Joachim Fest: Hitler biographer dies

Historians in the News

German historian and publisher Joachim Fest has died. The Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper, which he co-published for two decades ending in 1993, said he died at his home near Frankfurt at the age of 79. Fest was seen as one of Germany's leading authorities on Nazism. He may be best remembered for his 1973 biography of Adolf Hitler, which was a best-seller.

HNN Editor This is from the NYT obituary (9-13-06):

Joachim Fest, a German journalist and author known internationally for his biographies and interpretations of Hitler, Albert Speer and the regime they embodied, died Monday in Kronberg-im-Taunus, his hometown, near Frankfurt-am-Main. He was 79.

His death was announced by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the conservative national daily newspaper, from which he retired in 1993 as co-publisher and director of its culture pages. The paper did not give a cause of death.

Regarded as politically conservative, Mr. Fest refused to be pigeon-holed. What was clear was his stature as an authoritative writer and one of Germany’s most respected and trenchant analysts of its Nazi period.

He left an indelible mark in 1973 with his comprehensive life of Hitler, which came out in the United States the following year, titled “Hitler: A Biography” (Harcourt). It has been reprinted, most recently in 2000, and remains a valued reference work as well as a solid introduction for general readers.

The first major Hitler biography by a German, it devoted less space to detailing the crimes of the Nazi regime in its latter years of destruction and self-destruction than to explaining the phenomenon of Hitler and his improbable ascent to power.

“Fest,” wrote Walter Clemons in The New York Times Book Review, “draws a convincing picture of the visionary and theatrical appeal of this figure to the German people and the tactical cunning with which he played off his adversaries during the decade between 1929 and 1939.

“That World War II occupies a scant 150 pages at the end of Fest’s long book arouses suspicion in an American reader,” he went on. “But no questions are dodged.”

In Mr. Fest’s perspective, Mr. Clemons wrote, “Hitler had long been a defeated man when he appeared to have reached his zenith.”...

Read entire article at Deutsche Welle

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