Tag Archives: Ian Kershaw

Stalin and His Parrot

Stalin executed his parrot by smacking it on the head with his pipe because he had begun to bridle at its imitations of his hawking and spitting.

Source: review of To Hell and Back: Europe 1914–1949, by Ian Kershaw, and other books, in The New York Review of Books, April 7


The Debate About an Annotated Edition of Hitler’s Mein Kampf

Mein Kampf original     Mein Kampf

Source: Mail Online, January 10

…Ian Kershaw, a leading biographer of Hitler, joined Friday’s book presentation and said it was “high time for a rigorously academic edition of Mein Kampf” to be made available. “For years, I have considered the lifting of the ban on publication long overdue,” Kershaw said.

“Censorship is almost always pointless in the long term in a free society, and only contributes to creating a negative myth, making a forbidden text more mysterious and awakening an inevitable fascination with the inaccessible.”

Germany’s main Jewish group, the Central Council of Jews, said it has no objections to the critical edition but strongly supports ongoing efforts to prevent any new Mein Kampf without annotations. Its president, Josef Schuster, said he hopes the critical edition will “contribute to debunking Hitler’s inhuman ideology and counteracting anti-Semitism.”

The American scholar Timothy Snyder published an analysis of Hitler’s thinking under the title “Hitler’s World” in the New York Review of Books on September 24. This is an extract:

“…Hitler’s basic critique was not the usual one that human beings were good but had been corrupted by an overly Jewish civilization. It was rather that humans were animals and that any exercise of ethical deliberation was in itself a sign of Jewish corruption. The very attempt to set a universal ideal and strain toward it was precisely what was hateful. Heinrich Himmler, Hitler’s most important deputy, did not follow every twist of Hitler’s thinking, but he grasped its conclusion: ethics as such was the error; the only morality was fidelity to race. Participation in mass murder, Himmler maintained, was a good act, since it brought to the race an internal harmony as well as unity with nature. The difficulty of seeing, for example, thousands of Jewish corpses marked the transcendence of conventional morality. The temporary strains of murder were a worthy sacrifice to the future of the race.”