NAZIS AND NOBLES
The history of a misalliance
Translated by Jonathan Andrews
471pp. Oxford University Press. 30 [pounds sterling] (US $38.95).
The aristocracy has barely featured in the extensive literature on the social bases of support for National Socialism in Germany. Until recently, the impenetrable family networks that protected it from Nazi infiltration after 1933 also seem to have shielded it from the scrutiny of historians. This has left the aristocracy's postwar reputation polarized between a hostile image of blinkered Junker reactionaries pursuing delusions of restoration and a rose-tinted ideal of noble army officers sacrificing their lives to redeem German honour--the latter dominant in postwar West Germany.
Although the nobility subsided into political irrelevance after 1945, it is still an object of public fascination; and it has revealed a sting in its tail, with an ongoing controversial and hard-nosed legal campaign by the ex-imperial Hohenzollern family to gain compensation for estates and property sequestered by the German Democratic Republic. These claims will be dismissed in law if the family can be proven to have given "substantial encouragement" (erheblicher Vorschub) to the Nazi or East German regimes.
Stephan Malinowski's cultural-political study of nobles and Nazis, revised and stylishly translated from the German original (2003), invites us to reach our own...