Ian Kershaw

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Ian Kershaw, winner of the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding 2012
Ian Kershaw (left) at the Leipzig Book Fair 2012

Sir Ian Kershaw (born April 29, 1943 in Oldham , Lancashire ) is a British historian who became known for his writings on National Socialism , especially for his two-part biography of Adolf Hitler .

Live and act

Kershaw studied in Liverpool and at Merton College of the University of Oxford history. After graduating, he initially lectured in Medieval and Modern History at the University of Manchester . On the side he learned the German language at the Goethe Institute in this city. The language, culture and history of Germany made such a lasting impression on him that he shifted his focus to German contemporary history .

In 1983/84 he was visiting professor at the Ruhr University in Bochum . In 1987 he accepted a professorship in modern history at the University of Nottingham . Two years later he moved to the University of Sheffield , where he taught as Professor of Modern History until his retirement at the end of September 2008. He lives in Didsbury .

In professional circles, Kershaw is regarded as an important expert in the field of German history in the 20th century. He became known to a wider audience with his two-part biography of Hitler, which appeared in 1998 and 2000. In it, Kershaw tries to describe Hitler's enigmatic success in his ascent and in his system of rule as the result of a social projection whose "most important part of the Führer myth" was.

His work turning points , published in 2008 . Key Decisions in World War II describes ten of Kershaw's so-called key decisions from the 19 months between May 1940 and December 1941. Each of these decisions, which were made by one of the powers of the time, Germany, Italy, the Soviet Union, Japan, the United States and Great Britain, was based on previous ones Key decisions. In these 19 months decisive decisions for the world history of the future decades were made.

In his 2011 book Das Ende. Fight to the End, Kershaw explores the question of why many Germans followed Hitler "to the end" and did not surrender earlier, but continued to fight, although it had long been obvious that Germany would lose the war. Kershaw names four main reasons: virtues such as a sense of duty and honor were instrumentalized or abused by the National Socialists, many people saw no alternative, and they feared the terror of the SS and Gestapo (against civilians and soldiers, for example against deserters ) on the one hand and the Red Army on the other hand.

Kershaw has received numerous academic honors and memberships for his research. He was admitted to the British Academy in 1991. On November 9, 1994, he was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit, 1st Class, for his services to German history . It was 2002 by Elizabeth II. The Knights defeated and since then Sir Ian Kershaw allowed to call. In 2012 he and Timothy Snyder received the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding . The Meyer Struckmann Prize for research in the humanities and social sciences was awarded to Kershaw in 2013 for his life's work. In May 2018 he received the Charles Medal for European Media .

Fonts (selection)

  • The Hitler myth. Popular opinion and propaganda in the Third Reich. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1980, ISBN 3-421-01985-1 ; revised, new German version:
The Hitler myth. Leader cult and popular opinion. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 978-3-421-05285-8
  • The Nazi dictatorship: Problems and perspectives of interpretation. E. Arnold, London 1985, ISBN 0-7131-6408-5 . In German as:
The Nazi state. An overview of historical interpretations and controversies. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1988, ISBN 3-498-03462-6 . Revised and significantly expanded, 1999, ISBN 978-3-499-60796-7 . Many more editions.
Hitler 1889–1936. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 978-3-421-05131-8 .
Hitler 1936–1945. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 2000, ISBN 978-3-421-05132-5 , several other editions.
Register volume 1889–1945. Edited by Marion Zwilling, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-421-05563-7 .
  • Hitler 1889–1945. Revised one-volume edition as a paperback. Pantheon Verlag in the Random House publishing group, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-570-55094-6 . More issues.
  • Making friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry and Britain's road to war. Allen Lane, London 2004, ISBN 0-7139-9717-6 .
Hitler's friends in England. Lord Londonderry and the Road to War. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-421-05805-9 .
  • Fateful choices: ten decisions that changed the world, 1940-1941. Penguin Press, New York 2013, ISBN 978-1-59420-123-3 . In German as:
Turning points. Key decisions in World War II . Translation by Klaus-Dieter Schmidt, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-421-05806-5 .
  • The end: Hitler's Germany, 1944–45. Allen Lane, London 2011, ISBN 0-7139-9716-8 . In German:
The end. Fight to the end. Nazi Germany 1944/45. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-421-05807-2 .
Fall from hell. Europe 1914-1949. Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-421-04722-9 .
Roller coaster: Europe 1950 to today . Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Munich 2019, ISBN 978-3-421-04734-2 .



  • Anthony McElligott et al. a .: Working Towards The Fuhrer: Essays In Honor Of Sir Ian Kershaw. (English) Manchester University press, Manchester 2003, ISBN 978-0719067327 . (Table of Contents) [1]

Web links

Commons : Ian Kershaw  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas Kielinger and Ian Kershaw (interview): It was an attempted suicide in Europe. In: Die Welt from January 2, 2016
  2. Ludolf Herbst: Review of: Kershaw, Ian: Hitler 1889-1936 . Stuttgart 1998, in: H-Soz-Kult, August 12, 1998.
  3. Interview with Ian Kershaw on "Turning Points" - Part I , Interview with Ian Kershaw on "Turning Points" - Part II (YouTube Videos)
  4. Member profile ( Memento from March 24, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Ian Kershaw on the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding 2012 (YouTube video)
  6. Prize winner 2013: Ian Kershaw In: stifterservice.de .
  7. ^ Charles Medal for English historian Ian Kershaw . Süddeutsche Zeitung , May 3, 2018, accessed on August 25, 2020 . .
  8. Ulrich Herbert : New book “Höllensturz” by Ian Kershaw published in: FAZ.net , October 16, 2016.
  9. Bruno Kreisky Prize for the Political Book Prize winners 1993-2018 , renner-institut.at, accessed December 1, 2019