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What were the Germans Fighting for in World War 2?

Updated: Jan 8, 2019

Editorial Note: On 14-15 June 2018, the Second World War Research Group held its annual conference on the theme of ‘The Peoples’ Wars? - The Second World War in Socio-Political Perspective.’ Over the coming weeks, we will be posting a series of short articles by some of the conference’s as well as recordings of panels and the keynote speakers.

General Erwin Rommel, the Commander of the German Afrika Korps, inspects his troops with General Garibaldo of Italy shortly after their arrival in North Africa, 21-31 March 1941. (Source: © IWM (HU 39482))

In this first post, we present a recording of Professor Nicholas Stargardt’s keynote lecture on the subject of ‘What were the Germans fighting for in World War 2?’

Professor Nicholas Stargardt holds a Chair in Modern European History at Magdalen College, University of Oxford. Educated at Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge and King’s College, University of Cambridge, in 1993, he was appointed to a lectureship at Royal Holloway, University of London, until moving to Magdalen in 1999. He is a historian of modern Germany and is most interested in the human scale of history, how ordinary people experienced and understood the periods they were living through and what choices they imagined they had at the time. For the last 20 years, he has tried to understand the experience of those who lived in Germany and under German occupation during the Second World War. This has resulted in two major books, Witnesses of War: Children’s Lives under the Nazis (2005) and The German War: A Nation under Arms, 1939-45 (2015). His first book was The German Idea of Militarism (1994).

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