World War II in the News is a review of WWII articles providing thought-provoking collection of hand-picked WW2 information.

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Historians, Authors of World War II

Notable Second World War historians, researchers and authors.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: WWII Interviews, WWII Archives, Nazi Archives, Nazi records, documents, WWII-era Footage.

Historian Klemens von Klemperer, who wrote of the resistance against the Nazis, dies at 96
Klemens von Klemperer, a refugee from Nazi Germany who wrote the seminal history of the movement among the country`s conservative elite to overthrow Hitler, has passed away at the age of 96. A privileged child who came from a family of German bankers and industrialists, he had taken a leading role in demonstrations against Hitler as a student in Vienna before fleeing to the United States in 1938. Dr. von Klemperer, the author of seven books, was best known for his 1992 work, "German Resistance Against Hitler: The Search for Allies Abroad, 1938-1945."

Historian Max Hastings wins $100000 Pritzker Military Library Lifetime Achievement award
British Historian Sir Max Hastings has been named the recipient of the 2012 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. The $100,000 honorarium, citation and medallion is sponsored by the Chicago-based Tawani Foundation. The Pritzker Military Library Literature Award recognizes a living author for a body of work that has profoundly enriched the public understanding of American military history. Hastings is hailed as an accomplished journalist, writer, historian and editor. He is the author of 23 books, like Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945, Finest Years: Churchill as Warlord 1940-45, Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-45 and Nemesis: The Battle for Japan 1944-45.

Military tree carvings expert finally reveals WWII soldier's love note on a tree to wife
They married in secret a few days before he went to war. Frank Fearing had no idea if he would ever see young Helen again, but he made her a solemn promise. Everywhere the American GI went with his unit, he would carve their names into a tree. The first was on Salisbury Plain, and the rest were spread across France and Germany. Helen Fearing never knew if it was just a romantic bluff, or if he had simply made up the story to impress her. More than six decades later, and several years after Frank died, Chantel Summerfield -- a specialist in military tree carvings -- tracked Helen down from the information on the Salisbury tree, and showed her the proof.

Professor Richard J Evans calls A.N. Wilson's Hitler biography "absolutely valueless"
Richard J Evans, Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University and author of several books about Hitler's Third Reich, has stated that Andrew Norman Wilson's book - "Hitler: A Short Biography" - was littered with factual errors and "absolutely valueless". "It's hard to think why a publishing house that once had a respected history list (HarperCollins) agreed to produce this travesty of a biography," Evans wrote in his review of the biography, claiming that Wilson used only English-language sources because he could not read German.

WWII SAS intelligence officer and military historian MRD Foot passes away at 92
Michael Richard Daniell (MRD) Foot, SAS intelligence officer and the official historian of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), who has died aged 92, enjoyed the rare distinction of being the only person to be referred to by his real name in a John le Carré novel.

Historian Ronald Fraser, known for collecting people`s experiences during the Spanish Civil War, dies at 81
Ronald Fraser, an English oral historian known for his deftness at collecting and presenting ordinary people`s experiences during events like the Spanish Civil War, has passed away at 81. His most influential book was "Blood of Spain: An Oral History of the Spanish Civil War," a 628-page work published in 1979 that Paul Preston, a historian of the Spanish Civil War, said in The New York Times Book Review would "take its place among the dozen or so truly important books about the Spanish conflict." Time magazine said, "No other volume on the Spanish Civil War can surpass the power and detail of this one."

Historian Ian Kershaw talks about the Last Days of the Third Reich: Hitler's Influence Was Fatal
(Q) Professor Kershaw, you have spent the last three years studying the collapse of Nazi Germany. In the end, are we left to shake our heads in amazement at the absurdity of the final phase, or do you, as a historian, also feel something akin to admiration for the perseverance of the Germans?

(A) I'm convinced that we English would have given up much earlier. It's certainly unusual for a country to continue fighting to the point of complete self-destruction. In any armed conflict, there is eventually a point at which one side realizes that it's over. If the people in power don't give up but instead continue to plunge the country into ruin, there is either a revolution from below, as was the case in Germany and Russia near the end of WW1.


As Stalin starved Ukrainians, kids ate each other -- Podcast interview of Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands
When starving orphans in the Kharkiv orphanage suddenly went silent, caregivers rushed in to find the children eating Petrus, the smallest of them. Some tore off bits of the boy's flesh and devoured them, while others sucked blood from his wounds. It was 1933 in Soviet Ukraine, and the famine was the result of forced collectivization. 3.3 million people died of deliberate starvation in the Soviet Ukraine in 1932-1933.

The Soviet collectivization is one of the topics Lewis Lapham discusses with Timothy Snyder, author of "Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin," in this 19-minute podcast interview.

Direct link to the podcast (9MB, mp3-format).


Historian Samuel Eliot Morison saw the feats of the U.S. Navy during World War II
On March 23, 1942, historian Samuel Eliot Morison offered himself as a "sea-going historiographer" to record the activities of the U.S. Navy. That July, he boarded a destroyer to witness the war against Nazi Germany's U-boats, beginning a journey which would make him an authority on the American maritime history. His 15-volume account of the U.S. Navy in WWII - "The History of United States Naval Operations in World War II" - is highly praised because of its readability. And if that seems like too much to take up, you may be interested in "Two-Ocean War: A Short History of the United States Navy in the Second World War," which is an abridged version of his 15-volume account.

Hugh Trevor- Roper: Historian who hunted Hitler across the world
The two Russian soldiers on guard outside 77 Wilhelmstrasse in Berlin barely bothered with the British captain who visited late in 1945. They accepted some cigarettes and let him through the shell-damaged doorway. He would return many times, building up a picture of what had happened there as the Red Army closed in on the occupants and on one man in particular: Adolf Hitler. This was the famous Führerbunker where on April 30, 1945, Hitler had put the muzzle of a gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger. The British officer was Captain Hugh Trevor- Roper, working for the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS).

Hitler Researcher Joachim Riecker defends his reputation after British newspapers misquote him
German historian Joachim Riecker published a book about Adolf Hitler's hatred of Jews - soon British papers printed inaccurate articles about it. Now he demands a correction. (Q) The Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph claim that you wrote that one of the causes of Hitler's hatred of Jews was the "harmful treatment" Hitler's mother received from Jewish doctor Eduard Bloch. You were even quoted. Did the Daily Mail ever talk to you? (A) No. The author took the text from an obscure website that had incorrect information in a review. In reality Hitler called Bloch a "noble Jew" who was under the protection of the Gestapo - and allowed to move to the USA in 1940.

Simon Wiesenthal: The life of a Nazi Hunter
Some called him the Nazi Hunter, but he was just a normal man looking to make sure that justice was served. Simon Wiesenthal once said that his aim was to warn the murderers of tomorrow that they will never find rest. If he couldn't do that, then millions of people perished for nothing. Wiesenthal was a voice for the survivors of the Holocaust, but also for those who lost their lives in the Nazi camps. Wiesenthal worked most of his life making sure that these crimes against humanity would never be silenced or whitewashed. Wiesenthal contributed to the capture of many top Nazis - like Adolf Eichmann, Franz Stangl, and Hermine Braunsteiner.

Anthony Read's top 10 history books about Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich
(1) The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L Shirer, who was in Germany for much of the time, and it shows. (3) "Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris" and "Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis" by Ian Kershaw. The ultimate Hitler biography. (4) The Past is Myself by Christabel Bielenberg. Life under Nazi rule. (5) Inside the Third Reich by Albert Speer. The other side of the coin, the least repulsive of the Nazi memoirs. (6) Letters to Freya by Helmuth James von Moltke. (9) Hitler's War Aims by Norman Rich. Hitler's ambitions and achievements outside the old Reich, the methods and the results of the drive for Lebensraum. (10) The German Dictatorship by Karl Dietrich Bracher.

Russia bans Hitler's Table Talk: 1941-1944 by prominent historian Hugh Trevor-Roper
A Russian court has banned a history book about Adolf Hitler by the late historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, saying citations (like "Russians are beasts," "Slavs are a mass of inborn slaves") attributed to the Nazi leader insult Russians. Under anti-extremism laws the court banned "Hitler's Table Talk: 1941-1944" (1953), which records Adolf Hitler's occasionally racist ramblings on a range of topics. Professor Hugh Trevor-Roper wrote one of the classic histories of the fall of Nazi Germany: "The Last Days of Hitler". The book will now be put on a list of extremist works that are banned and owning or distributing it would then be illegal.

British Historians seek public report on World War II forgeries
British historians demanded a public report on the inquiry into 29 forged documents found at the National Archives that falsely accuse Winston Churchill's government of having a secret relationship with Nazi SS chief Henrich Himmler. 8 top historians signed an open letter urging authorities to take action against the suspect who faked the documents, which also allege that Churchill ordered the assassination of Himmler to keep the case secret. "That's a blood libel against Churchill and totally untrue," said historian Andrew Roberts. Himmler committed suicide with cyanide after he was caught by British forces in 1945.

Nazi hunters running out of targets and becoming historians
Germany's chief Nazi prosecutor is more likely to be comforting the grandchild of a war criminal than tracking Adolf Hitler's henchmen. Nazi hunters are running out of targets and becoming historians who shine a light on dark family secrets. "It's hard to keep prosecutors here. ... the prospects of prosecution are slim... It's more about finding out and explaining what happened," said Kurt Schrimm, who leads department for prosecuting Nazi war crimes. For many Germans the search for Nazis in their family ends in Ludwigsburg, where index cards - each with a name and often a list of war-crime prosecutions - fill the cellar.

High-profile historian Guido Knopp likens Cruise speech to Goebbels
The hostility between Germany and the Scientology intensified when a high-profile historian compared Tom Cruise's performance in a video with the style of the Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Guido Knopp, who has authored a number of books on Hitler and his inner circle, said the video "inevitably" recalled Goebbels' speech in a Berlin sports stadium when he asked "Do you want total war?" and the crowd roared "Yes!" The footage shows Cruise, wearing a large medallion and speaking from a podium: "So what do you say, we gonna clean this place up?" He is greeted by avid cheers. Germany considers Scientology as a commercial organisation.

Historian Gerald Feldman: The role of big business during the Nazi era
The first major work of the historian Gerald D Feldman, who has passed away aged 70, was "Army, Industry and Labour in Germany 1914-1918". It revolutionized our knowledge of the German economy in WWI. After a biography of Hugo Stinnes, he focused writing the history of business under nazism. During the 1990s, many large German firms began to commission independent histories of themselves, concerned that the accusation of covering up their part in nazism might damage their business. Gerry wrote a balanced but crushing history of the Allianz Insurance Company, whose chief executive Kurt Schmitt was for a time Adolf Hitler's economics minister.

Poland suing historian of book on oppression of the Jews after Holocaust
The author of a book charging Poles of a campaign against the Jews after the Holocaust could face charges of defaming the Polish nation. Jan Gross has previously accused Poles of actively aiding the Nazis in oppressing Jews in World War II. In his book "Fear" - released in Polish on Friday - he writes that anti-semitism remained dominant in the years after the Holocaust. In an interview Gross rejected charges that his book was aimed against Poland: "I am convinced anti-semitism was one of the main poisons that were injected into the Polish identity." He blamed nationalist and Catholic circles. "Will these people be finally able to say mea culpa? We'll see."

Author Gerald Astor dies at 81 - Wrote on American WWII GIs
Gerald Astor, an author who drew on the recollections of combat veterans in his books telling battles of World War II, died at 81. Through interviews with veterans and stories from their diaries, Astor, who served with the 97th Infantry, told of combat as experienced by foot soldiers, sailors and pilots. In its review of "A Blood-Dimmed Tide" Astor`s account of the Battle of the Bulge, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland said he expressed "the sight, feel, smell and taste of a historic battle told by soldiers who did the fighting, not those who moved map pins back and forth in the safety of a rear echelon headquarters."

Historian Max Hastings: Australians too scared to fight the Japanese
Australian war veterans, "World War II diggers", are enraged by claims of an English historian Sir Max Hastings that they were too scared to fight the Japanese in 1945. He has blamed Australian soldiers for disobeying orders to attack in his book "Nemesis - The Battle For Japan 1944-1945", saying many soldiers were embittered and on the edge of open mutiny. Major General Bill Crews says Hastings has exaggerated frustrations in the Australian forces at the time, but confesses there were some dissatisfaction among Australian troops towards the end of WWII, as they took part in 'less necessary' operations after years of service.

Günter Grass sues over claim that he willingly joined the Waffen-SS
Günter Grass is suing Random House over a claim that he willingly joined the Nazis' Waffen SS unit at the end of the World War II. Der Spiegel reported that Grass was seeking an injunction against the publishing house over the wording of a sentence that appears in the revised edition of a biography by Michael Jürgs, who wrote: "Günter Grass admitted... that as a 17yo he willingly joined the Waffen SS." The author of "The Tin Drum" shocked Germans by revealing in his autobiography "Peeling the Onion" that he had been drafted into Nazi Germany's Waffen SS elite force. Grass claims that "The conscription into the Waffen SS happened without my active participation."

Gerald D. Feldman, Historian of the Nazis and Finances, dies at 70
Historian Gerald D. Feldman, who concentrated on the intersection of economics and politics to explore subjects like the hyperinflation of the 1920s and the comfortable relationships between companies and the Nazis, died at 70. He was noted for his original research into how banks and insurance companies collaborated with Hitler`s regime. He was part of a team that found documents proving that Deutsche Bank had financed the building of Auschwitz. His book "Allianz and the German Insurance Business 1933-1945" told how Allianz had given money owed to Jewish beneficiaries of life insurance policies to the Nazi authorities instead and had insured concentration camps.

War author Cornelius Ryan's huge archive goes on show
An exhibition on the archive of Cornelius Ryan - author of A Bridge Too Far and The Longest Day - starts next weekend. It is part of a weekend organised by Edinburgh University's centre for the study of the two world wars to mark Remembrance Sunday. The archive is one of the largest collections of first-hand information outside of government archives on D-Day, Arnhem and the Fall of Berlin. The exhibition will feature previously unseen documents and statements from those who fought in or contributed to these historical events.

Gerhard Weinberg who discovered Mein Kampf sequel to speak
In 1958 in a sweltering (converted torpedo factory in Alexandria, Va.) historian Gerhard L. Weinberg was searching through huge stacks of documents that the U.S. had captured from Nazi Germany. He came across an unknown prize: a secret book dictated by Adolf Hitler in 1928, the unpublished sequel to Mein Kampf. It was this book that became the subject of the History Channel’s 2004 documentary "Hitler’s Lost Plan." This documentary will be shown at 2 p.m. on Nov 7 followed by a talk given by Weinberg.

5 best books about major WWII decisions by historian Ian Kershaw
(1) Libraries of works have explored the background to the war that began in 1939, but the best is Donald Watt's "How War Came." With unsurpassed knowledge of the diplomatic records of the main players, he unfolds the drama that ran between the Western powers' sellout of Czechoslovakia at the Munich Conference of Sept. 30, 1938, and the decision to go to war 11 months later. (2) "The Road to Stalingrad," the first volume of John Erickson's 2-volume "Stalin's War With Germany" examines one of the most extraordinary WWII stories: how the Soviet Union was able to survive the German onslaught in 1941 and begin to turn the tables.

Werner Maser - Historian of the Third Reich   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Military historian Werner Maser, who served as an infantry officer in World War Two, was best known for his 1971 study of Hitler, Adolf Hitler: Legende, Mythos, Wirklichkeit ("Hitler: legend, myth and reality"). The volume was just part of a long study of the Third Reich which included not only the Nazi leader, but also his nazi party, the Nuremberg trials, German-Soviet relations and much more. Finally, in 2004, he produced "Falsification, Fiction and the Truth about Hitler and Stalin" in which he advanced the view that Red Army was poised to attack Nazi Germany at the time of the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.

Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaughterhouse Five, WWII PoW, dies at 84
Kurt Vonnegut wrote the classic anti-war novel, Slaughterhouse Five, detailing his experiences of the Allied bombing of Dresden in 1945. Captured by German troops in Dec 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge, he spent the rest of the war imprisoned in a Dresden slaughterhouse. On the night of 13 Feb 1945, Allied bombing raids flattened the city, creating a firestorm that killed 35,000 citizens in two hours. Vonnegut was saved by his incarceration in a cold meat locker 3 storeys beneath ground. When they ventured out, nothing was left of the city, and their task was to uncover the rotting corpses.

Werner Maser, a Leading Adolf Hitler historian, Dies at 84
The German historian Werner Maser, considered one of the leading experts on Adolf Hitler and nazi regime, died at 84. He won acclaim with a biography "Hitler: Legend, Myth and Reality." "Hitler’s Letters and Notes," gave insight into the dictator’s thoughts and theories. Maser was praised for his painstaking research. He tracked down Hitler’s medical records 1905-1945, which were for decades believed to have been lost, and was the first historian to assert that the diaries of Hitler published by Stern in 1983 were forgeries. His credibility was compromised when he claimed to have tracked down Hitler’s illegitimate son.

Lothar-Guenther Buchheim, author of Das Boot, dies at 89   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Lothar-Guenther Buchheim, the German author and art collector best known for his autobiographical novel, "Das Boot," has died at 89. He joined the German navy as a reporter during World War II. He was acclaimed for his works, including several about his patrol aboard the German sub U-96 in the Atlantic Ocean in 1941. He crafted that experience into the novel "Das Boot," or "The Boat." In 1981, the book was turned into a film that detailed the hopelessness of war and its effect on sailors living in the confines of submarine. He also wrote a 3-volume work, "U-Boat Krieg" or "U-Boat War," that featured 5,000 photos he took aboard the U-96.

Joachim Fest, who wrote biography of Adolf Hitler, dies
The historian Joachim Fest, who worked closely with Adolf Hitler's architect Albert Speer on his memoirs and penned one of the best biographies of the Nazi dictator, has died. He gained close insight into the inner workings of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich during talks with Speer, who became minister of armaments during the World War II and maintained the Nazi war machine. Fest worked with Speer as the editor of his memoirs, Inside the Third Reich, and later Spandau: The Secret Diaries. His 1974 biography of Hitler is one of the best on the dictator. His works included Inside Hitler's Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich, which was the basis for the film Downfall.