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Interpretations of Nazi Germany

John Claydon charts a course across the complex minefield of Nazi historiography.

More words have been written about Nazi Germany than any other period of history, and there is no sign whatsoever of the flood drying up. Indeed the intensity of interest and debate, especially about the Holocaust, is greater now than it has ever been. The enormities of the Holocaust offer almost too much evil and suffering for us to comprehend, but in truth the whole of Nazi history, in the sheer scale and audacity of its ideas and the opportunism and ruthlessness with which they were implemented, defies our understanding. Yet there is a compulsion to try to work out how such things could happen in a time so comparatively recent, especially when we can reconstruct the past from the dialogue of large numbers of people who lived through it.

The key issues

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