Ian Kershaw

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Sir Ian Kershaw (born 29 April 1943) is a British historian, now based at the University of Sheffield. He is a specialist in the study of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.


Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris (1999)[edit]

New York and London, W.W. Norton & Company, 1999

  • Not only, then, did Hitler do nothing to assist in the crushing of Munich’s ‘Red Republic’; he was an elected representative of his battalion during this whole period of existence. How to interpret this evidence is, nevertheless, not altogether clear. Since the Munich garrison had firmly backed the revolution since November, and again in April supported the radical move to the Räterepublik, the obvious implication must be that Hitler, in order to have been elected as a soldiers’ representative, voiced in these months the views of the socialist governments he later denounced with every fibre of his body as ‘criminal.’
    • p. 118
  • Ernst Toller reported that a fellow-prisoner also interned for involvement in the Räterepublik had met Hitler in a Munich barracks during the first months after the revolution, and that the latter had then been calling himself a Social Democrat. Konrad Heiden remarked that, during the time of the Councils Republic, Hitler had, in heated discussions among his comrades, voiced support for the Social Democratic government against the of the Communists.
    • pp. 118-119
  • In a pointed remark when defending Esser in 1921 against attacks from within the party, Hitler commented: ‘Everyone was at one time a Social Democrat.’
    • p. 119
  • Probably in April of 1919, with the Munich ruled by the Communist Councils, [Hitler] wore, along with almost all the soldiers of the Munich garrison, the revolutionary red armband. That Hitler stood back and took no part whatsoever in the ‘liberation’ of Munich from the Räterepublik is said to have brought him later scornful reproaches from Ernst Röhm.
    • p. 120
  • If indeed, as was later alleged, [Hitler] voiced support for the Social Democrats in preference to the Communists, it was presumably viewed as a choice of the lesser of two evils.
    • p. 120
  • ‘German’ socialism came to be wholly associated with the extreme anti-liberal politics of the antisemitic and völkisch movement. The appeal here was mainly to the lower-middle classes—traders, craftsmen, small farmers, lower civil servants—and rooted in a combination of antisemitism, extreme nationalism, and vehement anti-capitalism (usually interpreted as ‘Jewish’ capitalism).
    • p. 135
  • The pronounced socialist image of the NSDAP that had come across strongly during the [1932] campaign… had plainly alienated middle-class support. The attacks of the Nazis had seemed to many little different from the class-warfare of the Communists. The similarity of ‘red’ and ‘brown’ varieties of ‘Bolshevism’ appeared proven by the NSDAP’s support for the Communist-inspired strike of Berlin transport workers during the days immediately preceding the election… Many shocked rural voters—a mainstay of party supporters since 1928—indeed stayed away from the polls as a result of the Nazi support for the strike… saw the Berlin transport strike as evidence that Hitler was arms in arms with Marxism… thought Hitler far on the Left.
    • p. 390-391
  • For Catholics—the other sub-culture which Nazism found greatest difficulty in penetrating, before and after 1933—Hitler was above all seen as the head of a ‘godless’, anti-Christian movement.
    • p. 412
  • On the nationalist-conservative Right… Hitler was portrayed for the most part as intransigent and irresponsible, a wild and vulgar demagogue, not a statesman, an obstacle to political recovery, the head of an extreme movement with menacing socialistic tendencies.
    • p. 412

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