the Nazi spy ring in a case that quickly transformed into a national sensation. The arrest and prosecution of four members of the ring was a high-profile case with all the trappings of fiction: fast cars, louche liaisons, a murder plot, a Manhattan socialite, and a ringleader codenamed Agent Sex. Part of the story of breaking the Nazi spy ring is also the rise and fall of Turrou, whose talent was matched only by his penchant for publicity, which eventually caused him to run afoul of J. Edgar Hoover's strict codes of conduct.

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones is Emeritus Professor of History in History at the University of Edinburgh.

Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern European history at the University of Florida. He specializes in Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. He can be reached at craig.sorvillo@gmail.com or on twitter @craig_sorvillo.

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Oct 13 2020

56mins

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Jeremy Black, "The Holocaust: History and Memory" (Indiana UP, 2016)

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The event that is commonly labeled as the ‘Holocaust’, was one of the most horrific of the Twentieth Century. It is also one of the most popularly discussed events of both the past and the current century. And like many popular events it is filled with mis-understandings and mis-interpretations.

Here to explicate and clarify this most important of events is master-historian and polymath, Professor of History Emeritus at Exeter University, Jeremy Black, CMG in his book, The Holocaust: History and Memory (Indiana University Press). The most prolific historian writing in the Anglophone world to-day, Professor Black is precisely the type of historian to bring some light and clarity to this darkest of events.

Black’s book takes the reader from the 19th century to the present day, all the while endeavoring to explicate for the lay educated reader and the academic one, his take on the causation of the Holocaust. A book which without a doubt should be on the bookshelf of anyone who is seriously interested in this most fraught of topics.

Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.

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Oct 08 2020

33mins

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Stephen C. Kepher, "COSSAC: Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Morgan and the Genesis of Operation OVERLORD" (Naval Institute Press, 2020)

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D-Day, June 6, 1944, looms large in both popular and historical imaginations as the sin qua non, or single defining moment, of the Second World War. Though there were other d-days launched across multiple theaters throughout Europe, Africa, and the Pacific, only one endures as a potent symbol for the war in its entirety: the D-day that saw 156,000 American, British, Canadian, and allied soldiers storm the Normandy beaches and punch an irreparable hole in Hitler’s Atlantic Wall. Over the subsequent seventy-five years, novelists, memoirists, filmmakers, journalists, and historians have followed the allied combat units from the landing craft, across the obstacle-strewn sand, through the hail of bullets and shells, up the high cliffs, and on to the bocage, Pegasus Bridge, Saint-Mère-Église, and the liberation of Paris. In all these narrations, the cross-Channel assault appears as an inevitability, the success of operation OVERLORD a fait acomplis. Yet as Stephen C. Kepher reveals in COSSAC: Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Morgan and the Genesis of Operation OVERLORD (Naval Institute Press, 2020), the Normandy landings were anything but a foregone conclusion.

Infantry, Kepher observes, did not simply materialize on Omaha, Gold, Sword, and Juno beaches on the morning of June 6, 1944. Rather, their ambitious amphibious assault was the result of a lengthy and often fraught planning process that began in earnest in early 1943, when British Lt. General Sir Frederick Morgan inherited the daunting task of preparing for an allied return to the Continent. Using Morgan and COSSAC—the innovative planning and operational organization Morgan built—to redirect our gaze away from the face of battle on Omaha beach and onto the highly complex and contingent contexts within which operation OVERLORD took shape, Kepher forcefully countervails the traditional historiographic narrative. OVERLORD, Kepher convincingly argues, was a near-run affair in more ways than one: the operation was under-resourced, caused friction between Britain and the United States, and, until the very end, was devoid of a commander vested with the authority to approve its execution. By shedding light on these concerns, COSSAC offers a significant contribution to our understanding of that most venerated of d-days; it is a requisite read for any and all seeking to comprehend the genesis of operation OVERLORD and the genius of its primary planner, Lt. General Sir Frederick Morgan.

 Stephen C. Kepher received his MLitt (with distinction) in War Studies from the University of Glasgow and holds a BA in International Relations from the University of Southern California. A former US Marine Corps officer and current independent scholar, Kepher has presented papers on COSSAC at the Society for Military History's annual conference and at Normandy 75, hosted by the University of Portsmouth, UK.

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Oct 05 2020

1hr 2mins

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Roman Deininger, "Markus Söder: The Shadow Chancellor" (Droemer Knauer, 2020)

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Next year, Germany goes to the polls. For the first time in 15 years, Angela Merkel will not be a candidate for chancellor.

Although a leadership election is underway inside Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, all eyes are on the CDU’s Bavarian sister party and its leader Markus Söder as her likely successor.

A “shameless” self-publicist and political chameleon, Söder first rose to national prominence in 2015-17 as a conservative opponent of Merkel’s refugee policy. Yet, three years on, he has redefined himself as a Green-friendly moderate whose national popularity has soared in response to his sound pandemic management.

Who is the 53-year-old Bavarian first minister and, if he does succeed Merkel next year, what should Germany’s geopolitical partners expect? In Markus Söder: The Shadow Chancellor (Droemer Knauer, 2020) Roman Deininger explains.

Few people know better than Deininger, a longtime political reporter for Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich who has been stalking this wily politician for two decades.

Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Global Advisors.

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Sep 23 2020

40mins

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Justin Q. Olmstead, "The United States' Entry into the First World War: The Role of British and German Diplomacy" (Boydell Press, 2019)

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The complicated situation which led to the American entry into the First World War in 1917 is often explained from the perspective of public opinion, US domestic politics, or financial and economic opportunity. In this new book, The United States' Entry into the First World War: The Role of British and German Diplomacy (Boydell Press, 2019), by Associate Professor of History at the University of Central Oklahoma, Justin Quinn Olmstead, however, reasserts the importance of diplomats and diplomacy. Based on original research, the book provides a look at British, German, and American diplomacy in the period 1914-17. It argues that British and German diplomacy in this period followed the same patterns as had been established in the preceding decades. It goes on to consider key issues which concerned diplomats, including the international legality of Britain's economic blockade of Germany, Germany's use of unrestricted submarine warfare, peace initiatives, and Germany's attempt to manipulate in its favour the long history of distrust in Mexican-American relations. Overall, the book demonstrates that diplomats and diplomacy played a key role, thereby providing a fresh and original approach to this crucially important subject. To top it off, the author finishes the text with a truly splendid bibliographic essay on the historical literature dealing with this ultra-important subject.

Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.

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Sep 22 2020

41mins

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Julia Sneeringer, "A Social History of Early Rock ‘n’ Roll in Germany: Hamburg from Burlesque to The Beatles, 1956-69" (Bloomsbury, 2018)

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The Beatles’ sojourn in the St. Pauli district of Hamburg during the early 1960s is part of music legend. As Julia Sneeringer reveals in A Social History of Early Rock ‘n’ Roll in Germany: Hamburg from Burlesque to The Beatles, 1956-69 (Bloomsbury, 2018), though, this was just the most famous episode in the neighborhood’s momentous engagement with rock ‘n’ roll during that period, one of importance not just to music history but to the history of modern Germany. Located as it was outside the walls of the medieval city, St. Pauli was known for centuries as the entertainment quarter of Hamburg. The neighborhood had only recently recovered from the hardships of the postwar era when German club owners began booking English bands to play the new style of music that had just been introduced in Europe. The performances quickly proved a hit among teenage Germans, who flocked to out-of-the-way venues to watch the acts perform. As Sneeringer details, the encounters changed everyone involved, giving the musicians the chance to hone their skills and develop their style while through their participation the young men and women in the audience pushed against the conservative social boundaries imposed on them by their families and their society.

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Sep 18 2020

1hr 11mins

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Despina Stratigakos, "Hitler’s Northern Utopia: Building the New Order in Occupied Norway" (Princeton UP, 2020)

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In her new book Hitler’s Northern Utopia: Building the New Order in Occupied Norway (Princeton University Press, 2020), Despina Stratigakos investigates the Nazi occupation of Norway. Between 1940 and 1945, German occupiers transformed Norway into a vast construction zone. This remarkable building campaign, largely unknown today, was designed to extend the Greater German Reich beyond the Arctic Circle and turn the Scandinavian country into a racial utopia. From ideal new cities to a scenic superhighway stretching from Berlin to northern Norway, plans to remake the country into a model “Aryan” society fired the imaginations of Hitler, his architect Albert Speer, and other Nazi leaders. In Hitler’s Northern Utopia, Despina Stratigakos provides the first major history of Nazi efforts to build a Nordic empire—one that they believed would improve their genetic stock and confirm their destiny as a new order of Vikings.

Drawing on extraordinary unpublished diaries, photographs, and maps, as well as newspapers from the period, Hitler’s Northern Utopia tells the story of a broad range of completed and unrealized architectural and infrastructure projects far beyond the well-known German military defenses built on Norway’s Atlantic coast. These ventures included maternity centers, cultural and recreational facilities for German soldiers, and a plan to create quintessential National Socialist communities out of twenty-three towns damaged in the German invasion, an overhaul Norwegian architects were expected to lead. The most ambitious scheme—a German cultural capital and naval base—remained a closely guarded secret for fear of provoking Norwegian resistance.

A gripping account of the rise of a Nazi landscape in occupied Norway, Hitler’s Northern Utopia reveals a haunting vision of what might have been—a world colonized under the swastika.

Despina Stratigakos is vice provost and professor of architecture at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern European history at the University of Florida. He specializes in Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. He can be reached at craig.sorvillo@gmail.com or on twitter @craig_sorvillo.

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Sep 17 2020

57mins

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T. P. Kaplan and W. Gruner, "Resisting Persecution: Jews and Their Petitions during the Holocaust" (Berghahn, 2020)

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In 20 years of studying the Holocaust, it didn’t occurr to me that German officials might, when petitioned by German Jews or by Germans advocating for German Jews, change their minds. But it turns out that, sometimes, they did. And even when they didn’t, petitioning local, regional or national officials (often all at the same time) could delay deportations or punishments or even function as a form of resistance.

Resisting Persecution: Jews and Their Petitions during the Holocaust (Berghahn Books) looks at these petitions from a variety of perspectives. As editors Thomas Kaplan and Wolf Gruner argue, this is a topic that is surprisingly undercovered. And it’s a topic rich in insight and importance. The book shows clearly that petitioning was a common practice. It shows clearly that petitions were sometimes granted. It shows clearly that petitions sometimes led to unexpected and unusual outcomes. And it shows us that studying petitions sometimes opens our eyes to new ways of understanding old topics.

The book isn’t the last word on petitions, nor does it pretend to be. Rather, Kaplan and Gruner open up a new avenue of investigation, one that offers researchers topics to work on for many years to come.

Thomas Pegelow Kaplan is the Leon Levine Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies at Appalachian State University.

Wolf Gruner is the Shapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies, Professor of History and Founding Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research at the University of Southern California.

Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. He’s the author of four modules in the Reacting to the Past series, including The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994, published by W. W. Norton Press.

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Sep 08 2020

1hr 5mins

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Helmut Walser Smith, "Germany: A Nation in its Time" (Liveright, 2020)

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In his groundbreaking 500-year history entitled Germany: A Nation in its Time (Liveright, 2020), Helmut Walser Smith challenges traditional perceptions of Germany’s conflicted past, revealing a nation far more thematically complicated than many twentieth-century historians have imagined. Smith’s dramatic narrative begins with the earliest glimmers of a nation in the 1500s, when visionary mapmakers and adventuresome travelers struggled to delineate and define this embryonic nation. Contrary to widespread perception, the people who first described Germany were largely pacific in temperament, and the pernicious ideology of German nationalism would only enter into the nation’s history centuries later. Tracing the significant tension between the idea of the nation and the ideology of its nationalism, Smith shows a nation constantly reinventing itself and explains how radical nationalism ultimately turned Germany into a genocidal nation. Richly illustrated, with original maps created by the author, the book is a sweeping account that does nothing less than redefine our understanding of Germany from the age of the Reformation to the Berlin Republic.

Michael E. O’Sullivan is Professor of History at Marist College where he teaches courses about Modern Europe. He published Disruptive Power: Catholic Women, Miracles, and Politics in Modern Germany, 1918-1965 with University of Toronto Press in 2018. It was recently awarded the Waterloo Centre for German Studies Book Prize for 2018.

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Sep 07 2020

1hr 9mins

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Victoria de Grazia, "The Perfect Fascist: A Story of Love, Power, and Morality in Mussolini’s Italy" (Harvard UP, 2020)

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In her new book, The Perfect Fascist: A Story of Love, Power, and Morality in Mussolini’s Italy (Belknap Press), Dr. Victoria de Grazia takes the story of Attilio Teruzzi and explores the social history of fascism.

When Attilio Teruzzi, Mussolini’s handsome political enforcer, married a rising young American opera star, his good fortune seemed settled. The wedding was a carefully stage-managed affair, capped with a blessing by Mussolini himself. Yet only three years later, after being promoted to commander of the Black Shirts, Teruzzi renounced his wife.

In fascist Italy, a Catholic country with no divorce law, he could only dissolve the marriage by filing for an annulment through the medieval procedures of the Church Court. The proceedings took an ominous turn when Mussolini joined Hitler: Lilliana Teruzzi was Jewish, and fascist Italy would soon introduce its first race laws.

The Perfect Fascist pivots from the intimate story of a tempestuous seduction and inconvenient marriage―brilliantly reconstructed through family letters and court records―to a riveting account of Mussolini’s rise and fall. It invites us to see in the vain, loyal, lecherous, and impetuous Attilio Teruzzi, a decorated military officer, an exemplar of fascism’s New Man.

Why did he abruptly discard the woman he had so eagerly courted? And why, when the time came to find another partner, did he choose another Jewish woman as his would-be wife? In Victoria de Grazia’s engrossing account, we see him vacillating between the will of his Duce and the dictates of his heart.

De Grazia’s landmark history captures the seductive appeal of fascism and shows us how, in his moral pieties and intimate betrayals, his violence and opportunism, Teruzzi is a forefather of the illiberal politicians of today.

Victoria de Grazia is the Moore Collegiate Professor of History at Columbia University.

Craig Sorvillo is a PhD candidate in modern European history at the University of Florida. He specializes in Nazi Germany, and the Holocaust. He can be reached at craig.sorvillo@gmail.com or on twitter @craig_sorvillo.

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Aug 31 2020

1hr 3mins

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Molly Loberg, "The Struggle for the Streets of Berlin: Politics, Consumption, and Urban Space, 1914-1945" (Cambridge UP, 2018)

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Who owns the street? This is the question that animates The Struggle for the Streets of Berlin: Politics, Consumption, and Urban Space, 1914-1945 (Cambridge University Press) by Molly Loberg.

Interwar Berliners faced this question with great hope yet devastating consequences. In Germany, the First World War and 1918 Revolution transformed the city streets into the most important media for politics and commerce. There, partisans and entrepreneurs fought for the attention of crowds with posters, illuminated advertisements, parades, traffic jams, and violence.

The Nazi Party relied on how people already experienced the city to stage aggressive political theater, including the April Boycott and Kristallnacht. Observers in Germany and abroad looked to Berlin's streets to predict the future. They saw dazzling window displays that radiated optimism. They also witnessed crime waves, antisemitic rioting, and failed policing that pointed toward societal collapse.

Recognizing the power of urban space, officials pursued increasingly radical policies to 'revitalize' the city, culminating in Albert Speer's plan to eradicate the heart of Berlin and build Germania. The book was awarded the prestigious Hans Rosenberg Book Prize of 2018 and has recently been released in paperback.

Michael E. O’Sullivan is Professor of History at Marist College where he teaches courses about Modern Europe. He published Disruptive Power: Catholic Women, Miracles, and Politics in Modern Germany, 1918-1965 with University of Toronto Press in 2018. It was recently awarded the Waterloo Centre for German Studies Book Prize for 2018.

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Aug 26 2020

1hr 6mins

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Marion Kaplan, "Hitler’s Jewish Refugees: Hope and Anxiety in Portugal" (Yale UP, 2020)

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Marion Kaplan's riveting book, Hitler’s Jewish Refugees: Hope and Anxiety in Portugal (Yale University Press) describes the dramatic experiences of Jewish refugees as they fled Hitler’s regime and then lived in limbo in Portugal until they could reach safer havens abroad.

Drawing attention not only to the social and physical upheavals these refugees experienced, Marion Kaplan also highlights their feelings as they fled their homes and histories, while having to beg strangers for kindness. Portugal’s dictator, António de Oliveira Salazar, admitted the largest number of Jews fleeing westward—tens of thousands of them—but then set his secret police on those who did not move along quickly enough. Yet Portugal’s people left a lasting impression on refugees for their caring and generosity.

Most refugees in Portugal showed strength and stamina as they faced unimagined challenges. An emotional history of fleeing, this book probes how specific locations touched refugees’ inner lives, including the borders they nervously crossed or the overcrowded transatlantic ships that signaled their liberation.

Marion Kaplan is Skirball Professor of Modern Jewish History at New York University. She is the author of Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany and a three-time winner of the National Jewish Book Award.

Robin Buller is a Doctoral Candidate in History at UNC Chapel Hill and is a 2020-2021 dissertation fellow with the Association for Jewish Studies.

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Aug 14 2020

51mins

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Richard Breitman, "The Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies"(Oxford Academic/USHMM)

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The Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies is turning twenty-five. One of the first academic journals focused on the study of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies, it has been one of a few journals that led the field in new directions.

So it seemed appropriate to mark the moment by talking with Richard Breitman, its long-time editor. Breitman is professor emeritus at American University and the author of several books on German history and the Holocaust. We talk in the interview about the origins of the Journal, about what it means to be the editor of an academic journal, and about how the field of Holocaust studies has evolved over the years.

Kelly McFall is Professor of History and Director of the Honors Program at Newman University. He’s the author of four modules in the Reacting to the Past series, including The Needs of Others: Human Rights, International Organizations and Intervention in Rwanda, 1994, published by W. W. Norton Press.

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Aug 07 2020

45mins

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A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 9: Vanity of Vanities

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In this episode, I look at Eisler’s last days in England, where he found that the Oxford readership he had been promised before being sent to Dachau was taken by someone else, a paper shortage had put a stop to academic publishing, and that foreign Jews without visas were being imprisoned in a British internment camp on the Isle of Man. I also talk with astrology scholar Dr. Nicholas Campion about Eisler’s scathing criticisms of newspaper astrological columns and unpack Eisler’s final scholarly works on folklore, philology, and ethics. This episode officially concludes the story of Robert Eisler, but there will be a tenth and final episode in the near future that reflects on this project and academic podcasting as a whole after I have had time to hear some feedback. On that note, now that you have heard the story, I would love to hear what you think about it!

Guests: Steven Beller (independent scholar), Nicholas Campion (Principal Lecturer in History at Bath Spa University and Director of the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture)

Voice of Robert Eisler: Caleb Crawford

Additional voices: Brian Evans and Chiara Ridpath

Music: “Shibbolet Baseda,” recorded by Elyakum Shapirra and His Israeli Orchestra.

Funding provided by the Ohio University Humanities Research Fund and the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College Internship Program.

Special thanks to the Warburg Institute and the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford.

Bibliography and Further Reading:

Campion, Nicholas. History of Western Astrology: Volume II, the Medieval and Modern

Worlds. London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2013.

Eisler, Robert. Man into Wolf: An Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochism, and

Lycanthropy. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd., 1951.

———. “The Passion of the Flax.” Folklore 61, no. 3 (1950): 114-133.

———.“The Empiric Basis of Moral Obligation.” Ethics 59, no. 2, part 1 (January 1949):

77-94.

———. “Danse Macabre.” Traditio 6 (1948): 187-225.

———.The Royal Art of Astrology: With a Frontispiece, Sixteen Plates, Forty-Eight

Illustrations in the Text and Five Diagrams. London: Herbert Joseph, Ltd., 1946.

The Mass Observation Archive. http://www.massobs.org.uk/.

Scholem, Gershom. “How I Came to the Kabbalah,” Commentary 69, no. 5 (May

1980): 39-53.

Follow us on Twitter: @averysquarepeg

Associate Professor Brian Collins is the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy at Ohio University. He can be reached at collinb1@ohio.edu.

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Aug 04 2020

59mins

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A Very Square Peg: A Podcast Series about Polymath Robert Eisler. Episode 8: A Very Difficult Man to Kill

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Following the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany in March of 1938, Robert Eisler wrote to Oxford asking about being appointed to the Wilde Readership in Comparative and Natural Religion, thereby gaining a way out of Nazi-controlled Europe. On the day after Hitler held a rally at the Heldenplatz in Vienna attended by 200,000 Austrian supporters, a letter came expressing regret that Oxford was unable to offer any assistance. Desperate to find an escape, Eisler wrote to friends all over Europe and America, asking for help. Finally, Gilbert Murray, Eisler’s old friend from his days with the League of Nations, stepped in and secured him the Oxford readership, which he was to have taken in October and held for three years. But on May 20th, Eisler was arrested and spent the next fifteen months in Dachau and Buchenwald, where he would see the things that inspired him to write Man into Wolf. I talk about the events of 1938 with Steven Beller and we also examine the case of a high-ranking S.S. officer who was expelled for plagiarizing Eisler’s work on Jesus.

Guests: Steven Beller (independent scholar)

Voice of Robert Eisler: Caleb Crawford

Additional voices: Brian Evans and Chiara Ridpath

Music: “Shibbolet Baseda,” recorded by Elyakum Shapirra and His Israeli Orchestra.

Funding provided by the Ohio University Humanities Research Fund and the Ohio University Honors Tutorial College Internship Program.

Special thanks to the Warburg Institute.

Bibliography and Further Reading

Eisler, Robert. Man into Wolf: An Anthropological Interpretation of Sadism, Masochism, and Lycanthropy. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, Ltd., 1951.

———.“The Empiric Basis of Moral Obligation.” Ethics 59, no. 2, part 1 (January 1949):

77-94.

Hackett, David A. The Buchenwald Report. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995.

Heschel, Susannah. The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008.

Jacob, Heinrich E. Six Thousand Years of Bread: Its Holy and Unholy History. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2007.

Wachsmann, Nikolaus. KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2015.

Follow us on Twitter: @averysquarepeg

Associate Professor Brian Collins is the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy at Ohio University. He can be reached at collinb1@ohio.edu.

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Jul 28 2020

42mins

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Ari Linden, "Karl Kraus and The Discourse of Modernity" (Northwestern UP, 2020)

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In Karl Kraus and The Discourse of Modernity (Northwestern University Press, 2020), Ari Linden analyzes Karl Kraus’s oeuvre while engaging in the conversation about modernism and modernity, which is shaped and conditioned by the already post-postmodern condition.

This perspective opens up the exploration of modernist projects and allows a discussion that goes beyond a specific time-period and invites us to locate the conversation about Kraus, as well as about the modernist discourse, in the context of the present moment.

In his book, Linden outlines the most salient features of Kraus’s writing and establishes an ethic and aesthetic matrix to explore the variations and renditions that the modernist projects may promote and welcome. The book specifies Kraus’s aesthetic engagement with satire, as well as with the exploration of the language limitations (if any) and with intellectual conversations, which serve as responses to political and historical events.

The latter makes Linden’s project particularly relevant and up-to-date for the contemporary moment: Kraus’s oeuvre helps further disclose how writing can be engaged as a key instrument not only for the construction of the individual’s perception of the self and others, but also for the construction of ideological paradigms, encapsulating power and control on both individual and public levels.

Karl Kraus and The Discourse of Modernity brings modernity and modernism to the forefront of the post-postmodernist concerns and offers an insightful perspective on how a writer responds to history and politics while interrupting the discourse with their aesthetic renditions.

Ari Linden is an assistant professor in the Department of German Studies at the University of Kansas.

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Jul 24 2020

56mins

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Roger Moorhouse, "Poland 1939: The Outbreak of World War II" (Basic Books, 2020)

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Historian and academic Roger Moorhouse, revisits the opening campaign of World War II, the German invasion of Poland in September 1939., in his new book Poland 1939: The Outbreak of World War II (Basic Book, 2020). Although the German invasion was the cause of the outbreak of World War II, oddly there has not been much by way of English language treatments of this pivotal historical episode. With this fine and highly readable narrative history, Moorhouse more than makes up for this omission. Combing English, German and crucially Polish language sources, Moorhouse reveals to the reader the German campaign from start to finish. Along the way showing that stereotypical Western images of the Polish army: cavalry charging tanks, are mythological in nature and inaccurate. Moorhouse also details for the reader the shameful refusal of the British and French governments to assist their Polish ally. Equally well illustrated is the Soviet Union’s invasion of Eastern Poland. With the Soviet mythology that the invasion was mostly ‘peaceful’ and well-received, just that: a myth. In short, Roger Moorhouse presents to the reader a highly interesting narrative history of an important historical episode. All from the author of Berlin at War and The Devil’s Alliance.

Charles Coutinho Ph. D. of the Royal Historical Society, received his doctorate from New York University. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for Chatham House’s International Affairs.

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Jul 22 2020

45mins

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Timely and topical

By Robinson76879648 - Nov 24 2017
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Given that our President is a belligerent Fascist Ethno-Nationalist, it’s a crucial time to learn your Nazi history. This is an amazing resource.

should be called N*ZI studies

By JardinCook - Feb 21 2016
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Over 90% of these episodes are interviews of writers on the War, Nazi Germany and/or the Holocaust—all subjects that are already well covered elsewhere, as they should be. But there is actually more to Germany’s past and present than that.