Professor Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian, noted for his biographies of Adolf Hitler.
Ian Kershaw studied at Liverpool (BA) and Oxford (D. Phil). He was a lecturer first in medieval, then in modern, history at the University of Manchester. In 1983-4 he was Visiting Professor of Modern History at the Ruhr University in Bochum, West Germany.
From 1987 to 1989 he was Professor of Modern History at the University of Nottingham, and since 1989 has been Professor of Modern History at Sheffield.
He is a fellow of the British Academy, of the Royal Historical Society, of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, and of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung in Bonn. He retired from academic life in the autumn semester of 2008.
An exclusive interview with Ian Kershaw author of Hitler: Volume One: 1889-1936: Hubris and Hitler Volume Two: 1936-1945: Nemesis
Do you feel you understand Adolf Hitler?
What do you aim to achieve with your books on Hitler?
Help an understanding of how such a figure could come to exercise such power to such devastating effect.
Is there any reason why you have written this biography in 2 parts, and why have you split as you have?
There was a lot to say. By 1936 Hitler was triumphant within Germany. To end Hitler 1885-1936: Hubris with his power unchallenged within Germany but before entering upon foreign expansion made sense.
If you could meet Hitler, what would you say to him?
"Please be brief, I have to leave in 2 minutes".
Do you think there was a point after which the 2nd World War became inevitable?
Yes. At the latest, the march into Prague (15.3.39).
There is a debate among historians about the role played by the German people in the war, in particular with regard to the genocide. How much responsibility to you think can be placed on one man for what happened?
A great deal. However wide the culpability, it can still be said no Hitler, no holocaust.
How would you describe the 2 volumes of Hitler?
How long did it take you to research these books?
11 years (and since the 1970s working on the 3rd Reich).
If there were one thing in your life you were able to achieve, what would it be?
Turn Oldham Rugby League Football Club into a championship-winning team.
What is your favourite book/author?
The History of Bolton Priory by Hamilton Thompson
Which book do you wish you had written?
Dom David Knowles The Monastic Order in England.
What are you reading now?
Proofs, proofs and more proofs.
Who do you intend to write about next?
The history of Europe in the 20th century (for the Penguin History of Europe series) - when I've had a rest.
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