For nearly twenty years I’ve been writing books and making documentary films, focusing on the Nazis and the Second World War. In the course of my researches I’ve been able not just to study archival material, but to meet and film interviews with hundreds of people who participated in the conflict – including survivors of terrible atrocities and some of the perpetrators of a number of the worst crimes in history.
I’ve found the experience valuable not just in understanding the history of this most dramatic period, but also in gaining an insight into how human beings coped with the most testing times imaginable. My work has certainly altered how I look at the world today.
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Adolf Hitler was an unlikely leader – fuelled by hate, incapable of forming normal human relationships, unwilling to debate political issues – and yet he commanded enormous support. So how was it possible that Hitler became such an attractive figure to millions of people? That is the important question at the core of Laurence Rees’ new book.
The Holocaust, the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, the outbreak of the Second World War – all these cataclysmic events and more can be laid at Hitler’s door. Hitler was a war criminal arguably without precedent in the history of the world. Yet, as many who knew him confirm, Hitler was still able to exert a powerful influence over the people who encountered him.
In this fascinating book to accompany his new BBC series, the acclaimed historian and documentary maker Laurence Rees examines the nature of Hitler’s appeal, and reveals the role Hitler’s supposed ‘charisma’ played in his success. Rees’ previous work has explored the inner workings of the Nazi state in The Nazis: A Warning from History and the crimes they committed in Auschwitz: The Nazis and the Final Solution. The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler is a natural culmination of twenty years of writing and research on the Third Reich, and a remarkable examination of the man and the mind at the heart of it all.
The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler is out now.