Between Two Homelands: Letters across the Borders of Nazi Germany provides a glimpse into the everyday lives of one family living during the tumultuous years of World War Two.
The book, which was assembled from family letters by Hedda Kalshoven, gives voice to ordinary Germans in the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich and in the occupied Netherlands.
University of Illinois history professor Peter Fritzsche edited, abridged, and annotated Between Two Homelands with the assent and collaboration of Hedda Kalshoven. Fritzsche also wrote the Preface to the book.
The University of Illinois News Bureau spoke with Fritzsche for the “A Minute With”™ feature. Below is Fritzsche’s conversation with News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain. . . .
News Bureau Editor’s note: Sept. 1 marks 75 years since Germany invaded Poland, beginning World War II, and historians still debate what caused the German people to follow the Nazis into conquest and the Holocaust. Peter Fritzsche, a historian of modern Germany, has written several books based in part on the letters and diaries of average Germans, from before and through Nazi rule and the war. Perhaps the most valuable collection of letters came from four generations of a single German family, separated by politics and the German-Dutch border. Those letters were recently published in the book Between Two Homelands for which Fritzsche did translation and wrote the preface.
We’ve recently passed the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I, and a common refrain is that the end of that war and its treaty demands led directly to the Nazis and World War II. Was the connection that simple? Continue reading