History would have taken a different course if it hadn’t been for Adolf Hitler. Who was this man with his slick hair and peculiar moustache? What made so many people willing to follow him? British historian Laurence Rees will speak about this in next week's Tans Lecture .
Was Adolf Hitler mad? One would be inclined to think so, knowing what he did to Europe and the rest of the world. Perhaps Laurence Rees (1957) can give us the answer next week. Fellow-historian Ian Kershaw, writer of one of the best Hitler biographies, reckons that Hitler was not mad. “Now, Hitler was the single most important author of the Second World War, but there were many other factors that came into play even within Germany itself. So the notion that this is down to one man and one man’s lunacy is actually, I think, a misconception (…).” Hitler wasn’t clinically mad or clinically insane, according to Kershaw. On Rees’ own educational, informative website about the Second World War, ww2history.com, there are interviews with Kershaw and some thirty other historians and writers. He asks questions like: What kind of a relationship did Germany have with Russia, America and Japan? What was Hitler’s biggest mistake? What priorities did the Nazis have? Who was the best leader during WW II? The website also shows a collection of historical video fragments and witness statements from victims and offenders.
Laurence Rees studied at Oxford University and started his career with the BBC. He is a writer and creator of various documentary series about the Second World War and the Third Reich. His documentary The Nazis: A Warning from History was awarded with a BAFTA and an International Documentary Award.
His latest book The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler was published recently. Rees, who is in the Netherlands for the publication of the Dutch version next week, has been invited to Maastricht. In the Tans Lecture he will speak specifically about the much ignored subject of Hitler’s character and alleged personal appeal, and he will investigate how it was possible that this man grew into someone who turned German democracy into a totalitarian state with himself as the absolute ruler. Based on written sources but also on many eyewitness reports, Rees shows that Hitler was one of the most remarkable figures who ever lived.
The Tans Lecture is organised every year in memory of Dr. J. Tans (1912-1993), founder of Maastricht University. Famous previous speakers include Susan Neiman, Nawal el Saadawi, Theodore Dalrymple, and Norman Davies.
Tans Lecture ‘The dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler’, Wednesday 17 October, 20:00hrs, Lecture Hall Tongersestraat 53, free entry