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German history


  • Cheese to Chalk: Can Democracies be Compared to Dictatorships?

    by Leonid Luks

    A German historian argues that American scholars and commentators have for years been too quick to equate antidemocratic measures taken by Republicans with Hitler's seizure of dictatorial power, dismissing ample research on the nature of totalitarian regimes. The last three months have shown that America's core institutions are not weak enough to be crushed. 


  • Is There Anything Left to Learn about Hitler?

    by James Thornton Harris

    Volker Ullrich presents a picture of a leader whose "egocentrism... inability to self-criticize…tendency to overestimate himself... contempt for others and lack of empathy" made him willing to destroy his nation along with himself, but warns that the Third Reich was "a dictatorship of consent." 



  • 1918 Germany Has a Warning for America

    German editorialist Jochen Bittner warns that Trump's insistence that the election has been stolen from him echoes the Dolchstosslegende rhetoric which sustained the ascendant National Socialists for years after the end of World War I.



  • German Historians on Frontlines of Politics

    German historians have faced lawsuits for writing about World War II-era crimes by the Wehrmacht, part of a growing culture war in which right-wing Germans seek to deny or diminish the Holocaust and Nazi war crimes.



  • ‘Weimar America’? The Trump Show Is No Cabaret

    by Niall Ferguson

    Popular culture and lazy historical comparisons have elevated Weimar Germany as an analogue for contemporary America. Ferguson suggests reasons to dial back the comparisons; while current events are troubling, US democracy is more stable and stronger than the Weimar Republic.


  • Conventional Culture in the Third Reich

    by Moritz Föllmer

    Although Nazi aesthetics are generally associated with the monumental architecture of Albert Speer and the propaganda films of Leni Riefenstahl, Germans generally encountered conventionality in art, music and cinema. This helped to normalize the acts of the Third Reich and to allow ordinary Germans to dissociate themselves from Nazism after 1945.



  • UI Historian Takes Close Look At Nazis’ First Days In Power

    University of Illinois professor Peter Fritzche has written a recent book on the first 100 days of the Third Reich which considers the balance of Hitler's influence and prevailing currents of antisemitism and authoritarianism in the German public. 



  • What the Dismantling of the Berlin Wall Means 30 Years Later

    by James Carroll

    As the 30th anniversary of the end of the Cold War approaches, it should be obvious that there’s been a refusal in the United States to reckon with a decades-long set of conflagrations in the Greater Middle East as the inevitable consequence of that first American invasion in 1990.