Priests, Catechisms and Heretics: Some Thoughts on Dirk Moses’ Remarks

In a spirited, provocative short essay for Geschichte der Gegenwart Dirk Moses criticises the ‘high priests’ of Germany’s memory culture for perpetuating a view of the National Socialist past, its place in German and European history, and its proper place in the historical consciousness of the Federal Republic that he regards as outdated.  For Moses, … Continue reading Priests, Catechisms and Heretics: Some Thoughts on Dirk Moses’ Remarks

Teaching in an Age of COVID

La patrie retrouvée, by Léon Hornecker (1918) This year has brought its challenges for tutors and students alike. But the need to rethink how we deliver our teaching has also brought its advantages. These are not only practical – they have also been intellectual. For me, this has been particularly the case at final year … Continue reading Teaching in an Age of COVID

Höcke, Hindenburg, Hitler

The installation of FDP politician Thomas Kemmerich as Minister President of the German state of Thuringia has been widely registered as a moment of profound historical significance. This is hard, at first sight, to square with the basic fact at the centre of the furore, namely the democratic election of a comparatively obscure liberal parliamentarian … Continue reading Höcke, Hindenburg, Hitler

Populisms Past, Populisms Present: Nazism as a Problem of Contemporary Pedagogy

Recently I have been working with colleagues from the City of Nuremberg’s Culture Office and the University of Teacher Education at Lucerne to develop plans for new internal and external installations at the Nazi Party Rally Grounds. The immediate cause of this is the major conservation project now getting underway at the Zeppelin Tribune and … Continue reading Populisms Past, Populisms Present: Nazism as a Problem of Contemporary Pedagogy

Anton Bruckner in the ‘Third Reich’

One of the most iconic images pertaining to musical life in the ‘Third Reich’ is that of Hitler contemplating the bust of the composer Anton Bruckner at its induction into the Walhalla monument near Regensburg in 1937. The monument, built in the early nineteenth century, served as a pantheon to Germany’s cultural, philosophical, political and … Continue reading Anton Bruckner in the ‘Third Reich’

The Remembering ‘We’

The photograph on the left is of Otto Gregor, one of my paternal great-grandfathers. All I have of him is this photograph and his military passbook. The former is a prompt to vague thought, but little more. The latter is fragile, barely legible, and full of silence on the things that would interest me most. … Continue reading The Remembering ‘We’

Thoughts on the Rothenstein Mural

In recent days the so-called Rothenstein Mural, which dominates the Senate Room at the University of Southampton, has become the subject of renewed controversy. The immediate cause was an ill-advised tweet by the president of the Student Union to the effect that she would like to paint over it. Reading the image through the lens … Continue reading Thoughts on the Rothenstein Mural

Anloy-Bruyères Cemetery and the Brexit Impasse

In August 2018 I visited the First World War cemetery of Anloy-Bruyères, near Paliseul in the Belgian Ardennes. The cemetery contains the remains of some of the approximately 8,000 French and German soldiers who were killed at the Battle of Maissin on 22-23 August 1914, one of the first major battles of the initial war … Continue reading Anloy-Bruyères Cemetery and the Brexit Impasse

Britain, Germany, and the Threat of the Far Right

A couple of weeks ago I visited the temporary exhibition on the history of the post-war German Far Right curated by Munich’s Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism. The institution, which opened in 2015, is a typical expression of the political and civic pedagogy that has been an integral part of the culture … Continue reading Britain, Germany, and the Threat of the Far Right

‘To Think is to Compare’: Walther Rathenau, Trump and Hitler

Many years ago, during a lengthy research trip, I rented an apartment near Nuremberg’s Rathenauplatz, a square named after the liberal German-Jewish industrialist and foreign minister Walther Rathenau, murdered by right-wing extremists in 1922. Each time I boarded the underground train at the Rathenauplatz station I was confronted with one of Rathenau’s phrases, which decorated … Continue reading ‘To Think is to Compare’: Walther Rathenau, Trump and Hitler

Historians, Britain and Europe

If the recent election victory of the Conservative party means one thing for historians, it is that we are going to be called on constantly over the next two years to provide context for wideranging discussions of British membership of the European Union. Yet anyone who assumes that the role of historians will simply be … Continue reading Historians, Britain and Europe

What to do with ‘Mein Kampf’?

What are we to make of the imminent reissue in German, 70 years after the death of Hitler, of Mein Kampf - the book that symbolizes like nothing else the destructive genocidal ambitions of the Nazi regime? What does the decision to re-publish tell us about contemporary Germany's relationship to the Nazi past? The question … Continue reading What to do with ‘Mein Kampf’?