Walter Laqueur is a historian of Europe and the Middle East. He has taught at Brandeis, Georgetown, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the University of Chicago.

1917

Revolutions seldom happen unexpectedly. Usually, they are preceded by unmistakable warning signs: the grand peur in 1789, the universal expectation of a revolution years before 1848. There had been ominous signs in Russia for a century before 1917. Herzen wrote in 1853 that any day Russia might be drawn into …

The Risks of Prophecy

Of all those who have written about Soviet affairs since the Second World War, Isaac Deutscher is one of the most widely read and interesting. In spite of an inclination towards hagiography, his three-volume study of Trotsky is the definitive work on the subject and, at the same time, among …

People Without a Country

It is still widely believed that everything that happens in the Soviet Union is planned according to some overall theoretical blueprint. Reality is more complex; in their internal policies Soviet leaders have been so preoccupied with economic problems that they have hardly been able in recent decades to pause for …

Spies

Spy stories have been a legitimate literary genre ever since Joshua Ben Nun was sent into the Land of Canaan; at their best they combine elements of tension and surprise, of politics, intrigue, military adventure, and occasionally sex. The output reached high tide in the years after the first and …

Footnotes to the Holocaust

The storm that followed the publication of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem raged for a long time; it provoked violent denunciation or emphatic assent; it even, I am told, poisoned personal relations among intellectuals in New York and to a lesser degree elsewhere. Above all, it drew attention to the …

Germany: The Mixture as Before

London A long battle behind the scenes is now under way in Bonn following last Sunday’s elections, when an unexciting campaign was followed by the anticlimactic victory of the Christian Democrats. The Social Democrats improved their position by 3 per cent—not sufficient to harass seriously Professor Erhard’s ruling party.

The Wrong Right

Entire libraries have been written about the left in Europe in this century; the number of serious studies of the history and character of right-wing movements can be counted on the fingers of one hand. There are several good reasons for this: most people who write books are, in Europe …

Russian Roulette

As on past occasions, a visit to the Soviet Union earlier this year produced in me conflicting impressions: striking advances and equally striking backwardness in many fields. There was readiness to talk to strangers, greater curiosity about events in the West. The late President Kennedy is still a hero in …

Russia in Wartime

Alexander Werth, Mr. Ehrenburg tells us in the most recent installment of his autobiography, is a nervous, witty man who was born in St. Petersburg and speaks excellent Russian. He also retails one of Mr. Werth’s jokes Ehrenburg had a Scotch terrier which had suffered from the blast of an …

Nazis

It is surely here to stay, Harold Lasswell wrote in 1934 in his entry on “propaganda” for the Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. How right he was. We have all been taught about the origins of the word in its modern sense—Urban VIII, the Jesuits and all that. But if …

Middletown, Germany

Mr. William Sheridan Allen, a student of history from Evanston, Illinois, went in the early 1950s to a small town in the former kingdom of Hanover to write about its history during the fateful years 1930-1935. I happen to know from experience that authors are not always responsible for what …

The Roots of Nazism

For most people who have not lived in Germany, the essence of Nazism remain a riddle. Americans, Russians, Frenchmen, and the British usually try to interpret it in terms of militarism, anti-Semitism, extreme nationalism, and imperialism. All these were elements in Nazism, yet they existed in other counries as well.

Plotting Against Hitler

In the library in which I work there is almost an entire roomful of books and pamphlets on German resistance against Hitler. When visitors are shown round our building they often express surprise that so many people have devoted so much time to writing so many books upon a nonexistent …

Hitler and the Catholics

Semen est sanguis Christianorum: when St. Ignatius was threatened with martyrdom he implored his captors to be given to the wild beasts “for through them I can attain unto God.” When, some eighteen centuries later, the Catholic clergy in Nazi Germany was called to bear witness, the call went out …

Middle-Eastern Illusions

With the exception of Cyprus, the Middle East furnishes few headlines in the world’s press now, nor does it stand high on the list of problems that give diplomats sleepless nights. Yet ten or even five years ago, an American President had to interrupt a round of golf to attend …