Thursday, July 15, 2021

Historical Intensity

Clearly, historical events have varying degrees of intensity. Some may almost fail to impinge on true reality, that is, on the central, most personal part of a person's life. Others can wreak such havoc there that nothing is left standing. The usual way in which history is written fails to reveal this. "1890: Wilhelm II dismisses Bismarck." Certainly a key event in German history, but scarcely an event at all in the biography of any German outside its small circle of protagonists. Life went on as before. No family was torn apart, no friendship broke up, no one fled their country. Not even a rendezvous was missed or an opera performance canceled. Those in love, whether happily or not, remained so; the poor remained poor, and the rich rich. Now compare that with "1933: Hindenburg sends for Hitler." An earthquake shatters 66 million lives.

- From Defying Hitler: A Memoir by Sebastian Haffner

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