Sunday, 20 November 2011

Ian Kershaw on the Last Days of the Third Reich: 'Hitler's Influence Was Fatal'

"SPIEGEL: You write that the German arms industry produced its largest volume of weapons in December 1944, despite the devastating bombing war.
Kershaw: Without Speer's ability to maintain arms production under the most adverse circumstances, the war would have ended much earlier. Until the Ardennes Offensive, he and his people performed veritable miracles when it came to producing ammunition. There is no other way of putting it."

In a SPIEGEL interview, the best-selling British historian Ian Kershaw talks about the last days of the Third Reich, why the Germans persevered when it was clear that all was lost and the devastating consequences of the failed July 20, 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler.

SPIEGEL: Professor Kershaw, you have spent the last three years studying the collapse of Nazi Germany. In the end, are we left to shake our heads in amazement at the absurdity of the final phase, or do you, as a historian, also feel something akin to admiration for the perseverance of the Germans?

Kershaw: The head-shaking predominates, at any rate. I'm convinced that we English would have given up much earlier. It's certainly unusual for a country to continue fighting to the point of complete self-destruction. It's the sort of thing we usually see in civil wars, but not in conflicts in which hostile nations are at war with one another.

SPIEGEL: The question of why the Germans persevered for so long is the starting point of your new book. What would have been the obvious thing to do?

Kershaw: In any armed conflict, there is eventually a point at which one side realizes that it's over. If the people in power don't give up but instead continue to plunge the country into ruin, there is either a revolution from below, as was the case in Germany and Russia near the end of World War I, or there is a coup by the elites, who attempt to save what can still be saved. An example of that is the overthrow of Benito Mussolini in Italy in July 1943.
Read the whole piece :
Part 1: 'Hitler's Influence Was Fatal'

No comments: