Christopher R. Browning is Frank Porter Graham Professor of History Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author, most recently, of Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave-Labor Camp.
 (February 2019)


The Fake Threat of Jewish Communism

A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism

by Paul Hanebrink
One of the great merits of Paul Hanebrink’s A Specter Haunting Europe is its demonstration of how Europe’s most pervasive and powerful twentieth-century manifestation of anti-Semitic thought—the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism—emerged before the rise of National Socialism and has continued to have a curious life long after the Holocaust and the defeat of Nazi Germany. Hanebrink’s approach is not to repeat what he considers an error of the interwar era—the futile attempt to refute a myth on the basis of historical facts and statistical data. Trying to discredit powerful political myths with mere facts, as we know all too well today, is a frustrating endeavor. Thus Hanebrink seeks instead to understand the historical background and the “cultural logic” of the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism—how it functioned and morphed through different phases.

The Suffocation of Democracy

German President Paul von Hindenburg and Chancellor Adolf Hitler on their way to a youth rally at the Lustgarten, Berlin, May 1933
Whatever secret reservations Mitch McConnell and other traditional Republican leaders have about Trump’s character, governing style, and possible criminality, they openly rejoice in the payoff they have received from their alliance with him and his base: huge tax cuts for the wealthy, financial and environmental deregulation, the nominations of two conservative Supreme Court justices (so far) and a host of other conservative judicial appointments, and a significant reduction in government-sponsored health care (though not yet the total abolition of Obamacare they hope for). Like Hitler’s conservative allies, McConnell and the Republicans have prided themselves on the early returns on their investment in Trump.

‘For Fighting We Were Born’

Stormtroopers without their brown uniforms, which were banned by German authorities several times between their introduction in 1926 and Hitler’s appointment as chancellor in 1933. Daniel Siemens writes that an ‘SA troop...with members dressed in white shirts or other surrogate “uniforms” still remained highly recognizable.’

Stormtroopers: A New History of Hitler’s Brownshirts

by Daniel Siemens
The torchlight parade of some ten to fifteen thousand brown-shirted stormtroopers through the streets of Berlin on the night of Adolf Hitler’s appointment as chancellor of Germany in January 1933 is certainly one of the best-known images of the Nazi era. It is no surprise, then, that it was invoked …

Lessons from Hitler’s Rise

Supporters greeting Adolf Hitler as he arrived at the Berghof, his retreat at Berchtesgaden in the Bavarian Alps, circa 1935

Hitler: Ascent 1889–1939

by Volker Ullrich, translated from the German by Jefferson Chase
Even if there are many significant differences between Hitler and Trump and their respective historical circumstances, what conclusions can the reader of Volker Ullrich’s new biography reach that offer insight into our current situation?

The Two Different Ways of Looking at Nazi Murder

Niklas Frank—son of Hans Frank, Adolf Hitler’s personal lawyer—looking at Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine for the first time since he was a small child, Wawel Castle, Kraków, January 2014. According to Philippe Sands in East West Street, the elder Frank confiscated the painting from a Polish museum for ‘protective’ reasons while he was governor-general of Nazi-occupied Poland, and kept it in his private rooms at the castle.

East West Street: On the Origins of “Genocide” and “Crimes Against Humanity”

by Philippe Sands

The Extermination of the European Jews

by Christian Gerlach
The Nuremberg Trials marked a milestone in the development of international law in part because individuals who participated in the commission of state crimes were no longer shielded by the legal defenses of either sovereign immunity (for leaders) or obedience to orders (for underlings). But the trials were also notable …

A New Vision of the Holocaust

A woman in the Jewish ghetto of Lodz, Poland, 1940–1944; from Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross, edited by Maia-Mari Sutnik, published by the Art Gallery of Ontario, and distributed by Yale University Press

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning

by Timothy Snyder
How does Timothy Snyder’s Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning differ from previous histories of the Holocaust? Like many other historians, Snyder begins with a careful analysis of Hitler and his ideology, but he is not concerned with the broader, long-term context of German and European culture and …

When Europe Failed

German soldiers shaking hands with French volunteers bound for the front, July 1944

Europe on Trial: The Story of Collaboration, Resistance, and Retribution During World War II

by István Deák
In the United States, World War II is generally remembered as the last “good war,” particularly in comparison to the dashed expectations and disillusionment following World War I and the domestic division and sense of futility accompanying the Vietnam and Iraq wars. World War II as a “good war” did …