Not Me: Memoirs of a German Childhood

Neal Ascherson writes:

To be right when everybody else has been wrong can be a lonely, even disabling experience. This may be a way of understanding the enigmatic character of Joachim Fest, the German historian, journalist and editor who died six years ago. His Berlin family belonged to the Bildungsbürgertum – roughly, the well-educated middle class – and rejected Hitler and National Socialism from the very first moment. Fest was a handsome, restless, rather unhappy man. In postwar West Germany, he never fitted into any of the conventional slots. He had no time at all for Soviet socialism, which he considered an early variant of the virus that later produced the Nazis, or for any Western form of Marxism. But although a right-winger, he neither dreamed of reversing the outcome of the Second World War nor chose to imagine the Germans as helpless victims of a single madman: Hitler did not have to happen.

(LRB 25 October 2012)

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