Left and Right? New claims about Soviet spy Anthony Blunt
History@Kingston » European History
by historyatkingston
2w ago
In a fascinating and provocative article in the Sunday Times (April 28th), Rosamund Urwin discussed the possibility that Anthony Blunt, the ‘fourth man’ in the infamous ‘Cambridge Five’ Soviet spy ring, may have passed secrets to the Nazis in World War Two. Urwin’s article set out and summarised some new findings and a controversial fresh thesis being put forward by Robert Verkaik in his new book The Traitor of Arnhem (published by Headline publishers on May 9th, 2024). Sir Anthony Blunt (1907-1983), of course, was the art historian and very ‘establishment’ man who became Adviser for the Quee ..read more
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History as conspiracy theory: The case of David Icke and the ‘Protocols’
History@Kingston » European History
by historyatkingston
1M ago
Just prior to the Covid-19 medical emergency and lockdown, I embarked on the delivery of a module on the role of conspiracy theory in history, and recently had the opportunity to run the module again. The course sought to address the very difficult question of why so many people appear to believe that ‘secret’ forces are at work in the world and allow themselves to be seduced and conned by the claim that there is no such thing as ‘accident’ in history. One of the conspiracy theorists I covered on the module was the former footballer and Green activist David Icke, author of books such as And th ..read more
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Racist Revisionism: Arnold Leese and early Holocaust Denial in Britain
History@Kingston » European History
by historyatkingston
1M ago
Some brief exploration of the extent to which crude and racist historical revisionism has moved from the margins into the cultural mainstream of society can be a truly shocking experience. It is no exaggeration to say that conspiracy theory and its ugly child Holocaust Denial have taken on industrial-scale proportions in the early 21st Century. What many people still don’t seem to appreciate is the degree to which British conspiracists played a key role in this, beginning to sow the seeds almost immediately after the end of the War in 1945. Indeed, the early origins of the extremist attempt to ..read more
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Exploring the Nazi Career of Otto Skorzeny, the ‘Devil’s Disciple’
History@Kingston » European History
by historyatkingston
1M ago
Although studies of Otto Skorzeny, said to be Hitler’s ‘favourite commando’, tended to be limited and were often of highly questionable quality for much of the post-war period, this situation appears to have changed in more recent years. Some qualitatively better research material has become available and, thus, serious historians of Nazi Germany have becoming increasingly interested in demythologizing and unpacking Skorzeny’s career and reputation. One such contribution to the growing historiography came in 2018, with Stuart Smith’s Otto Skorzeny: The Devil’s Disciple (Osprey publishers). Au ..read more
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A model for Trump? The authoritarian nature of Viktor Orban’s ‘illiberal democracy’
History@Kingston » European History
by historyatkingston
2M ago
If anybody still entertains any doubts about the extremely worrying authoritarian ambitions of former U.S. president Donald Trump, then it is important to consider what he said on the evening of Friday, 8th March, 2024. Holding a meeting and concert at his luxury residence at Mar-a-Lago, where he played host to the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (pictured), Trump was full of praise for his guest: ‘There’s nobody that’s better, smarter or a better leader than Viktor Orban… He’s a non-controversial figure because he says, “This is the way it’s going to be”, and that’s the end of it… He’s ..read more
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Dangerous Delusions: Trump and the politics of populism
History@Kingston » European History
by historyatkingston
2M ago
Historians will have much to write about when they look back on current political affairs in America, and analysis of the rightwing brand of ‘populist’ politics will be a major aspect of this. When it comes to his desperate desire to move back into the White House, the former U.S. President Donald Trump has made some dangerously deluded claims, including that he is a ‘victim’ of ‘fake news’ put out by his political opponents. He has attacked the MSM (mainstream media) in particular, arguing that it is ‘liberal’ and ‘socialist’ and out to ‘get’ him through ‘political persecution’. Trump has als ..read more
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The Two Vlads: Putin’s ideological debt to the late ultra-nationalist Zhirinovsky
History@Kingston » European History
by historyatkingston
2M ago
There has inevitably been much speculation in the last two years about the ideological sources that have possibly influenced President Vladimir Putin’s brutal war against Ukraine and his seeming desire to reconstruct a pre-1989 Soviet Union, or even a mythologized version of an older Russian empire. One source of inspiration for Putin has undoubtedly been the ‘Greater Russia’ ideas of Aleksandr Dugin. However, I suspect that another, perhaps more indirect, influence on Putin was the late Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the ultra-nationalist politician who died of Covid-19 on 6th April, 2022, aged 75. Pu ..read more
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Captivating memories: New ‘Great Escapes’ exhibition at the National Archives, London
History@Kingston » European History
by historyatkingston
3M ago
What was life like for the many individuals who found themselves being held as wartime prisoners or internees? This is certainly a growing area of research for historians and, I suspect, is also of great interest to anybody who has a fascination with family, social or general military history. I paid a visit to a new exhibition, Great Escapes, which has just opened at the National Archives (TNA), Kew, in south-west London, and runs from 2nd February to 21st July, 2024. The exhibition is subtitled ‘Remarkable Second World War Captives’, and is devoted to three main categories of captive held i ..read more
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The Spy Who Lied: Another look at the Kim Philby story
History@Kingston » European History
by historyatkingston
4M ago
A recent television drama series about the life of Kim Philby, the British Intelligence officer who engaged in treachery, attracted good reviews and enthusiastic viewers when it was screened, but contained few surprises for historians of the secret state. The production, A Spy Among Friends, first shown in 2022 and aired again since then, was based on the bestselling book of the same name by the newspaper journalist and respected historian Ben Macintyre, and stared Guy Pearce as Philby. Interest in Philby’s life and career remains as lively as ever, and Macintyre’s book contained all the class ..read more
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The Holocaust and Hate: Whe the late Zigi Shipper recalled Auschwitz
History@Kingston » European History
by historyatkingston
4M ago
We were very sad to learn of the passing of Zigi Shipper, aged 93, in 2023. He came to Kingston University to deliver a talk on his experiences of the Holocaust and it was a truly moving experience for all who came to listen. As a tribute, and to help commemorate the 2024 Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January), we republish this blog first published here on 18th March, 2015. Why do people hate? This was one of the central questions asked by Holocaust survivor Zigi Shipper when he spoke to students and staff at Kingston University about his early childhood in Poland and experiences of the Nazi ..read more
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