Four responses to Nazism

by Ellen Pilsworth

15 Jan 2021
Journal of the British Academy, volume 9 (2021)
https://doi.org/10.5871/jba/009.059
14

Abstract: This article examines four memoirs (by Jan Petersen, Sebastian Haffner, Nora Waln, and Hermann Rauschning) published in pre-war Britain which describe their authors’ first-hand experience of life under National Socialism. These writers came from across the political spectrum, but by 1940 they had all risked their lives to escape and oppose the Nazi regime from a position of exile. Their powerful memoirs were an attempt to explain to international audiences what exactly had taken place in Germany, and to suggest ways forward. Incorporating a range of approaches, these writers’ honest reflections on their personal responses to the Nazi movement offer profound insights to readers today, as we try to understand the increasingly distant Nazi era, but are also confronted by a return of far right ideas to mainstream discourse.

Keywords: National Socialism, Nazism, Germany, memoirs, Jan Petersen, Sebastian Haffner, Nora Waln, Hermann Rauschning, far right.

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