John Connelly

John Connelly teaches the history of East Central Europe at the University of California, Berkeley.

What was the point of Nazism? Götz Aly, Germany’s most influential popular historian, has a new answer: it was for the good of the German people. In his view, the National Socialists were as much socialist as they were national, and they genuinely sought to better the lives of ordinary Germans.

Aly makes compelling arguments to back up this unlikely thesis. Drawing on documents...

Rampaging: Stalin’s Infantry

John Connelly, 22 June 2006

What are we to make of the Red Army? On the one hand, it was the force that first stopped and then destroyed the armies of German National Socialism, in achieving which Russian soldiers suffered in ways that exceed the limits of Western imagination: the toll of dead – more than eight million – reveals numbers as the abstraction they are. And for much of the war those killed in...

In the eyes of the Nazis, to die for the Third Reich was a privilege, a privilege reserved for ‘Aryans’. In 1943 that perception began to change, however. With Allied armies pressing in on Germany from several fronts, the Nazi leadership recruited ‘subhuman’ Slavs for military service, and by the war’s end hundreds of thousands of them had fought for Germany,...

“Rather than uncover history, survivors shield memory. They do so with the unique self-righteousness of those who have emerged safely from the rubble, leaving comrades behind. Like the now dwindling generation of AK fighters, Davies is incapable of imagining their sacrifice to have been in vain. Their self-righteousness has become his; their rejection of persistent questions about Polish anti-semitism explains his impatient refusal to look squarely at the ‘black pages’ of Polish history.”

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