‘Every means of defence will be put into action to stop enemy aircraft. However, some may get through […] If nothing holds you back, as soon as the threat arrives, LEAVE! [...] LEAVE with your family. DO NOT WAIT. LEAVE.’(1)
The Holocaust, which caused so many resignifications and dissolutions of post-war cultural forms and paradigms, from the deconstruction of grand historical narratives to the shattering of the idea of progress, has not exhausted its capacity to urge reflection or attempts at explanation, as well as fascination, obsession, hypocrisy and often despair.
A landmark moment in Holocaust history and memory occurred in 1989 when about 1,000 Kindertransport survivors attended their 50-year reunion in London. The event commemorated the transport of 10,000 children from Central Europe to safety in Britain. Launched on November 9, 1938, the transport continued for a year until the Nazis ended it when war was declared in September 1939.
The SS-Helferinnenkorps, the women who volunteered to support the SS, and who formed a female Nazi elite, have to date been the subject of minimal research. Until now, very little was known about these women, where they came from, why they volunteered, how they were trained, where they worked, and what became of them after the war.
‘He was one of the best National Socialists, one of the strongest defenders of the German Reich, one of the greatest opponents of all enemies of the Empire.
Rachel Duffett has written a fine social history of British rank and file soldiers, or rankers, and their experiences of food during the Great War. She states, ‘The ranker’s relationship with food was a constant thread, woven throughout his army experience … every day, wherever he was, a man needed to eat’ (p. 229).
A new book has entered international debates on German soldiers and war crimes with a vengeance: Soldaten, heralded by the German political magazine Der Spiegel (as the dust jacket states) as ‘nothing short of a sensation … The myth that the Nazi-era German armed forces [were] not involved in war crimes persisted for decades after the war.
‘It is astonishing’, states Panikos Panayi in the opening sentence of his monograph, ‘that almost a century after the outbreak of the First World War, no academic study has yet appeared upon the experiences of German prisoners of war in Britain’ (p. 1).
The transformation of Germany after the Second World War from Nazism into a prosperous and peaceful state has long exerted a particular fascination upon historians. In the last four decades, legions of scholars have sought to explain the presumably miraculous ‘success story’ of the Federal Republic by a range of factors.
The deluge that is the centenary of 1914–18 war is upon us. As the commemoration period rolls on over the next four, five or even more years – the centenaries of unveiling war memorials will take us well into the 2020s – the number of books, newspaper, magazine, TV, radio and online contributions is already greater than any one person might hope to keep up with – even should he or she wish.