Seeds of hate: Hitler, the artist

Adolf Hitler (© RV1864)

There is no shortage of literature on Hitler and the Third Reich. A recent study mentioned 120,000 pieces of work on Hitler alone. Even so, only a handful are full, serious, scholarly biographies of the Nazi leader and interpretations vary widely. 

But according to University of Sheffield historian Ian Kershaw, extensive research in the last two decades sparked his decision to embark on a new biography which attempts to integrate the actions of the dictator into the political structures and motivations of German society at the time. Ten years and 900 pages later, he has published “Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris”, in which he seeks to unravel the complexities of personality and politics that went into the making of the man he calls “the most significant figure of the 20th century”. 

In Amsterdam to promote the Dutch translation of his epic biography, Ian Kershaw talked with David Swatling about young dream of Adi – Hitler’s nickname – to become a great artist, his love for Richard Wagner’s operas and the influences of living in the cultural capitals of Vienna and Munich in the early 20th century. 

Producer: David Swatling

Broadcast: October 15, 1999