‘The day is ours. The bloody dog is dead.’ With this line from Shakespeare’s Richard III, on 1 May 1945 the BBC announced Hitler’s exit to a Wagnerian Valhalla. Seventy-five years later, the dog still keeps us busy. While one of the co-leaders of Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), Germany’s radical right-wing party, recently claimed that Hitler’s regime was ‘just a bit of bird shit’ in the country’s history, others beg to differ. Some 120 German historians, politicians and journalists are currently being sued by the Hohenzollerns, the former royal house of Germany, for commenting on the family’s close links to Hitler. Whether the German royals helped him into power or not has become an issue of debate in the German parliament and will probably be settled in court. Furthermore, the bird shit has a tendency to spread: the Russians are currently arguing with the Poles over who was more complicit in the genesis of the Second World War, while in Britain and elsewhere the continuing success of films and novels about the period keeps it in the public consciousness.
Amid this cacophony comes the second volume of Volker Ullrich’s biography of Hitler. His highly acclaimed first volume took us through the shameful years of appeasement up to the eve of war, a war eagerly desired by Hitler but also made possible because the British refused to recognise that the