Ernst Nolte

Ernst Nolte

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Ernst Nolte is a German historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

 and philosopher. Nolte’s major interest is the comparative studies of Fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 and Communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

. He is Professor Emeritus of Modern History
Modern history
Modern history, or the modern era, describes the historical timeline after the Middle Ages. Modern history can be further broken down into the early modern period and the late modern period after the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution...

 at the Free University of Berlin
Free University of Berlin
Freie Universität Berlin is one of the leading and most prestigious research universities in Germany and continental Europe. It distinguishes itself through its modern and international character. It is the largest of the four universities in Berlin. Research at the university is focused on the...

, where he taught from 1973 to 1991. He was previously a Professor at the University of Marburg from 1965 to 1973. Nolte has been a prominent conservative academic since the early 1960s, and involved in many controversies related to the interpretation of the history of fascism and communism. More recently, he has also focused on Islamism
Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

. His work has been the object of extreme controversy.

Early life


Nolte was born in Witten
Witten
Witten is a university city in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. It is the home of the Witten/Herdecke University, the first private university in Germany.-Bordering municipalities:* Bochum* Dortmund* Herdecke* Wetter * Sprockhoevel* Hattingen...

, Westphalia
Province of Westphalia
The Province of Westphalia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia and the Free State of Prussia from 1815 to 1946.-History:Napoleon Bonaparte founded the Kingdom of Westphalia, which was a client state of the First French Empire from 1807 to 1813...

 to a Roman Catholic family. Nolte's parents were Heinrich Nolte, a school rector, and Anna (née Bruns) Nolte. According to Nolte in a March 28, 2003 interview with a French newspaper Eurozine, his first encounter with Communism occurred when he was 7 years old in 1930, when he read in a doctor's office a German translation of a Soviet children's book attacking the Catholic Church, which angered him.

In 1941, Nolte was excused from military service because of a deformed hand, and he studied Philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, Philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

 and Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 at the Universities of Münster
University of Münster
The University of Münster is a public university located in the city of Münster, North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. The WWU is part of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, a society of Germany's leading research universities...

, Berlin, and Freiburg
University of Freiburg
The University of Freiburg , sometimes referred to in English as the Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg, is a public research university located in Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, Germany.The university was founded in 1457 by the Habsburg dynasty as the...

. At Freiburg, Nolte was a student of Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the "question of Being."...

, whom he acknowledges as a major influence. From 1944 onwards, Nolte was a close friend of the Heidegger family, and when in 1945 the professor feared arrest by the French, Nolte provided him with food and clothing for an attempted escape. Eugen Fink
Eugen Fink
Eugen Fink was a German philosopher.-Biography:Fink was born in 1905 as the son of a government official in Germany. He spent his first school years with an uncle who was a catholic priest. Fink attended a gymnasium in Konstanz where he succeeded with his extraordinary memory...

 was another professor who influenced Nolte. After 1945 when Nolte received his BA
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 in philosophy at Freiburg, he worked as a Gymnasium (high school) teacher. In 1952, he received a PhD
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 in philosophy at Freiburg for his thesis Selbstentfremdung und Dialektik im deutschen Idealismus und bei Marx (Self Alienation and the Dialectic in German Idealism and Marx).

Career


Subsequently, Nolte began studies in Zeitgeschichte (contemporary history). He published his Habilitationsschrift
Habilitation
Habilitation is the highest academic qualification a scholar can achieve by his or her own pursuit in several European and Asian countries. Earned after obtaining a research doctorate, such as a PhD, habilitation requires the candidate to write a professorial thesis based on independent...

 awarded at the University of Cologne
University of Cologne
The University of Cologne is one of the oldest universities in Europe and, with over 44,000 students, one of the largest universities in Germany. The university is part of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, an association of Germany's leading research universities...

, Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche, as a book in 1963. Between 1965 and 1973, Nolte worked as a professor at the University of Marburg, and from 1973 to 1991 at the Free University of Berlin
Free University of Berlin
Freie Universität Berlin is one of the leading and most prestigious research universities in Germany and continental Europe. It distinguishes itself through its modern and international character. It is the largest of the four universities in Berlin. Research at the university is focused on the...

.

Marriage and family


Nolte married Annedore Mortier and they had a son. Georg Nolte
Georg Nolte
Georg Nolte is a German jurist. He is professor of public international law at the Humboldt University of Berlin and is a member of the UN's International Law Commission....

 is now a professor of international law at Humboldt University of Berlin
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...

.

Fascism In Its Epoch


Nolte first rose to fame with his 1963 book Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche (Fascism In Its Epoch; translated into English in 1965 as The Three Faces Of Fascism), in which he argued that fascism arose as a form of resistance to and a reaction against modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

. Nolte's basic hypothesis and methodology were deeply rooted in the German "philosophy of history" tradition, a form of intellectual history
Intellectual history
Note: this article concerns the discipline of intellectual history, and not its object, the whole span of human thought since the invention of writing. For clarifications about the latter topic, please consult the writings of the intellectual historians listed here and entries on individual...

 which seeks to discover the "metapolitical dimension" of history. The "metapolitical dimension" is considered to be the history of grand ideas functioning as profound spiritual powers, which infuse all levels of society with their force. In Nolte's opinion, only those with training in philosophy can discover the "metapolitical dimension", and those who use normal historical methods miss this dimension of time. Using the methods of phenomenology, Nolte subjected German Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

, Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism also known as Fascism with a capital "F" refers to the original fascist ideology in Italy. This ideology is associated with the National Fascist Party which under Benito Mussolini ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943, the Republican Fascist Party which ruled the Italian...

, and the French Action Française
Action Française
The Action Française , founded in 1898, is a French Monarchist counter-revolutionary movement and periodical founded by Maurice Pujo and Henri Vaugeois and whose principal ideologist was Charles Maurras...

movements to a comparative analysis. Nolte's conclusion was that fascism was the great anti-movement: it was anti-liberal, anti-communist, anti-capitalist, and anti-bourgeois. In Nolte’s view, fascism was the rejection of everything the modern world had to offer and was an essentially negative phenomenon. In a Hegelian dialectic, Nolte argued that the Action Française was the thesis, Italian Fascism was the antithesis, and German National Socialism the synthesis of the two earlier fascist movements.

Nolte argued that fascism functioned at three levels: in the world of politics as a form of opposition to Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

, at the sociological level in opposition to bourgeois values, and in the "metapolitical" world as "resistance to transcendence" ("transcendence" in German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 can be translated as the "spirit of modernity"). Nolte defined the relationship between fascism and Marxism as:

“Fascism is anti-Marxism which seeks to destroy the enemy by the evolvement of a radically opposed and yet related ideology and by the use of almost identical and yet typically modified methods, always, however within the unyielding framework of national self-assertion and autonomy."


Nolte defined "transcendence" as a "metapolitical" force comprising two types of change. The first type, "practical transcendence", manifesting in material progress, technological change, political equality, and social advancement, comprises the process by which humanity liberates itself from traditional, hierarchical societies in favor of societies where all men and women are equal. The second type is "theoretical transcendence", the striving to go beyond what exists in the world towards a new future, eliminating traditional fetters imposed on the human mind by poverty, backwardness, ignorance, and class. Nolte himself defined "theoretical transcendence" as:

"Theoretical transcendence may be taken to mean the reaching out of the mind beyond what exists and what can exist toward an absolute whole; in a broader sense this may be applied to all that goes beyond, that releases man from the confines of the everyday world, and which, as an "awareness of the horizon", makes it possible for him to experience the world as a whole."

Nolte cited the flight of Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961....

 in 1961 as an example of “practical transcendence”, of how humanity was pressing forward in its technological development and rapidly acquiring powers traditionally thought to be only the providence of the gods. Drawing upon the work of Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

, Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

, and Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, Nolte argued that the progress of both types of "transcendence" generates fear as the older world is swept aside by a new world, and that these fears led to fascism. Nolte wrote that:

"The most central of Maurras
Charles Maurras
Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras was a French author, poet, and critic. He was a leader and principal thinker of Action Française, a political movement that was monarchist, anti-parliamentarist, and counter-revolutionary. Maurras' ideas greatly influenced National Catholicism and "nationalisme...

's ideas have been seen to penetrate to this level. By "monotheism" and "anti-nature" he did not imply a political process: he related these terms to the tradition of Western philosophy and religion, and left no doubt that for him they were not only adjuncts of Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of 18th-century Romanticism. His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.His novel Émile: or, On Education is a treatise...

's notion of liberty, but also of the Christian Gospels and Parmenides
Parmenides
Parmenides of Elea was an ancient Greek philosopher born in Elea, a Greek city on the southern coast of Italy. He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy. The single known work of Parmenides is a poem, On Nature, which has survived only in fragmentary form. In this poem, Parmenides...

' concept of being. It is equally obvious that he regarded the unity of world economics, technology, science and emancipation merely as another and more recent form of "anti-nature". It was not difficult to find a place for Hitler ideas as a cruder and more recent expression of this schema. Maurras' and Hitler's real enemy was seen to be "freedom towards the infinite" which, intrinsic in the individual and a reality in evolution, threatens to destroy the familiar and beloved. From all this it begins to be apparent what is meant by "transcendence"."


In regard to the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

, Nolte contended that because Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 identified Jews with modernity, the basic thrust of Nazi policies towards Jews had always aimed at genocide: Nolte wrote that:
"Auschwitz was contained in the principles of Nazi racist theory like the seed in the fruit".
Nolte believed that, for Hitler, Jews represented "the historical process itself". Nolte argues that Hitler was "logically consistent" in seeking genocide of the Jews because Hitler detested modernity and identified Jews with the things that he most hated in the world. According to Nolte, "In Hitler's extermination of the Jews, it was not a case of criminals committing criminal deeds, but of a uniquely monstrous action in which principles ran riot in a frenzy of self-destruction". Nolte's theories about Nazi antisemitism as a rejection of modernity inspired the Israeli historian Otto Dov Kulka to argue that National Socialism was an attack on "the very roots of Western civilisation, its basic values and moral foundations".

The Three Faces of Fascism has been much praised as a seminal contribution to the creation of a theory of generic fascism based on a history of ideas, as opposed to the previous class-based analyses (especially the "Rage of the Lower Middle Class" thesis) that had characterized both Marxist and liberal interpretations of fascism. In the early 1960s, Nolte's book helped to facilitate a change in emphasis from totalitarianism theory, in which Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were perceived as the regimes most nearly alike, to fascism theory, in which Fascist Italy and the Third Reich were the regimes held to be most nearly alike. In the 1960s, The Three Faces of Fascism had an immense impact on the scholarly community by advancing this new theory of generic fascism, and was described by the British historian Sir Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

 as one of the most influential history books of the 1960s. As a result of Nolte's book and the ensuing debates it caused, numerous international conferences were held to discuss generic fascism as a concept, several anthologies were put together to consider generic fascism, and a significant scholarly literature dealing with generic fascism as an intellectual phenomena was published. The German historian Jen-Werner Müller wrote that Nolte "almost single-handedly" brought down the totalitarianism paradigm in the 1960s and replaced it with the fascism paradigm. British historian Roger Griffin
Roger Griffin
Roger D. Griffin is a British academic political theorist at Oxford Brookes University, England. His recent efforts have focused on a definition and examination of fascism...

 has written that although written in arcane and obscure language, Nolte's theory of fascism as a "form of resistance to transcendence" marked an important step in the understanding of fascism, and helped to spur scholars into new avenues of research on fascism. Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell
Zeev Sternhell
Zeev Sternhell is an Israeli historian and one of the world's leading experts on Fascism. Sternhell headed the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and writes for Haaretz newspaper.-Biography:...

 wrote in 1976 that:

"The Three Faces of Fascism is an attempt to give a comprehensive explanation of fascism. The book is based on the most meticulous scholarship, the command of the material is impressive, and the methodological rigour is admirable. The work has been translated into English and French, and was acclaimed an immediate success. In reviews by, among others, Klaus Epstein, Hajo Holborn
Hajo Holborn
Hajo Holborn was a German-American historian and specialist in modern German history.- Life :...

, James Joll
James Joll
James Bysse Joll FBA was a British historian and university lecturer whose works included The Origins of the First World War and Europe Since 1870. He also wrote on the history of anarchism and socialism.-Biography:...

, Walter Laqueur
Walter Laqueur
Walter Zeev Laqueur is an American historian and political commentator. He was born in Breslau, Germany , to a Jewish family. In 1938, Laqueur left Germany for the British Mandate of Palestine. His parents, who were unable to leave, became victims of the Holocaust...

, George Mosse
George Mosse
George Lachmann Mosse was a German-born American social and cultural historian. Mosse authored 25 books on a variety of fields, from English constitutional law, Lutheran theology, to the history of fascism, Jewish history, and the history of masculinity...

, Wolfgang Sauer, Fritz Stern
Fritz Stern
Fritz Richard Stern is a German-born American historian of German history, Jewish history, and historiography. He is a University Professor Emeritus and a former provost at New York's Columbia University...

 and Eugen Weber
Eugen Weber
Eugen Joseph Weber was a Romanian-born American historian with a special focus on Western Civilization and the Western Tradition....

, this masterly work was hailed as a very great book. Professor Nolte's work contains such a wealth of observations, information, insight and throwaway ideas that are well worth keeping that inevitably one takes issue with some."


The "issues" of which Sternhell spoke were concerns about Nolte's "phenomenological" approach to history in which Nolte claimed, for Hegelian reasons, that the particular examples he had chosen to study were valid in more general contexts. Especially objectionable to Sternhell was Nolte's insistence on focusing solely on the ideas of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

, and Charles Maurras
Charles Maurras
Charles-Marie-Photius Maurras was a French author, poet, and critic. He was a leader and principal thinker of Action Française, a political movement that was monarchist, anti-parliamentarist, and counter-revolutionary. Maurras' ideas greatly influenced National Catholicism and "nationalisme...

 as the causal factors of fascism. Sternhell commented that the effect of this single-minded focus on ideas and personalities was that:
"In some ways, Ernst Nolte's approach recalls that of Gerhard Ritter
Gerhard Ritter
Gerhard Georg Bernhard Ritter was a conservative German historian.-Before the Third Reich:...

 and Friedrich Meinecke
Friedrich Meinecke
Friedrich Meinecke was a liberal German historian, probably the most famous German historian of his generation. As a representative of an older tradition still writing after World War II, he was an important figure to the end of his life.-Life:Meinecke was born in Salzwedel in the Province of Saxony...

: Thomas More
Thomas More
Sir Thomas More , also known by Catholics as Saint Thomas More, was an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and noted Renaissance humanist. He was an important councillor to Henry VIII of England and, for three years toward the end of his life, Lord Chancellor...

, for Ritter, Machiavelli, for Meinecke, and now Maurras, for Nolte, are so many proofs of the universality of evil, so many proofs that it was almost by accident, by a mere conjunction of political circumstances, that the Nazis arose in Germany".
Sternhell complained that Nolte, by reducing National Socialism to the ideas of Hitler, exonerated the German people. In particular, Sternhell expressed concern about the passage where Nolte wrote: "after the Führer's death, the core of the leadership of the National Socialist state snapped back, like a steel spring wound up too long, to its original position and became a body of well-meaning and cultured Central Europeans" Sternhell argued that Nolte's equating of Hitler with National Socialism meant that National Socialism entered and left the world with Hitler, and that with Hitler’s death, the commandant of a death camp returned once more to the model citizen he was before falling under Hitler’s spell. Finally, Sternhell noted that if National Socialism was the "practical and violent resistance to transcendence", and if "transcendence" was a universal process affecting all societies, that Nolte had totally failed to answer why National Socialism was only a German phenomenon.

Other historians were more hostile in their assessment of The Three Faces of Fascism. Criticism from the left, for example by Sir Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

, centered on Nolte's focus on ideas as opposed to social and economic conditions as a motivating force for fascism, and that Nolte depended too much on fascist writings to support his thesis. Kershaw described Nolte's theory of fascism as "resistance to transcendence" as "mystical and mystifying". The American historian Fritz Stern
Fritz Stern
Fritz Richard Stern is a German-born American historian of German history, Jewish history, and historiography. He is a University Professor Emeritus and a former provost at New York's Columbia University...

 wrote that The Three Faces of Fascism was a "uneven book" that was "weak" on Action Française, "strong" on Fascism and "masterly" on National Socialism. At the same time, Stern found Nolte's notion that fascism dominated the interwar era problematic, and that Nolte's book was "exceedingly and unnecessarily difficult and demanding" with "serious flaws of method and style". From the right, historians such as Karl Dietrich Bracher
Karl Dietrich Bracher
Karl Dietrich Bracher is a German political scientist and historian of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. Born in Stuttgart, Bracher was awarded a Ph.D. in the Classics by the University of Tübingen in 1948 and subsequently studied at Harvard University from 1949 to 1950...

 criticized the entire notion of generic fascism as intellectually invalid and argued that it was individual choice on the part of Germans, rather than Nolte's philosophical view of the "metapolitical", that produced National Socialism. Bracher's magnum opus, his 1969 book Die deutsche Diktatur (The German Dictatorship), was partly written to rebut Nolte's theory of generic fascism, presenting an alternative picture of the National Socialist dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

 as a totalitarian regime created and sustained by human actions. In the early 1960s, Nolte was identified with the left, which helped to explain why The Three Faces of Fascism, by promoting a non-Marxist theory of generic fascism over the previously dominant totalitarianism paradigm (the only alternative for theorists of fascism in the 1950s had been the Marxist-inspired "Rage of the Lower Middle Class" thesis), was much welcomed in general by the non-Marxist left. Together with the work of Eugen Weber
Eugen Weber
Eugen Joseph Weber was a Romanian-born American historian with a special focus on Western Civilization and the Western Tradition....

, The Three Faces of Fascism was one of the first books to furnish an extensive study of the ultra-nationalist and anti-Semitic Action Française movement of France, but many have questioned Nolte’s claim that the Action Française was a fascist movement, or in the case of John Lukacs
John Lukacs
John Adalbert Lukacs is a Hungarian-born American historian who has written more than thirty books, including Five Days in London, May 1940 and A New Republic...

, that such a thing as generic fascism ever existed. Answering the criticism that generic fascism was an invalid concept because no other fascist movement produced anything equivalent to the Holocaust, Nolte argued that National Socialism was "radical fascism".

As a professor at the University of Marburg in the late 1960s, Nolte was a target of student protesters, an experience that left him with a strong distaste for the West German left. For a time in the 1960s, all of Nolte's classes were boycotted by radical students, who demanded Nolte's dismissal, an experience that some such as John Lukacs
John Lukacs
John Adalbert Lukacs is a Hungarian-born American historian who has written more than thirty books, including Five Days in London, May 1940 and A New Republic...

 and Charles S. Maier
Charles S. Maier
Charles S. Maier is the Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University. He teaches European and international history at Harvard. Maier has also served as the director of the Center for European Studies at Harvard.Maier has written several books...

 have credited with Nolte's radical change of views about the National Socialist period. Nolte's then friend, Fritz Stern
Fritz Stern
Fritz Richard Stern is a German-born American historian of German history, Jewish history, and historiography. He is a University Professor Emeritus and a former provost at New York's Columbia University...

 wrote that Nolte was rattled by the student protests of the late 1960s, becoming obsessed with the idea that the left was plotting to ruin his career. In 1969, Nolte wrote in a letter to Stern:
"Still, I don't plan to capitulate before this violent dogmatism and in the end I don't believe the state will simply collapse under the attack driven by the ressentiments of a few octogenarians and the activism of many of the young".
Reflecting his changed views, Nolte's first seminar at the Free University of Berlin in 1973 was on the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

, in which Nolte went out of his way to challenge left-wing views of that conflict. Stern wrote that the Spanish Civil War was not in Nolte's area of expertise, and that the only reason why he picked that topic was to engage in a right-wing provocation of leftish students. Later in the 1970s, Nolte was to reject aspects of the theory of generic fascism that he had championed in The Three Faces of Fascism and instead moved closer to embracing totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 theory as a way of explaining both Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. In Nolte's opinion, Nazi Germany was a "mirror image" of the Soviet Union and, with the exception of the "technical detail" of mass gassing, everything the Nazis did in Germany had already been done by the Communists in Russia. Nolte's former friend, Stern wrote:
"I took him at first as a naive academic-he had the air of the stereotypical German philosopher-and for a while I wrongly assumed that he didn't know what he was doing, that he was more a metaphysician than a historian. But every successive book of his disabused me of this amiable illusion, for with each one he "relativized" the Nazi period more, seeing it in a congenial cold-war mode as a response to Bolshevism".

Methodology


All of Nolte’s historical work has been heavily influenced by German traditions of philosophy. In particular, Nolte seeks to find the essences of the "metapolitical phenomenon" of history, to discover the grand ideas which motivated all of history. As such, Nolte’s work has been oriented towards the general as opposed to the specific attributes of a particular period of time. In his 1974 book Deutschland und der kalte Krieg (Germany and the Cold War), Nolte examined the partition
Partition (politics)
In politics, a partition is a change of political borders cutting through at least one territory considered a homeland by some community. That change is done primarily by diplomatic means, and use of military force is negligible....

 of Germany after 1945, not by looking at the specific history of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and Germany, but rather by examining other divided states throughout history, treating the German partition as the supreme culmination of the "metapolitical" idea of partition caused by rival ideologies. In Nolte's view, the division of Germany made that nation the world's central battlefield between Soviet Communism and American democracy, both of which were rival streams of the "transcendence" that had vanquished the Third Reich, the ultimate enemy of "transcendence". Nolte called the Cold War

"the ideological and political conflict for the future structure of a united world, carried on for an indefinite period since 1917 (indeed anticipated as early as 1776) by several militant universalisms, each of which possesses at least one major state."


Nolte ended Deutschland und der kalte Krieg with a call for Germans to escape their fate as the world's foremost battleground for the rival ideologies of American democracy and Soviet communism by returning to the values of the Second Reich. Likewise, Nolte called for the end of what he regarded as the unfair stigma attached to German nationalism because of National Socialism, and demanded that historians recognize that every country in the world had at some point in its history had "its own Hitler era, with its monstrosities and sacrifices".

In 1978, the American historian Charles S. Maier described Nolte's approach in Deutschland und der kalte Krieg as:
"This approach threatens to degenerate into the excessive valuation of abstraction as a surrogate for real transactions that Heine satirized and Marx dissected. How should we cope with a study that begins its discussion of the Cold War with Herodotus and the Greeks versus the Persians? Which then offers a leisurely account of the Left throughout European history, of the American Revolution, and later makes an excursus on the history of modern Israel? Yet despite the vastness of argument, the very specific irritants that provoked the massive enterprise are still visible: the student sympathizers for East German authoritarian socialism within the Bundesrepublik. Nolte bears scars from the Marburg student Left (and his gauchissant former colleague, Wolfgang Abendorth) as he confesses in his foreword, even through he recognizes that the DDR enjoys its own sort of legitimacy. And when Nolte ascribes to the Left a hankering after the primitive small community freed of apparatuses and professionalism, he accurately understands the trajectory of the students' protest against West Germany as a Leistungsgesellschaft. He unsparingly condemns their supposed infantilism, their resentment, which allegedly would have them prefer all citizens to be poor rather than a few to be badly off in a rich country, and their implication that the United States should be blamed, say, for India's poverty...Instead Nolte indulges in a potted history of Cold War events as they engulfed Asia and the Middle East as well as Europe, up through the Sino-Soviet dispute, the Vietnam War and SALT. The rationale is evidently that Germany can be interpreted only in the light of the world conflict, but the result verges on a centrifugal, coffee-table narrative".


Nolte has little regard for specific historical context in his treatment of the history of ideas, opting to seek what Carl Schmitt
Carl Schmitt
Carl Schmitt was a German jurist, philosopher, political theorist, and professor of law.Schmitt published several essays, influential in the 20th century and beyond, on the mentalities that surround the effective wielding of political power...

 labeled the abstract "final" or "ultimate" ends of ideas, which for Nolte are the most extreme conclusions which can be drawn from an idea, representing the ultima terminus of the "metapolitical". For Nolte, ideas have a force of their own, and once a new idea has been introduced into the world, except for the total destruction of society, it cannot be ignored any more than the discovery of how to make fire or the invention of nuclear weapons can be ignored. In Nolte's view, Communism, by introducing the idea of a total destruction of a particular group, was the most important idea of the 20th century. Together with such historians as François Furet
François Furet
-Biography:Born in Paris on 27 March 1927, into a wealthy family, François Furet was a brilliant student who graduated from the Sorbonne with the highest honors and soon decided on a life of research, teaching and writing. He received his education at the Lycée Janson de Sailly and at the faculty...

 and Renzo De Felice
Renzo De Felice
Renzo De Felice was an Italian historian, who specialized in the Fascist era.-Biography:He was born in Rieti and studied under Federico Chabod and Delio Cantimori at the University of Naples. During his time as student, De Felice was a member of the Italian Communist Party...

, with each of whom Nolte occasionally corresponded, Nolte has sought to develop a wide-ranging paradigm to explain the 20th century. In a review, the American historian Felix Gilbert
Felix Gilbert
Felix Gilbert was a German-born American historian of early modern and modern Europe. Gilbert was born in Baden-Baden, Germany to a middle-class Jewish family, and part of the Mendelssohn Bartholdy clan. In the latter half of the 1920s, Gilbert studied under Friedrich Meinecke at the University of...

 described Deutschland und der kalte Krieg as a return to the type of Hegelian history that had not been written in Germany since 1945. Gilbert criticized Nolte for excessively focusing on ideas as the central causal agents in history, and for his tendency to turn ideas into ethereal crystallizations with a life force of their own that personalized a particular theme in history.

The books Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche, Deutschland und der kalte Krieg, and Marxismus und industrielle Revolution (Marxism and the Industrial Revolution) formed a trilogy in which Nolte seeks to explain what he considered to be the most important developments of the 20th century. Some of Nolte’s statements in Deutschland und der Kalte Krieg attracted controversy. For example, Nolte asserted that if in the 1930s the CPUSA
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

 had been the same size as the KPD
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

, then American President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 would have been just as anti-Semitic as Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

. American historian Charles S. Maier
Charles S. Maier
Charles S. Maier is the Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University. He teaches European and international history at Harvard. Maier has also served as the director of the Center for European Studies at Harvard.Maier has written several books...

 wrote that Nolte seemed in Deutschland und der Kalte Krieg to have an unhealthy fixation with Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, with Nolte complaining that as a result of World War II, the Jews had achieved both a state and won territory while the Germans had lost both. In the same text, Nolte wrote of the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 that there was "a worldwide reproach that the United States was after all putting into practice in Vietnam, nothing less than its basically crueler version of Auschwitz". Of these claims of moral equivalence between the Holocaust and American policy in Vietnam, American historian Peter Gay
Peter Gay
Peter Gay is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and former director of the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers . Gay received the American Historical Association's Award for Scholarly Distinction in 2004...

 answered that "there is a world of difference between Nazi Germany’s calculated policy of mass extermination and America’s ill-conceived, persistent, often callous prosecution of a foreign war". Gay added that he considered Nolte’s book "a massive and sophisticated apologia for modern Germany", and complained that "Nolte’s tortuous syntax, his evasive conditional phrasing, his irresponsible thought experiments, makes it nearly impossible to penetrate to his own convictions".

Nolte's thesis


Nolte is best known for his role in launching the Historikerstreit
Historikerstreit
The Historikerstreit was an intellectual and political controversy in late 20th-century West Germany about the historical interpretation of the Holocaust. The German word Streit translates variously as "quarrel", "dispute", or "conflict"...

("Historians' Dispute") of 1986 and 1987. On 6 June 1986 Nolte published a feuilleton
Feuilleton
Feuilleton was originally a kind of supplement attached to the political portion of French newspapers, consisting chiefly of non-political news and gossip, literature and art criticism, a chronicle of the latest fashions, and epigrams, charades and other literary trifles...

opinion piece entitled Vergangenheit, die nicht vergehen will: Eine Rede, die geschrieben, aber nicht mehr gehalten werden konnte ("The Past That Will Not Go Away: A Speech That Could Be Written but Not Delivered") in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , short F.A.Z., also known as the FAZ, is a national German newspaper, founded in 1949. It is published daily in Frankfurt am Main. The Sunday edition is the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung .F.A.Z...

. His feuilleton was a distillation of ideas he had first introduced in lectures delivered in 1976 and in 1980. Earlier in 1986, Nolte had planned to deliver a speech before the Frankfurt Römerberg Conversations (an annual gathering of intellectuals), but he had claimed that the organizers of the event withdrew their invitation. In response, an editor and co-publisher of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Joachim Fest
Joachim Fest
Joachim Clemens Fest was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance...

, allowed Nolte to have his speech printed as a feuilleton in his newspaper. One of Nolte's leading critics, British historian Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

, claims that the organizers of the Römerberg Conversations did not withdrew their invitation, and that Nolte had just refused to attend.

Nolte began his feuilleton by remarking that it was necessary in his opinion to draw a "line under the German past". Nolte argued that the memory of the Nazi era was "a bugaboo, as a past that in the process of establishing itself in the present or that is suspended above the present like an executioner's sword". Nolte complained that excessive present-day interest in the Nazi period had the effect of drawing "attention away from the pressing questions of the present-for example, the question of "unborn life" or the presence of genocide yesterday in Vietnam and today in Afghanistan". Nolte argued that the furor in 1985 over the visit of the American president Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 to the Bitburg
Bitburg
Bitburg It is situated approx. 25 km north-west of Trier, and 50 km north-east of Luxembourg . One American airbase, Spangdahlem Air Base, is located nearby.-History:...

 cemetery reflected in his view the unhealthy effects of an obsession with the memory of the Nazi era. Nolte suggested that, during West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Adenauer
Konrad Hermann Joseph Adenauer was a German statesman. He was the chancellor of the West Germany from 1949 to 1963. He is widely recognised as a person who led his country from the ruins of World War II to a powerful and prosperous nation that had forged close relations with old enemies France,...

's visit to the United States in 1953, if he had failed to visit Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

 a storm of controversy would have ensued. Nolte argued that since some of the men buried at Arlington had in his view "participated in terror attacks on the German civilian population", there was no moral difference between Reagan visiting the Bitburg cemetery, with its graves of Waffen SS dead, and Adenauer visiting Arlington with its graves of American airmen. Nolte complained that because of the "past that would not pass", it was controversial for Reagan to visit Bitburg, but it was not controversial for Adenauer to visit Arlington. Nolte cited the Bitburg controversy as an example of the power exerted by historical memory of the Nazi past. Nolte concluded that there was excessive contemporary interest in the Holocaust because it served the concerns of those descended from the victims of Nazism, and placed them in a "permanent status of privilege". Nolte argued that Germans had an unhealthy obsession with guilt for Nazi crimes, and called for an end to this "obsession". Nolte's opinion was that there was no moral difference between German self-guilt over the Holocaust, and Nazi claims of Jewish collective guilt for all the world's problems. He called for an end to the maintaining of the memory of the Nazi past as fresh and current, and suggested a new way of viewing the Nazi past that would allow Germans to be free of the "past that will not pass".
In his feuilleton, Nolte offered a new way of understanding German history which sought to break free of the "past that will not pass", by contending that Nazi crimes were only the consequence of a defensive reaction against Soviet crimes. In Nolte’s view, National Socialism had only arisen in response to the "class genocide" and "Asiatic barbarism" of the Bolsheviks. Nolte cited as example the early Nazi Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter
Ludwig Maximilian Erwin von Scheubner-Richter
Ludwig Maximilian Erwin von Scheubner-Richter or Max Scheubner-Richter, born Ludwig Maximilian Erwin Richter was an early member of the Nazi party...

, who during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 had been the German consul in Erzerum, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, where he was appalled by the genocide of the Armenians
Armenian Genocide
The Armenian Genocide—also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Crime—refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I...

. In Nolte's view, the fact that Scheubner-Richter later became a Nazi shows that something must have changed his values, and in Nolte's opinion it was the Russian Revolution
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

 and such alleged Bolshevik practices as the "rat cage" torture
Torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

 (said by Russian émigré authors to be a favorite torture by Chinese
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 serving in the Cheka
Cheka
Cheka was the first of a succession of Soviet state security organizations. It was created by a decree issued on December 20, 1917, by Vladimir Lenin and subsequently led by aristocrat-turned-communist Felix Dzerzhinsky...

 during the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

) that led to the change. Nolte used the example of the "rat cage" torture in George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

's 1948 novel 1984
Nineteen Eighty-Four
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell is a dystopian novel about Oceania, a society ruled by the oligarchical dictatorship of the Party...

 to argue that the knowledge of the "rat cage" torture was widespread throughout the world. Furthermore, Nolte argues that the "rat cage" torture was an ancient torture long practiced in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, which in his opinion further establishes the "Asiatic barbarism" of the Bolsheviks. Nolte cited a statement by Hitler after the Battle of Stalingrad
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

 that Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus
Friedrich Paulus
Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Paulus was an officer in the German military from 1910 to 1945. He attained the rank of Generalfeldmarschall during World War II, and is best known for having commanded the Sixth Army's assault on Stalingrad during Operation Blue in 1942...

 would be soon sent to the “rat cage” in the Lubyanka
Lubyanka (KGB)
The Lubyanka is the popular name for the headquarters of the KGB and affiliated prison on Lubyanka Square in Moscow. It is a large building with a facade of yellow brick, designed by Alexander V...

 as proof that Hitler had an especially vivid fear of the “rat cage” torture.

Along the same lines, Nolte argued that the Holocaust, or "racial genocide" as Nolte prefers to call it, was an understandable if excessive response on the part of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 to the Soviet threat and the "class genocide" with which the German middle class was said to be threatened. In Nolte's view, Soviet mass murders were Vorbild (the terrifying example that inspired the Nazis) and Schreckbild (the terrible model for the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis). Nolte labeled the Holocaust an "überschießende Reaktion" (overshooting reaction) to Bolshevik crimes, and to alleged Jewish actions in support of Germany's enemies. In Nolte's opinion, the essence of National Socialism was anti-Communism
Anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

, and anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

 was only a subordinate element to anti-Bolshevism in Nazi ideology. Nolte argued that because "the mighty shadow of events in Russia fell most powerfully" on Germany, that the most extreme reaction to the Russian Revolution took place there, thus establishing the "causal nexus" between Communism and fascism. Nolte asserted that the core of National Socialism was

"neither in criminal tendencies nor in anti-Semitic obsessions as such. The essence of National Socialism [was to be found] in its relation to Marxism and especially to Communism in the form which this had taken on through the Bolshevik victory in the Russian Revolution".


In Nolte's view, Nazi anti-communism was "understandable and up to a certain point, justified". For Nolte, the "racial genocide" as he calls the Holocaust was a "punishment and preventive measure" on the part of the Germans for the "class genocide" of the Bolsheviks. American historian Peter Baldwin
Peter Baldwin (professor)
Peter Baldwin is a professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was educated at Yale and Harvard and has written several books on Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries: The Politics of Social Solidarity: Class Bases of the European Welfare State, 1875-1975; Contagion and...

 noted parallels between Nolte’s views and those of American Marxist historian Arno J. Mayer
Arno J. Mayer
Arno Joseph Mayer is a United States Marxist historian originally from Luxembourg, who specializes in modern Europe, diplomatic history, and the Holocaust, and is currently Dayton-Stockton Professor of History, Emeritus, at Princeton University.-Early life and academic career:Mayer was born into a...

:. Both Nolte and Mayer perceive the interwar period as one of intense ideological conflict between the forces of the Right and Left, positing World War II as the culmination of this conflict, with the Holocaust a byproduct of the German-Soviet war. Baldwin distinguished Nolte from Mayer in that Nolte considered the Soviets aggressors who essentially got what they deserved in the form of Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

, whereas Mayer considered the Soviets to be victims of German aggression. Operation Barbarossa, in Nolte's thinking, was a "preventive war" forced on Hitler by an alleged impending Soviet attack. Nolte wrote that Hitler's view of the Russian people as barbarians was an "exaggeration of an insight which was basically right in its essence" and that Hitler "understood the invasion of the Soviet Union as a preventive war" as the Soviet desire to bring Communism to the entire world "must be seen as mental acts of war, and one may even ask whether a completely isolated and heavily armed country did not constitute a dangerous threat to its neighbors on these grounds alone".

The crux of Nolte's thesis was presented when he wrote:

"It is a notable shortcoming of the literature about National Socialism that it does not know or does not want to admit to what degree all the deeds—with the sole exception of the technical process of gassing—that the National Socialists later committed had already been described in a voluminous literature of the early 1920s: mass deportations and shootings, torture, death camps, extermination of entire groups using strictly objective selection criteria, and public demands for the annihilation of millions of guiltless people who were thought to be "enemies".


It is probable that many of these reports were exaggerated. It is certain that the “White Terror
White Terror
White Terror is the violence carried out by reactionary groups as part of a counter-revolution. In particular, during the 20th century, in several countries the term White Terror was applied to acts of violence against real or suspected socialists and communists.-Historical origin: the French...

” also committed terrible deeds, even though its program contained no analogy to the “extermination of the bourgeoisie”. Nonetheless, the following question must seem permissible, even unavoidable: Did the National Socialists or Hitler perhaps commit an “Asiatic” deed merely because they and their ilk considered themselves to be the potential victims of an “Asiatic” deed? Wasn’t the 'Gulag Archipelago' more original than Auschwitz? Was the Bolshevik murder of an entire class not the logical and factual prius of the "racial murder" of National Socialism? Cannot Hitler's most secret deeds be explained by the fact that he had not forgotten the rat cage? Did Auschwitz in its root causes not originate in a past that would not pass?"



Some of the controversy Nolte generated related not to “The Past That Will Not Go Away” essay, but rather to another, earlier essay entitled “Between Myth and Revisionism”, where Nolte sketched out many of the same ideas that appeared in “The Past That Will Not Go Away”. According to Nolte in “Between Myth and Revisionism”, during the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 in Britain, the shock of the replacement of the old craft economy by an industrialized, mechanized economy led to various radicals starting to advocate what Nolte calls “annihilation therapy” as the solution to social problems. In Nolte’s views, the roots of Communism can be traced back to 18th and 19th century radicals like Thomas Spence
Thomas Spence
Thomas Spence was an English Radical and advocate of the common ownership of land.-Life:Spence was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England and was the son of a Scottish net and shoe maker....

, John Gray, William Benbow, Bronterre O’Brian, and François-Noël Babeuf
François-Noël Babeuf
François-Noël Babeuf , known as Gracchus Babeuf , was a French political agitator and journalist of the Revolutionary period...

. Nolte has argued that the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 began the practice of “group annihilation” as state policy, but not until the Russian Revolution did the theory of “annihilation therapy” reach its logical conclusion and culmination. He asserts that much of the European Left saw social problems as being caused by “diseased” social groups, and sought “annihilation therapy” as the solution, thus leading naturally to the Red Terror
Red Terror
The Red Terror in Soviet Russia was the campaign of mass arrests and executions conducted by the Bolshevik government. In Soviet historiography, the Red Terror is described as having been officially announced on September 2, 1918 by Yakov Sverdlov and ended about October 1918...

 and the Yezhovshchina in the Soviet Union. Nolte suggests that the Right mirrored the Left, with “annihilation therapy” advocated by such figures as John Robison
John Robison (physicist)
John Robison FRSE was a Scottish physicist and mathematician. He was a professor of philosophy at the University of Edinburgh....

, Augustin Barruel
Augustin Barruel
Abbé Augustin Barruel was a French Jesuit priest. He is now mostly known for setting forth the conspiracy theory involving the Bavarian Illuminati and the Jacobins in his book Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism published in 1797...

, and Joseph de Maistre
Joseph de Maistre
Joseph-Marie, comte de Maistre was a French-speaking Savoyard philosopher, writer, lawyer, and diplomat. He defended hierarchical societies and a monarchical State in the period immediately following the French Revolution...

; Malthusianism
Malthusianism
Malthusianism refers primarily to ideas derived from the political/economic thought of Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, as laid out initially in his 1798 writings, An Essay on the Principle of Population, which describes how unchecked population growth is exponential while the growth of the food...

 and the Prussian strategy of utter destruction of one’s enemies during the Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

 also suggest sources and influences for National Socialism. Ultimately, in Nolte’s view, the Holocaust was just a “copy” of Communist “annihilation therapy”, albeit one that was more terrible and sickening than the “original”.

As proof of this argument of the Holocaust as a defensive reaction, Nolte presented a letter written by Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

, the President of the World Zionist Organization
World Zionist Organization
The World Zionist Organization , or WZO, was founded as the Zionist Organization , or ZO, in 1897 at the First Zionist Congress, held from August 29 to August 31 in Basel, Switzerland...

, on 3 September 1939 to the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

 pledging full and unconditional support to the British war effort. Nolte has called Weizmann's letter to Chamberlain a "Jewish declaration of war" against Germany, as it had sometimes been reported contemporaneously in the press, e.g. "Judea Declares War on Germany". Nolte argued that Weizmann’s letter was a rational reason for Hitler to be “convinced of his enemies’ determination to annihilate him much earlier than when the first information about Auschwitz came to the knowledge of the world”. When challenged on this point, Nolte replied that he was merely quoting David Irving
David Irving
David John Cawdell Irving is an English writer,best known for his denial of the Holocaust, who specialises in the military and political history of World War II, with a focus on Nazi Germany...

, who first made this claim in his 1977 book Hitler’s War.

Nolte subsequently presented a 1940 book by American author Theodore N. Kaufman entitled Germany Must Perish!
Germany Must Perish!
Germany Must Perish! is the title of a 104-page book written by Theodore Newman Kaufman and self-published in 1941, which advocates the genocide, through sterilization of all Germans, and the territorial dismemberment of Germany...

. The text contends that all German men should be sterilized, evidencing, according to Nolte, the alleged "Jewish" desire to "annihilate" Germans prior to the Holocaust. An August 1941 appeal to the world by a group of Soviet Jews seeking support against Germany was also cited by Nolte as evidence of Jewish determination to thwart the Reich. Nolte argued that the Nazis felt forced to undertake the Holocaust by Hitler's conclusion that the entire Jewish population of the world had declared war on Germany. From Nolte’s point of view, the Holocaust was an act of “Asiatic barbarism” forced on the Germans by the fear of what Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

, whom Nolte believed to have significant Jewish support, might do to them. Nolte contends that the U.S. internment of Japanese Americans in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack provides a parallel to the German "internment" of the Jewish population of Europe in concentration camps, in light of what Nolte alleges was the "Jewish" declaration of war on Germany in 1939 which Weizmann's letter allegedly constitutes.

Subsequently, Nolte expanded upon these views in his 1987 book Der europäische Bürgerkrieg, 1917–1945 (The European Civil War, 1917–1945) in which he claimed that the entire 20th century was an age of genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

, totalitarianism
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

, and tyranny, and that the Holocaust had been merely one chapter in the age of violence, terror and population displacement. Nolte claimed that this age had started with the genocide of the Armenians
Armenian Genocide
The Armenian Genocide—also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Crime—refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I...

 during World War I, and also included the Stalinist terror
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

 in the Soviet Union, the expulsion of ethnic Germans
Expulsion of Germans after World War II
The later stages of World War II, and the period after the end of that war, saw the forced migration of millions of German nationals and ethnic Germans from various European states and territories, mostly into the areas which would become post-war Germany and post-war Austria...

 from Eastern Europe, Maoist terror in China as manifested in such events as the Great Leap Forward
Great Leap Forward
The Great Leap Forward of the People's Republic of China was an economic and social campaign of the Communist Party of China , reflected in planning decisions from 1958 to 1961, which aimed to use China's vast population to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a modern...

 and the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, compulsory population exchanges between Greece and Turkey from 1922 to 1923, American war crimes in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

, the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In particular, Nolte argued that the expulsion of ethnic Germans
Expulsion of Germans after World War II
The later stages of World War II, and the period after the end of that war, saw the forced migration of millions of German nationals and ethnic Germans from various European states and territories, mostly into the areas which would become post-war Germany and post-war Austria...

 from Eastern Europe in 1945–46 was "to be categorized...under the concept of genocide". As part of this argument, Nolte cited the 1979 book of the American historian Alfred-Maurice de Zayas
Alfred-Maurice de Zayas
Alfred-Maurice de Zayas is an American lawyer, writer, historian, a leading expert in the field of human rights, as well as a former high-ranking United Nations official...

, Die Wehrmacht Untersuchungsstelle
The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, 1939-1945
The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, 1939-1945 is a book by Alfred-Maurice de Zayas. It was published in November 1979 in Germany by Universitas/Langen Müller under the title Die Wehrmacht-Untersuchungsstelle, and in America in 1989 under the title The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, 1939-1945 . Professor...

, which argues that the Allies were just as guilty of war crimes as the Germans as the "happy evidence of the will to objectivity on the part of a foreigner" In Nolte's opinion, Hitler was a "European citizen" who fought in defence of the values of the West against "Asiatic" Bolshevism, but due to his "total egocentrism" waged this struggle with unnecessary violence and brutality Since in Nolte’s view, the Shoah
Shoah
Shoah may refer to:*The Holocaust*Shoah , documentary directed by Claude Lanzmann * A Shoah Foundation...

was not a unique crime, there is no reason to single out Germans for special criticism for the Holocaust.

In addition, Nolte sees his work as the beginning of a much-needed revisionist treatment to end the "negative myth" of the Third Reich that dominates contemporary perceptions. Nolte took the view that the principle problem of German history was this “negative myth” of the Third Reich, which cast the Nazi era as the ne plus ultra of evil. Nolte wrote that after the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, the defeated South was cast as the symbol of total evil by the victorious North, but later “revisionism” became the dominant historical interpretation against the “negative myth” of the South, which led to a more balanced history of the Civil War with a greater understanding of the “motives and way of life of the defeated Southern states”, and led to the leaders of the Confederacy
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 becoming great American heroes. Nolte urged that a similar “revisionism” destroy the “negative myth” of the Third Reich. Nolte argued that the Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge genocide, the expulsion of "boat people" from Vietnam, the Islamic revolution in Iran, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan meant the traditional picture of Nazi Germany as the ultimate in evil was no longer tenable, and proved the need for "revisionism" to put an end to the "negative myth" of the Third Reich. In Nolte's view, the first efforts at revisionism of the Nazi period failed because A. J. P. Taylor
A. J. P. Taylor
Alan John Percivale Taylor, FBA was a British historian of the 20th century and renowned academic who became well known to millions through his popular television lectures.-Early life:...

's 1961 book The Origins of the Second World War was only a part of the "anti-German literature of indictment" while David Hoggan
David Hoggan
David Leslie Hoggan was an American historical writer, author of The Forced War: When Peaceful Revision Failed and other works in the German and English languages.-Early life:...

 in Der erzwugnene Krieg, by only seeking to examine why World War II broke out in 1939, "cut himself off from the really decisive questions". Then the next revisionist efforts Nolte cites were the Italian historian Domenico Settembrini's favorable treatment of Fascism for saving Italy from Communism, and the British historian Timothy Mason
Timothy Mason
Timothy Wright Mason was a British Marxist historian of Nazi Germany.-Life and work:He was born in Birkenhead, the child of school-teachers and was educated at Birkenhead School and Oxford University. He taught at Oxford from 1971–1984 and was twice married. He helped to found the...

's studies in working class German history. The best of the revisionists according to Nolte is David Irving
David Irving
David John Cawdell Irving is an English writer,best known for his denial of the Holocaust, who specialises in the military and political history of World War II, with a focus on Nazi Germany...

, with whom Nolte finds some fault, although "not all of Irving's theses and points can be dismissed with such ease". Nolte praises Irving as the first to understand that Weizmann's letter to Chamberlain was a "Jewish declaration of war" on Germany that justified the "interning" of the Jews of Europe. Nolte went on to praise Irving for putting the Holocaust "in a more comprehensive perspective" by comparing it to the British fire-bombing of Hamburg in 1943, which Nolte views as just much of an act of genocide as the "Final Solution". The sort of revisionism needed to end the "negative myth" of the Third Reich is, in Nolte's opinion, an examination of the impact of the Russian Revolution on Germany.

Nolte contends that the great decisive event of the 20th century was the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

, which plunged all of Europe into a long-simmering civil war that lasted until 1945. To Nolte, fascism, Communism's twin, arose as a desperate response by the threatened middle classes of Europe to what Nolte has often called the “Bolshevik peril”. He suggests that if one wishes to understand the Holocaust, one should begin with the industrial revolution in Britain, and then understand the rule of the Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge
The Khmer Rouge literally translated as Red Cambodians was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, who were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan...

 in Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

. Nolte then proceeds to argue that one should consider what happened in the Soviet Union in the interwar period by reading the work of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn was aRussian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. Through his often-suppressed writings, he helped to raise global awareness of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labor camp system – particularly in The Gulag Archipelago and One Day in the Life of...

. In a marked change from the views expressed in The Three Faces of Fascism, in which Communism was a stream of “transcendence”, Nolte now classified communism together with fascism as both rival streams of the “resistance to transcendence”. The “metapolitical phenomenon” of Communism in a Hegelian dialectic led to the “metapolitical phenomenon” of fascism, which was both a copy of and the most ardent opponent of Marxism. As an example of his thesis, Nolte cited an article written in 1927 by Kurt Tucholsky
Kurt Tucholsky
Kurt Tucholsky was a German-Jewish journalist, satirist and writer. He also wrote under the pseudonyms Kaspar Hauser, Peter Panter, Theobald Tiger and Ignaz Wrobel. Born in Berlin-Moabit, he moved to Paris in 1924 and then to Sweden in 1930.Tucholsky was one of the most important journalists of...

 calling for middle-class Germans to be gassed, which he argued was much more deplorable than the celebratory comments made by some right-wing newspapers about the assassination of the German Foreign Minister Walter Rathenau in 1922. Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

, Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

 and Otto Dov Kulka all claimed that Nolte took Tucholsky's sardonic remark about chemical warfare
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 out of context. Kershaw further protested the implication of moral equivalence between a remark by Tucholsky and the actual gassing of Jews by Nazis, which Kershaw suggests is an idea which originates in neo-Nazi pamphleteering.

In his 1987 book Der europäische Bürgerkrieg, 1917–1945, Nolte argued in the interwar period, Germany was Europe's best hope for progress. Nolte wrote that "if Europe was to succeed in establishing itself as a world power on a equal footing [with the United States and the Soviet Union], then Germany had to be the core of the new 'United States'". Nolte claimed if the Germany had to continue to abide by Part V of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

, which had disarmed Germany, then Germany would have been destroyed by aggression from her neighbors sometime later in the 1930s, and with Germany's destruction, there would had been no hope for a "United States of Europe". The British historian Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

 accused Nolte of engaging in a geopolitical fantasy.

The Ensuing Controversy


These views ignited a firestorm of controversy. Most historians in West Germany and virtually all historians outside Germany condemned Nolte's interpretation as factually incorrect, and as coming dangerously close to justifying the Holocaust. Many historians, such as Steven T. Katz
Steven T. Katz
Steven T. Katz is a Jewish philosopher and scholar. He is the director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies at Boston University in Massachusetts, USA, where he holds the Alvin J. and Shirley Slater Chair in Jewish and Holocaust Studies. Professor Katz was born August 12, 1944 in Jersey...

, claimed that Nolte’s “Age of Genocide” concept “trivialized” the Holocaust by reducing it to one of just many 20th century genocides. A common line of criticism were that Nazi crimes, above all the Holocaust, were singularly and uniquely evil, and could not be compared to the crimes of others. Some historians such as Hans-Ulrich Wehler
Hans-Ulrich Wehler
Hans-Ulrich Wehler is a German historian known for his role in promoting social history through the "Bielefeld School", and for his critical studies of 19th century Germany.-Career:...

 were most forceful in arguing that the sufferings of the “kulaks” deported during the Soviet “dekulakization” campaign of the early 1930s were in no way analogous to the suffering of the Jews deported in the early 1940s. Many were angered by Nolte's claim that "the so-called annihilation of the Jews under the Third Reich was a reaction or a distorted copy and not a first act or an original", with many such as Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

 wondering why Nolte spoke of the "so-called annihilation of the Jews" in describing the Holocaust. Some of the historians who denounced Nolte’s views included Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen is a left-wing German historian. He is the twin brother of the late Wolfgang Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen and great-grandson of the Roman historian Theodor Mommsen. He studied German, history and philosophy at the University of...

, Jürgen Kocka
Jürgen Kocka
Jürgen Kocka is a German historian.A university professor and former president of the Social Science Research Center Berlin , Kocka is a major figure in the new Social History, especially as represented by the Bielefeld School...

, Detlev Peukert
Detlev Peukert
Detlev Peukert was a German historian, noted for his studies of the relationship between what he called the "spirit of science" and the Holocaust and in social history and the Weimar Republic. Peukert taught modern history at the University of Essen and served as director of the Research Institute...

, Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat was a German historian specializing in modern German social history whose work has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians as indispensable for any serious study of the Third Reich. Broszat was born in Leipzig, Germany and studied history at the University of Leipzig and...

, Hans-Ulrich Wehler
Hans-Ulrich Wehler
Hans-Ulrich Wehler is a German historian known for his role in promoting social history through the "Bielefeld School", and for his critical studies of 19th century Germany.-Career:...

, Michael Wolffsohn
Michael Wolffsohn
Michael Wolffsohn is an Israeli-born German historian. Wolffsohn was born in Tel Aviv, in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine and today is Israel. His parents were German Jews who fled in 1939....

, Heinrich August Winkler
Heinrich August Winkler
Heinrich August Winkler is a German historian.After attending a Gymnasium in Ulm, he studied history, political science, philosophy and public law at Münster, Heidelberg and Tübingen. In 1970 he became professor at the Free University of Berlin. From 1972 to 1991 he was professor at the University...

, Wolfgang Mommsen
Wolfgang Mommsen
Wolfgang Justin Mommsen was a German historian. He was the twin brother of Hans Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen. He was educated at the University of Marburg, University of Cologne and University of Leeds between 1951–1959...

, Karl Dietrich Bracher
Karl Dietrich Bracher
Karl Dietrich Bracher is a German political scientist and historian of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. Born in Stuttgart, Bracher was awarded a Ph.D. in the Classics by the University of Tübingen in 1948 and subsequently studied at Harvard University from 1949 to 1950...

 and Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel is a Social Democratic German historian, noted for his studies of Adolf Hitler's role in German history. Jäckel sees Hitler as being the historical equivalent to the Chernobyl disaster.-Career:...

. Much (though not all) of the criticism of Nolte came from historians who favored either the Sonderweg
Sonderweg
Sonderweg is a controversial theory in German historiography that considers the German-speaking lands, or the country Germany, to have followed a unique course from aristocracy into democracy, distinct from other European countries...

(Special Way) and/or intentionalist/functionalist
Functionalism versus intentionalism
Functionalism versus intentionalism is a historiographical debate about the origins of the Holocaust as well as most aspects of the Third Reich, such as foreign policy...

 interpretations of German history. From the advocates of the Sonderweg approach came the criticism that Nolte’s views had totally externalized the origins of the National Socialist dictatorship to the post-1917 period, whereas in their view, the roots of the Nazi dictatorship can be traced back to the 19th century Second Reich
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

. In particular, it was argued that within the virulently and ferociously anti-Semitic Völkisch movement
Völkisch movement
The volkisch movement is the German interpretation of the populist movement, with a romantic focus on folklore and the "organic"...

, which first arose in the latter half of the 19th century, the ideological seeds of the Shoah were already planted. From both functionalist and intentionist historians came the similar criticism that the motives and momentum for the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” came primarily from within Germany, not as the result of external events. Intentionalists argued that Hitler did not need the Russian Revolution to provide him with a genocidal mindset, while functionalists argued it was the unstable power structure and bureaucratic rivalries of the Third Reich, which led to genocide of the Jews. Another line of criticism centered around Nolte refusal to say just precisely when he believes the Nazis decided upon genocide, and have pointed out that at various times, Nolte has implied the decision for genocide was taken in the early 1920s, or the early 1930s or the 1940s.

Coming to Nolte's defence were the journalist Joachim Fest
Joachim Fest
Joachim Clemens Fest was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance...

, the philosopher Helmut Fleischer, and the historians' Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand is a German conservative historian whose area of expertise is 19th-20th century German political and military history.- Biography :...

, Rainer Zitelmann
Rainer Zitelmann
Rainer Zitelmann is a German historian, journalist and management consultant.- Life :Zitelmann studied history and political sciences at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and completed his doctorate in 1986 under Prof. Dr...

, Hagen Schulze
Hagen Schulze
Hagen Schulze is a German historian currently working at the Free University of Berlin. He specializes in early modern and modern German and European history, particularly in comparative European nationalisms.-Life:...

, Thomas Nipperdey and Imanuel Geiss
Imanuel Geiss
Imanuel Geiss is a German historian.- Life :Imanuel Geiss was born as the youngest of 5 children to a working class family affected by the economic crisis. The unemployed father had to raise the children alone as the mother suffered from Meningitis...

. The latter was unusual amongst Nolte’s defenders as Geiss was normally identified with the left, while the rest of Nolte’s supporters were seen as either on the right or holding centrist views. In response to Wehler’s book, Geiss later published a book entitled Der Hysterikerstreit. Ein unpolemischer Essay (The Hysterical Dispute An Unpolemical Essay) in which he largely defended Nolte against Wehler’s criticisms. Geiss wrote Nolte's critics had "taken in isolation" his statements and were guilty of being "hasty readers"

Further adding to the controversy was a statement by Nolte in June 1987 that Adolf Hitler "created the state of Israel", and that "the Jews would eventually come to appreciate Hitler as the individual who contributed more than anyone else to the creation of the state of Israel". As a result of that remark, Nolte was sacked from his position as chief editor of the German language edition of Theodore Herzl's letters by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Community), the group that was responsible for the financing of the Herzl papers project. Another controversial claim by Nolte was his statement that massacres of the Volksdeutsch minority in Poland after the German invasion of 1939 were an act of genocide by the Polish government, and thereby justified the German aggression as part of an effort to save the German minority. Another contentious set of claims by Nolte was his argument that the film Shoah
Shoah (film)
This page is about the film by the name of Shoah. For other uses, see Shoah Shoah is a 1985 French documentary film directed by Claude Lanzmann about the Holocaust...

 showed that it was "probable" that the SS
Schutzstaffel
The Schutzstaffel |Sig runes]]) was a major paramilitary organization under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Built upon the Nazi ideology, the SS under Heinrich Himmler's command was responsible for many of the crimes against humanity during World War II...

 were just as much victims of the Holocaust as were the Jews, and the Polish victims of the Germans were just as much anti-Semites as the Nazis, thereby proving it was unjust to single out Germans for criticism. Nolte claimed that more “Aryans” than Jews were murdered at Auschwitz, a fact overlooked because most Holocaust research comes “to an overwhelming degree from Jewish authors”. Likewise, Nolte has implied that the atrocities committed by the Germans in Poland and the Soviet Union were justified by earlier Polish and Soviet atrocities. In response, Nolte’s critics have argued that though there were massacres of ethnic Germans in Poland in 1939 (about 4,000 to 6,000 being killed after the German invasion), these were not part of a genocidal program on the part of the Poles, but were rather the ad hoc reaction of panic-stricken Polish troops to (sometimes justified) rumors of fifth column
Fifth column
A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group such as a nation from within.-Origin:The term originated with a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General during the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War...

 activities on the part of the volksdeutsch, and can not in any way be compared to the more systematic brutality of the German occupiers towards the Poles, which led to a 25% population reduction in Poland during the war. Another contentious statement by Nolte was his argument that the Wannsee Conference
Wannsee Conference
The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich...

 of 1942 never occurred. Nolte wrote that too many Holocaust historians were "biased" Jewish historians, whom Nolte strongly hinted manufactured the minutes of the Wannsee conference. The British historian Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

 was highly offended by Nolte's claims that German massacres of Soviet Jews carried out by the Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

and the Wehrmacht were a legitimate "preventive security" measure that was not a war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

. Nolte wrote that during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the Germans would have been justified in exterminating the entire Belgian people as an act of "preventive security" because of franc-tireur
Francs-tireurs
Francs-tireurs – literally "free shooters" – was used to describe irregular military formations deployed by France during the early stages of the Franco-Prussian War...

attacks, and thus the Rape of Belgium
Rape of Belgium
The Rape of Belgium is a wartime propaganda term describing the 1914 German invasion of Belgium. The term initially had a figurative meaning, referring to the violation of Belgian neutrality, but embellished reports of German atrocities soon gave it a literal significance...

 was an act of German restraint; similarly, Nolte wrote that because many Soviet partisans
Soviet partisans
The Soviet partisans were members of a resistance movement which fought a guerrilla war against the Axis occupation of the Soviet Union during World War II....

 were Jews, the Germans were within their rights in seeking to kill every single Jewish man, women and child they encountered in Russia as an act of "preventive security".

In particular, controversy centered on an argument of Nolte's 1985 essay “Between Myth and Revisionism” from the book Aspects of the Third Reich, first published in German as "Die negative Lebendigkeit des Dritten Reiches" ("The Negative Legend of the Third Reich") as an opinion piece in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 24 July 1980, but which did not attract widespread attention until 1986 when Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

 criticized the essay in a feuilleton piece. Nolte had delivered a lecture at the Siemans-Sitftung in 1980, and excerpts from his speech were published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung without attracting controversy. In his essay, Nolte argued that if the PLO
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

 were to destroy Israel, then the subsequent history written in the new Palestinian state would portray the former Israeli state in the blackest of colors with no references to any of the positive features of the defunct state. In Nolte’s opinion, a similar situation of history written only by the victors exists in regards to the history of Nazi Germany. Many historians, such as British historian Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

, have asserted that, based on this statement, Nolte appears to believe that the only reason why Nazism is regarded as evil is because Germany lost World War II, with no regard for the Holocaust. Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand is a German conservative historian whose area of expertise is 19th-20th century German political and military history.- Biography :...

 called in a review in the Historische Zeitschrift journal on 2 April 1986 called Nolte’s essay "Between Myth and Revisionism" “trailbrazing”. In the same review of Nolte's essay "Between Myth and Revisionism", Hildebrand argued Nolte had in a praiseworthy way sought:

"to incorporate in historicizing fashion that central element for the history of National Socialism and of the "Third Reich" of the annihilatory capacity of the ideology and of the regime, and to comprehend this totalitarian reality in the interrelated context of Russian and German history".

Habermas's Attack


The philosopher Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

 in an article in the Die Zeit
Die Zeit
Die Zeit is a German nationwide weekly newspaper that is highly respected for its quality journalism.With a circulation of 488,036 and an estimated readership of slightly above 2 million, it is the most widely read German weekly newspaper...

of 11 July 1986 strongly criticized Nolte, along with Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

 and Michael Stürmer
Michael Stürmer
Michael Stürmer is a right-wing German historian best known for his role in the Historikerstreit of the 1980s, for his geographical interpretation of German history and for an admiring 2008 biography of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin .Born in Kassel, Germany, Stürmer received his education in...

, for engaging in what Habermas called “apologetic” history writing in regards to the Nazi era, and for seeking to “close Germany’s opening to the West” that in Habermas’s view has existed since 1945:

“The culture section of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 6, 1986 included a militant article by Ernst Nolte. It was published, by the way, under a hypocritical pretext with the heading “the talk that could not be delivered”. (I say this with knowledge of the exchange of letters between the presumably disinvited Nolte and the organizers of the conference). When the Nolte article was published Stürmer also expressed solidarity. In it Nolte reduces the singularity of the annihilation of the Jews to “the technical process of gassing”. He supports his thesis about the Gulag Archipelago is “primary” to Auschwitz with the rather abstruse example of the Russian Civil War. The author gets little more from the film Shoah by Lanzmann
Claude Lanzmann
Claude Lanzmann is a French filmmaker and professor at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.-Biography:Lanzmann attended the Lycée Blaise-Pascal in Clermont-Ferrand. He joined the French resistance at the age of 18 and fought in Auvergne...

 than the idea that “the SS troops in the concentration camps might themselves have been victims of a sort and that among the Polish victims of National Socialism there was virulent anti-Semitism”. These unsavoury samples show that Nolte puts someone like Fassbinder in the shade by a wide margin. If the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung was justifiably drawn to oppose the planned performance of Fassbinder’s play, then why did it choose to publish Nolte’s letter [A reference to the play The Garbage, the City, and Death by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Rainer Werner Maria Fassbinder was a German movie director, screenwriter and actor. He is considered one of the most important representatives of the New German Cinema.He maintained a frenetic pace in film-making...

 about an unscrupulous Jewish businessman who exploits German guilt over the Holocaust that many see as anti-Semitic]...The Nazi crimes lose their singularity in that they are at least made comprehensible as an answer to the (still extant) Bolshevist threats of annihilation. The magnitude of Auschwitz shrinks to the format of technical innovation and is explained on the basis of the “Asiatic” threat from an enemy that still stands at our door”.


In particular, Habermas took Nolte to task for suggesting a moral equivalence between the Holocaust and the Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge
The Khmer Rouge literally translated as Red Cambodians was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, who were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan...

 genocide. In Habermas’s opinion, since Cambodia was a backward, Third World agrarian state and Germany a modern, industrial state, there was no comparison between the two genocides.

The War of Words in the German Press


In response to Habermas's essay, Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand is a German conservative historian whose area of expertise is 19th-20th century German political and military history.- Biography :...

 came to the defence of Nolte. Hildebrand in an essay entitled "The Age of Tyrants" first published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on July 31, 1986 went on to praise Nolte for daring to open up new questions for research.

Nolte for his part, started to write a series of letters to various newspapers such as Die Zeit
Die Zeit
Die Zeit is a German nationwide weekly newspaper that is highly respected for its quality journalism.With a circulation of 488,036 and an estimated readership of slightly above 2 million, it is the most widely read German weekly newspaper...

and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , short F.A.Z., also known as the FAZ, is a national German newspaper, founded in 1949. It is published daily in Frankfurt am Main. The Sunday edition is the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung .F.A.Z...

attacking his critics; for an example, in a letter to Die Zeit on 1 August 1986, Nolte complained that his critic Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

 was attempting to censor him for expressing his views, and accused Habermas of being the one responsible for blocking him from attending the Römerberg Conversations. In the same letter, Nolte described himself as the unnamed historian whose views on the reasons for the Holocaust had at dinner party in May 1986 in Bonn had caused Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer is an award-winning Israeli historian and currently a professor of history at UCLA.-Biography:...

 to walk out in disgust that Habermas had alluded to an earlier letter

Responding to the essay "The Age of Tyrants: History and Politics" by Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand is a German conservative historian whose area of expertise is 19th-20th century German political and military history.- Biography :...

 defending Nolte, Habermas wrote:

“In his essay Ernst Nolte treats the “so-called” annihilation of the Jews (in H.W. Koch, ed. Aspects of the Third Reich, London, 1985). Chaim Weizmann’s declaration in the beginning of September 1939 that the Jews of the world would fight on the side of England, “justified”-so opinioned Nolte-Hitler to treat the Jews as prisoners of war and to intern them. Other objections aside, I cannot distinguish between the insinuation that world Jewry is a subject of international law and the usual anti-Semitic projections. And if it had at least stopped with deportation. All this does not stop Klaus Hildebrand in the Historische Zeitschrift from commending Nolte’s “pathfinding essay”, because it “attempts to project exactly the seeming unique aspects of the history of the Third Reich onto the backdrop of the European and global development". Hildebrand is pleased that Nolte denies the singularity of the Nazi atrocities”.


Fest in an essay entitled "Encumbered Remembrance" first published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on August 29, 1986 claimed that Nolte's argument that Nazi crimes were not singular was correct. Fest accused Habermas of "academic dyslexia" and "character assassination" in his attacks against Nolte. In response to Habermas's claim that the Holocaust was not comparable to the Khmer Rouge genocide because Germany was a First World nation and Cambodia a Third World nation, Fest, who was one of Nolte’s leading defenders, called Habermas a racist for suggesting that it was natural for Cambodians to engage in genocide while unnatural for Germans. Fest argued against the "singularity" of the Holocaust under the grounds that:
"The gas chambers with which the executors of the annihilation of the Jews went to work without a doubt signal a particularly repulsive form of mass murder, and they have justifiably become a symbol for the technicized barbarism of the Hitler regime. But can it really be said that the mass liquidations by a bullet to the back of the neck, as was common practice during the years of the Red Terror, are qualitatively different? Isn't, despite all the differences, the comparable element stronger?...The thesis of the singularity of Nazi crimes is finally also placed in question by the consideration that Hitler himself frequently referred to the practices of his revolutionary opponents of the Left as lessons and models. But he did more than just copy them. Determined to be more radical than his most bitter enemy, he also outdid them"
Moreover, Fest argued in his defence of Nolte that in the overheated atmosphere in Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 following the overthrow of the Bavarian Soviet Republic
Bavarian Soviet Republic
The Bavarian Soviet Republic, also known as the Munich Soviet Republic was, as part of the German Revolution of 1918–1919, the short-lived attempt to establish a socialist state in form of a council republic in the Free State of Bavaria. It sought independence from the also recently proclaimed...

 in 1919 "...gave Hitler's extermination complexes a real background" Finally, Fest wrote as part of his attack on the "singularity" of the Holocaust that:
"There are questions upon questions, but no answer can be offered here. Rather, it is a matter of rousing doubt in the monumental simplicity and one-sidedness of the prevailing ideas about the particularity of the Nazi crimes that supposedly had no model and followed no example. All in all, this thesis stands on weak ground. And it is less surprising that,as Habermas incorrectly suggests in reference to Nolte, it is being questioned. It is far more astonishing that this has not seriously taken place until now. For that also means that the countless other victims, in particular, but not exclusively those of Communism, are no longer part of our memory. Arno Borst once declared in a different context that no group in today's society has been ruthlessly oppressed as the dead. That is especially true for the millions of dead of this century, from the Armenians all the way to the victims of the Gulag Archipelago or the Cambodians who were and still being murdered before all of our eyes-but who have still been dropped from the world's memory"


In a letter to the editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published on September 6, 1986 Karl Dietrich Bracher
Karl Dietrich Bracher
Karl Dietrich Bracher is a German political scientist and historian of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. Born in Stuttgart, Bracher was awarded a Ph.D. in the Classics by the University of Tübingen in 1948 and subsequently studied at Harvard University from 1949 to 1950...

 accused both Habermas and Nolte of both "...tabooing the concept of totalitarianism and inflating the formula of fascism".

The historian Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel is a Social Democratic German historian, noted for his studies of Adolf Hitler's role in German history. Jäckel sees Hitler as being the historical equivalent to the Chernobyl disaster.-Career:...

 in an essay first published in the Die Zeit newspaper on September 12, 1986 argued that Nolte's theory was ahistorical on the grounds that Hitler held the Soviet Union in contempt, and could not have felt threatened as Nolte claimed. Jäckel wrote, in an essay entitled "The Impoverished Practice of Insinuation: The Singular Aspect of National-Socialist Crimes Cannot Be Denied",

"Hitler often said why he wished to remove and kill the Jews. His explanation is a complicated and structurally logical construct that can be reproduced in great detail. A rat cage, the murders committed by the Bolsheviks, or a special fear of these are not mentioned. On the contrary, Hitler was always convinced that Soviet Russia, precisely because it was ruled by Jews, was a defenseless colossus standing on clay feet. Aryans had no fear of Slavic or Jewish subhumans. The Jew, Hitler wrote in 1926 in Mein Kampf, "is not an element of an organization, but a ferment of decomposition. The gigantic empire in the East is ripe for collapse". Hitler still believed this in 1941 when he had his soldiers invade Russia without winter equipment."


Jäckel attacked Nolte's statement that Hitler had an especially intense fear of the Soviet "rat cage" torture by arguing that Hitler's statement of February 1, 1943 to his generals about captured German officers going off to the "rat cage" clearly meant the Lubyanka
Lubyanka (KGB)
The Lubyanka is the popular name for the headquarters of the KGB and affiliated prison on Lubyanka Square in Moscow. It is a large building with a facade of yellow brick, designed by Alexander V...

 prison, and this is not as Nolte was arguing to be interpreted literally. Jäckel went on to argue that Nolte had done nothing to establish what the remarks about the "rat cage" had to do with the Holocaust. Jäckel accused Nolte of engaging in a post hoc, ergo propter hoc
Post hoc ergo propter hoc
Post hoc ergo propter hoc, Latin for "after this, therefore because of this," is a logical fallacy that states, "Since that event followed this one, that event must have been caused by this one." It is often shortened to simply post hoc and is also sometimes referred to as false cause,...

 argument to establish the "causal nexus" between Hitler's supposed fear of the "rat cage" torture, and the Holocaust. Against Nolte's claim that the Holocaust was not unique but rather one among many genocides, Jäckel rejected the assertion of Nolte and his supporters, such as Joachim Fest
Joachim Fest
Joachim Clemens Fest was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance...

:

"I, however claim (and not for the first time) that the National Socialist murder of the Jews was unique because never before had a nation with the authority of its leader decided and announced that it would kill off as completely as possible a particular group of humans, including old people, women, children and infants, and actually put this decision into practice, using all the means of governmental power at its disposal. This idea is so apparent and so well known that is quite astonishing that it could have escaped Fest's attention (the massacres of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during the First World War were, according to all we know, more like murderous deportations than planned genocide)".


Jäckel later described Nolte's methods as a "game of confusion", comprising dressing hypotheses up as questions, and then attacking critics who demanded evidence for his assertions as seeking to block one from asking questions.

The philosopher Helmut Fleischer in an essay first published in the Nürnberger Zeitung newspaper on September 20, 1986 defended Nolte against Habermas under the grounds that Nolte was only seeking to place the Holocaust into a wider political context of the times. Fleischer accused Habermas of seeking to impose a left-wing moral understanding on the Nazi period on Germans and of creating a “moral” Sondergericht (Special Court). Fleischer argued that Nolte was only seeking the "historicization" of National Socialism that Martin Broszat had called for in a 1985 essay by trying to understand what caused National Socialism, with a special focus on the fear of Communism.

The German historian Jürgen Kocka
Jürgen Kocka
Jürgen Kocka is a German historian.A university professor and former president of the Social Science Research Center Berlin , Kocka is a major figure in the new Social History, especially as represented by the Bielefeld School...

 in an essay first published in Die Zeit on September 26, 1986 contended against Nolte that the Holocaust was indeed a “singular” event because it had been committed by an advanced Western nation, and argued that Nolte’s comparisons of the Holocaust with similar mass killings in Pol Pot
Pol Pot
Saloth Sar , better known as Pol Pot, , was a Cambodian Maoist revolutionary who led the Khmer Rouge from 1963 until his death in 1998. From 1976 to 1979, he served as the Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea....

's Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

, Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, and Idi Amin
Idi Amin
Idi Amin Dada was a military leader and President of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Amin joined the British colonial regiment, the King's African Rifles in 1946. Eventually he held the rank of Major General in the post-colonial Ugandan Army and became its Commander before seizing power in the military...

's Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

 were invalid because of the backward nature of those societies. Kocka went to criticize Nolte's view of the Holocaust as "a not altogether incomprehensible reaction to the prior threat of annihilation, as whose potential or real victims Hitler and the National Socialists allegedly were justified in seeing themselves". Kocka wrote that

"The real causes of anti-Semitism in Germany are to be found neither in Russia nor the World Jewish Congress. And how can one, in light of the facts, interpret the National Socialist annihilation of the Jews as a somewhat logical, if premature, means of defense against the threats of annihilation coming from the Soviet Union, with which Germany had made a pact in 1939, and which it then subsequently attacked? Here the sober historical inquiry into real historical connections, into causes, and consequences, and about real motives and their conditions would suffice to protect the writer and the reader from abstruse speculative interpretations. Nolte fails to ask such questions. If a past "that is capable of being agreed on" can be gained by intellectual gymnastics of this sort, then we should renounce it."


Hagen Schulze
Hagen Schulze
Hagen Schulze is a German historian currently working at the Free University of Berlin. He specializes in early modern and modern German and European history, particularly in comparative European nationalisms.-Life:...

 in an essay first published in Die Zeit on September 26, 1986 defended Nolte, together with Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

, and argued Habermas was acting from "incorrect presuppositions" in attacking Nolte and Hillgruber for denying the "singularity" of the Holocaust. Schulze argued that Habermas's attack on Nolte was flawed because he never provided any proof that the Holocaust was unique, and argued there were many "aspects" of the Holocaust that were "common" with other historical occurrences. In Schulze's opinion:
"For the discipline of history, singularity and comparability of historical events are thus not mutually exclusive alternatives. They are complementary concepts. A claim that historians such as Ernst Nolte or Andreas Hillgruber deny the uniqueness of Auschwitz because they are looking for comparisons stems from incorrect presuppositions. Of course, Nolte and Hillgruber can be refuted if their comparisons rests on empirically or logically false assumptions. But Habermas never provided such proof."


The Swiss journalist Hanno Helbling in an essay first published in the Neu Zuricher Zeitung newspaper on September 26, 1986 accused Nolte and his allies of working to destroy “the “negative myth” of the Third Reich, not only by revising our inevitable understanding of this reign of terror, but also by restoring the national past”.
Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen is a left-wing German historian. He is the twin brother of the late Wolfgang Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen and great-grandson of the Roman historian Theodor Mommsen. He studied German, history and philosophy at the University of...

 in an essay first published in the September 1986 edition of Merkur
Merkur (journal)
Merkur, subtitled Deutsche Zeitschrift für europäisches Denken, is one of the foremost intellectual magazines in Germany, published monthly in Stuttgart. Since August 2006, more than 688 issues of the journal has been published....

 accused Nolte of attempting to "relativize" Nazi crimes within the broader framework of the 20th century. Mommsen asserted that by describing Lenin's Red Terror in Russia as an "Asiatic deed" threatening Germany, Nolte was arguing that all actions directed against Communism, no matter how morally repugnant, were justified by necessity. In another essay in an essay first published in the Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik magazine in October 1986, Mommsen was to call Nolte's claim of a "causal nexus" between National Socialism and Communism "not simply methodologically untenable, but also absurd in it premises and conclusions". Mommsen wrote in his opinion that Nolte's use of the Nazi era phrase "Asiatic hordes" to describe Red Army soldiers, and his use of the word "Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

" as a byword for all that is horrible and cruel in the world reflected racism. Mommsen wrote:
"In contrast to these irrefutable conditioning factors, Nolte’s derivation based on personalities and the history of ideas seems artificial, even for the explanation of Hitler’s anti-Semitism…If one emphasizes the indisputably important connection in isolation, one should not then force a connection with Hitler's weltanschauung, which was in no ways original itself, in order to derpive from it the existance of Auschwitz. The battle line between the political right in Germany and the Bolsheviks had achieved its aggressive contour before Stalinism employed methods that led to death of millions of people. Thoughts about the extermination of the Jews had long been current, and not only for Hitler and his satraps. Many of these found their way to the NSDAP from the Deutschvölkisch Schutz-und Trutzbund
Deutschvölkischer Schutz und Trutzbund
The Deutschvölkischer Schutz und Trutzbund was the largest, most active, and most influential anti-Semitic federation in Germany after the first World War, and one of the largest and most important organization of the German völkisch movement during the Weimar Republic, whose...

 [German Racial Union for Protection and Defiance], which itself had been called into life by the Pan-German Union. Hitler's step from verbal anti-Semitism to practical implementation would then have happened without knowledge of and in reaction to the atrocities of the Stalinists. And thus one would have to overturn Nolte's construct, for which he cannot bring biographical evidence to bear. As a Hitler biographer, Fest distanced himself from this kind of one-sidedness by making reference to "the Austrian-German Hitler's earlier fears of and phantasies of being overwhelmed". It is not completely consistent that Fest admits that the reports of the terrorist methods of the Bolsheviks had given Hitler's "extermination complexes" a "real background". Basically, Nolte's proposal in its one-sidedness is not very helpful for explaining or evaluating what happened. The anti-Bolshevism garnished with anti-Semitism had the effect, in particular for the dominant elites, and certainly not just the National Socialists, that Hitler’s program of racial annihilation met with no serious resistance. The leadership of the Wehrmacht rather willingly made themselves into accomplices in the policy of extermination. It did this by generating the “criminal orders” and implementing them. By no means did they merely passively support the implemention of their concept, although there was a certain reluctance for reasons of military discipline and a few isolated protests. To construct a “casual nexus” over all this amounts in fact to steering away from the decisive responsibility of the military leadership and the bureaucratic elites."
In another essay entiteld "Reappraisal and Repression The Third Reich In West German Historical Consciousness", Mommsen wrote that:

"Nolte's superficial approach which associates things that do not belong together, substitutes analogies for casual arguments, and-thanks to his taste for exaggeration-produces a long outdated interpretation of the Third Reich as the result of a single factor. His claims are regarded in professional circles as a stimulating challenge at best, hardly as a convincing contribution to an understanding of the crisis of twentieth-century capitalist society in Europe. The fact that Nolte has found eloquent supporters both inside and outside the historical profession has little to do with the normal process of research and much to do with the political implications of the relativization of the Holocaust that he has insistently championed for so long...The fundamentally apologetic character of Nolte's argument shines through most clearly when he concedes Hitler's right to deport, through not to exterminate, the Jews in response to the supposed "declaration of war" issued by the World Jewish Congress; or when he claims that the activities of the SS Einsatzgruppen can be justified, at least subjectively, as operations aimed against partisans fighting the German Army."


Mommsen was later in a 1988 book review entitled "Resentment as Social Science" to call Nolte's book, Der Europäische Bürgrkrieg, a "regression back to the brew of racist-nationalistic ideology of the interwar period".

Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat was a German historian specializing in modern German social history whose work has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians as indispensable for any serious study of the Third Reich. Broszat was born in Leipzig, Germany and studied history at the University of Leipzig and...

 in an essay first published in Die Zeit on October 3, 1986 labeled Nolte an obnoxious crank and a Nazi apologist who making "offensive" statements about the Holocaust. Regarding Nolte's claim that Weizmann on behalf of world Jewry had declared war on Germany in 1939, Broszat wrote that Weizmann's letter to Chamberlain promising the support of the Jewish Agency in World War II was not a "declaration of war", nor did Weizmann have the legal power to declare war on anyone. Broszat commented, "These facts may be overlooked by a right-wing publicist with a dubious educational background, but not by the college professor Ernst Nolte." Broszat observed that when Hildebrand organzied a conference of right-wing German historians under the auspices of the Schleyer Foundation in West Berlin in September 1986, he did not invite Nolte, whom Broszat observed lived in Berlin. Broszat suggested that this was Hildebrand's way of trying to separate himself from Nolte, whom work Hildebrand had praised so strongly in a review the Historische Zeitschrift in April 1986. Broszat wrote that "Here the roads part", and argued that no self-respecting historian could associate himself with the effort to "drive the shame out of the Germans". Broszat ended his essay with the remark that such "perversions" of German history must be resisted in order to ensure the German people a better future.

The journalist Rudolf Augstein
Rudolf Augstein
Rudolf Karl Augstein was one of the most influential German journalists, founder and part-owner of Der Spiegel magazine....

, the publisher of the Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.-Overview:...

news journal accused Nolte of creating the "New Auschwitz Lie" in an essay first published in the October 6, 1986 edition of Der Spiegel. Augstein questioned just why Nolte referred to the Holocaust as the "so-called annihilation of the Jews". Augstein agreed with Nolte that the Israelis were “blackmailing” the Germans over the Holocaust, but argued that given the magnitude of the Holocaust, the Germans had nothing to complain about. Augstein wrote in opposition to Nolte that:
"Not for nothing did Nolte let us know that the annihilation of the kulaks, the peasant middle class, had taken place from 1927 to 1930, before Hitler seized power, and that the destruction of the Old Bolsheviks and countless other victims of Stalin's insanity had happened between 1934 and 1938, before the beginning of Hitler's war. But Stalin's insanity was, in contrast to Hitler's insanity, a realist's insanity. After all this drivel comes one thing worth dicussing: whether Stalin pumped up Hitler and whether Hitler pumped up Stalin. This can be discussed, but the discussion does not address the issue. It is indeed possible that Stalin was pleased by how Hitler treated his bosom buddy Ernst Röhm and the entire SA leadership in 1934. It is, not possible that Hitler began his war against Poland because he felt threatened by Stalin's regime...One does not have to agree in everything with Konrad Adenauer. But in the light of the crass tendency to deny the co-responsibility of the Prussian-German Wehrmacht ("The oath! The oath!") ones gains an understanding for the point of the view of the nonpatriot Adenauer that Hitler's Reich was the continuation of the Prussian-German regime"


The classicist Christian Meier, who was president of the German Historical Association at the time gave a speech on October 8, 1986 before that body, in which he criticized Nolte by declaring that the Holocaust was a “singular” event that “qualitatively surpassed" Soviet terror. Referring to Nolte’s claims of being censored, Meier stated that Nolte had every right to ask questions, and that “no taboos will be established”. Meier went to say:

“But the way Nolte poses these questions must be rejected simply because one should not reduce the impact of so elementary a truth: because German historical scholarship cannot be allowed to fall back into producing mindless nationalist apologies; and because it is important for a country to not deceive itself in such sensitive—ethically sensitive—areas of its history.”


The conservative German historian Thomas Nipperdey in an essay first published in Die Zeit on October 17, 1986 accused Habermas of unjustly smearing Nolte and other right-wing historians via unscholarly and dubious methods. In letter to the editor of Der Spiegel on October 20, 1986, Imanuel Geiss accused Augstein and Habermas of trying to silence Nolte

In another feuilleton entitled "Standing Things On Their Heads" first published in Die Zeit on October 31, 1986, Nolte dismissed criticism of him by Habermas and Jäckel under the grounds that their writings were no different from what could find in a East German newspaper Nolte contended that criticism over his use of the phrase “rat cage” was unwarranted since he was only using the phrase “rat cage” as an embodiment of the “Asiatic” horror he alleges Hitler felt about the Bolsheviks. Nolte wrote he was not tying to reintroduce the Nazi concept of “Jewish Bolshevism” and that “…even for the uninformed reader, the reference to the Chinese Cheka…” should had made clear that he was writing about overblown fears in Germany of the Bolsheviks instead of an objective reality. In reply to the criticism of Habermas and Jäckel, Nolte wrote:
“The Gulag Archipelago is primary to Auschwitz precisely because the Gulag was in the mind of the originator of Auschwitz; Auschwitz was not in the minds of the originators of the Gulag…If Jäckel proves his own definition for the singularity of the Final Solution, then I think that his concept simply elaborates what can be more briefly expressed with the term “racial murder”. If, however, he wants to say that the German state, through the mouth of its Führer, unambiguously and publicly announced the decision that even Jewish women, children and infants were to be killed, than he has illustrated with one short phrase all that does not have to demonstrated in the current intellectual climate, but can be “imputed”. Hitler was certainly the most powerful man that has ever lived in Germany. But he was not powerful enough to ever publicly equate Bolshevism and Christianity, as he often did in his dinner conversations. He also not powerful enough to publicly demand or to justify, as Himmler often did in his circle of friends and associates, the murder of women and children. That of course is not proof of Hitler’s “humanity”, but rather of the remnants of the liberal system. The “extermination of the bourgeoisie” and the “liquidation of the kulaks” were, in contrast proclaimed quite publicly. And I am amazed at the coldheartedness with which Eberhard Jäckel says that not every single bourgeois was killed. Habermas’s “expulsion of the kulaks” speaks for itself”

In an essay first published in the Frankfurter Rundscahu newspaper on November 14, 1986, Heinrich August Winkler
Heinrich August Winkler
Heinrich August Winkler is a German historian.After attending a Gymnasium in Ulm, he studied history, political science, philosophy and public law at Münster, Heidelberg and Tübingen. In 1970 he became professor at the Free University of Berlin. From 1972 to 1991 he was professor at the University...

 wrote of Nolte’s essay "The Past That Will Not Pass" that:

“Those who read the Frankfurter Allgemine all the way through to the culture section were able to read something under the title “The Past That Will Not Pass” that no German historian to date had noticed: that Auschwitz was only a copy of a Russian original-the Stalinist Gulag Archipelago. For fear of the Bolsheviks’ Asiatic will to annihilate, Hitler himself committed an “Asiatic deed”. Was the annihilation of the Jews a kind of putative self-defence? Nolte’s speculation amounts to that.”


Writing of Nolte’s claim that Weizmann’s letter was a “Jewish declaration of war”, Winkler stated that “No German historian has ever accorded Hitler such a sympathetic treatment”.

In a later newspaper feuilleton first published in the Frankurter Allgemeine Zeitung on November 20, 1986, Meier again asserted that the Holocaust was a “singular” occurrence, but wrote that:

“It is to be hoped that Ernst Nolte’s suggestion that we should remain more keenly aware of the various million-fold mass murders of this century bears fruit. When one seeks orientation about this-and about the role of mass murder in history-one is surprised by how difficult it is to find. This would appear to be an area that historical research should look into. By pursuing these questions, one can recognize more precisely the peculiarity of our century-and certain similarities in its “liquidations”. But Nolte’s hope to be able to attenuate this distressing aspect of our Nazi past will probably not succeed. If we, and much speaks for this, to prevent National Socialist history from becoming an enduring negative myth about absolute evil, then we will have to seek other paths”.


Meier praised Nolte in his article “Standing Things On Their Head” for speaking to “modify” the thesis that he had introduced in “The Past That Will Not Pass” about the “causal nexus” by claiming the “causal nexus” only existed in Hitler’s mind”. In response to Meier's article, Nolte wrote in a letter to the editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published on December 6, 1986 that he did not “defuse” the thesis he presented in his essay “The Past That Will Not Pass”, but merely corrected a few mistakes in his essay "Standing Things On Their Head".

The political scientist Kurt Sontheimer in an essay first published in the Rheinischer Merkur newspaper on November 21, 1986 accused Nolte and company of attempting to create a new “national consciousness” meant to sever the Federal Republic’s “intellectual and spiritual ties to the West”.

In another feuilleton entitled "He Who Wants to Esacpe the Abyss" first published in Die Welt
Die Welt
Die Welt is a German national daily newspaper published by the Axel Springer AG company.It was founded in Hamburg in 1946 by the British occupying forces, aiming to provide a "quality newspaper" modelled on The Times...

on November 22, 1986, Hildebrand argued in defense of Nolte that the Holocaust was one of out a long sequence of genocides in the 20th century, and asserted that Nolte was only attempting the "historicization" of National Socialism that Broszat had called for

The German political scientist Richard Löwenthal
Richard Löwenthal
Richard Löwenthal was a Jewish German journalist and professor who wrote mostly on the problems of democracy, communism, and world politics.- Life :...

 noted that news of Soviet dekulakization and the Holodomor
Holodomor
The Holodomor was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR between 1932 and 1933. During the famine, which is also known as the "terror-famine in Ukraine" and "famine-genocide in Ukraine", millions of Ukrainians died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of...

did not reach Germany until 1941, so that Soviet atrocities could not possibly have influenced the Germans as Nolte claimed. Löwenthal argued in a letter to the editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on November 29, 1986 for the "fundamental difference" in mass murder in Germany and the Soviet Union, and against the "balancing" out of various crimes in the 20th century. Löwenthal contended that comparisons between Hitler and Stalin were appropriate, but comparisons between Hitler and Lenin were not. For Löwenthal, the decisive factor that governed Lenin’s conduct was that right from the onset when he took power, he was involved in civil wars within Russia Löwenthal argued that “Lenin’s battle to hold on to power” did not comprise “one-sided mass annihilation of defenceless people” Speaking of the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

, Löwenthal argued that “In all these battles there were heavy losses on both sides and horrible torture and murders of prisoners” Speaking of the differences between Lenin and Stalin, Löwenthal argued that “What Stalin did from 1929 on was something entirely different” Löwenthal argued that with dekulakization
Dekulakization
Dekulakization was the Soviet campaign of political repressions, including arrests, deportations, and executions of millions of the better-off peasants and their families in 1929-1932. The richer peasants were labeled kulaks and considered class enemies...

, the so-called “kulaks” were to destroyed by the Soviet state as:
“…a hindrance to forced collectivization. They were not organized. They had not fought. They were shipped to far-away concentration camps and in general were not killed right away, but were forced to suffer conditions that led in the course of time to a miserable death”
Löwenthal wrote that:
“What Stalin did from 1929 both against peasants and against various other victims, including leading Communists...and returned soldiers, was in fact historically new in its systematic inhumanity, and to this extent comparable with the deeds of Hitler. Certainly, Hitler, like all his contemporaries, had a preconception of the civil wars of Lenin’s time. Just as certainly his own ideas about the total annihilation of the Jews, the Gypsies, the “unworthy of life”, and so on, were independent of Stalin’s example. At any rate the idea of total annihilation of the Jews had already been developed in the last work of Hitler’s mentor, Dietrich Eckart
Dietrich Eckart
Dietrich Eckart was a German journalist and politician, together with Adolf Hitler one of the early key members of the Nazi Party and a participant of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch.-Biography:...

, who died in 1924. For the reference to this source, which leaves no room for “balancing”, I am grateful to Ernst Nolte’s first large book, which appeared in 1963, Faschismus in seiner Epoche [Fascism in Its Epoch]


Hans Mommsen's twin brother Wolfgang
Wolfgang Mommsen
Wolfgang Justin Mommsen was a German historian. He was the twin brother of Hans Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen. He was educated at the University of Marburg, University of Cologne and University of Leeds between 1951–1959...

 in an essay first published in the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper on December 1, 1986 charged that Nolte was attempting to egregiously whitewash the German past. Mommsen argued that Nolte was attempting a "justification" of Nazi crimes and making "inappropriate" comparisons of the Holocaust with other genocides. Mommsen wrote that Nolte intended to provide the sort of history that would allow Germans feel good about being Germans by engaging in “…an explanatory strategy that…will be seen as a justification of National Socialist crimes by all those who are still under the influence of the extreme anti-Soviet propaganda of National Socialism". Also in an essay published in the December 1, 1986 edition of The New Republic, the American historian Charles S. Maier
Charles S. Maier
Charles S. Maier is the Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University. He teaches European and international history at Harvard. Maier has also served as the director of the Center for European Studies at Harvard.Maier has written several books...

 rejected Nolte's claim of moral equivalence between the actions of the Soviet Communists and German Nazis under the grounds that while the former were extremely brutal, the latter sought the total extermination of a people, namely the Jews.

The German historian Horst Möller
Horst Möller
Horst Möller is a German contemporary historian. He is Professor of Modern History at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and, from 1992 to 2011, Director of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte....

 in an essay first published in late 1986 in the Beiträge zur Konfliktforschung magazine argued that Nolte was not attempting to "excuse" Nazi crimes by comparing it with other crimes of others, but was instead trying to explain the Nazi war-crimes. Möller argued that Nolte was only attempting to explain "irrational" events rationally, and that the Nazis really did believe that they were confronted with a world Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy that was out to destroy Germany. Möller asserted that all historical events are unique and thus "singular". Finally, Möller argued that Habermas was gulity to trying to justify Soviet crimes by writing of the "expulsion of the kulaks". Andreas Hillgruber in essay first published in the December 1986 edition of the Geschichte in Wissenschaft und Unterricht magazine in a tentative way seemed to lend Nolte support by commenting that what was going on in the Soviet Union in the early 1920s may had influenced Hitler’s thinking on the Jews

In an essay entitled "The Nazi Reign-A Case of Normal Tyranny?" first published in Die neue Gesellschaft magazine in late 1986, the political scientist Walter Euchner wrote that Nolte was wrong when he wrote of Hitler's alleged terror of the Austrian Social Democratic Party parades before 1914, and argued that Social Democratic parties in both Germany and Austria were fundamentally humane and pacifistic, instead of the terrorist-revolutionary entities that Nolte alleged them to be. Euchner wrote that:

"Politicians like Karl Kautsky
Karl Kautsky
Karl Johann Kautsky was a Czech-German philosopher, journalist, and Marxist theoretician. Kautsky was recognized as among the most authoritative promulgators of Orthodox Marxism after the death of Friedrich Engels in 1895 until the coming of World War I in 1914 and was called by some the "Pope of...

 and Eduard Bernstein
Eduard Bernstein
Eduard Bernstein was a German social democratic theoretician and politician, a member of the SPD, and the founder of evolutionary socialism and revisionism.- Life :...

 certainly did not inspire anyone to phantasies about annihilation. For these Hitler needed neither prewar Marxism nor the Gulag Archipelago. They were in fact a product of his insanity."


Euchner went to argue that there was no comparison of German and Soviet crimes in his view because Germany had had an "outstanding intellectual heritage" and the Nazis had carried out a policy of genocide with the "voluntary support of a substantial part of the traditional elites". The journalist Robert Leicht in an essay first published in Die Zeit on December 26, 1986 asserted that Nolte was attempting to end the German shame over the Holocaust by making "absurd" arguments. Leicht argued that Stalin was not the "real" cause of the Holocaust as Nolte alleged, and that because the Holocaust was without precedent in German history, it was indeed "singular". The political scientist Joachim Perels in an essay first published in the Frankfurter Rundscahu newspaper on December 27, 1986 argued that Nolte's bias could be seen in that Nolte was full of fury against the "permanent status of privilege" that he alleged that those who were descendents of Nazi victims were said to enjoy while at the same time having the utmost sympathy for Hitler and his alleged terror of Bolshevik "Asiatic deeds".

In an essay first published in the Evangelische Kommentare magazine in February 1987, Geiss called Nolte’s claim about Weizmann’s letter being a Jewish “declaration of war” as “hair-raising nonsense” Nolte's admirer Joachim Fest
Joachim Fest
Joachim Clemens Fest was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance...

 was later to argue in his "Postscript" of April 21, 1987 that Nolte was motivated by purely scholarly concerns, and was only attempting the "historicization" of National Socialism that Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat was a German historian specializing in modern German social history whose work has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians as indispensable for any serious study of the Third Reich. Broszat was born in Leipzig, Germany and studied history at the University of Leipzig and...

 called for Fest wrote that in his view:
"In its substance, the dispute was initiated by Ernst Nolte's question whether Hitler's monstrous will to annihilate the Jews, judging from its origin, came from early Viennese impressions or, what is more likely, from later Munich experiences, that is, whether Hitler was an originator or simply being reactive. Despite all the consequences that arouse from his answer, Nolte's question was in fact a purely academic exercise. The conclusions would probably not have caused as much controversy if they had been accompanied by special circumstances"
Fest accused Habermas and his allies of attempting to silence those whose views they disliked. Fest wrote that:
"Standing on the one side, to simplify, are those who want to preserve Hitler and National Socialism as a kind of antimyth that can be used for political intentions-the theory of a conspiracy on the part of the political right, to which Nolte, Stürmer, and Hillgruber are linked. This becomes evident in the defamatory statements and the expansion of the dispute to the historical museums. It is doubtless no coincidence that Habermas, Jäckel, Mommsen and others become involved in the recent election campaign in this way. Many statements in favor of the pluralistic character of scholarship and in favor of an ethos representing a republic of learned men reveal themselves as merely empty phrases to the person who has an overview of these things"
Fest argued that:
"Strictly speaking, Nolte did nothing but take up the suggestion by Broszat and others that National Socialism be historicized. It was clear to anyone with any sense for the topic-and Broszat's opening article made it evident that he too had recognized it-that this transition would be beset with difficulties. But that the most incensed objections would come from those who from the beginning were the spokesmen of historicization-this was no less surprising then the recognition that yesterday's enlighteners are today's intolerant mythologues, people who want to forbid questions from being posed"


Hans-Ulrich Wehler
Hans-Ulrich Wehler
Hans-Ulrich Wehler is a German historian known for his role in promoting social history through the "Bielefeld School", and for his critical studies of 19th century Germany.-Career:...

 was so enraged by Nolte's views that he wrote a book Entsorgung der deutschen Vergangenheit?: ein polemischer Essay zum "Historikerstreit" (Exoneration of the German Past?: A Polemical Essay about the "Historikerstreit") in 1988, a lengthy polemic attacking every aspect of Nolte's views. Wehler described the Historikerstreit as a "political struggle" for the historical understanding of the German past between "a cartel devoted to repressing and excusing" the memory of the Nazi years, of which Nolte was the chief member, against "the representatives of a liberal-democratic politics, of an enlightened, self-critical position, of a rationality which is critical of ideology". In another essay, Wehler declared:
"Hitler supposedly believed in the reality of this danger [of the Soviet Union threatening Germany]. Moreover, his dread of being overwhelmed by the "Asiatic" Bolsheviks was allegedly the prime motivating force behind his policies and personality. Nolte restated his axiom-one which perhaps reflects the naiveté of an historian who has devoted his life's work to the power of ideologies-in a blunter, more pointed form than ever before in the fall of 1987: "To view Hitler as a German politician rather the anti-Lenin", he reproved hundreds of knowledgeable historians, "strikes me as a proof of a regrettable myopia and narrowness". Starting from his premise, and falling under the sway of the very fears and phobias he himself has played up, Nolte once again defiantly insisted: "If Hitler was a person fundamentally driven by fears-by among others a fear of the "rat cage"-and if this renders "his motivations more understandable", then the war against the Soviet Union was not only "the greatest war ever of destruction and enslavement", but also "in spite of this, objectively speaking [!], a preemptive war".

While Nolte may like to describe his motive as the purely scientific interest of (as he likes to put it) a solitary thinker in search of a supposedly more complex, more accurate understanding of the years between 1917 and 1945, a number of political implications are clearly present. The basic tendency of Nolte's reinterpretation is to unburden German history by relativizing the Holocaust. Nolte claims the Nazi mass murder was modeled on and instigated by the excesses of the Russian Revolution, the Stalinist regime and the Gulag; that it countered this "Asiatic" danger by imitating and surpassing it. This new localization of "absolute evil" in Nolte's political theology leads away from Hitler, National Socialism and German history. It shifts the real origins of fascist barbarism onto the Marxist postulate-and the Bolshevik practice-of extermination. Once again the classic mechanism of locating the source of evil outside one's own history is at work. The German war of destruction certainly remains inhuman. But because its roots supposedly lie in the Marxist theory and Bolshevik class warfare, the German perpetrator is now seen to be reacting in defensive, understandable panic to the "original" inhumanity of the East. From there, it is only one more step to the astounding conclusion that Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 and the war of conquest and extermination that followed were "objectively speaking"-one can hardly believe one's eyes-"a preemptive war".

Der europäische Bürgerkrieg


Another area of controversy was Nolte's 1987 book Der europäische Bürgerkrieg and some accompanying statements, in which Nolte appeared to flirt with Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial is the act of denying the genocide of Jews in World War II, usually referred to as the Holocaust. The key claims of Holocaust denial are: the German Nazi government had no official policy or intention of exterminating Jews, Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas...

 as a serious historical argument. In a letter to Otto Dov Kulka of 8 December 1986 Nolte criticized the work of French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson
Robert Faurisson
Robert Faurisson is a French academic who is a Holocaust denier. Faurisson generated much controversy with a number of articles, published in the Journal of Historical Review and elsewhere, as well as various letters he has sent to French newspapers , which deny various aspects of the Holocaust,...

 on the ground that the Holocaust did in fact occur, but went on to argue that Faurisson’s work was motivated by admirable motives, in the form of sympathy for Palestinians and opposition to Israel. In Der europäische Bürgerkrieg, Nolte claimed that the intentions of Holocaust deniers are "often honorable", and that some of their claims are "not obviously without foundation". Kershaw has argued that Nolte was operating on the borderlines of Holocaust denial with his implied claim that the "negative myth" of the Third Reich was created by Jewish historians, his allegations of the domination of Holocaust scholarship by Jewish historians, and his statements that one should withhold judgment on Holocaust deniers, whom Nolte insists are not exclusively Germans or fascists. In Kershaw's opinion, Nolte is attempting to imply that perhaps Holocaust deniers are on to something.

In Der europäische Bürgerkrieg, Nolte made five different arguments as way of criticizing the uniqueness of the Shoah thesis. There were:
  • There were other equally horrible acts of violence in the 20th century. Some of the examples Nolte cited were the Armenian genocide, Soviet deportation
    Population transfer in the Soviet Union
    Population transfer in the Soviet Union may be classified into the following broad categories: deportations of "anti-Soviet" categories of population, often classified as "enemies of workers," deportations of entire nationalities, labor force transfer, and organized migrations in opposite...

     of the so-called “traitor nations” like the Crimean Tatars
    Crimean Tatars
    Crimean Tatars or Crimeans are a Turkic ethnic group that originally resided in Crimea. They speak the Crimean Tatar language...

     and the Volga Germans, British “area bombing” in World War II, and American violence in the Vietnam War.
  • Nazi genocide was only a copy of Soviet genocide, and thus can in no way can be considered unique. In support of this, Nolte claimed that Lenin had “exterminated” the Russian intelligentsia, and used Hitler’s remark at press conference of November 10, 1938 where he commented he might have to “exterminate” the German intelligentsia as an example how he feels that Hitler had merely copied Lenin.
  • Nolte argued that the vast majority of Germans had no knowledge of the Shoah while it was going on Nolte claimed that genocide of the Jews was Hitler’s personal pet project, and the Holocaust was the work of only a few Germans entirely unrepresentative of German society Against the American historian Raul Hilberg
    Raul Hilberg
    Raul Hilberg was an Austrian-born American political scientist and historian. He was widely considered to be the world's preeminent scholar of the Holocaust, and his three-volume, 1,273-page magnum opus, The Destruction of the European Jews, is regarded as a seminal study of the Nazi Final...

    , who claimed that hundreds of thousands of Germans were complicit in the Shoah from high-ranking bureaucrats to railway clerks and locomotive conductors, Nolte argued that the functional division of labour in a modern society meant that most people in Germany had no idea of how they were assisting in genocide. In support of this, Nolte cited the voluminous memoirs of German generals and Nazi leaders like Albert Speer
    Albert Speer
    Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

     who claimed to have no idea that their country was engaging in genocide during World War II.
  • Nolte maintained that to a certain degree, Nazi anti-Semitic policies were justified responses to Jewish actions against Germany such as Weizmann’s alleged 1939 “declaration of war” on Germany.
  • Finally, Nolte hinted that perhaps the Holocaust never happened at all. Nolte claimed that the Wannsee Conference
    Wannsee Conference
    The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich...

     never happened, and argues that most Holocaust scholarship is flawed because most Holocaust historians are Jewish, and thus “biased” against Germany and in favour of the idea that there was a Holocaust.


In Der europäische Bürgerkrieg, Nolte wrote that in 1939 Germany was a "liberal" country compared with the Soviet Union. Nolte argued that most German citizens provided that there were "Aryans" and were not politically active had little to fear from the Gestapo
Gestapo
The Gestapo was the official secret police of Nazi Germany. Beginning on 20 April 1934, it was under the administration of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler in his position as Chief of German Police...

 whereas in the Soviet Union at the same time millions were being arrested, tortured and executed by the NKVD
NKVD
The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs was the public and secret police organization of the Soviet Union that directly executed the rule of power of the Soviets, including political repression, during the era of Joseph Stalin....

. Likewise, Nolte argued that the death rate in the German concentration camps
Nazi concentration camps
Nazi Germany maintained concentration camps throughout the territories it controlled. The first Nazi concentration camps set up in Germany were greatly expanded after the Reichstag fire of 1933, and were intended to hold political prisoners and opponents of the regime...

 was lower those in the Soviet Gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

 camps, and used Hitler's long-running dispute with the German judiciary over the "correct" sentences to hand down as an example of how 1939 Germany was a "normal" country compared to the Soviet Union since Stalin did not have the same trouble with his judges over the "correct" sentences to hand out. The British historian Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

 wrote that Nolte was taking Hitler's dispute with the judiciary out of context, and that differences between German judges and Hitler were of a degree, not of kind.

Another controversial statement by Nolte in Der europäische Bürgerkrieg was his comment that the Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and...

pogrom was not that bad as pogroms
Anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire
The term pogrom as a reference to large-scale, targeted, and repeated antisemitic rioting saw its first use in the 19th century.The first pogrom is often considered to be the 1821 Odessa pogroms after the death of the Greek Orthodox patriarch Gregory V in Constantinople, in which 14 Jews were killed...

 in Imperial Russia killed far more Jews than those killed in Kristallnacht, and that anymore more people were in being killed in the Soviet Union during the Great Terror
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

 at the same time than were killed in the Kristallnacht. Likewise, Nolte argued that Nazi anti-Semitic laws had hardly affected Jewish participation in the German economy. In this respect, Nolte favourably cited the remarks by Sir Horace Rumbold, the British Ambassador to Germany 1928-33 who claimed that the “ostentatious kind of lifestyle of Jewish bankers and monied people inevitably aroused envy, as unemployment spread generally” and who spoke of “the sins of the Russian and Galician Jews” who came to Germany after 1918. The British historian Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

 accused Nolte of engaging in “comparative trivialization” with his statements about Kristallnacht and through admitting that Nolte was correct about the higher death toll in Russian pogroms and the Great Terror argued that was irrelevant to the horrors of Kristallnacht. Evans went on to write that Nolte appeared to be ignorant of the effects of various anti-Semitic laws in 1930s Germany which forbid Jews from engaging in professions like the law, medicine, the civil service while the “Aryanization
Aryanization
Aryanization is a term coined during Nazism referring to the forced expulsion of so-called "non-Aryans", mainly Jews, from business life in Nazi Germany and the territories it controlled....

” campaign saw mass expropriations of Jewish businesses.

A further controversial claim in was Nolte’s statement violence in the defence of the social order is always preferable to violence aiming at the destruction of the social order. Thus, Nolte argued that the notorious lenience of judges in the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 towards perpetrators of violence from the right while imposing stiff sentences on perpetrators of violence from the left was justified. In this way, Nolte maintained that the very harsh sentences given to the leaders of the Rote Ocktober (Red October) putsch attempt in Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 of October 1923 were justified while the light sentences that Hitler and the other Nazi leaders received for the Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 Beer Hall Putsch
Beer Hall Putsch
The Beer Hall Putsch was a failed attempt at revolution that occurred between the evening of 8 November and the early afternoon of 9 November 1923, when Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler, Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff, and other heads of the Kampfbund unsuccessfully tried to seize power...

 of November 1923 were also completely warranted because Nolte claimed that the Nazis were only attempting to overthrow the Weimar Republic in order to save the social order. Nolte claimed that the German Communists were seeking the "social destruction of the bourgeoisie" in the interests of the Soviet Union, which "physically exterminated these classes" while the Nazis sought only the destruction of the "Versailles system".

In 1988, the German historian Eckhard Jesse
Eckhard Jesse
Professor Eckhard Jesse is a German political scientist. He holds the professorship for "political systems, political institutions" at the Technical University of Chemnitz. Jesse is one of the best known German political scholars in the field of extremism and terrorism studies...

 called Der europäische Bürgerkrieg a "great and bold work" that "the time is not yet ripe" for. Jesse claimed that it would take decades for historians to fully appreciate Nolte's achievement with Der europäische Bürgerkrieg. The British historian Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

 called Jesse's remarks the most inane remark anyone made during the entire Historikerstreit.

Nolte's critic, the British historian Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

 accused Nolte of taking too serioulsly the work of Holocaust deniers, whom Evans called cranks, not historians. Likewise, Evans charged that Nolte was guilty of making assertions not supported by the evidence as claiming that the SS massacres of Russian Jews was a form of counterinsurgency or taking at face value the self-justifying claims of German generals who professed to be ignorant of the Shoah. Evans wrote that it was not enough for Nolte to cite the claim of a functional division of labour in modern society as a way of rebutting Hilburg, instead arguing that as a historian Nolte should had found evidence that most people in Germany did not know of the "Final Solution" rather than just a quoting a sociological theory. Evans wrote that most of Nolte's claims were either Der europäische Bürgerkrieg rested either on speculation and/or were based on a slight base of evidence often taken wildly out of context. Moreover, Evans claimed that the bibliography of Der europäische Bürgerkrieg suggested that Nolte was not aware of much of the vast secondary sources on German and Soviet history.

Perhaps the most extreme response to Nolte's thesis occurred on 9 February 1988, when his car was burned by leftist extremists in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

. Nolte called the case of arson "terrorism", and maintained that the attack was inspired by his opponents in the Historikerstreit.

Views from Abroad


Criticism from abroad came from Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

, Gordon A. Craig
Gordon A. Craig
Gordon Alexander Craig was a Scottish-American historian of German history and of diplomatic history.-Early life:...

, Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

, Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer is an award-winning Israeli historian and currently a professor of history at UCLA.-Biography:...

, John Lukacs
John Lukacs
John Adalbert Lukacs is a Hungarian-born American historian who has written more than thirty books, including Five Days in London, May 1940 and A New Republic...

, Michael Marrus
Michael Marrus
Michael Robert Marrus is a Canadian historian of France, the Holocaust and Jewish history. He was born in Toronto and received his BA at the University of Toronto in 1963 and his MA and PhD at the University of California, Berkeley in 1964 and 1968...

, and Timothy Mason
Timothy Mason
Timothy Wright Mason was a British Marxist historian of Nazi Germany.-Life and work:He was born in Birkenhead, the child of school-teachers and was educated at Birkenhead School and Oxford University. He taught at Oxford from 1971–1984 and was twice married. He helped to found the...

. Mason wrote against Nolte in a call for the sort of theories of generic fascism that Nolte himself had once championed:
“If we can do without much of the original contents of the concept of ‘fascism’, we cannot do without comparison. “Historicization” may easily become a recipe for provincialism. And the moral absolutes of Habermas, however politically and didactically impeccable, also carry a shadow of provincialism, as long as they fail to recognize that fascism was a continental phenomenon, and that Nazism was a peculiar part of something much larger. Pol Pot, the rat torture and the fate of the Armenians are all extraneous to any serious discussion of Nazism; Mussolini’s Italy is not.”
Anson Rabinbach accused Nolte of attempting to erase German guilt for the Holocaust. Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

 wrote that Nolte was claiming that the Jews had essentially brought the Holocaust down on themselves, and were the authors of their own misfortunes in the Shoah. Elie Wiesel
Elie Wiesel
Sir Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel KBE; born September 30, 1928) is a Hungarian-born Jewish-American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He is the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and...

 called Nolte, together with Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand is a German conservative historian whose area of expertise is 19th-20th century German political and military history.- Biography :...

, Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

, and Michael Stürmer
Michael Stürmer
Michael Stürmer is a right-wing German historian best known for his role in the Historikerstreit of the 1980s, for his geographical interpretation of German history and for an admiring 2008 biography of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin .Born in Kassel, Germany, Stürmer received his education in...

, one of the “four bandits” of German historiography
Historiography
Historiography refers either to the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline, or to a body of historical work on a specialized topic...

. American historian Jerry Muller called Nolte an anti-Semitic for suggesting that the only reason people kept the memory of the Nazi past alive was to place those descended from the victims of National Socialism in a "privileged" position. Muller accused Nolte of writing "pseudo-history" in Der Europäische Bürgrkrieg. Deborah Lipstadt
Deborah Lipstadt
Deborah Esther Lipstadt, Ph.D. is an American historian and author of the book Denying the Holocaust and The Eichmann Trial. She is the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University...

 argued in her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust that there was no comparison between the Khmer Rouge genocide and the Holocaust because the former had emerged as part of the aftermath of a war that destroyed Cambodia whereas the latter was part of a systematic attempt at genocide committed only because of ideological beliefs. The American historian Charles Maier rejected Nolte’s claims regarding the moral equivalence of the Holocaust and Soviet terror on the grounds that while the latter was extremely brutal, it did not seek the physical annihilation of an entire people as a state policy. The American historian Donald McKale blasted Nolte together with Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

 for their statements that the Allied strategic bombing offensives were just as much acts of genocide as was the Holocaust, writing that that was just the sort of nonsense one would expect from Nazi apologists like Nolte and Hillgruber.

In response to Nolte's article "Between Myth and Revisionism", Israeli historian Otto Dov Kulka in a letter to Nolte on November 24, 1985 criticized Nolte for abandoning the view that he expressed in The Three Faces of Fascism that the Holocaust was a "singular" event, and asked "Which of the two Ernst Noltes should we regard as the authentic one?" In his reply, Nolte told Kulka to read his up-coming book Der europäische Bürgerkrieg to better understand his "shift of emphasis". In a reply of May 16, 1986, Kulka accused Nolte of engaging in a "shift of responsibility" with the Holocaust as a "preventive measure" forced on the Germans by the "Jewish provocation" of Weizmann's letter to Chamberlain. In a letter to Nolte on July 18, 1986, Kulka wrote in defense of the "singularity" of the Holocaust that: "The uniqueness of the National Socialist mass murder of the Jews must be understood in the world-historical sense attributed to it-as an attempt to bring about a change in the course of universal history and its goals. Thus, National Socialist anti-Semitism must be regarded as an expression of perhaps the most dangerous crisis of Western civilization with the potentially gravest consequences for the history of mankind..." In a letter to Kulka on October 22, 1986, Nolte wrote: "If I pursed my thinking from 1963 on, it was in a way along the line that an overexaggerted right can be equally an evil, and that an overexaggerated (historical) evil can again, in some way, be right" (emphasis in the original). Kulka accused Nolte of advancing "monocausal, retrospective explanations of universal history" and of engaging in "totalitarian thinking".

The Anglo-German historian H.W. Koch accepted Nolte’s argument that Weizmann’s letter to Chamberlain was indeed a “Jewish declaration of war”, with the oblivious implication since all Jews were now enemies of the Reich, the Germans were entitled to treat the Jews whatever way they wanted to. From abroad came support from Norberto Ceresole
Norberto Ceresole
Norberto Rafael Ceresole was an Argentine sociologist and political scientist, who identified himself with Peronism, left-wing militias and the ideas of his friends Robert Faurisson, Roger Garaudy and Ernst Nolte...

 and Alfred-Maurice de Zayas
Alfred-Maurice de Zayas
Alfred-Maurice de Zayas is an American lawyer, writer, historian, a leading expert in the field of human rights, as well as a former high-ranking United Nations official...

.

In a 1987 essay, the Austrian-born Israeli historian Walter Grab accused Nolte of engaging in an “apologia” for Nazi Germany. Grab called Nolte's claim that Weizmann's letter to Chamberlain was a "Jewish declaration of war" that justified the Germans "interning" European Jews a "monstrous theses" that was not supported by the facts. Grab accused Nolte of ignoring the economic impoverishment and the total lack of civil rights that the Jewish community in Germany lived under in 1939. Grab wrote that Nolte "mocks" the Jewish victims of National Socialism with his "absolutely infamous" statement that it was Weizmann's with his letter that caused all of the Jewish death and suffering during the Holocaust.

One of Nolte's letters created another controversy in late 1987, when Otto Dov Kulka complained that a letter he wrote to Nolte criticizing his views was edited by Nolte to make him appear rather sympathetic to Nolte's arguments, and then released to the press. In 1987, Nolte wrote an entire book responding to his critics both German and foreign, Das Vergehen der Vergangenheit : Antwort an meine Kritiker im sogenannten Historikerstreit (The Offense Of The Past: Answer At My Critics In The So-Called Historians' Dispute), which again attracted controversy because Nolte reprinted the edited version of Kulka's letters, despite the latter's objections to their inclusion in the book in their truncated form. In Das Vergehen der Vergangenheit, Nolte declared that the Historikerstreit should have begun 25 years earlier because "everything which has provoked such excitement in the course of this dispute had already been spelled out in those books [Nolte's earlier work]" and that "the simple scheme 'perpetrators-victims' reduces the complexities of history too much" (emphasis in the original). In Das Vergehen der Vergangenheit, Nolte appeared to backtrack from some of his theories, writing that after Weizmann's letter, European Jews should be treated as "civil internees" rather as "prisoners of war". Evans wrote that the sole purpose of Das Vergehen der Vergangenheit appeared to be to obscure the issues by making confusing statements about what he actually said and wrote, and that Nolte's real purpose to justify the Shoah as there is not other reason why Nolte should had been making these arguments. When an anthology was published about the Historikerstreit, Nolte objected to the subtitle “The Documentation of the Controversy Concerning the Singularity of the National Socialist Annihilation of the Jews”, and instead demanded that the subtitle be “Documentation of the Controversy Surrounding the Preconditions and the Character of the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question”. Only when it become clear that the book could not be published, did Nolte yield on his demands.

The Historikerstreit attracted much media
Mass media
Mass media refers collectively to all media technologies which are intended to reach a large audience via mass communication. Broadcast media transmit their information electronically and comprise of television, film and radio, movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles...

 attention in West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

, where historians enjoy a higher public profile than is the case in the English-speaking world, and as a result, both Nolte and his opponents became frequent guests on West German radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 and television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

. The Historikerstreit was characterized by a highly vitriolic tone, with both Nolte and his supporters and their opponents often resorting to vicious personal attacks on each other. In particular, the Historikerstreit marked the first occasion since the “Fischer Controversy” of the early 1960s when German historians refused to shake hands with each other. Abroad, the Historikerstreit garnered Nolte some fame, to a somewhat lesser extent. Outside of Austria, foreign press coverage tended to be hostile towards Nolte, with the fiercest criticism coming from Israel. In 1988, an entire edition of Yad Vashem Studies, the journal of the Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem
Yad Vashem is Israel's official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, established in 1953 through the Yad Vashem Law passed by the Knesset, Israel's parliament....

 Institute in Jerusalem, was devoted to the Historikerstreit. A year earlier, in 1987, concerns about some of the claims being made by both sides in the Historikerstreit led to a conference being called in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 that was attended by some of the leading British, American, Israeli, and German specialists in both Soviet and German history. Among those who attended included Sir Ralf Dahrendorf
Ralf Dahrendorf
Ralf Gustav Dahrendorf, Baron Dahrendorf, KBE, FBA was a German-British sociologist, philosopher, political scientist and liberal politician....

, Sir Isaiah Berlin
Isaiah Berlin
Sir Isaiah Berlin OM, FBA was a British social and political theorist, philosopher and historian of ideas of Russian-Jewish origin, regarded as one of the leading thinkers of the twentieth century and a dominant liberal scholar of his generation...

, Lord Weidenfeld
George Weidenfeld
Arthur George Weidenfeld, Baron Weidenfeld, GBE is a British publisher, philanthropist, and newspaper columnist. He was born in Vienna, Austria.Weidenfeld attended the University of Vienna and the city's Diplomatic College...

, Harold James
Harold James (historian)
Harold James is a renowned historian, specializing in the history of Germany and European economic history. James is a prolific author, having published dozens of books and articles in his field...

, Carol Gluck, Lord Annan, Fritz Stern
Fritz Stern
Fritz Richard Stern is a German-born American historian of German history, Jewish history, and historiography. He is a University Professor Emeritus and a former provost at New York's Columbia University...

, Gordon A. Craig
Gordon A. Craig
Gordon Alexander Craig was a Scottish-American historian of German history and of diplomatic history.-Early life:...

, Robert Conquest
Robert Conquest
George Robert Ackworth Conquest CMG is a British historian who became a well-known writer and researcher on the Soviet Union with the publication in 1968 of The Great Terror, an account of Stalin's purges of the 1930s...

, Samuel Ettinger, Jürgen Kocka
Jürgen Kocka
Jürgen Kocka is a German historian.A university professor and former president of the Social Science Research Center Berlin , Kocka is a major figure in the new Social History, especially as represented by the Bielefeld School...

, Sir Nicholas Henderson
Nicholas Henderson
Sir John Nicolas Henderson, GCMG, KCVO was a distinguished British career diplomat and writer, who served as British Ambassador to the United States from 1979 to 1982....

, Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel is a Social Democratic German historian, noted for his studies of Adolf Hitler's role in German history. Jäckel sees Hitler as being the historical equivalent to the Chernobyl disaster.-Career:...

, Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen is a left-wing German historian. He is the twin brother of the late Wolfgang Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen and great-grandson of the Roman historian Theodor Mommsen. He studied German, history and philosophy at the University of...

, Michael Stürmer
Michael Stürmer
Michael Stürmer is a right-wing German historian best known for his role in the Historikerstreit of the 1980s, for his geographical interpretation of German history and for an admiring 2008 biography of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin .Born in Kassel, Germany, Stürmer received his education in...

, Joachim Fest
Joachim Fest
Joachim Clemens Fest was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance...

, Hagen Schulze
Hagen Schulze
Hagen Schulze is a German historian currently working at the Free University of Berlin. He specializes in early modern and modern German and European history, particularly in comparative European nationalisms.-Life:...

, Christian Maier, Wolfgang Mommsen
Wolfgang Mommsen
Wolfgang Justin Mommsen was a German historian. He was the twin brother of Hans Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen. He was educated at the University of Marburg, University of Cologne and University of Leeds between 1951–1959...

, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer
Saul Friedländer is an award-winning Israeli historian and currently a professor of history at UCLA.-Biography:...

, Felix Gilbert
Felix Gilbert
Felix Gilbert was a German-born American historian of early modern and modern Europe. Gilbert was born in Baden-Baden, Germany to a middle-class Jewish family, and part of the Mendelssohn Bartholdy clan. In the latter half of the 1920s, Gilbert studied under Friedrich Meinecke at the University of...

, Norman Stone
Norman Stone
Norman Stone is a British academic, historian, author and is currently a Professor in the Department of International Relations at Bilkent University, Ankara...

, Julius Schoeps, and Charles S. Maier
Charles S. Maier
Charles S. Maier is the Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University. He teaches European and international history at Harvard. Maier has also served as the director of the Center for European Studies at Harvard.Maier has written several books...

. Nolte was invited to the conference, but declined, citing scheduling conflicts. The Israeli historian Samuel Ettinger described Nolte as someone who wrote about Soviet history despite not being a Soviet specialist. Ettinger went to say about Nolte:
“Quotations from Latsis
Martin Latsis
Martin Ivanovich Latsis was a Latvian-born Soviet politician, revolutionary and state security high officer...

, who was First Cheka Chief; Tucholsky, the satirist and journalist, and Theodore Kaufmann (who knows who Theodore Kaufmann was?) were used as historical sources. Can an assorted collection of this kind serve as a basis for serious scholarly analysis, the starting point for the claim that poor Hitler was so frightened by the “Asiatic deeds” of the Bolsheviks that he started to exterminate Jewish children? All this without taking into account the historical development of the relationship between Germany and the Soviet Union, the military co-operation during the twenties which as well known to the German General Staff and to Hitler, Tukhachevsky
Mikhail Tukhachevsky
Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky was a Marshal of the Soviet Union, commander in chief of the Red Army , and one of the most prominent victims of Joseph Stalin's Great Purge.-Early life:...

’s speech in 1935 was applauded at a meeting of the General Staff of Germany for its anti-Western remarks. Then there are the negotiations between Stalin and Hitler from ’36 and ’37 onwards which brought a rapprochement and led to the dismissal of Jewish diplomats and other public officials until the division of Poland in 1939”.
The Anglo-American historian of Stalin’s terror, Robert Conquest
Robert Conquest
George Robert Ackworth Conquest CMG is a British historian who became a well-known writer and researcher on the Soviet Union with the publication in 1968 of The Great Terror, an account of Stalin's purges of the 1930s...

 was quoted as saying about Nolte’s theories:
“I think we all accept the proposition that Nazi crimes were unique and uniquely horrible, that they were a reaction against the Communist terrors seems untenable. It is conceivable that support for the National Socialists may largely have come as a reaction to Lenin’s international civil war launched in 1918, but the actual crimes of the Holocaust are of a totally different nature from Stalin’s crimes and I see no connection whatever. But although there is no causative connection, comparisons can still be made”.
Lord Annan was quoted as saying "Nolte's article may have been sinister, even malevolent, but we have had a great example of an informed debate, of great heart-searching and of a profound examination of the nature of Germany's past and present"”. The German historian Julius Schoeps stated:
"I would like stress a seminal factor in the Historikerstreit: The historians who caused this dispute are men in their sixties, that is, men who were old enough to be in the Hitler Youth, Hitlerjugend; men who were perhaps soldiers in the war; men for whom the collapse of the Third Reich turned into a trauma which is inextricably linked to the key terms Holocaust and Auschwitz. Nolte's reaction is, I think, typical of this generation of scholars. Contrary to some historians who assert that Germans should not ask such questions at all, I believe that Germans must ask them. But there is no need for slanted questions and ambiguous statements which whitewash German history. Unfortunately, questions of this kind were posed in the Historikerstreit; such assertions were made. If historians are suggesting today that Hitler had the right to intern the Jews, they may be tempted to suggest tomorrow that he had the right to kill the Jews. That is why it is crucial to discuss such moral, political, ethical lies".
During the course of the debate, Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel is a Social Democratic German historian, noted for his studies of Adolf Hitler's role in German history. Jäckel sees Hitler as being the historical equivalent to the Chernobyl disaster.-Career:...

 and Joachim Fest
Joachim Fest
Joachim Clemens Fest was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance...

 again clashed over the question of the "singularity" of the Holocaust with Fest accusing Jäckel of presenting a "caricature" of his opponents.

The Dispute Ends


Writing in 1989, the British historian Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

 declared that:
"Finally, Nolte's attempts to establish the comparability of Auschwitz rest in part upon an extension of the concept of "genocide" to actions which cannot plausibly justify being described in this way. However much one might wish to criticize the Allied strategic-bombing offensive against German cities, it cannot be termed genocidal because there was no intention to exterminate the entire German people. Dresden was bombed after Coventry, no the other way around, and it is implausible to suggest that the latter was a response to the former; on the contrary, there was indeed an element of retaliation and revenge in the strategic bombing offensive, which is precisely one of the grounds on which it has often been criticized. There is no evidence to support Nolte's speculation that the ethnic Germans in Poland would have been entirely exterminated had the Nazis not completed their invasion quickly. Neither the Poles nor the Russians had any intention of exterminating the German people as a whole. At this point, it is useful to recall the conclusion of the German historian and Hitler specialist Eberhard Jäckel that "the Nazi murder of the Jews was unique because never before had a state decided and announced, on the authority of its responsible leader, that it intended to kill in its entirety, as far as possible, a particular group of human beings, including its old people, women, children and infants, and then put this decision into action with every possible instrument of power available to the state".

The attempts undertaken by Nolte, Hillgruber, Fest and other neoconservative historians to get around this fact are all ultimately unconvincing. It requires a considerable degree of myopia to regard the policies of the USA in Vietnam in the 1960s and early 1970s or the occupation of Afghanistan by the USSR in the 1980s as "genocide". However much one may deplore the conduct of the occupying armies, there is no evidence of any deliberate policy of exterminating the inhabitants of the countries in question. The terrible massacres of the Armenians by the Turks in 1915 were more deliberate, on a wider scale and concentrated into a far shorter time, then the destruction of human life in Vietnam and Afghanistan, and they were not carried out as part of a military campaign, although they did occur in wartime. But these atrocites were committed as part of a brutal policy of expulsion and resettlement; they did not constitue an attempt to exterminate a whole people. Similar things may be said of the forcible removal of Greeks from Asia Minor during the 1920s, although this has not, in contrast to the events of 1915, generally been regarded as genocide.

The Pol Pot regime in Cambodia witnessed the horrific spectacle of a nation's rulers turning upon their own people, in a manner comparable to that of the Ugandan dictator Idi Amin a few years previously. The victims, whose numbers exceeded a million, were killed, not on racial grounds, but as part of a deliberate policy of terror to subdue opposition and revenge against those thought to have collaborated with the American enemy during the previous hostilities. Moreover, the barbarities inflicted on the Cambodian people by the Pol Pot regime were to a considerable extent the result of a brutalizing process that had accompanied a terrible war, during which vast quantities of bombs were dropped on the country, destroying a large part of the moral and physical basis of Cambodian society in the process. This in no way excuses the murderous policies of the Khmer Rouge. But it does show up, once more, the contrast with the Nazi genocide of the Jews, which, as we have seen, was a gratuitous act carried out by a prosperous, advanced industrial nation at the height of its power.".
Evans criticized Nolte for crediting the remark about the Armenian genocide as an "Asiatic deed" to Scheubner-Richter, when in fact, it came from a 1938 biography of Scheubner-Richter. Moreover, Evans maintained that there is no evidence to support Nolte's claim that because Max Scheubner-Richter
Ludwig Maximilian Erwin von Scheubner-Richter
Ludwig Maximilian Erwin von Scheubner-Richter or Max Scheubner-Richter, born Ludwig Maximilian Erwin Richter was an early member of the Nazi party...

 was opposed to the Armenian genocide, that proved that Hitler thought the same way in 1915. Citing Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf
Mein Kampf is a book written by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It combines elements of autobiography with an exposition of Hitler's political ideology. Volume 1 of Mein Kampf was published in 1925 and Volume 2 in 1926...

, Evans argued that Hitler was an anti-Semitic long before 1914 and that it was the moderate left SPD
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

, not the Bolsheviks that Hitler regarded as his main enemies

Nolte’s opponents have expressed intense disagreement with his evidence for a Jewish "war" on Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. They argue that Weizmann’s letter to Chamberlain was written in his capacity as head of the World Zionist Organization, not on behalf of the entire Jewish people of the world, and that Nolte’s views are based on the spurious idea that all Jews comprised a distinct "nationality" who take their marching orders from Jewish organizations. Lipstadt criticized Nolte’s thesis on the grounds that first, Weizmann had no army in 1939 to wage “war” against Germany with, and that Nolte had totally ignored the previous six years of Nazi persecution of the Jews, making it sound like as if Weizmann had struck a low blow against Germany for no apparent reason in 1939. Furthermore, it has been contended that there is no evidence that Hitler ever heard of Weizmann’s letter to Chamberlain, and that it was natural for Weizmann, a British Jew, to declare his support for his country against a fiercely anti-Semitic regime.

As for Kaufman’s book, the Nazis were certainly aware of it; during the war, Germany Must Perish! was translated into German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 and widely promoted as an example of what Jews thought about Germans. But most historians contended that the radical views of one American Jew can in no way be taken as typical of what all European Jews were thinking, and to put the call for the forced sterilization of Germans that was never carried out as Allied policy in the same league as the Holocaust shows a profound moral insensitivity. Moreover, it has been shown that there is no indication that Kaufman's book ever played any role in the decision-making process that led to the Holocaust. Finally, it has been contended that Nolte's comparison of the Holocaust with the internment of Japanese Americans
Japanese American internment
Japanese-American internment was the relocation and internment by the United States government in 1942 of approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese who lived along the Pacific coast of the United States to camps called "War Relocation Camps," in the wake of Imperial Japan's attack on...

 is false, because the Jews of Europe were sent to death camps rather than internment camps, and the U.S. government did not attempt to exterminate the Japanese Americans in the internment camps.

Because of the views that he expressed during the Historikerstreit, Nolte has often been accused of being a Nazi apologist and an anti-Semitic. Nolte has always vehemently denied these charges, and has insisted that he is a neo-liberal
Neoliberalism
Neoliberalism is a market-driven approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets, and therefore seeks to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the...

 in his politics. Nolte is by his own admission an intense German nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and his stated goal is to restore the sense of pride in their history that he feels the Germans have been missing since 1945. In a September 1987 interview, Nolte stated that the Germans were "once the master race (Herrenvolk), now they are the guilty race (Sündervolk). The one is merely an inversion of the other". Nolte went to declare that he was working towards creating a situation where no one "will demand of the Germans as Germans that they declare themselves guilty". Above all, Nolte is opposed to any sort of Sonderweg
Sonderweg
Sonderweg is a controversial theory in German historiography that considers the German-speaking lands, or the country Germany, to have followed a unique course from aristocracy into democracy, distinct from other European countries...

interpretation of German history
History of Germany
The concept of Germany as a distinct region in central Europe can be traced to Roman commander Julius Caesar, who referred to the unconquered area east of the Rhine as Germania, thus distinguishing it from Gaul , which he had conquered. The victory of the Germanic tribes in the Battle of the...

. In Nolte's view, the roots of National Socialism are only to be understood as a "reaction born out of the anxiety of the annihilating occurrence of the Russian Revolution". In Nolte's opinion, National Socialism lacked any connection with pre-1917 German history. Likewise, Nolte has criticized those who sought like William L. Shirer
William L. Shirer
William Lawrence Shirer was an American journalist, war correspondent, and historian, who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, a history of Nazi Germany read and cited in scholarly works for more than 50 years...

 and A. J. P. Taylor
A. J. P. Taylor
Alan John Percivale Taylor, FBA was a British historian of the 20th century and renowned academic who became well known to millions through his popular television lectures.-Early life:...

 to equate Deutschum (Germanism) with National Socialism as guilty of anti-German racism
Anti-German sentiment
Anti-German sentiment is defined as an opposition to or fear of Germany, its inhabitants, and the German language. Its opposite is Germanophilia.-Russia:...

. Nolte’s defenders have pointed to numerous statements on his part condemning Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

. Nolte’s critics have acknowledged these statements, but go on to claim that Nolte makes arguments that can be construed as being sympathetic to the Nazis such as his defence of the Commissar Order
Commissar Order
The Commissar Order was a written order given by Adolf Hitler on 6 June 1941, prior to Operation Barbarossa. Its official name was Guidelines for the Treatment of Political Commissars...

 as a legitimate military order, his argument that the Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

massacres of Soviet Jews were a reasonable "preventive security" response to partisan
Soviet partisans
The Soviet partisans were members of a resistance movement which fought a guerrilla war against the Axis occupation of the Soviet Union during World War II....

 attacks, his statements citing Viktor Suvorov
Viktor Suvorov
Viktor Suvorov is the pen name for Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezun , a former Soviet and now British writer of Russian and Ukrainian descent who writes primarily in Russian, as well as a former Soviet military intelligence spy who defected to the UK...

 that Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 was an "preventive war" forced on Hitler by an alleged impeding Soviet attack, his claim that too much scholarship on the Shoah has been done by "biased" Jewish historians or his use of Nazi-era language such as Nolte's practice of referring to the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 soldiers in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 as “Asiatic hordes”. Evans described Nolte's methods in first criticizing and then offering a justification for the Third Reich as a similar methodology to Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

, who in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is a non-fiction history book written by English historian Edward Gibbon and published in six volumes. Volume I was published in 1776, and went through six printings. Volumes II and III were published in 1781; volumes IV, V, VI in 1788–89...

 wrote that the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity was due to the work of God, and that the historian could only explain the "secondary causes", which Gibbon depicted as moral rot, hatred, degeneracy, and greed, an ironical collection of "secondary causes", which Evans noted completely undermined the first statement. Many British and American historians have been angered by Nolte's statements in the Historikerstreit that there was no moral difference between British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 "area bombing" of German cities in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 war crimes in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 and Nazi war crimes. Citing David Irving
David Irving
David John Cawdell Irving is an English writer,best known for his denial of the Holocaust, who specialises in the military and political history of World War II, with a focus on Nazi Germany...

, Nolte called the destruction
Bombing of Hamburg in World War II
The Allied bombing of Hamburg during World War II included numerous strategic bombing missions and diversion/nuisance raids. As a large port and industrial center, Hamburg's shipyards, U-boat pens, and the Hamburg-Harburg area oil refineries were attacked throughout the war...

 of Hamburg
Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 by the RAF
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 an example of the British determination to "annihilate" the German population, which was in no way morally different from the Holocaust. Nolte argued that the British "area bombing" was an act of genocide against the German people, and was not a response to German bombing of Britain. Nolte went to argue that "the conduct of war by the Soviet Union was characterized by genocide to an even greater degree than that of England was". Many have charged that Nolte’s argument was meant to create a moral equivalence between British “area bombing”, American war crimes in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 such as the My Lai Massacre
My Lai Massacre
The My Lai Massacre was the Vietnam War mass murder of 347–504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968, by United States Army soldiers of "Charlie" Company of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the Americal Division. Most of the victims were women, children , and...

, and the Shoah
Shoah
Shoah may refer to:*The Holocaust*Shoah , documentary directed by Claude Lanzmann * A Shoah Foundation...

, as a way of diminishing the significance of the Holocaust. Evans wrote that almost everything Nolte had to say echoed Nazi propaganda
Nazi propaganda
Propaganda, the coordinated attempt to influence public opinion through the use of media, was skillfully used by the NSDAP in the years leading up to and during Adolf Hitler's leadership of Germany...

 and that:
"The use of the word "Asiatic", even with the limited distance lent it by its enclosure in quotation marks, to describe the misdeeds of the Bolsheviks, inevitably recalls years of racist scaremongering, in which Communism was portrayed as the creed of slit-eyed subhumans threatening Germany from the East".
Many historians have complained that Nolte’s concept of an European Civil War
European Civil War
The European Civil War is a term that is used to characterise both World War I and World War II and the inter-war period as a protracted civil war taking place in Europe. It is used in referring to the repeated confrontations that occurred during the first-half of the 20th century...

 between fascism and Communism was too Euro-centric, ignoring completely the role of the United States, China, Japan and other non-European nations in World War II. Through Nolte’s concept of the European Civil War was and is not widely accepted, his book was typical of a trend in World War historiography towards emphasizing the role of ideology as a factor in World War II decision-making.

In 1990, the American historian Peter Baldwin
Peter Baldwin (professor)
Peter Baldwin is a professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He was educated at Yale and Harvard and has written several books on Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries: The Politics of Social Solidarity: Class Bases of the European Welfare State, 1875-1975; Contagion and...

 wrote about Nolte that “Without the escalation into the Debate, Nolte would have trod his course alone, spinning out increasing outré opinions in diminishingly influential megavolumes, gradually becoming the William Shockley
William Shockley
William Bradford Shockley Jr. was an American physicist and inventor. Along with John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain, Shockley co-invented the transistor, for which all three were awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics.Shockley's attempts to commercialize a new transistor design in the 1950s...

 of the historical profession and dimming what would otherwise have been a still luminescent reputation”. Baldwin suggested that the reason why Nolte's essays sparked such controversy were due to the timing of Nolte's articles in the mid-1980s, when a left-wing backlash was beginning against the conservative Wende (turn) of the early 1980s while at the same time, the desire of some German rightists for a "normal" past” was being expressed with increasing vocalness.

Later career


Nolte’s critics have frequently charged him with having neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic sympathies. The American journalist Jacob Heilbrunn
Jacob Heilbrunn
Jacob Heilbrunn is an American writer who has written for Commentary, the Atlantic Monthly, and World Affairs, among other publications. He is a senior editor at The National Interest. His book They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons explores the neoconservative movement and its...

 called Nolte the "spiritus rector" of the German "new right
New Right
New Right is used in several countries as a descriptive term for various policies or groups that are right-wing. It has also been used to describe the emergence of Eastern European parties after the collapse of communism.-Australia:...

". Others have complained about Nolte's argument in his 1993 book Streitpunkte (Points of Contention) that after the Second World War the American occupation authorities in their zone mistakenly brought the idea of multiculturalism
Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g...

 to Germany. Another line of criticism has centered around Nolte's frequent, and heavy use of the work of the controversial British Holocaust Denier David Irving
David Irving
David John Cawdell Irving is an English writer,best known for his denial of the Holocaust, who specialises in the military and political history of World War II, with a focus on Nazi Germany...

 and the American historical writer David Hoggan
David Hoggan
David Leslie Hoggan was an American historical writer, author of The Forced War: When Peaceful Revision Failed and other works in the German and English languages.-Early life:...

 to support his arguments.

Nolte has always denied these allegations of Nazi sympathies. He has pointed out that he always refused frequent offers to speak at the gatherings of the Institute for Historical Review
Institute for Historical Review
The Institute for Historical Review , founded in 1978, is an American organization that describes itself as a "public-interest educational, research and publishing center dedicated to promoting greater public awareness of history." Critics have accused it of being an antisemitic "pseudo-scholarly...

; Nolte's critics such as Deborah Lipstadt
Deborah Lipstadt
Deborah Esther Lipstadt, Ph.D. is an American historian and author of the book Denying the Holocaust and The Eichmann Trial. She is the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University...

 have charged that the nature of Nolte's arguments about the Holocaust such as his suggestion in Der europäische Bürgerkrieg that the Wannsee Conference
Wannsee Conference
The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich...

 may not have occurred has led to these frequent invitations to speak at the I.H.R. Likewise, Nolte has often vehemently criticized the laws banning Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial is the act of denying the genocide of Jews in World War II, usually referred to as the Holocaust. The key claims of Holocaust denial are: the German Nazi government had no official policy or intention of exterminating Jews, Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas...

 in Germany as a violation of free speech, and has called for their repeal. Lipstadt has argued that in her view the nature of Nolte's work is a more insidious and dangerous form of revisionism
Historical revisionism (negationism)
Historical revisionism is either the legitimate scholastic re-examination of existing knowledge about a historical event, or the illegitimate distortion of the historical record such that certain events appear in a more or less favourable light. For the former, i.e. the academic pursuit, see...

 than the work of David Irving
David Irving
David John Cawdell Irving is an English writer,best known for his denial of the Holocaust, who specialises in the military and political history of World War II, with a focus on Nazi Germany...

.

In 1989, the German historian Jürgen Förster that it was simply not true as most German Army commanders claimed in their memoirs and Nolte who accepted these claims that the Commissar Order
Commissar Order
The Commissar Order was a written order given by Adolf Hitler on 6 June 1941, prior to Operation Barbarossa. Its official name was Guidelines for the Treatment of Political Commissars...

 was not enforced. Förster wrote that Nolte was being partiuclary sloppy in taking at face value the claim that German officers did not obey the Commissar Order and that the reports of the thousands of executions of Red Army commissars sent in by the Wehrmacht generals in 1941-42 were all false. In September 1989, the American writer Ralph Raico
Ralph Raico
Ralph Raico is an American historian, libertarian, and specialist in European classical liberalism and Austrian Economics. He is currently a professor of history at Buffalo State College and a senior faculty member at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. Raico was a student of Ludwig von Mises and...

 defended Nolte by writing:
"The attack on Nolte was launched by the leftist philosopher Jürgen Habermas, who took issue not with Nolte's historiography — his essays showed that Habermas was in no position to judge this — but with what he viewed as its ideological implications. Habermas also targeted a couple of other German historians, and added other points, like the plan to establish museums of German history in West Berlin and in Bonn, to the indictment. But Nolte and his thesis have continued to be at the center of the Historikerstreit. He was accused of "historicizing" and "relativizing" the Holocaust and chided for questioning its "uniqueness".

Several of the biggest names among academic historians in the Federal Republic, and then in Britain and America as well, joined in the hunt, gleefully seizing upon some of Nolte's less felicitous expressions and weaker minor points. In Berlin, radicals set fire to his car; at Oxford, Wolfson College withdrew an invitation to deliver a lecture, after pressure was applied, just as a major German organization dispensing research grants rescinded a commitment to Nolte under Israeli pressure. In the American press, ignorant editors, who couldn't care less anyway, now routinely permit Nolte to be represented as an apologist for Nazism."
In 1990, the Israeli historian Israel Gutman
Israel Gutman
Israel Gutman is a Polish-born Israeli historian of the Holocaust.Israel Gutman was born in Warsaw, Poland. After playing an important role in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, he was deported to the Majdanek, Auschwitz and Mauthausen concentration camps. His older sister died in the ghetto. After...

 wrote about Nolte in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust that:
“Professor Ernst Nolte, a respected German scholar and student of political movements, especially in the field of fascism, National Socialism and totalitarian regimes, has made statements in his writings that contain elements taken from revisionist [Holocaust denial] trends and arguments. Of course, Nolte does not deny there was a Holocaust, but he argues that Hitler had reason to be wary of the Jews. Some of them, like Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency, had declared at the outbreak of the war that the Jews considered themselves part of the democratic camp that was fighting the Nazis and therefore the Jewish people had declared war on Hitler. Moreover, Nolte believes that the Holocaust was no different from other mass murders carried out in the twentieth century, the only unique feature being the use of gas for the murders. He points out that Hitler’s massacres were preceded by those of Stalin and that these may have been not only a model, but also a motive for the Holocaust. The publication of Nolte’s controversial ideas sparked a sharp and widespread debate in which many leading German historians participated; quite a few were inclined to justify Nolte’s assumptions or even to agree with him”.


In a 1990 interview, Nolte appeared to imply that there was something to the Leuchter report
Leuchter report
The Leuchter report is a pseudoscientific document authored by American execution technician Fred A. Leuchter. For the defense in the trial of Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel, Leuchter compiled the report in 1988 with the intention of investigating the feasibility of mass homicidal gassings at Nazi...

:
"If the revisionists and Leuchter among them have made it clear to the public that even "Auschwitz" must be an object of scientific inquiry and controversy then they should be given credit for this. Even if it finally turned out that the number of victims was even greater and the procedures were even more horrific than has been assumed until now."
Also in 1990, Nolte published his book Nietzsche und der Nietzscheanismus, in which he called Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

's "party of life" concept a philosophical justification for genocide. Nolte argued that Nietzsche was the greatest prophet of the modern age because he understood that "civil war unreservedly as a precondition for the salvation of a nation". According to Nolte, Nietzsche was forced to advocate "biological destruction" and "historical-philosophical destruction" of entire peoples in response to Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

's call for "social destruction" of entire classes. In this way, Nolte argued that Nietzsche and Marx were the two prophets of the 19th century who anticipated the European Civil War
European Civil War
The European Civil War is a term that is used to characterise both World War I and World War II and the inter-war period as a protracted civil war taking place in Europe. It is used in referring to the repeated confrontations that occurred during the first-half of the 20th century...

 of the 20th century. In the same year, Nolte was a contributor to the volume Die Schatten der Vergangenheit (The Shadows of the Past) co-edited by Eckhard Jesse
Eckhard Jesse
Professor Eckhard Jesse is a German political scientist. He holds the professorship for "political systems, political institutions" at the Technical University of Chemnitz. Jesse is one of the best known German political scholars in the field of extremism and terrorism studies...

, Rainer Zitelmann
Rainer Zitelmann
Rainer Zitelmann is a German historian, journalist and management consultant.- Life :Zitelmann studied history and political sciences at the Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences and completed his doctorate in 1986 under Prof. Dr...

 and Uwe Backes intended to achieve the sort of "historization" of National Socialism called for by Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat was a German historian specializing in modern German social history whose work has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians as indispensable for any serious study of the Third Reich. Broszat was born in Leipzig, Germany and studied history at the University of Leipzig and...

 in a 1985 essay. In his chapter, Nolte once more renewed his debate with his opponents from the Historikerstreit about the merits of his theories of a “causal nexus” between fascism and Communism. In a review of Die Schatten der Vergangenheit on November 23, 1990, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , short F.A.Z., also known as the FAZ, is a national German newspaper, founded in 1949. It is published daily in Frankfurt am Main. The Sunday edition is the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung .F.A.Z...

wrote of Zitelmann’s discussion of Nolte that: “Exemplary in its objectivity is Rainer Zitelmann’s discussion of Ernst Nolte. Zitelmann points out analogies with Marxist theories on fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

, and suggests that it is impermissible to pinpoint ‘anti-Bolshevism in a one-sided and generalising manner’ as the central motive of the National-Socialists.”

The reception on the part of most historians to Nolte's 1991 book Geschichtsdenken im 20. Jahrhundert (Historical Thinking In the 20th Century) was very hostile at best. In the latter work, Nolte asserted that the 20th century produced three “extraordinary states”, namely Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. Nolte claimed that all three were “abnormal once”, but whereas the Soviet Union and Germany were now “normal” states, Israel was still an “abnormal” state and was, in Nolte’s view, in danger of becoming a fascist state that might commit genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 against the Palestinians. Many criticized Nolte’s book as both anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli, with its implied conclusion that there is a moral equivalence between Soviet Communism, German National Socialism and Israeli democracy. Likewise, the book was criticized for including a hypothetical act of mass murder on the part of Israel being lumped in with real cases of German and Soviet mass murder. In the same book, Nolte strongly implied through a favorable quotation of a letter by Kurt Heller that the use of gas chambers in the Holocaust was a entirely a defensive measure.

In 1992, Nolte again attracted controversy with a biography of his mentor, Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the "question of Being."...

, whose turn to Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 was justified by Nolte under the grounds that in the context of the early 1930s, support for Nazis was a "rational" choice for a German to make. Nolte argued that Heidegger was " gerechtfertigt" (justified) in joining the N.S.D.A.P.
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 as in Nolte's view the only other alternative was the K.P.D.
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

. In April 1993, an exchange took place on the pages of the New York Review of Books between James J. Sheehan
James J. Sheehan
James J. Sheehan is an American historian of modern Germany and the former president of the American Historical Association .Born in San Francisco in 1937, Sheehan earned a B.A. from Stanford University in 1958 and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1964...

 and Nolte over the former’s hostile review of Nolte’s biography
Biography
A biography is a detailed description or account of someone's life. More than a list of basic facts , biography also portrays the subject's experience of those events...

 of Heidegger. Nolte protested that Sheehan misquoted and misinterpreted some of his statements. Sheehan in response to state that Nolte had deliberately engaged in selective misquotation of his review. Perhaps in jest, Nolte described himself in his letter of protest as a “wicked revisionist”.

In 1992, the Israeli historian Omer Bartov
Omer Bartov
Omer Bartov is the John P. Birkelund Distinguished Professor of European History and Professor of History and Professor of German Studies at Brown University....

 wrote that Nolte was one of the leaders of the "new revisionism" in German history that sparked the Historikerstreit
Historikerstreit
The Historikerstreit was an intellectual and political controversy in late 20th-century West Germany about the historical interpretation of the Holocaust. The German word Streit translates variously as "quarrel", "dispute", or "conflict"...

of the late 1980s, who were all in some ways seeking to promote the image of the Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 as a force for the good, and seeking to portray the Wehrmacht as a victim of the Allies rather the victimizer of the peoples of Europe, writing of "...the bizarre inversion of the Wehrmacht's roles proposed by all three exponents of the new revisionism, whereby overtly or by implication the Army is transformed from culprit to saviour, from an object of hatred and fear to one of empathy and pity, from victimizer to victim". Specially, Bartov noted that for:
  • That Michael Stürmer
    Michael Stürmer
    Michael Stürmer is a right-wing German historian best known for his role in the Historikerstreit of the 1980s, for his geographical interpretation of German history and for an admiring 2008 biography of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin .Born in Kassel, Germany, Stürmer received his education in...

    ’s geographical interpretation of German history meant that Germany’s "mission" in Central Europe was to serve as a bulwark against the Slavic menace from the East in both World Wars.
  • That Nolte’s argument about a "casual nexus" with the National Socialist genocide as an logical, if extreme response to the horrors of Communism led to Wehrmacht crimes in the Soviet Union being portrayed as essentially justified. This was even more the case as Nolte insisted that Operation Barbarossa was as Hitler claimed a "preventive war", which meant that for Nolte Wehrmacht war crimes were portrayed as a defensive response to the threat posed to Germany by the "Asiatic hordes".
  • That Andreas Hillgruber
    Andreas Hillgruber
    Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

    ’s call for historians to "identity" and "empathize" with German troops fighting on the Eastern Front in 1944-45 implicitly devalued the lives of those suffering and dying in the Holocaust, which was allowed to continue in part because the German troops held out for so long.

Bartov wrote that all three historians had in varying ways sought to justify and excuse Wehrmacht war crimes
War crimes of the Wehrmacht
War crimes of the Wehrmacht were those carried out by the German armed forces during World War II. While the principal perpetrators of the Holocaust amongst German armed forces were the Nazi German 'political' armies , the regular armed forces represented by the Wehrmacht committed war crimes of...

 by depicting the Wehrmacht as engaging in a heroic battle for Western civilization, often using the same language as the Nazis such as referring to the Red Army as the "Asiatic hordes". Bartov ended that these sorts of arguments reflected a broader unwillingness of the part of some Germans to admit to what their Army did during the war.

Though Nolte has never denied the Holocaust, he has often praised the work of David Irving
David Irving
David John Cawdell Irving is an English writer,best known for his denial of the Holocaust, who specialises in the military and political history of World War II, with a focus on Nazi Germany...

, David Hoggan
David Hoggan
David Leslie Hoggan was an American historical writer, author of The Forced War: When Peaceful Revision Failed and other works in the German and English languages.-Early life:...

, Fred Leuchter, Arthur Butz
Arthur Butz
Arthur R. Butz is a Holocaust denier and associate professor of electrical engineering at Northwestern University. He achieved tenure in 1974 and currently teaches classes in control system theory and digital signal processing.-Education:...

, Paul Rassinier
Paul Rassinier
Paul Rassinier was a French pacifist, political activist, and author. He was also an anti-Nazi French Resistance fighter, and a prisoner of the German concentration camps at Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora. A journalist and editor, he wrote hundreds of articles on political and economic subjects...

 and other Holocaust deniers as superior to the work of "mainstream" scholars; in 1993 in his book Streitpunkte Nolte wrote that:
"radical revisionists [Holocaust deniers] have presented research which, if one is familiar with the source material and the critique of the sources, is probably superior to that of the established historians of Germany".

The German historian Karl Dietrich Bracher
Karl Dietrich Bracher
Karl Dietrich Bracher is a German political scientist and historian of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany. Born in Stuttgart, Bracher was awarded a Ph.D. in the Classics by the University of Tübingen in 1948 and subsequently studied at Harvard University from 1949 to 1950...

 in his 1992 book Turning Points in Modern Times attacked Nolte for his claims that German National Socialism was merely a “mirror image” of the Soviet Union. Bracher wrote that Nolte’s work “trivializes” the vicious racism that Bracher claimed was at the heart of National Socialism. In 1993, the American historian Richard Pipes
Richard Pipes
Richard Edgar Pipes is an American academic who specializes in Russian history, particularly with respect to the Soviet Union...

 criticized Nolte for engaging in an post hoc, ergo propter hoc argument. Pipes wrote that both Italian Fascism and German National Socialism were indigenous products of their countries and could not be described as a reaction to the Russian Revolution.

In a 1994 interview with Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.-Overview:...

magazine, Nolte stated "I cannot rule out the importance of the investigation of the gas chambers in which they looked for remnants of the [chemical process engendered by Zyklon B]", and that “Of course, I am against revisionists [Holocaust deniers], but Fred Leuchter's "study" of the Nazi gas ovens has to be given attention, because one has to stay open to "other" ideas.” In the same interview, Nolte stated: "Hitler was not only an ideologue, but... the Second World War was also a war virtually for European unification... Germany could be conceived as the Piedmont of Europe."

Another controversy around Nolte was caused in 1994 when Nolte made a speech that maintained that there was much that was “positive” about Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

, and that in his opinion many historians neglected the "positive" aspects of Nazism. The last statement caused a very public war of words in 1994 between Nolte and his old antagonist from the Historikerstreit, Rudolf Augstein
Rudolf Augstein
Rudolf Karl Augstein was one of the most influential German journalists, founder and part-owner of Der Spiegel magazine....

, who used the pages of Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel
Der Spiegel is a German weekly news magazine published in Hamburg. It is one of Europe's largest publications of its kind, with a weekly circulation of more than one million.-Overview:...

to attack Nolte as a Nazi apologist. Finally, in the interests of public decorum, several politicians called for both Augstein and Nolte to cease their attacks on one another.

In a 1996 interview, Nolte argued that attempts by neo-Nazi skinheads to burn down buildings housing foreign refugee seekers should not be regarded as attempted murder, but rather as an expression of frustration. In the same interview, Nolte criticized those officials who sought to prosecute skinheads for attempted murder as making an “highly questionable” decision; in Nolte's opinion, there were any number of perfectly good reasons why someone might want to firebomb a refugee hostel. Since the Historikerstreit, Nolte has become an increasing marginalized figure within the German historical profession. Even those in favor of German nationalism such as Michael Wolffsohn
Michael Wolffsohn
Michael Wolffsohn is an Israeli-born German historian. Wolffsohn was born in Tel Aviv, in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine and today is Israel. His parents were German Jews who fled in 1939....

 and Michael Stürmer
Michael Stürmer
Michael Stürmer is a right-wing German historian best known for his role in the Historikerstreit of the 1980s, for his geographical interpretation of German history and for an admiring 2008 biography of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin .Born in Kassel, Germany, Stürmer received his education in...

 have sought to distance themselves from Nolte.

In his 1997 book A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present, the American historian Ward Churchill
Ward Churchill
Ward LeRoy Churchill is an author and political activist. He was a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder from 1990 to 2007. The primary focus of his work is on the historical treatment of political dissenters and Native Americans by the United States government...

 wrote that through Nolte had “many shortcomings” as a scholar, that Deborah Lipstadt
Deborah Lipstadt
Deborah Esther Lipstadt, Ph.D. is an American historian and author of the book Denying the Holocaust and The Eichmann Trial. She is the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University...

's critique of Nolte in her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust was flawed as Churchill accused her of “ignoring the facts” in her criticism of Nolte. Churchill called Nolte a “neoliberal known for his masterly historical/philosophical analysis of fascism” whose more recent work was “problematical”. Churchill accused Lipstadt of “smearing” Nolte with the Holocaust denial brush for his attempts to argue that the Holocaust was not unique.

Another controversial work by Nolte was his 1998 book Historische Existenz (Historical Existence). A prominent theme of the latter book was a restatement of Nolte's view first expressed during the Historikerstreit, that because a disproportionate number of Soviet partisans were Jews, the Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

massacres, which saw about 2.2 million Soviet Jews shot in 1941–1942 were an acceptable "preventive security" tactic that should not be regarded as either a war crime
War crime
War crimes are serious violations of the laws applicable in armed conflict giving rise to individual criminal responsibility...

 or a crime against humanity
Crime against humanity
Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings...

. In the same book, Nolte argued that in 1939 Hitler had “serious reasons” to rightfully consider all Jews as an enemy, and had the right to take “appropriate measures” against the Jews. Quoting passages in the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

where God orders the Israelites to kill all of their enemies, Nolte argues that this was proof of what he claims to be the alleged Jewish genocidal mentality that Hitler had to deal with. In 1998, Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer
Yehuda Bauer
Yehuda Bauer is a historian and scholar of the Holocaust. He is a Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.-Biography:...

 wrote of Nolte,

"In Germany, Berlin historian Ernst Nolte continues his untenable propagation of myths about the Nazis supposedly copied the death camps from the Soviet Gulags, arguing that what the Nazis did was no different from Allied war crimes such as the firebombing of Dresden, or the Stalinist or Maoist purges. The purpose is clearly to free German society from bearing any particular responsibility for World War II generally, and the Holocaust in particular; for Germans, as the late German conservative politician Franz Josef Strauss said, to walk tall again."


Between 1995–1997, Nolte via a series of letters had a debate with French historian François Furet
François Furet
-Biography:Born in Paris on 27 March 1927, into a wealthy family, François Furet was a brilliant student who graduated from the Sorbonne with the highest honors and soon decided on a life of research, teaching and writing. He received his education at the Lycée Janson de Sailly and at the faculty...

 over the relationship between fascism
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 and Communism
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

. The debate had been started by a footnote in Furet's book, Le Passé d'une illusion (The Passing of an Illusion), in which Furet had expressed his disagreement with Nolte's theories about Communism and fascism, leading Nolte to write a letter of protest to Furet. Furet argued that both ideologies were Totalitarian twins
Totalitarian twins
The term "Totalitarian Twins" was used by François Furet to link Stalinism and Fascism.-Fascism and totalitarianism:Gary M. Grobman wrote:* Totalitarian regimes, in contrast to a dictatorship, establish complete political, social, and cultural control over their subjects, and are usually headed by...

 that shared the same origins, while Nolte repeated his views of there having been a kausale Nexus (causal nexus) with fascism as a response to Communism. After Furet's death, the letters were subsequently published in a book in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in 1998 as Fascisme et Communisme: échange épistolaire avec l'historien allemand Ernst Nolte prolongeant la Historikerstreit (Fascism and Communism: Epistolary Exchanges With The German Historian Ernst Nolte Extending The Historikerstreit), which was translated into English as Fascism and Communism in 2001. Through charging Stalin was guilty of great crimes, Furet wrote to Nolte that he did not feel that there was a precise parallel in the manner suggested by Nolte between the Holocaust and dekulakization
Dekulakization
Dekulakization was the Soviet campaign of political repressions, including arrests, deportations, and executions of millions of the better-off peasants and their families in 1929-1932. The richer peasants were labeled kulaks and considered class enemies...

. Furet contended that though the history of fascism and Communism was essential to European history, there were singular events associated with each movement which differentiated them, contrary to Nolte's conception of them as ultimately comparable. Furet wrote in response to Nolte’s theories that Hitler did not need the example of dekulakization to inspire the Holocaust, and in another letter that extreme anti-Semitism was common in Germany long before the Russian Revolution. Nolte argued in a letter to Furet that the fact that a disproportionate number of socialist and communist leaders in the 19th and 20th centuries were of Jewish origin did provide a “rational core” for the Nazi equating of Jews and Communism

Nolte often contributes Feulliton (opinion pieces) to German newspapers such as Die Welt
Die Welt
Die Welt is a German national daily newspaper published by the Axel Springer AG company.It was founded in Hamburg in 1946 by the British occupying forces, aiming to provide a "quality newspaper" modelled on The Times...

and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung , short F.A.Z., also known as the FAZ, is a national German newspaper, founded in 1949. It is published daily in Frankfurt am Main. The Sunday edition is the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung .F.A.Z...

. Nolte has often described as one of the "...arguably one of the most brilliant, and certainly the most brooding, German thinkers about history". A major theme of Nolte's essays are the historical consciousness and self-understanding of the Germans. Nolte called the Federal Republic "a state born of contemporary history, a product of catastrophe erected to overcome catastrophe" In a feuilleton piece published in Die Welt entitled “Auschwitz als Argument in der Geschichtstheorie” (Auschwitz As An Argument In The Historical Theory) on 2 January 1999, Nolte criticized his old enemy Richard J. Evans
Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian, prominently known for his history of Germany.-Life:Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge and President of Wolfson College...

’s book In The Defence of History, on the grounds that aspects of the Holocaust are open to revision, and that therefore, Evans’s attacks on Nolte during the Historikerstreit were unwarranted. Specifically, citing the American political scientist Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Nolte argued that the effectiveness of the gas chambers as killing instruments was exaggerated, that more Jews were killed by mass shooting than by mass gassing, that the number of people killed at Auschwitz
Auschwitz concentration camp
Concentration camp Auschwitz was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

 was overestimated after 1945 (with about 1 million rather than 4 million being killed there), that Binjamin Wilkomirski
Binjamin Wilkomirski
Binjamin Wilkomirski was a name which Bruno Dössekker adopted in his constructed identity as a Holocaust survivor and published author...

's memoir of Auschwitz was a forgery and accordingly, the history of the Holocaust is open to reinterpretation. In a response in October 1999, Evans stated that he agreed with Nolte on these points, and argued that this form of argument was an attempt by Nolte to avoid responding to his criticism of him during the Historikerstreit.

On 4 June 2000, Nolte was awarded the Konrad Adenauer Prize for Literature. The award attracted widespread protests and controversy. The man who delivered Nolte his award, Dr. Horst Möller, of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte
Institut für Zeitgeschichte
The Institut für Zeitgeschichte in Munich was conceived in 1947 under the name Deutsches Institut für Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Zeit...

(Institute for Contemporary History), praised Nolte’s scholarship while trying to steer clear of Nolte’s more controversial claims. In response, Heinrich August Winkler
Heinrich August Winkler
Heinrich August Winkler is a German historian.After attending a Gymnasium in Ulm, he studied history, political science, philosophy and public law at Münster, Heidelberg and Tübingen. In 1970 he became professor at the Free University of Berlin. From 1972 to 1991 he was professor at the University...

 argued that Möller should have resigned as the director of the Institute on the grounds that "Mr. Möller allowed himself to become party to an intellectual political offensive aimed at integrating rightist and revisionist positions in the conservative mainstream." Benjamin Meed
Benjamin Meed
Benjamin Meed , a Polish Jew, fought in the Warsaw ghetto underground, planned the 1981 World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, and served on the Advisory Board of the President's Commission on the Holocaust....

, the president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, called the award a "repugnant insult to memory." In his acceptance speech, Nolte commented that "We should leave behind the view that the opposite of National Socialist goals is always good and right", while suggesting that excessive "Jewish" support for Communism furnished the Nazis with "rational reasons" for their anti-Semitism
Anti-Semitism
Antisemitism is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. According to a 2005 U.S...

.

In August 2000, Nolte wrote a favorable review in the Die Woche newspaper of Norman Finkelstein
Norman Finkelstein
Norman Gary Finkelstein is an American political scientist, activist and author. His primary fields of research are the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the politics of the Holocaust. He is a graduate of Binghamton University and received his Ph.D in Political Science from Princeton University...

’s book The Holocaust Industry
The Holocaust Industry
The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering is a book published in 2000 by Norman G. Finkelstein, that argues that the American Jewish establishment exploits the memory of the Nazi Holocaust for political and financial gain, as well as to further the interests of...

, claiming Finkelstein’s book buttressed his claim that the memory of the Holocaust had been used by Jewish groups for their own reasons. Nolte’s positive review of The Holocaust Industry may had been related to Finkelstein’s endorsement in his book of Nolte’s demand first made during the Historikerstreit for the “normalization” of the German past In 2000, the Greek historian Aristotle Kallis wrote that Nolte was correct in his call for the end to efforts to "demonise" National Socialism with the Nazi regime been seen as "unique, singular" and without parallel in history. Kallis went on to write that through Nolte's work employed a "dubious methodological and historical validity", his statement that the Shoah "makes critical distance more difficult" when writing about the Nazi years was valid. Kallis finally commented that Nolte's critic Timothy Mason
Timothy Mason
Timothy Wright Mason was a British Marxist historian of Nazi Germany.-Life and work:He was born in Birkenhead, the child of school-teachers and was educated at Birkenhead School and Oxford University. He taught at Oxford from 1971–1984 and was twice married. He helped to found the...

 was bang-on when he wrote that Nolte's efforts to bring the Young Turks and the Khmer Rouge into historiography of the Holocaust was an "extraneous" distraction from the real issues, and what the historiography of the Third Reich really needed was a "generic fascism paradigm" of the sort that Mason championed and Nolte had once championed.

The Israeli scholar Sergio I. Minerbi criticized Nolte in a 2002 essay entitled "Ernst Nolte and the Memory of the Shoah" for taking a contradictory series of stands on the Holocaust in Streitpunkte, which allowed him at once and the same time to declare his belief in the reality of the Holocaust while at the same time favorably citing a statement by the French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson
Robert Faurisson
Robert Faurisson is a French academic who is a Holocaust denier. Faurisson generated much controversy with a number of articles, published in the Journal of Historical Review and elsewhere, as well as various letters he has sent to French newspapers , which deny various aspects of the Holocaust,...

 in such a way as to imply that Faurisson was correct when he denied the Holocaust. Minerbi was also offended by Nolte’s claim that Zionism is for Jews what National Socialism was for Germans. In the same book, Nolte cited Paul Rassinier
Paul Rassinier
Paul Rassinier was a French pacifist, political activist, and author. He was also an anti-Nazi French Resistance fighter, and a prisoner of the German concentration camps at Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora. A journalist and editor, he wrote hundreds of articles on political and economic subjects...

's statement that "Zionist Israel utilized the suffering and death of non-Zionist Jews at Auschwitz and Treblinka in order to justify the suffering, exile and death of the local Palestinian inhabitants of the land, which the Zionists wanted to conquer and colonialize basing themselves on the Bible" as an example of how feels that Israel exploits the memory of the Holocaust to achieve its foreign policy goals. Minerbi complained that Nolte was presenting a false view of the Holocaust, and that Jews were killed in the Shoah for being Jews, not Zionists.

In a 2003 interview, Lipstadt was quoted as saying:
"Historians such as the German Ernst Nolte are, in some ways, even more dangerous than the deniers. Nolte is an anti-Semite of the first order, who attempts to rehabilitate Hitler by saying that he was no worse than Stalin; but he is careful not to deny the Holocaust. Holocaust deniers make Nolte's life more comfortable. They have, with their radical argumentation, pulled the center a little more to their side. Consequently, a less radical extremist, such as Nolte, finds himself closer to the middle ground, which makes him more dangerous".
The American historian Ward Churchill
Ward Churchill
Ward LeRoy Churchill is an author and political activist. He was a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder from 1990 to 2007. The primary focus of his work is on the historical treatment of political dissenters and Native Americans by the United States government...

 has defended Nolte against Lipstadt’s charges, on the grounds that Nolte is indeed correct that the Holocaust as just one of many genocides throughout the ages and, therefore, not singularly evil. In 2003–2004, Nolte was a prominent defender of Martin Hohmann
Martin Hohmann
Martin Hohmann is a German lawyer and politician without party affiliation. He was a member of the German Parliament for the centre-right Christian Democratic Union , from 1998 until 2005....

, whose views about the Shoah were similar to his own.

In an 2004 book review of Richard Overy
Richard Overy
Richard Overy is a British historian who has published extensively on the history of World War II and the Third Reich. In 2007 as The Times editor of Complete History of the World he chose the 50 key dates of world history....

's monograph The Dictators, the American historian Anne Applebaum
Anne Applebaum
Anne Elizabeth Applebaum is a journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written extensively about communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. She has been an editor at The Economist, and a member of the editorial board of The Washington Post...

 argued that it was a valid intellectual exercise to compare the German and Soviet dictatorships, but complained that Nolte’s arguments had needlessly discredited the comparative approach. In response, in 2005, Nolte was defended against Applelbaum's charge of attempting to justify the Holocaust by Paul Gottfried
Paul Gottfried
Paul Edward Gottfried is Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, and a Guggenheim recipient...

, who contended that Nolte had merely argued that he Nazis had made a link in their own minds between Jews and Communists, and the Holocaust was an attempt by the Nazis to eliminate the most likely supporters of Communism.

In his 2005 book, The Russian Roots of Nazism: White Émigrés And The Making of National Socialism, the American historian Michael Kellogg argued that there were two extremes of thinking about the origins of National Socialism with Nolte arguing for a “causal nexus” between Communism in Russia and Nazism in Germany while the other extreme was represented by the American historian Daniel Goldhagen
Daniel Goldhagen
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen is an American author and former Associate Professor of Political Science and Social Studies at Harvard University. Goldhagen reached international attention and broad criticism as the author of two controversial books about the Holocaust, Hitler's Willing Executioners and...

's theories about a unique German culture of “eliminationist” anti-Semitism Kellogg argued that his book represented an attempt at a middle position between Nolte’s and Goldhagen’s claims, but that he leaned closer to Nolte’s position, contending that anti-Bolshevik and anti-Semitic Russian émigrés played a key and underappreciated role in the 1920s in the development of Nazi ideology with their influence on Nazi thinking about Judeo-Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism
Jewish Bolshevism, Judeo-Bolshevism, and known as Żydokomuna in Poland, is an antisemitic stereotype based on the claim that Jews have been the driving force behind or are disproportionately involved in the modern Communist movement, or sometimes more specifically Russian Bolshevism.The expression...

 being especially notable

In an essay entitled "The Logic Of Horror" first published in the Die Zeit newspaper on June 1, 2006, the German historian Götz Aly
Götz Aly
Götz Aly is a German journalist, historian and social scientist.-Biography:After attending the German School of Journalists, Aly studied history and political science in Berlin...

 wrote about Nolte that there was nothing wrong about comparing the German and Soviet dictatorships, but that Nolte did so in a way that was meant to rationalize and excuse the Holocaust. Aly criticized Nolte for his statement in his 1993 book Streitpunkte that the death in the gas chambers of the death camps was a humane move on the part of the Nazis as those who died in the gas chambers suffered a relatively “painless” death. Aly accused Nolte of promoting “Such blatant nonsense, which also displayed outrageous callousness towards the survivors, ruined the essentially correct attempt to historicize the Holocaust comparatively”. However, Aly went on to write that Nolte was correct in claiming that the Holocaust was not unique, but only a part of a broader era of violence in the 20th century. Aly ended his essay by urging historians to take up Nolte’s challenge to write a history that would treat the Shoah as merely one chapter of an era of horror. Aly wrote:
"A historiography that takes such facts into account should not relativize the Holocaust and the central responsibility of the Germans; distinctions must be made between specific cases: some fled to West Berlin, others were deported from the Sudetenland to Bavaria, but the Jews were murdered. Nonetheless, a historiography that takes itself seriously must recognize the patterns and pick up the threads of Europe's history of violence and progress in the first third of the twentieth century in order to localize Auschwitz in historical terms.

This will engender misunderstandings and fresh arguments. But that would be more productive than a policy that ignores connections and which keeps the different but discretely related histories of violence apart from each other and from supposed or actual progress. A small dose of Nolte will do no harm here, but it is likely to lead to results that are quite different to those dreamed of by the "historical thinker" with his monocausal fixation.

The answers to Nolte depend on a desire to ask questions and on solid empirical foundations of the kind laid down by Raul Hilberg. A comprehensive historical positioning would need to centre on the various forms of ethnically and socially motivated mass mobilization and "cleansing." They reached their most extreme form in Nazi Germany's wars of aggression and its murder of the European Jews. In historical terms, the Holocaust has its place within the field shaped by these political forces. Which is why it remains the touchstone for any analysis of the violent era of breaks and ransition in the European history of the first half of the twentieth century".


In a June 2006 interview with the Die Welt newspaper echoing theories he first expressed in The Three Faces of Fascism, Nolte identified Islamic fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism
Islamic fundamentalism is a term used to describe religious ideologies seen as advocating a return to the "fundamentals" of Islam: the Quran and the Sunnah. Definitions of the term vary. According to Christine L...

 as a "third variant", after Communism and National Socialism, of the “resistance to transcendence”, expressing regret that he will not have enough time to fully study Islamic fascism
Islamofascism
The term Islamofascism is a neologism which draws an analogy between the ideological characteristics of specific Islamist movements from the turn of the 21st century on, and a broad range of European fascist movements of the early 20th century, neofascist movements, or totalitarianism.-Origins of...

 In the same interview, Nolte said that he not forgive Augstein for calling Hillgruber a “constitutional Nazi” during the Historikerstreit, and claimed that Wehler had helped to hound Hillgruber to his death in 1989. Nolte ended the interview by calling himself a philosopher, not a historian, and argued the hostile reactions he often encountered from historians was due to his status as a philosopher who wrote history.

In 2006, the American historian Fritz Stern
Fritz Stern
Fritz Richard Stern is a German-born American historian of German history, Jewish history, and historiography. He is a University Professor Emeritus and a former provost at New York's Columbia University...

 wrote he had severed relations with his once close friend Nolte over his statements over the years meant to "relative" the Holocaust. Stern wrote that Nolte was an anti-Semitic for his suggestion that it was "Jewish interests" that kept the memory of the Holocaust alive, and that:
"It was a horrendous breach of decency and common sense to suggest that "interests" kept alive the memory of what most of the world regarded as the greatest crime in history...He was insinuating a thesis that "relatized" the crimes of National Socialism, that treated them as copies, not originals, implying far less guilt. To do so in the form of seeming naive questions was itself offensive".
Stern wrote that the "exemplary work" done by Nolte's critics such as the Mommesen brothers, Kocka, Jäckel, and Wehler had rightfully rebutted Nolte's theories.

Nolte's assertion that Nazi Germany was a "mirror image" of the Soviet Union has also received support from several other more recent scholars, notably from the French historian Stéphane Courtois
Stéphane Courtois
Stéphane Courtois is a French historian, an internationally known expert on communist studies, particularly the history of communism and communist genocides, and author of several books...

, who argues both that Nazi Germany adopted its system of repression from Soviet methods, and that Soviet genocides of peoples living in the Caucasus and exterminations of large social groups in Russia were not very much different from similar policies by Nazis:

"The deliberate starvation of a child of a Ukrainian kulak
Kulak
Kulaks were a category of relatively affluent peasants in the later Russian Empire, Soviet Russia, and early Soviet Union...

 as a result of the famine caused by Stalin's regime "is equal to" the starvation of a Jewish child in the Warsaw ghetto
Warsaw Ghetto
The Warsaw Ghetto was the largest of all Jewish Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II. It was established in the Polish capital between October and November 15, 1940, in the territory of General Government of the German-occupied Poland, with over 400,000 Jews from the vicinity...

 as a result of the famine caused by the Nazi regime".


Courtois wrote the preface to the French edition of The European Civil War, that was published in 2000.

In his 2006 book No Simple Victory, the British historian Norman Davies
Norman Davies
Professor Ivor Norman Richard Davies FBA, FRHistS is a leading English historian of Welsh descent, noted for his publications on the history of Europe, Poland, and the United Kingdom.- Academic career :...

 appeared to lend Nolte some support by writing:
"Ten years later, in The European Civil War (1987), the German historian Ernst Nolte (b. 1923) brought ideology into the equation. The First World War had spawned the Bolshevik Revolution, he maintained, and fascism should be seen as a "counter-revolution" against Communism. More pointedly, since fascism followed Communism chronologically, he argued that some of the Nazis' political techniques and practices had been copied from those of the Soviet Union. Needless to say, such propositions were thought anathema by leftists who believe that fascism was an original and unparallled evil. At one point Nolte was "disinvited" from giving an lecture at Oxford university, then re-invited by a committee headed by Sir Isaiah Berlin...At the time he published The European Civil War, Ernst Nolte wrote an explanatory article entitled "The Past Which Will Not Pass On', in which he described fascism as a "defensive reaction" to Communism. The word "defensive" was a red rag to the red bulls. It was bad enough for Nolte to have suggested earlier that fascism was a reaction to Communism. But to state that Communism had been the aggressor and fascism the defender was too much to bear...The explosion was immediate. Habermas and other left-wingers went into action with a flurry of articles and letter-writing. They claimed that the uniqueness of the Holocaust was under attack. They disliked comparisons, particulary between the tragedy of the Jews and the misfortuens of the Germans. And they vehemently objected to the idea that the Holocaust could in any way be seen as a reaction to the misdeeds of the Stalinists"
Davies concluded that revealations made after the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe after 1989–91 about Soviet crimes had discredited Nolte's critics

In 2007, the Canadian historian Robert Gellately
Robert Gellately
Robert Gellately is a Newfoundland-born Canadian academic who is one of the leading historians of modern Europe, particularly during World War II and the Cold War era. He is presently Earl Ray Beck Professor of History at Florida State University....

, in his book Lenin, Stalin and Hitler The Age of Social Catastrophe, which explicitly maintained there was a moral equivalence between the actions of the Soviet Communists and German Nazis, went out of his way to disassociate himself from Nolte. Gellately wrote that:
"Nolte's statements are an astonishing and reprehensible replication of Nazi rhetoric, notwithstanding his unsuccessful maneuverings to distance himself from the racist ideology of the Third Reich. Suffice it to say he has been roundly and rightly condemned not only for advancing the untenable and shocking position that the Jews were somehow to blame for their own destruction but also for denying against all the evidence that Nazi anti-Semitism was rooted in German nationalism."


Some of Nolte’s claims made in his 1993 book Streitpunkte (Points of Contention), such as his assertion that historical understanding of the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 has been “distorted” by “biased” Jewish historians, were recently favorably cited by a website maintained by the government of Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 promoting Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial is the act of denying the genocide of Jews in World War II, usually referred to as the Holocaust. The key claims of Holocaust denial are: the German Nazi government had no official policy or intention of exterminating Jews, Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas...

. Currently, Nolte is a professor emeritus of contemporary history at the Free University of Berlin
Free University of Berlin
Freie Universität Berlin is one of the leading and most prestigious research universities in Germany and continental Europe. It distinguishes itself through its modern and international character. It is the largest of the four universities in Berlin. Research at the university is focused on the...

. Nolte's latest book, Die dritte radikale Widerstandsbewegung: der Islamismus, a study of Islamism was published in March 2009.

Work

  • "Marx Und Nietzsche Im Sozialismus Des Jungen Mussolini" pp. 249–335 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 191, Issue #2, October 1960.
  • "Die Action Française 1899–1944" pp. 124–165 from Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Volume 9, Issue 2, April 1961.
  • "Eine Frühe Quelle Zu Hitlers Antisemitismus" pp. 584–606 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 192, Issue #3, June 1961.
  • “Zur Phänomenologie des Faschismus” pp. 373–407 from Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Volume 10, Issue #4, October 1962.
  • Der Faschismus in seiner Epoche : die Action française der italienische Faschismus, der Nationalsozialismus, München : R. Piper, 1963, translated into English as The Three Faces of Fascism; Action Francaise, Italian Fascism, National Socialism, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson 1965.
  • Review of Action Français Royalism and Reaction in Twentieth-Century France by Eugen Weber pages 694-701 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 199, Issue # 3, December 1964.
  • Review of Le origini del socialismo italiano by Richard Hostetter pages 701-704 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 199, Issue #3, December 1964.
  • Review of Albori socialisti nel Risorgimento by Carlo Francovich pages 181-182 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 200, Issue # 1, February 1965.
  • “Grundprobleme der Italienischen Geschichte nach der Einigung” pp. 332–346 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 200, Issue #2, April 1965.
  • “Zur Konzeption der Nationalgeschichte heute” pp. 603–621 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 202, Issue #3, June 1966.
  • "Zeitgenössische Theorien Über Den faschismus" pp. 247–268 from Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Volume 15, Issue #3, July 1967.
  • Der Faschismus : von Mussolini zu Hitler. Texte, Bilder und Dokumente, Munich: Desch, 1968.
  • Die Krise des liberalen Systems und die faschistischen Bewegungen, Munich : R. Piper, 1968.
  • Sinn und Widersinn der Demokratisierung in der Universität, Rombach Verlag: Freiburg, 1968.
  • Les Mouvements fascistes, l'Europe de 1919 a 1945, Paris : Calmann-Levy, 1969.
  • "Big Business and German Politics: A Comment" pp. 71–78 from The American Historical Review, Volume 75, Issue#1, October 1969.
  • “Zeitgeschichtsforschung und Zeitgeschichte” pp. 1–11 from Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Volume 18. Issue #1, January 1970.
  • “The Relationship Between "Bourgeois" And "Marxist" Historiography” pp. 57–73 from History & Theory, Volume 14, Issue 1, 1975.
  • “Review: Zeitgeschichte als Theorie. Eine Erwiderung” pp. 375–386 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 222, Issue #2, April 1976.
  • Was ist bürgerlich? und Andere Artikel, Abhandlungen, Auseinandersetzungen, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1979.
  • "What Fascism Is Not: Thoughts on the Deflation of a Concept: Comment" pp. 389–394 from The American Historical Review, Volume 84, Issue #2, April 1979.
  • “Deutscher Scheinkonstitutionalismus?” pp. 529–550 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 288, Issue #3, June 1979.
  • "Marxismus und Nationalsozialismus" pages 389-417 from Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, Volume 31, Issue # 3 July 1983.
  • Review of Revolution und Weltbürgerkrieg Studien zur Ouvertüre nach 1789 by Roman Schnur pages 720-721 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 238, Issue # 3 June 1984.
  • Review of Der italienische Faschismus Probleme und Forschungstendenzen pp. 469–471 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 240, Issue #2 April 1985.
  • “Zusammenbruch Und Neubeginn: Die Bedeutung Des 8. Mai 1945” pp. 296–303 from Zeitschrift für Politik, Volume 32, Issue #3, 1985.
  • “Philosophische Geschichtsschreibung heute?” pp. 265–289 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 242, Issue #2, April 1986.
  • “Une Querelle D'Allemandes? Du Passe Qui Ne Veut Pas S'Effacer” pp. 36–39 from Documents, Volume 1, 1987.
  • Review: Ein Höhepunkt der Heidegger-Kritik? Victor Farias' Buch "Heidegger et le Nazisme" pp. 95–114 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 247, Issue #1, August 1988.
  • "Das Vor-Urteil Als "Strenge Wissenschaft." Zu Den Rezensionen Von Hans Mommsen Und Wolfgang Schieder” pp. 537–551 from Geschichte und Gesellschaft, Volume 15, Issue #4, 1989.
  • Review of The Politics of Being The Political Thought of Martin Heidegger by Richard Wolin pages 123-124 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 258, Issue # 1 February 1994.
  • "Die Historisch-Genetische Version Der Totalitarismusthorie: Ärgernis Oder Einsicht?" pp. 111–122 from Zeitschrift für Politik, Volume 43, Issue #2, 1996.
  • Historische Existenz: Zwischen Anfang und Ende der Geschichte?, Munich: Piper 1998, ISBN 978-3-492-04070-9.
  • Les Fondements historiques du national-socialisme, Paris: Editions du Rocher, 2002.
  • L'eredità del nazionalsocialismo, Rome: Di Renzo Editore, 2003.
  • co-written with Siegfried Gerlich Einblick in ein Gesamtwerk, Edition Antaios: Dresden 2005, ISBN 978-3-935063-61-6.
  • Die dritte radikale Widerstandsbewegung: der Islamismus, Landt Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-938844-16-8.

External links