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Hitler – Ian Kershaw


Tuesday 29th March 2005

A head in fug

Dehydrated. A Head cold. I sleep until marauding children become too much for me. I am glad I dressed for winter. Only 150 miles North West of our South Coast home and it is perceptibly colder. The air is damp, the sky leaden, the house, over 400 years old, drafty and dark even with the curtains open. The contrast between this jumble of rooms on three floors set in an acre of garden and our 60s town house by the sea couldn’t be greater.

We live on the second and third floors, the ground floor being nothing more than an entrance, a garage, a study and lavatory. We get light through the house from earliest dawn ’til final dusk. We shut the curtains against the light despite broken pipes and windows that need replacing; it is rarely cold.

I am sitting by a fire, recently lit, in the house of Dr Z A Pelczynski and his wife Denise.

I was up several hours longer than I like seeking answers to ZAP’s life and his understanding of the significant events with in it. This professor of Political Science tutored Bill Clinton on East European politics. There’s a photograph of the two sitting in the oval office of the Whitehouse on the 14th October 1993. Two months later, I married his daughter, which explains my presence here. We take little interest in politics and would not call ourselves academic – though we take an interest in things.

My current interests, fed by the substantial Pelczynski library, hoard of books, magazines and papers that fill the house, its shelves, stacked against walls in corridors, in boxes and bags in piles in ‘spare’ rooms that no longer serve any purpose other than to take in yet more ‘brain fodder.’

I pick up my reading on a biography of Hitler by Ian Kershaw that I began at Christmas.

I describe my feelings towards the book as a ‘black bible,’ the life and times of a disturbed, jumped-up, arrogant, know-it-all whose rise to power says as much about the circumstances in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s as it does of some of our worse traits as human beings.

A debate wrangles over whether Hitler ought to be ‘humanised’ in film.

What bothers me is that more has not been done to show how human he was and in so doing making the reasonable point that there need to be systems in place to prevent people like him never attain positions of power again. I am also reading Douglas Coupland (see above) and Virginia Woolf.

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