When war broke out in September 1939, it was deeply unpopular in Germany. Yet without the active participation and commitment of the German people, it could not have continued for almost six years. What, then, was the war Germans thought they were fighting? How did the changing course of the conflict – the victories of the Blitzkrieg, the first defeats in the east, the bombing of Germany’s cities – change their views and expectations? And when did Germans first realise that they were fighting a genocidal war?
The German War is the first foray for many decades into how the German people experienced WWII. Told from the perspective of those who lived through it – soldiers, schoolteachers and housewives; Nazis, Christians and Jews – its masterful historical narrative sheds fresh and disturbing light on the beliefs, hopes and fears of a people who embarked on and fought to the end a brutal war of conquest and genocide.
Professor Nicholas Stargardt is one of Britain’s foremost scholars of Nazi Germany. He teaches Modern European History at Magdalen College, Oxford. John Bowman is a broadcaster, author and historian.
Recorded at Printworks, Dublin Castle on 27 September 2015.