While living in Sydney during the 1980s, I found myself asking an Australian acquaintance why, in a supposedly irreverent land originally settled by convicts, the government – and especially the educational system in New South Wales, within whose confines my son was less than happy – seemed surprisingly authoritarian. Ah, he answered with a grin. Yes, of course there had been all those criminals and rebels. But, you see, there had also been the jailers. And their descendants were still here as well.
I was reminded of this illuminating observation while reading Roger Moorhouse’s intriguing depiction of the German capital during wartime. His story in Berlin at War is of a community mostly unconvinced by Nazism, its people as disrespectful and slyly humorous as cockneys or Sydneysiders, who nonetheless were forced