Richard J. Evans
Richard John Evans is a British academic and historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

, prominently known for his history of Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...



Evans was born in London, of Welsh parentage, and is now Regius Professor of Modern History (Cambridge)
Regius Professor of Modern History (Cambridge)
Regius Professor of Modern History is one of the senior professorships in history at Cambridge University. It was founded in 1724 by George I. The appointment is by Royal Warrant on the recommendation of the Prime Minister of the day...

 at the University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 and President of Wolfson College
Wolfson College, Cambridge
Wolfson College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. Wolfson is one of a small number of Cambridge colleges which admit only students over the age of 21. The majority of students at the college are postgraduates, with around 15% studying undergraduate...

. Evans applied for the distinguished Cambridge position, whereas his predecessors were chosen — marking a procedural change at Cambridge. Evans has also taught at the University of Stirling
University of Stirling
The University of Stirling is a campus university founded by Royal charter in 1967, on the Airthrey Estate in Stirling, Scotland.-History and campus development:...

, University of East Anglia
University of East Anglia
The University of East Anglia is a public research university based in Norwich, United Kingdom. It was established in 1963, and is a founder-member of the 1994 Group of research-intensive universities.-History:...

 and Birkbeck College, London
Birkbeck, University of London
Birkbeck, University of London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and a constituent college of the federal University of London. It offers many Master's and Bachelor's degree programmes that can be studied either part-time or full-time, though nearly all teaching is...

. Having been a Visiting Professor
Visiting Gresham Professor
Visiting Professors at Gresham College, Holborn, London, give free educational lectures to the general public. The college was founded for this purpose in 1596 / 7, when it appointed seven professors; this has since increased to eight and plus the Visiting Professors.The first Visiting Professors...

 in History at Gresham College
Gresham College
Gresham College is an institution of higher learning located at Barnard's Inn Hall off Holborn in central London, England. It was founded in 1597 under the will of Sir Thomas Gresham and today it hosts over 140 free public lectures every year within the City of London.-History:Sir Thomas Gresham,...

 during 2008/09, he is now the Gresham Professor of Rhetoric
Gresham Professor of Rhetoric
The Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College, London, gives free educational lectures to the general public. The college was founded for this purpose in 1596 / 7, when it appointed seven professors; this has since increased to eight and in addition the college now has visiting professors.The...


He was educated at Forest School, Jesus College, Oxford
Jesus College, Oxford
Jesus College is one of the colleges of the University of Oxford in England. It is in the centre of the city, on a site between Turl Street, Ship Street, Cornmarket Street and Market Street...

 (MA), and St Antony's College, Oxford
St Antony's College, Oxford
St Antony's College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England.St Antony's is the most international of the seven all-graduate colleges of the University of Oxford, specialising in international relations, economics, politics, and history of particular parts of the...

 (DPhil) and the University of East Anglia
University of East Anglia
The University of East Anglia is a public research university based in Norwich, United Kingdom. It was established in 1963, and is a founder-member of the 1994 Group of research-intensive universities.-History:...

 (LittD). In a 2004 interview, Evans stated that frequent visits to Wales
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain, bordered by England to its east and the Atlantic Ocean and Irish Sea to its west. It has a population of three million, and a total area of 20,779 km²...

 during his childhood inspired both an interest in history and a sense of "otherness".

Career as a historian

As an undergraduate, Evans was much influenced by the History Workshop school, which was in its founding phase at Oxford while he was studying there, and by the English Marxist historians
Marxist historiography
Marxist or historical materialist historiography is a school of historiography influenced by Marxism. The chief tenets of Marxist historiography are the centrality of social class and economic constraints in determining historical outcomes....

. He was also influenced by E.H. Carr's What Is History?
What is History?
What Is History? is a 1961 non-fiction book by historian Edward Hallett Carr on historiography. It discusses history, facts, the bias of historians, science, morality, individuals and society, and moral judgements in history....

He was drawn to modern German history in the late 1960s because of what he saw as parallels between the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 and German imperialism. Evans first established his academic reputation on the Second Reich period of German history. He admired the work of Fritz Fischer
Fritz Fischer
Fritz Fischer was a German historian best known for his analysis of the causes of World War I. Fischer has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing as the most important German historian of the 20th century.-Biography:Fischer was born in Ludwigsstadt in Bavaria. His...

, whom he credits with inspiring him to study modern German history. In the early 1970s, Evans travelled to Germany to research his dissertation, a study of the feminist movement in Germany in the first half of the twentieth century. Evans's dissertation was published as The Feminist Movement In Germany, 1894–1933 in 1976. Evans followed his study of German feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

 by another book, The Feminists (1977) which traced the history of the feminist movement in North America, Australasia and Europe in the period 1840–1920. A theme of both books was the weakness of the middle class in Germany with a culture that laid great stress on traditional values such as honour, deference, and the need for women to obey men. For these reasons, Evans argued that both liberalism and feminism failed in Germany while flourishing elsewhere in the Western world

Evans' main interests are in social history
Social history
Social history, often called the new social history, is a branch of History that includes history of ordinary people and their strategies of coping with life. In its "golden age" it was a major growth field in the 1960s and 1970s among scholars, and still is well represented in history departments...

 and he is much influenced by the Annales School
Annales School
The Annales School is a group of historians associated with a style of historiography developed by French historians in the 20th century. It is named after its scholarly journal Annales d'histoire économique et sociale, which remains the main source of scholarship, along with many books and...

. He largely agrees with Fischer that the way that German society developed in the nineteenth century led to the rise of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, although Evans takes pains to point out that this outcome was one among many possibilities and was not inevitable. For Evans, the values of the 19th century German middle class had the seeds of National Socialism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 already germinating.

He studied under Fischer in Hamburg in 1970–71, but came to disagree with the 'Bielefeld School
Bielefeld School
The Bielefeld School is a group of German historians based originally at Bielefeld University who promote social history and political history using quantification and the methods of political science and sociology. The leaders include Hans-Ulrich Wehler‎, Jürgen Kocka and Reinhart Koselleck...

’ of historians who argued for the Sonderweg
Sonderweg is a controversial theory in German historiography that considers the German-speaking lands, or the country Germany, to have followed a unique course from aristocracy into democracy, distinct from other European countries...

thesis and saw the roots of Germany’s political development in the first half of the twentieth century in a "failed bourgeois revolution
Revolutions of 1848 in the German states
The Revolutions of 1848 in the German states, also called the March Revolution – part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many countries of Europe – were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire...

" in 1848. Influenced by the New Left
New Left
The New Left was a term used mainly in the United Kingdom and United States in reference to activists, educators, agitators and others in the 1960s and 1970s who sought to implement a broad range of reforms, in contrast to earlier leftist or Marxist movements that had taken a more vanguardist...

, Evans was a member of a group of young British historians who in the 1970s sought to examine German history in the Imperial period
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

 "from below". Evans argued that he and his associates wanted to highlight "the importance of the grass roots of politics and the everyday life and experience of ordinary people" Evans argued he sought the creation of a "new school of people's history", which was a result of a trend that "has taken place across a whole range of historical subjects, political opinions, and methodological approaches and has been expressed in many different ways". In 1978, as editor of a collection of essays by young British historians entitled Society And Politics In Wilhelmine Germany, he launched a critique of the ‘top-down’ approach of the Bielefeld School associated with Hans-Ulrich Wehler
Hans-Ulrich Wehler
Hans-Ulrich Wehler is a German historian known for his role in promoting social history through the "Bielefeld School", and for his critical studies of 19th century Germany.-Career:...

 and Jürgen Kocka
Jürgen Kocka
Jürgen Kocka is a German historian.A university professor and former president of the Social Science Research Center Berlin , Kocka is a major figure in the new Social History, especially as represented by the Bielefeld School...

 in regards to the Wilhelmine Germany
Wilhelmine Germany
Wilhelmine Germany can refer to:*Imperial Germany during the 1888-1918 reign of Wilhelm II, particularly after the resignation of Otto von Bismarck*Germany during the entire 1871-1918 Empire, ruled for most of its existence by Wilhelm I and Wilhelm II...

. With the historians Geoff Eley
Geoff Eley
Geoff Eley is a British-born historian of Germany. He received his D.Phil from the University of Sussex in 1974, and has taught at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor since 1979...

 and David Blackbourn
David Blackbourn
David Gordon Blackbourn is the Coolidge Professor of History at Harvard University and director of the university's Minda de Gunzberg Center for European Studies. Blackbourn teaches and researches primarily in the fields of German and modern European history...

, Evans emphasized instead the "self-mobilization from below" of key sociopolitical groups, as well as the modernity of National Socialism. In the 1980s, Evans organized ten international workshops on modern German social history at the University of East Anglia
University of East Anglia
The University of East Anglia is a public research university based in Norwich, United Kingdom. It was established in 1963, and is a founder-member of the 1994 Group of research-intensive universities.-History:...

 that did a good deal to refine these ideas, to pioneer research in this new historical field and, in six collections of papers, present it to an Anglophone readership.

His two major research works are Death in Hamburg (1987), a study of class conflict and liberal government in nineteenth-century Germany using the example of Hamburg’s cholera epidemics and applying statistical methods to the exploration of social inequality in an industrializing society, and Rituals of Retribution (1996), a study of capital punishment in German history applying structural anthropological concepts to the rituals of public execution up to the mid-nineteenth century, and exploring the politics of the death penalty till its abolition by the GDR
German Democratic Republic
The German Democratic Republic , informally called East Germany by West Germany and other countries, was a socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, including East Berlin of the Allied-occupied capital city...

 in 1987. In Death in Hamburg, Evans studied the cholera
Cholera is an infection of the small intestine that is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. The main symptoms are profuse watery diarrhea and vomiting. Transmission occurs primarily by drinking or eating water or food that has been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected person or the feces...

 outbreak in Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

 in 1892, which he concluded was caused by a failure in the medical system to safeguard against such an event. Another study in German social history was Tales from the German Underworld (1998), where Evans traced the life stories of four German criminals in the late 19th century, namely a homeless woman, a forger, a prostitute and a con-man. In Rituals of Retribution, Evans traced the history of capital punishment in Germany, and using the ideas of Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

, Philippe Ariès
Philippe Ariès
Philippe Ariès was an important French medievalist and historian of the family and childhood, in the style of Georges Duby. Ariès has written many books on the common daily life. His most prominent works regarded the change in the western attitudes towards death.Ariès regarded himself as a...

 and Norbert Elias
Norbert Elias
Norbert Elias was a German sociologist of Jewish descent, who later became a British citizen.-Biography:...

 as his guide argued that opposition to the death penalty was strongest when liberalism was in the ascendancy, and support for capital punishment coincided when the right was in the ascendancy. Thus, in Evan's view, capital punishment in Germany was never a mere matter of law being disinterestedly applied, but was rather a form of state power being exercised. In addition, Evans examined such subjects as belief in witchcraft
Witchcraft, in historical, anthropological, religious, and mythological contexts, is the alleged use of supernatural or magical powers. A witch is a practitioner of witchcraft...

, torture
Torture is the act of inflicting severe pain as a means of punishment, revenge, forcing information or a confession, or simply as an act of cruelty. Throughout history, torture has often been used as a method of political re-education, interrogation, punishment, and coercion...

, the last words of the executed, the psychology of mobs, varying forms of execution from the Thirty Years War to the 1980s, profiles of executioners, cruelty, and changing views towards the death penalty.

In the 1980s, Evans played a prominent role in the Historikerstreit
The Historikerstreit was an intellectual and political controversy in late 20th-century West Germany about the historical interpretation of the Holocaust. The German word Streit translates variously as "quarrel", "dispute", or "conflict"...

. Evans took issue with the historical work and theories of Ernst Nolte
Ernst Nolte
Ernst Nolte is a German historian and philosopher. Nolte’s major interest is the comparative studies of Fascism and Communism. He is Professor Emeritus of Modern History at the Free University of Berlin, where he taught from 1973 to 1991. He was previously a Professor at the University of Marburg...

, Joachim Fest
Joachim Fest
Joachim Clemens Fest was a German historian, journalist, critic and editor, best known for his writings and public commentary on Nazi Germany, including an important biography of Adolf Hitler and books about Albert Speer and the German Resistance...

, Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Hillgruber
Andreas Fritz Hillgruber was a conservative German historian. Hillgruber was influential as a military and diplomatic historian.At his death in 1989, the American historian Francis L...

, Michael Stürmer
Michael Stürmer
Michael Stürmer is a right-wing German historian best known for his role in the Historikerstreit of the 1980s, for his geographical interpretation of German history and for an admiring 2008 biography of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin .Born in Kassel, Germany, Stürmer received his education in...

, Hagen Schulze
Hagen Schulze
Hagen Schulze is a German historian currently working at the Free University of Berlin. He specializes in early modern and modern German and European history, particularly in comparative European nationalisms.-Life:...

, Imanuel Geiss
Imanuel Geiss
Imanuel Geiss is a German historian.- Life :Imanuel Geiss was born as the youngest of 5 children to a working class family affected by the economic crisis. The unemployed father had to raise the children alone as the mother suffered from Meningitis...

 and Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand
Klaus Hildebrand is a German conservative historian whose area of expertise is 19th-20th century German political and military history.- Biography :...

, all of whom he described as German apologists seeking to white-wash the German past. Evans's views on the Historikerstreit were best summarized in his 1989 book, In Hitler's Shadow. Evans took Nolte—the central target of his book—to task for his defence of the Commissar Order
Commissar Order
The Commissar Order was a written order given by Adolf Hitler on 6 June 1941, prior to Operation Barbarossa. Its official name was Guidelines for the Treatment of Political Commissars...

 as a legitimate military order; his argument that the Einsatzgruppen
Einsatzgruppen were SS paramilitary death squads that were responsible for mass killings, typically by shooting, of Jews in particular, but also significant numbers of other population groups and political categories...

massacres of Soviet Jews were a reasonable "preventive security" response to partisan
Soviet partisans
The Soviet partisans were members of a resistance movement which fought a guerrilla war against the Axis occupation of the Soviet Union during World War II....

 attacks; his statements citing Viktor Suvorov
Viktor Suvorov
Viktor Suvorov is the pen name for Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezun , a former Soviet and now British writer of Russian and Ukrainian descent who writes primarily in Russian, as well as a former Soviet military intelligence spy who defected to the UK...

 that Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 was a "preventive war" forced on Hitler by an alleged impeding Soviet attack; and his claim that too much scholarship on the Shoah has been done by "biased" Jewish historians. In In Hitler's Shadow, Evans strongly criticized Nolte for statements which implied that perhaps there was something to Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial
Holocaust denial is the act of denying the genocide of Jews in World War II, usually referred to as the Holocaust. The key claims of Holocaust denial are: the German Nazi government had no official policy or intention of exterminating Jews, Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas...

 In addition, Evans took Nolte to task for his claim that the victors write history, and that the only reason why Nazi Germany is seen as evil is because Germany lost the war rather than because of the Holocaust. In addition, Evans attacked Nolte for claiming that a letter written to Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

 from Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

 on 3 September 1939 promising that the Jewish Agency would support the war effort was a "Jewish declaration of war" on Germany that justified "interning" all Jews in concentration camps as an attempt to justify the Holocaust Writing from a functionalist
Functionalism versus intentionalism
Functionalism versus intentionalism is a historiographical debate about the origins of the Holocaust as well as most aspects of the Third Reich, such as foreign policy...

 perspective, Evans took Hillgruber and Hildebrand to task in In Hitler's Shadow for their intentionalist theories about the Holocaust Evans denounced Stürmer for writing a laudatory biography of Otto von Bismarck
Otto von Bismarck
Otto Eduard Leopold, Prince of Bismarck, Duke of Lauenburg , simply known as Otto von Bismarck, was a Prussian-German statesman whose actions unified Germany, made it a major player in world affairs, and created a balance of power that kept Europe at peace after 1871.As Minister President of...

, which he felt marked a regression to the Great man theory
Great man theory
The Great Man Theory was a popular 19th century idea according to which history can be largely explained by the impact of "great men", or heroes: highly influential individuals who, due to either their personal charisma, intelligence, wisdom, or Machiavellianism utilized their power in a way that...

 of history and an excessive focus on political history
Political history
Political history is the narrative and analysis of political events, ideas, movements, and leaders. It is distinct from, but related to, other fields of history such as Diplomatic history, social history, economic history, and military history, as well as constitutional history and public...

. Evans argued that a social historical
Social history
Social history, often called the new social history, is a branch of History that includes history of ordinary people and their strategies of coping with life. In its "golden age" it was a major growth field in the 1960s and 1970s among scholars, and still is well represented in history departments...

 approach was a better way of understanding German history. Concerning the attitudes of the German people towards the Holocaust, Evans wrote that he very much approved of Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

's conclusion that "The road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with indifference", namely that the German people were by and large indifferent towards the Holocaust. In addition, in his book about the Historikerstreit, In Hitler's Shadow, Evans attacked the historical work of Robert Conquest
Robert Conquest
George Robert Ackworth Conquest CMG is a British historian who became a well-known writer and researcher on the Soviet Union with the publication in 1968 of The Great Terror, an account of Stalin's purges of the 1930s...

, Hugh Thomas
Hugh Thomas, Baron Thomas of Swynnerton
Hugh Swynnerton Thomas, Baron Thomas of Swynnerton , is a British historian of Welsh origin and writer.Hugh Thomas was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset before taking a BA in 1953 at Queens' College, Cambridge, he was a major scholar and he is now a Honorary Fellow...

, Gertrude Himmelfarb
Gertrude Himmelfarb
Gertrude Himmelfarb , also known as Bea Kristol, is an American historian. She has written extensively on intellectual history, with a focus on Britain and the Victorian era, as well as on contemporary society and culture....

, and Geoffrey Elton, all of whom Evans viewed as part of a neo-conservative historical trend. In the same book, Evans endorsed Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat
Martin Broszat was a German historian specializing in modern German social history whose work has been described by The Encyclopedia of Historians as indispensable for any serious study of the Third Reich. Broszat was born in Leipzig, Germany and studied history at the University of Leipzig and...

's call for the "historicization" of the Third Reich as a "rational approach to Nazism" and as a "gain" to history. Though Evans had much to offer in the way of praise for the functionalist arguments of Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen
Hans Mommsen is a left-wing German historian. He is the twin brother of the late Wolfgang Mommsen.-Biography:He was born in Marburg, the son of the historian Wilhelm Mommsen and great-grandson of the Roman historian Theodor Mommsen. He studied German, history and philosophy at the University of...

, he also wrote of Mommsen's work that "it was surely the case that the argument has now been carried a little too far".

One of his most famous works is In Defence of History, a book in defence of the study of history against postmodernist theories that hold the study of history to be outmoded and no longer useful. Evans suggested that the appeal of Holocaust denial had been much increased by the spread of post-modernist theories since the mid-1970s which declare that history is a construct, and that rationalist tradition of the West is a form of oppression However, Evans stresses throughout his book that some of the criticisms made by postmodernists have been beneficial to history as a whole, in particular that subjectivity is an inevitable and unavoidable part of the historic construct.

Role as an expert witness in Irving v. Lipstadt

Richard Evans is probably best known to the general public in the role of an expert witness for the defence in the high profile libel case of David Irving
David Irving
David John Cawdell Irving is an English writer,best known for his denial of the Holocaust, who specialises in the military and political history of World War II, with a focus on Nazi Germany...

 against the American historian Deborah Lipstadt
Deborah Lipstadt
Deborah Esther Lipstadt, Ph.D. is an American historian and author of the book Denying the Holocaust and The Eichmann Trial. She is the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University...

 in 2000, Irving v. Lipstadt. Lipstadt was sued for libel by Irving, after she referred to him as a "holocaust denier" and "an ardent follower of Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

" in her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust
Denying the Holocaust
Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth & Memory is a 1993 book by Deborah Lipstadt which led to a libel action when David Irving objected to Lipstadt calling him a Holocaust denier, see Irving v Penguin Books and Lipstadt. The book gives a detailed and perceptive explanation of how...

. Lipstadt further accused Irving of "distorting evidence and manipulating documents to serve his own purposes...[as well as] skewing documents and misrepresenting data in order to reach historically untenable conclusions, particularly those that exonerate Hitler."

Evans acted as an expert witness for the defence in the case. His role was to investigate Irving's books, speeches, and other publications to determine whether Irving was, in fact, a Holocaust denier who had manipulated documents to serve his own political interests. Starting in the autumn of 1997, Evans, along with two of his PhD students, closely examined Irving's work and found several instances in which he had used forged documents, disregarded contrary evidence, selectively quoted historical documents out of context, and mis-cited historical records. Evans concluded that Irving was a Holocaust denier who had twisted and distorted the historical record in order to further his own political ideals; the court accepted this view. Evans proved to be a powerful witness in Lipstadt's ultimately successful defence, and he later wrote a book about his experience, titled Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial based on his expert report to the court.

The cross-examination of Evans by Irving was noted for the high degree of personal dislike between the two men. Such was the degree of dislike that Irving challenged Evans on very minor points, such as Evans doubting the fairness of a 1938 German plebiscite in which the Nazi regime received 98.8% of the vote. A subject that much engaged Irving and Evans in a debate was a memo by the Chief of the Reich Chancellery Hans Lammers
Hans Lammers
Dr.jur. Hans Heinrich Lammers was a German jurist and prominent Nazi politician. From 1933 until 1945 he served as head of the Reich Chancellery under Adolf Hitler....

 to the Reich Justice Minister Franz Schlegelberger
Franz Schlegelberger
Louis Rudolph Franz Schlegelberger was State Secretary in the German Reich Ministry of Justice and served awhile as Justice Minister during the Third Reich. He was the highest-ranking defendant at the Judges' Trial in Nuremberg.- Early life :Schlegelberger was born into a Protestant salesman's...

 in which Lammers wrote that Hitler ordered him to put the "Jewish Question" on the "back-burner" until after the war. Evans chose to accept the interpretation of the memo put forward by Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel
Eberhard Jäckel is a Social Democratic German historian, noted for his studies of Adolf Hitler's role in German history. Jäckel sees Hitler as being the historical equivalent to the Chernobyl disaster.-Career:...

 in the 1970s; Irving chose to interpret the memo literally and taunted Evans by saying, "It is a terrible problem, is it not that we are faced with this tantalizing plate of crumbs and morsels of what should have provided the final smoking gun, and nowhere the whole way through the archives do we find even one item that we do not have to interpret or read between the lines of, but we do have in the same chain of evidence documents which...quite clearly specifically show Hitler intervening in the other sense?" In response, Evans stated "No, I do not accept that at all. It is because you want to interpret euphemisims as being literal and that is what the whole problem is. Every time there is an euphemism, Mr. Irving … or a camouflage piece of statement or language about Madagascar, you want to treat it as the literal truth, because it serves your purpose of trying to exculpate Hitler. That is part of … the way you manipulate and distort the documents."

In a 2001 interview, Evans described to the Canadian columnist Robert Fulford his impression of Irving after being cross-examined by him as: "He [Irving] was a bit like a dim student who didn't listen. If he didn't get the answer he wanted, he just repeated the question." His findings and his account of the trial were published in his 2001 book Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, And The David Irving Trial, which was published as Telling Lies About Hitler in the United States in 2002. The High Court rejected Irving’s libel suit and awarded costs to the defence.

The Third Reich trilogy

Between 2003 and 2008, Richard Evans published a three-volume history of the Third Reich. Drawing on years of experience as a leading scholar of German history, Evans wove together the most extensive and comprehensive history of the rise and fall of Hitler’s regime ever produced by a single scholar.

The first volume, The Coming of the Third Reich (published by Penguin in 2003), shows how a country torn apart by the First World War, Versailles, hyperinflation and the Great Depression moved towards an increasingly authoritarian solution and explains how Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 was appointed Chancellor in January 1933 and how swiftly he transformed Germany into a one party dictatorship. The first volume featured highly favorable words of praise from Evans's friend, Ian Kershaw
Ian Kershaw
Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian of 20th-century Germany whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich...

 on its cover.
The second volume, The Third Reich in Power (published by Penguin in 2005), covers the peacetime years of Nazi rule between 1933 and 1939. The final chapter examines the road to the Second World War, but the real focus is on life inside Nazi Germany. One of the great strengths of this volume is the way Evans allows small stories of key individuals to illustrate many of the key social, economic and cultural events of the period. A leading historian of the Third Reich, Richard Overy
Richard Overy
Richard Overy is a British historian who has published extensively on the history of World War II and the Third Reich. In 2007 as The Times editor of Complete History of the World he chose the 50 key dates of world history....

, in a review in the Literary Review
Literary Review
Literary Review is a British literary magazine founded in 1979 by Anne Smith, then head of the Department of English at Edinburgh University. Its offices are currently on Lexington Street in Soho, London, and it has a circulation of 44,750. Britain's principal literary monthly, the magazine was...

 described this book as "magisterial."

The third volume, The Third Reich at War, (published by Penguin in 2008), looks at major developments from 1939 to 1945, including the key battles of the Second World War, a vivid, moving and detailed account of the mass murder enacted during the Holocaust and Hitler's dramatic downfall in Berlin in 1945. In an October 2008 review of the third volume for The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

, best-selling historian Antony Beevor
Antony Beevor
Antony James Beevor, FRSL is a British historian, educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. He studied under the famous military historian John Keegan. Beevor is a former officer with the 11th Hussars who served in England and Germany for five years before resigning his commission...

 writes: "With this third volume, Richard Evans has accomplished a masterpiece of historical scholarship ... [He] has produced the best and most up-to-date synthesis of the huge work carried out on the subject over the past decades."

Regius Professor of Modern History

In 2008, Richard Evans was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University. The post is a royal appointment in the gift of the Prime Minister of the day. It dates back to 1724. Previous holders of the title have included Geoffrey Elton (1983), Herbert Butterfield
Herbert Butterfield
Sir Herbert Butterfield was a British historian and philosopher of history who is remembered chiefly for two books—a short volume early in his career entitled The Whig Interpretation of History and his Origins of Modern Science...

 (1963) and Quentin Skinner
Quentin Skinner
Quentin Robert Duthie Skinner is the Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities at Queen Mary, University of London.-Biography:...

 (1998). But Evans is the first historian to have to apply for the post and be interviewed by a Board of Electors, including Cambridge's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Alison Richard, and representatives of the History Faculty and the university, as well as external assessors from Yale, Harvard, Oxford and London. The Board selected a shortlist of four, each of whom was asked to give a presentation to the entire Cambridge history faculty. The shortlist of four was then reduced to two, who the Board interviewed, resulting in the Board's recommendation of Professor Evans to the Prime Minister, resulting in the issue of a Royal Warrant for his appointment. As well as being Regius Professor, he has served as chairman of the History Faculty since October 2008; his term of office ends on 30 September 2010. But Evans is used to combining administration with research. At Birkbeck College, London, where he worked before Cambridge, he acted as Master when Baroness Blackstone left suddenly to become Tony Blair's first higher education minister. On 27 January 2010 he was elected to the position of President of Wolfson College, Cambridge
Wolfson College, Cambridge
Wolfson College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England. Wolfson is one of a small number of Cambridge colleges which admit only students over the age of 21. The majority of students at the college are postgraduates, with around 15% studying undergraduate...

 to take up office on 1 October 2010.

TV and media appearances

Richard Evans has appeared regularly as "talking head" on a number of TV documentaries related to Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. He recently appeared on a major TV documentary on the History Channel which examined the Valkyrie bomb plot against Hitler in July 1944, which was the subject of a recent Hollywood film
Valkyrie (film)
Valkyrie is a 2008 American historical thriller film set in Nazi Germany during World War II. The film depicts the 20 July plot in 1944 by German army officers to assassinate Adolf Hitler and to use the Operation Valkyrie national emergency plan to take control of the country...

 starring Tom Cruise. He also appears regularly on the BBC Radio 4 programme "Start the Week" and often writes reviews of history books on his specialist era in major newspapers and periodicals. He is also a noted lecturer and gives numerous keynote lectures at international conferences around the world and also at student conferences as part of his remit to take history to a wider audience beyond academia. He is known as an excellent public speaker and often appears regularly as a keynote speaker at universities and schools and at conferences for academics and students around the world.


  • The Feminist Movement In Germany, 1894–1933, London: Sage Publications, 1976.
  • The Feminists: Women's Emancipation Movements in Europe, America and Australasia, 1840–1920, London: C. Helm, 1977.
  • Society And Politics In Wilhelmine Germany edited by R. J. Evans, London: Croom Helm, 1980, 1978.
  • The German Family: Essays on the Social History of The Family in Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Germany, London: C. Helm ; Totowa, N. J.: Barnes & Noble Books, 1981.
  • The German Working Class, 1888–1933: The Politics Of Everyday Life, London: Croom Helm ; Totowa, N. J.: Barnes & Noble, 1982.
  • The German Peasantry: Conflict And Community in Rural Society from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Centuries edited by Richard J. Evans and W. R. Lee, London: Croom Helm, 1986.
  • The German Unemployed: Experiences And Consequences Of Mass Unemployment From The Weimar Republic To The Third Reich, London: C. Helm, 1987.
  • Rethinking German History: Nineteenth-Century Germany And The Origins Of The Third Reich, London: Allen and Unwin, 1987.
  • Comrades And Sisters: Feminism, Socialism, And Pacifism In Europe, 1870–1945, Brighton, Sussex: Wheatsheaf Books; New York: St. Martin's Press
    St. Martin's Press
    St. Martin's Press is a book publisher headquartered in the Flatiron Building in New York City. Currently, St. Martin's Press is one of the United States' largest publishers, bringing to the public some 700 titles a year under eight imprints, which include St. Martin's Press , St...

    , 1987.
  • "The New Nationalism and the Old History: Perspectives on the West German Historikerstreit" pages 761–797 from The Journal of Modern History, Volume 59, No. 4, December, 1987
  • Death In Hamburg: Society And Politics In The Cholera Years, 1830–1910 Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987.
  • The German Underworld: Deviants And Outcasts In German history, London: Routledge, 1988.
  • In Hitler's Shadow: West German Historians And The Attempt To Escape From The Nazi Past, London: I. B. Tauris, 1989, ISBN 1-85043-146-9.
  • Proletarians And Politics: Socialism, Protest, And The Working Class In Germany Before The First World War, New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1990.
  • The German Bourgeoisie: Essays On The Social History Of The German Middle Class From The Late Eighteenth To The Early Twentieth Century London: Routledge, 1991.
  • Rituals Of Retribution: Capital Punishment In Germany 1600–1987, New York: Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press
    Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

    , 1996.
  • Rereading German History: From Unification To Reunification, 1800–1996, London; New York: Routledge, 1997.
  • Tales From The German Underworld: Crime And Punishment In The Nineteenth Century, New Haven [Conn.]; London: Yale University Press
    Yale University Press
    Yale University Press is a book publisher founded in 1908 by George Parmly Day. It became an official department of Yale University in 1961, but remains financially and operationally autonomous....

    , 1998.
  • In Defense of History, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1999.
  • Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, And The David Irving Trial, New York: Basic Books, 2001; published in the United Kingdom as Telling Lies About Hitler: The Holocaust, History and the David Irving Trial, Verso Books, 2002.
  • The Coming Of The Third Reich, London: Allen Lane, 2003.
  • The Third Reich In Power, 1933–1939, New York: Penguin, 2005.
  • The Third Reich at War: How the Nazis Led Germany from Conquest to Disaster , London: Allen Lane, 2008.
  • Cosmopolitan Islanders: British Historians and The European Continent, Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 2009

External links

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