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Questions for Jonathan Petropoulos

In his 2000 book, Faustian Bargain: The Art World in Nazi Germany, which was named one of the 25 Books to Remember by the New York Public Library, Jonathan Petropoulos laid bare the motives of the thoughtful, educated, artistic men and women who went to work for Hitler “repatriating” to Nazi Germany artwork from across […]

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How Nazi Germany lost the nuclear plot

By Gordon Fraser
When the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, neither the Atomic Bomb nor the Holocaust were on anybody’s agenda. Instead, the Nazi’s top aim was to rid German culture of perceived pollution. A priority was science, where paradoxically Germany already led the world. To safeguard this position, loud Nazi voices, such as Nobel laureate Philipp Lenard,  complained about a ‘massive infiltration of the Jews into universities’.

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Spies and the burning Reichstag

It is well known that someone set fire to the Reichstag in Berlin on the evening of February 27, 1933 – eighty-one years ago. It is also well known that Hitler’s new government took this opportunity to pass the Reichstag Fire Decree, gutting the Weimar constitution and effectively initiating a 12-year dictatorship. Many readers will know that ever since 1933 controversy has raged about who actually set fire to the Reichstag – was it the first step in a Communist coup, was it a Nazi conspiracy to supply a justification for their Decree, or was the rather confused young Dutch stonemason Marinus van der Lubbe telling the truth when he claimed he had set the fire himself?

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´Operation: Last Chance´, dilemmas of justice, and lessons for international criminal tribunals

By Sergey Vasiliev
In late July 2013, The Guardian reported that the Simon Wiesenthal Centre (SWC), a global Jewish NGO, had launched a poster campaign in Germany requesting the public to assist in identifying and bringing to justice the last surviving alleged perpetrators of crimes under the Nazi regime. Two thousand posters were hung in the streets, featuring a sinister black-and-white image of the most horrific dead-end the modern-era humankind has seen: the snow-covered rail tracks approaching the gate of the Auschwitz II-Birkenau extermination camp.

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International Holocaust Remembrance Day reading list

To mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we present a reading list of books and articles that look at all aspects of Holocaust scholarship, including remarkable stories those who risked their lives to save Jews, post-Holocaust Jewish theological responses, and the challenges of recording oral histories.

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The medieval origins of 20th century anti-semitism in Germany

By Nico Voigtländer and Hans-Joachim Voth
When the Black Death struck in Europe, it killed between 30 and 70 percent of the population. What could account for such a catastrophe? Quickly, communities started to blame Jews for the plague. Pogroms occurred all over Switzerland, Northern France, the Low Countries, and Germany. Typically, the authorities in a location would be alerted to the “danger” by a letter sent from another town (Foa 2000). In typical cases, the city council then ordered the burning of the entire Jewish community.

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Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Katharina von Kellenbach
Holocaust Remembrance Day was originally declared a state holiday in Israel in 1951. The date, the 27th of the month of Nissan, was chosen in memory of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In the United States, a week-long series of “Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust” was ratified by US Congress in 1979 to coincide with Yom HaShoah, which falls sometime during April or May.

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Life in occupied Paris during World War II

By David Ball
If you were a fifty-year-old intellectual, a well-known writer of left-wing articles and literary essays, and your country was occupied by the Nazis and its more-or-less legal government collaborated with them — and now the editor of the leading literary magazine of the time pressed you to contribute an essay to his review, would you do so?

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‘Before he lived it, he wrote it’? Final thoughts on Fleming

By Nicholas Rankin
The real Ian Fleming died on 12 August 1964, just two weeks before the release of the second Bond film, From Russia With Love. Ian’s thrillers, and the films based on them, were already rising towards their phenomenal world-wide success, although they were still sniffed at by the snootier members of his wife Ann’s circle.

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The State of ‘Judenpolitik’ Before the Beginning of the War

Peter Longerich is Professor of Modern German History at Royal Holloway University of London and founder of the College’s Holocaust Research Centre. His book, Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews, shows the steps taken by the Nazis that would ultimately lead to the Final Solution. He argues that anti-Semitism was not a mere by-product of Nazi political mobilization or an attempt to deflect the attention of the masses. Rather, from 1933 onwards, anti-Jewish policy was a central tenet of the Nazi movement’s attempts to implement, disseminate, and secure National Socialist rule. In the excerpt below Longerich analyzes the state of Jewish citizens of Germany right before the start of the war.

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Six surprising facts about “God Bless America”

By Sheryl Kaskowitz
Some of my friends hate “God Bless America.” They find it sentimental, old-fashioned, cheesy. They bristle at its over-the-top jingoism, at its exceptionalism that seems out of step with the globalism of the twenty-first century. They say it violates the separation of church and state. They associate it with Bush, or Reagan, or Nixon, with the boring, mainstream, un-groovy side of American culture.

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Yom HaShoah and everyday genocide

For the historian Mary Fulbrook, the history of the small town of Będzin hits close to home. Her mother was a refugee from Nazi Germany and a close friend to the wife of Uda Klausa, a one-time civilian administrator in that small town so close to the infamous concentration camp Auschwitz. What role did Klausa, as countless local functionaries across the Third Reich, play in facilitating Nazi policy? Fulbrook traveled to Bedzin with her son to film a series of videos exploring the subject as a companion to her book, A Small Town Near Auschwitz: Ordinary Nazis and the Holocaust.

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Poetic justice in The German Doctor

One can say that Dr. Josef Mengele was the first survivor of Auschwitz, for he slipped away undetected in the middle of the night on 17 January 1945, several days before the concentration camp was liberated. Weeks later, he continued his escape despite being detained in two different Prisoner of War detention camps.

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Stalin’s curse

By Robert Gellately
My interest in the Cold War has developed over many years. In fact, as I look back, I would say that it began around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 1960s when I was still in high school. Over the years, as a college student and then as a university professor, I began to look more closely at the vast literature that developed on the topic and to examine the bitter controversies that had raged since 1945.

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“God Bless America” in war and peace

If you watched the World Series this year, you may have noticed a trend in the nightly renditions of “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch: all five performances were by soldiers in uniform.

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