Klaus Hildebrand

Klaus Hildebrand

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Encyclopedia
Klaus Hildebrand is a German
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...

 conservative
Conservatism
Conservatism is a political and social philosophy that promotes the maintenance of traditional institutions and supports, at the most, minimal and gradual change in society. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity, while others oppose modernism...

 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...

 whose area of expertise is 19th-20th century German political
Political history
Political history is the narrative and analysis of political events, ideas, movements, and leaders. It is distinct from, but related to, other fields of history such as Diplomatic history, social history, economic history, and military history, as well as constitutional history and public...

 and military history
Military history
Military history is a humanities discipline within the scope of general historical recording of armed conflict in the history of humanity, and its impact on the societies, their cultures, economies and changing intra and international relationships....

.

Biography


Hildebrand is an Intentionalist
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...

 on the origins of the Holocaust question, arguing that the personality and role 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...

 was a crucial driving force behind the Final Solution
Final Solution
The Final Solution was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust...

. Writing in 1979, Hildebrand stated:
"Fundamental to National Socialist genocide was Hitler's race dogma...Hitler's programmatic ideas about the destruction of the Jews and racial domination have still to be rated as primary and causative, as motive and aim, as intention and goal of the "Jewish policy" of the Third Reich".
Working closely 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...

, Hildebrand took the view that such events as the Shoah
Shoah
Shoah may refer to:*The Holocaust*Shoah , documentary directed by Claude Lanzmann * A Shoah Foundation...

and 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...

 were all the unfolding of Hitler's master plan. Along similar lines, in a 1976 article, Hildebrand commented on left-wing historians of the Nazi Germany that in his view they were:
"theoretically fixed, are vainly concerned with functional explanations of the autonomous force in history and as a result frequently contribute towards its trivialization".
Hildebrand has argued that the distinction drawn by the functionalists between 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 Jews in the German-occupied parts of 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 1941-42 and between the rest of the Shoah is largely meaningless. Hildebrand wrote that:
"In qualitative terms, the executions by shooting were no different from the technically more efficient accomplishment of the 'physical final solution' by gassing, of which they were a prelude".
In 1981, the British Marxist 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...

 in his essay 'Intention and explanation: A current controversy about the interpretation of National Socialism' from the book The "Fuehrer State" : Myth and reality coined the term "Intentionist" as part of an attack against Hildebrand and 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...

, both of whom Mason accused of focusing too much on Hitler as an explanation for the Holocaust.

Though Hildebrand is a leading advocate of the 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...

 school and rejects any notion of generic 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...

 as intellectually inadequate, he does believe that the Third Reich was characterized by what he deems “authoritarian anarchy”. However, Hildebrand believes in contrast to the work of 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...

 and 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...

 that the “authoritarian anarchy” caused by numerous competing bureaucracies strengthened, not weakened Hitler’s power. In Hildebrand's opinion, the "Hitler factor" was indeed the central causal agent of the Third Reich. Hildebrand has argued against 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...

view of German history championed by the Mommsen brothers.

In the 1970s Hildebrand was deeply involved in a rancorous debate with 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:...

 over the merits of traditional diplomatic history versus social history as way of explaining foreign policy. 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...

, Hildebrand argued for the traditional Primat der Aussenpolitik (Primacy of Foreign Policy) approach with the focus on empirically examining the foreign policy making elite. Wehler by contrast argued for the Primat der Innenpolitik (Primacy of Domestic Politics) approach which called for seeing foreign policy largely as a reflection of domestic politics and employing theoretically-based research into social history to examine domestic politics. Another area of difference between Hildebrand and his left-wing critics in the role of geography in German history. Hildebrand has argued that Germany's position as the "country in the middle" bordered by Russia and France has often limited the options of the German government in the 19th-20th centuries.

In regards to the Globalist-Continentalist debate
Nazi Foreign Policy (debate)
This article refers to the historical argument over the Nazi Foreign Policy in terms of territorial expansion. The National Socialists governed Germany between 1933 and 1945...

 between those argue that the Hitler's foreign policy at world conquest against those who argue that Nazi foreign policy aim only at the conquest of Europe, Hildebrand has consistently taken a Globalist position, arguing that the foreign policy of the Third Reich did indeed have world domination as its goal, with Hitler following a Stufenplan (stage-by-stage plan) to reach that goal. In Hildebrand’s opinion, Hitler’s foreign policy aimed at nothing less than world conquest in his own lifetime, and those who argue otherwise are seriously misunderstanding the full scope of Hitler’s ambitions. Hildebrand sees Hitler's “Programme” for world domination as comprising in an equal measure crafty power politics and fanatical racism. 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 Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Weinberg
Gerhard Ludwig Weinberg is a German-born American diplomatic and military historian noted for his studies in the history of World War II. Weinberg currently is the William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor Emeritus of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has been a member of the...

, Hildebrand is considered to be one of the leading Globalist scholars. Through Hildebrand does not maintain that Hitler was a free agent in foreign policy, and accepts that there were structural limitations upon Hitler's room to manoeuvre, he contends that these limitations only had the effect of pushing Hitler into the direction that he always wanted to go. However, Hildebrand does not favor an exclusively Hitlerist interpretation of German foreign policy in the era of the Third Reich. In Hildebrand's view, there were three other fractions within the NSDAP who advocated foreign policy programmes different from Hitler's. One fraction, whom Hildebrand dubs the "revolutionary socialists", supported an anti-Western policy with support for independence movements within the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 and an alignment with 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....

. Most closely associated the Strasser brothers, Gregor
Gregor Strasser
Gregor Strasser was a politician of the National Socialist German Workers Party...

 and Otto
Otto Strasser
Otto Johann Maximilian Strasser was a German politician and 'left-wing' member of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Strasser was part of the ‘left-wing’ faction of the party, along with his brother Gregor Strasser, and broke from the party due to disputes with the ‘Hitlerite’ faction...

 the "revolutionary socialist" fraction played no important role in the foreign policy of the Third Reich. A rival fraction whom Hildebrand calls the "agrarians" centered around the agrarian leader Richard Walther Darré, the Party "race theorist" Alfred Rosenberg
Alfred Rosenberg
' was an early and intellectually influential member of the Nazi Party. Rosenberg was first introduced to Adolf Hitler by Dietrich Eckart; he later held several important posts in the Nazi government...

 and the Reichsfũhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Himmler
Heinrich Luitpold Himmler was Reichsführer of the SS, a military commander, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. As Chief of the German Police and the Minister of the Interior from 1943, Himmler oversaw all internal and external police and security forces, including the Gestapo...

, favored an anti-industrial and anti-urban "blood and soil" ideology, expansion at the expense of the Soviet Union in order to acquire Lebensraum
Lebensraum
was one of the major political ideas of Adolf Hitler, and an important component of Nazi ideology. It served as the motivation for the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, aiming to provide extra space for the growth of the German population, for a Greater Germany...

, alliance with Britain
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...

 and opposition to the restoration of overseas colonies as threatening German racial purity. Another fraction, who Hildebrand refers to as the Wilhelmine Imperialists and whose leading personality was Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, advocated at minimum the restoration of the borders of 1914 and the overseas empire, a zone of influence for Germany in Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

, and greater emphasis on traditional Machtpolitik
Power politics
Power politics, or Machtpolitik , is a state of international relations in which sovereigns protect their own interests by threatening one another with military, economic, or political aggression...

 as opposed to Hitler's racist vision of an endless and merciless Social Darwinist struggle between different "races" for lebensraum. Through the emphasis on the restoration of German colonies implied an anti-British policy, but in general, the Wilhelmine Imperialists were cautious about the prospect of war with Britain, and preferred to restore the pre-1914 German colonial empire through diplomacy rather than war. Of the three fractions, it was the "agrarians" whose views were most closest to Hitler's programme, but Hildebrand argues that there was an important difference in that the "agrarians" saw an alliance with Britain as being the natural alignment of two "Aryan" powers, whereas for Hitler the proposed British alliance was more a matter of power politics.

Since 1982, Hildebrand has worked at the University of Bonn
University of Bonn
The University of Bonn is a public research university located in Bonn, Germany. Founded in its present form in 1818, as the linear successor of earlier academic institutions, the University of Bonn is today one of the leading universities in Germany. The University of Bonn offers a large number...

 as a professor in medieval and modern history, with a special interest in the 19th and 20th centuries. Hildebrand’s major work has been in diplomatic history
Diplomatic history
Diplomatic history deals with the history of international relations between states. Diplomatic history can be different from international relations in that the former can concern itself with the foreign policy of one state while the latter deals with relations between two or more states...

 and the development of the nation-state. He served as editor of the series concerning the publication of the documents of German foreign policy. In the mid-1980s, Hildebrand sat on a committee together with Thomas Nipperdey 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...

 in charge of vetting the publications issued by the Research Office of the West German Ministry of Defence. The committee attracted some controversy when it refused to publish a hostile biography of Gustav Noske
Gustav Noske
Gustav Noske was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany . He served as the first Minister of Defence of Germany between 1919 and 1920.-Biography:...

.

In a 1983 speech, Hildebrand denied there had been a Sonderweg, and claimed that the Sonderweg only applied to the “special case” of the Nazi dictatorship In a 1984 essay, Hildebrand went further and wrote:
“It remains to be seen, whether future scholarship will initiate a process of historicization of the Hitler period, for example by comparing it with Stalinist Russia and with examples such as the Stone Age Communism of Cambodia. This would doubtless be accompanied by terrifying scholarly insights and painful human experiences. Both phenomena could, horribile dictu, even relativize the concept of the German Sonderweg between 1933 and 1945"
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 there was a Sonderweg before 1933, and that Germany as a country deeply influenced by the Enlightenment meant there was no point of comparison between Hitler on one hand, and Pol Pot and Stalin on the other In 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...

, Hildebrand is well known for his disputes with the Mommsen brothers, Hans
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...

 and 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...

 over how best to understand 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...

, especially evident at a conference held at the German Historical Institute in London in 1979 which resulted in numerous hostile exchanges.

In 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 the 1980s, Hildebrand sided with those who contended that the Holocaust, while a major tragedy of the 20th century was not a uniquely evil event, but just one out of many genocides of the 20th century. Furthermore, Hildebrand argued that the crimes of 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...

 were just as evil as those 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...

. As one of the historians who more or less supported Ernst Nolte
Ernst Nolte
Ernst Nolte is a German historian and philosopher. Nolte’s major interest is the comparative studies of Fascism and Communism. He is Professor Emeritus of Modern History at the Free University of Berlin, where he taught from 1973 to 1991. He was previously a Professor at the University of Marburg...

 in 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"...

, many feel his reputation has been somewhat damaged in the public eye. At first, Hildebrand praised Nolte's 1986 article Vergangenheit, die nicht vergehen will ("The Past That Will Not Go Away") and especially his 1985 essay "Between Myth and Revisionism" as "path-breaking", but as the controversy caused by 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"...

increased, Hildebrand increasingly wrote less and less in support of Nolte and more in the favour of his mentor 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...

. In a 1986 review of Nolte's 1985 essay "Between Myth and Revisionism" in the Historische Zeitschrift journal, Hildebrand argued that 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".
Hildebrand ended his review in Historische Zeitschrift journal by calling Nolte’s essay "Between Myth and Revisionism" “trailbrazing”. In another essay, Hildebrand praised Nolte for daring to open up new questions for research. In another feuilleton, 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 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...

 had called for During the Historikerstreit, Hildebrand often used the press as way of attacking 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'...

 over what Hildebrand regarded as Habermas’s unfair criticism of Nolte and Hillgruber. In an essay entitled "The Age of Tyrants" first published 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...

on July 31, 1986, Hildebrand called Habermas’s article “A Kind of Settlement of Damages” a "…dark brew of politics and scholarship, of weltanschauung and historical perspective, of prejudices and facts”. Hildebrand argued that because Habermas was not a historian, but a philosopher, he was not qualified to write on historical topics. Hildebrand claimed as part of the “historicizing” National Socialism, that historians should consider, if not necessarily agree with Nolte’s theories

Responding to Hildebrand's essay "The Age of Tyrants: History and Politics" 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”
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...

 defended Habermas against Hildebrand by writing:
“Hildebrand’s partisan shots can be easily deflected; that Habermas is accused of a “loss of reality and Manichaeanism”, and that his honesty is denied is witness to the self-consciousness of a self-nominated historian elite, which has set itself the task of tracing the outlines of the seeming badly needed image of history”
Writing of Hildebrand's support for Nolte, Mommsen declared that: “Hildebrand’s polemic clearly suggests that he barely considered the consequences of making Nolte’s constructs the centrepiece of a modern German conservatism that is very anxious to relativize the National Socialist experience and to find the way back to a putative historically “normal situation” In another essay, Mommsen wrote that Hildebrand was gulity of hypocrisy because Hildebrand had until 1986 always claimed that generic fascism was invalid concept because of the "singularity" of the Holocaust Mommsen wrote that "Klaus Hildebrand explicitly took sides with Nolte's view when he gave his previoulsy stubbornly claimed singularity of National Socialism (failing to appreciate that was, as is well known, the standard criticism of the comparative fascism theory)" 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...

 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.

Hildebrand defended Hillgruber by attacking Habermas over the “tried and true higher-ups of the NSDAP” line created by Habermas, which Hildebrand considered a highly dishonest method of attack Hildebrand argued that Hillgruber was merely trying to show the "tragedy" of the Eastern Front, and was not engaging in moral equivalence between the German and Soviet sides In another essay entitled "He Who Wants to Escape 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 accused Habermas of engaging in “scandalous” attacks on Hillgruber Hildebrand claimed that “Habermas’s criticism is based in no small part on quotations that unambiguously falsify the matter” Hildebrand wrote that in his view about Habermas that:
“A citation garbled like this is no way a forgivable exception. Rather, Habermas consistently and studiously distorts the texts, which unfortunately does not study, but more accurately, haunts…To want to justify Habermas’s treatment of texts contradicts everything that his customary in historical scholarship and in the area of everyday life. Every student who treated literature in the “Habermas way” would fail his exam!"
As part of his attack on Habermas and his supporters, Hildebrand assailed the functionalist interpretations of the Holocaust advanced by 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...

 and 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...

 as little better than 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...

, and commented sarcastically that in the Historikerstreit that the “revisionists” Mommsen and Broszat were supporting Habermas in his attacks on the “revisionists” Nolte and Hillgruber Hildebrand wrote as part of his attack on the “singularity” of the Holocaust that:
  • That all historical events and occurrences are in someway singular
  • That there is nothing comparable to the Holocaust committed by other fascist regimes an movements, which in Hildebrand’s opinion disqualifies the notion of generic fascism
  • That with regard to the “intensity of annihilation” policies, the Nazi regime is comparable to the Soviet regime
  • That in a wider viewpoint, the Holocaust was “singular”, but was one in a sequences of genocides in the 20th century regime


Hildebrand ended his essay "He Who Wants to Escape the Abyss Will Have To Sound It Very Precisely: Is the New German History Writing Revisionist?" by claiming that Hamberas was a 60s radical had trouble dealing with the fact that 20th century was one of genocide and totalitarianism, and was tying to block historians from exploring legitimate questions

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 about Hildebrand that:
"Comparative genocide has turned out to be a capacious bandwagon. Fest's outrage, not at genocide, but at Habermas's assault on the fudging of the distinctions between genocides, was endorsed in a pompous defense of the historian's lofty search for science by Klaus Hildebrand, historian of Nazi foreign policy at the University of Bonn. Distinguishing between planned genocide and war crimes in the field or pogromlike outbursts, Hildebrand admits that the former was carried out only by Hitler's Germany "under the sign of racial domination, and Stalin's Soviet Union under the sign of class domination". Genocide evidently loves company. What Wissenschaft demonstrates is that Germany only followed the Slavic lead".


In an 1987 article, Hildebrand argued that 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....

 were totalitarian, expansionary states that were destined to come into conflict with each other. Hildebrand argued that in response to concentrations of 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...

 near in the border in the spring of 1941, Hitler engaged in a flucht nach vorn ("flight forward"-i.e. responding to a danger by charging on rather than retreating). Hildebrand concluded that:
"Independently, the National Socialist program of conquest met the equally far-reaching war-aims program which Stalin had drawn up in 1940 at the latest".
. Hildebrand’s critics such as 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 Hildebrand of seeking to obscure German responsibility for the attack on the Soviet Union, and of not being well informed on Soviet foreign policy. Some champions of the "preventive war" theory were critical of Hildebrand for using the term Überfall (fell upon) to describe 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...

 because it implied Hitler still had some freedom of choice in 1941. In a 1995 introduction to a essay about German-American relations by Detlef Junker, Hildebrand asserted that first Britain and then the United States in the 19th-20th centuries had a tendency to be highly ignorant of Central European affairs, and likewise had a propensity for engaging in “black legend” type of propaganda against Germany.

Work

  • Vom Reich zum Weltreich: Hitler, NSDAP und koloniale Frage 1919-1945, Munich: Fink, 1969.
  • "Der "Fall" Hitler" pages 375-386 from Neue Politische Literatur, Volume 14, 1969.
  • Bethmann Hollweg, der Kanzler ohne Eigenschaften? Urteile der Geschichtsschreibung, eine kritische Bibliographie, Düsseldorf, Droste 1970.
  • "Hitlers Ort in der Geschichte des Preussische-Deutschen Nationalstaates" pages 584-631 from Historische Zeitschrift, Volume 217, 1973.
  • Deutsche Aussenpolitik 1933-1945; Kalkül oder Dogma?, Stuttgart, W. Kohlhammer 1970, translated by Anthony Fothergill into English as The Foreign Policy of the Third Reich, London: Batsford, 1973, ISBN 0520025288.
  • “Hitlers “Programm” und seine Realisierung, 1939-1942” pages 178-224 from Kriegsbeginn 1939 Entfesslung oder Ausbruch des Zweiten Weltkriegs? Edited by Gottfried Niedhart, Darmstadt, 1976.
  • “Hitler’s War Aims” pages 522-530 from The Journal of Modern History, Volume 48, Issue # 3 September 1976.
  • "Nationalsozialismus oder Hiterismus?" pages 555-561 from Persönlichkeit und Struktur in der Geschichte, Düsseldorf, 1977.
  • Das Deutsche Reich und die Sowjetunion im internationalen System 1918-1932: Legitimität oder Revolution?, Steiner, 1977, ISBN 3515025030.
  • co-written 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...

    Kalkül zwischen Macht und Ideologie. Der Hitler- Stalin- Pakt : Parallelen bis heute?, Fromm Druckhaus, 1980, ISBN 3720151255.
  • "Monokratie oder Polykraties? Hitlers Herrschaft und des Dritte Reich" pages 73–97 from Der 'Führerstaat': Mythos und Realität Studien zur Struktur und Politik des Dritten Reiches, Stuttgart, 1981.
  • Das dritte Reich, München : Oldenbourg, 1979, translated into English by P.S. Falla as The Third Reich, London : G. Allen & Unwin, 1984 ISBN 0049430327.
  • Von Erhard zur Grossen Koalition, Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1984.
  • (editor) Deutsche Frage und europäisches Gleichgewicht : Festschrift für Andreas Hillgruber zum 60. Geburtstag, Köln : Böhlau Verlag, 1985, ISBN 3412079847.
  • German Foreign Policy from Bismarck to Adenauer : the Limits of Statecraft, London : Unwin Hyman, 1989, ISBN 0044450702.
  • Co-edited with Jürgen Schmadeke & Klaus Zernack 1939 - An Der Schwelle Zum Weltkrieg Die Entfesselung Des Zweiten Weltkrieges Und Das Internationale System , Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co 1990, ISBN 311012596X.
  • Integration und Souveränität: Die Aussenpolitik der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1949-1982, Paris: Bouvier, 1991, ISBN 3416022858.
  • "The Age of Tyrants: History and Politics The Administrators of the Enlightenment, the Risk of Scholarship and the Presrvation of a Worldview A Reply to Jürgen Habermas" pages 50–55 & "He Who Wants to Escape the Abyss Will Have to Sound It Very Precisely: Is the New German History Writing Revisionist?" pages 188-195 from Forever In The Shadow of Hitler? edited by Ernst Piper, Humanities Press, Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey, 1993, ISBN 0-391-03784-6.
  • Das vergangene Reich: Deutsche Aussenpolitik von Bismarck bis Hitler, 1871-1945, Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt 1995.
  • The Reich - Nation-State - Great Power: Reflections On German Foreign Policy 1871-1945, London: German Historical Institute, 1995.
  • "No Intervention": Die Pax Britannica und Preussen 1865/66-1869/70 : eine Untersuchung zur englischen Weltpolitik im 19. Jahrhundert, Oldenbourg 1997.
  • Zwischen Politik und Religion. Studien zur Entstehung, Existenz und Wirkung des Totalitarismus, Oldenbourg Verlag: Munich 2003, ISBN 3-486-56748-9.