Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Telling Lies about Hitler, Richard Evans

“One day, an Englishman will come along and write my biography.  But it cannot be an Englishman of the present generation.  They won’t to be objective.  It will have to be an Englishman of the next generation, and one who is totally familiar with all the German archives.”

There are not many English historians who would be too eager to claim this little-known prophecy by the late F├╝hrer for themselves, but David Irving is no ordinary English historian.  In fact, as Evans argues in this absorbing little book, he is no historian at all.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Sacred Causes, Michael Burleigh - Part 2

For Part 1 of this review, see here.

Burleigh spends some time dealing with the sensitive subject of Pope Pius XII's conduct in relation to the Holocaust.  The debate over Pius' wartime role has developed considerably over recent years, and the state of the question seems to have moved beyond the rather extreme positions taken by some commentators in the past.  By contrast, Burleigh's endeavours to exculpate Pius have a slightly dated feel to them.  This is partly because the book was published in 2006, but (as Burleigh himself notes) the 'Pius wars' were already old news by then.  The controversy over Pius' wartime role has been running since at least the 1960s.  John Cornwell published Hitler's Pope in 1999, then retreated to a more agnostic position in The Pope in Winter in 2004.  Rabbi David Dalin's case for the defence, The Myth of Hitler's Pope, appeared in 2005, following The Pius War, an anthology published in 2004 by Dalin and a conservative journalist.