The value of first-hand accounts, presented within an evidence-based, fact-checked, corroborated context

An Oct. 16, 2014 article at the Times Higher Education website is entitled: “Born in the GDR: Living in the Shadow of the Wall, by Hester Vaizey.”

I learned of this text from an Oxford University Press Twitter account that I follow; I found the article of interest, particularly this comment:

“These first-hand accounts confirm that there are as many versions of events as there are people being asked; Vaizey suggests that personal memories may claim a higher degree of authenticity than other sources about the past, tied in as they are with our attempts to make ‘sense of events subsequently’.”

Second World War

Also of interest is a Jan. 2, 2015 article from Oxford University Press Twitter account entitled: “Misunderstanding World War II.”

The article, by Gerhard L. Weinberg, notes:

“A fourth type of misunderstanding comes from a failure to recognize the purpose of the war Germany initiated. Hitler did not go to war because the French refused to let him visit the Eiffel tower, invade the Soviet Union because Joseph Stalin would not let the German Labor Front place a ‘Strength through Joy’ cruise ship on the Caspian Sea, or have a murder commando attached to the headquarters of Erwin Rommel in Egypt in the summer of 1942 to dismantle one of the pyramids for erection near Berlin renamed ‘Germania.’ The purpose of the war was not, like most prior wars, for adjacent territory, more colonies, bases, status, resources, and influence. It was for a demographic revolution on the globe of which the extermination of all Jews was one facet in the creation of a world inhabited solely by Germanic and allegedly similar peoples. Ironically it was the failure of Germany’s major allies to understand this concept that led them over and over again, beginning in late 1941, to urge Hitler to make peace with the Soviet Union and concentrate on crushing Great Britain and the United States. World War II was fundamentally different from World War I and earlier conflicts. If we are ever to understand it, we need to look for something other than the number popularly attached to it.”

[End of excerpt]

Modern German and world history

Among  Gerhard Weinberg’s studies is:

Germany, Hitler, and World War II: Essays in Modern German and World History (1995). A blurb for the book notes:

“Far more than a conflict of imperial aggression, World War II was about ‘blood and soil,’ a fight to determine who would control the earth’s resources and which races would be exterminated because they were deemed inferior or undesirable. This collection of essays, many never before published in English, illuminates the nature of the Nazi system and its impact on Germany and the world. Included are careful examinations of the Holocaust, the connections between the European and Pacific theaters of war, a comparative analysis of the leadership styles of Hitler, Stalin, Tojo, and Roosevelt and a look back at postwar Germany.”

[End of excerpt]


A Feb. 8, 2016 CBC article is entitled: “Motherisk scandal highlights risk of deferring to experts without questioning credentials: Lab’s flawed hair testing echoes Charles Smith scandal, with similarly devastating effects.”

A Feb. 10, 2016 Guardian article is entitled: “Opinion vs facts: why do celebrities so often get it wrong? Celebrities often make wildly inaccurate claims and comments to millions of people. But the workings of our minds mean we’re all prone to such behaviour.”

A Feb. 22, 2016 New York Tims article is entitled: “For Mark Willenbring, Substance Abuse Treatment Begins With Research.”

An Aug. 15, 2016 Guardian article is entitled: “Joseph Goebbels’ 105-year-old secretary: ‘No one believes me now, but I knew nothing’: Brunhilde Pomsel worked at the heart of the Nazis’ propaganda machine. As a film about her life is released, she discusses her lack of remorse and the private side of her monstrous boss.”


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