A British historian of 20th-century Germany, whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich, will deliver the annual Clare Hall Ashby Lecture in Cambridge on Tuesday 11 May.

Sir Ian Kershaw, Professor of Modern History at the University of Sheffield (pictured), will deliver the lecture, entitled ‘How and Why Did Hitler's Germany Fight On to the Bitter End?’

Kershaw suggests that a simple answer to this question would be: because Hitler refused ever to consider capitulation. But that only raises further questions.

Why was he allowed to block all exit routes? Why were subordinate Nazi leaders and military commanders prepared to follow him down to the total destruction of the Reich? Why were there no traces of any revolutionary stirrings from below, as in 1918?

Some interpretations have looked to a lasting consensus behind the regime, others to the role of terror and repression as adequate explanations. This lecture will look to more complex reasons.

Kershaw studied at the University of Liverpool, where in 1965 he gained a First Class honours degree in History. He later gained a D.Phil at Merton College, Oxford in 1969. He was originally trained as a medievalist but turned to the study of modern German social history in the 1970s.

He has served as historical advisor on numerous BBC documentaries, most notably the BAFTA winning series ‘The Nazis: A Warning From History’. He is known for his monumental biography of Adolf Hitler which is said to be ‘soberly objective’.

Sir Ian Kershaw is a Fellow of the British Academy, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Amongst his many honours he was the co-winner of the British Academy Book Prize 2001, and he won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography in 2005 for ‘Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry, the Nazis, and the Road to War’.

He was awarded a knighthood in 2002 for Services to History.

Since 1978, Clare Hall has hosted the Ashby Lectures, a widely acclaimed summer event in Cambridge. Named after one of the founders of the College, the lectures focus on the presentation and discussion of ideas that inspire human values in a wider sense: values that relate, in compelling and contemporary ways, to philosophical questioning about the nature of life and society.

Clare Hall is a College for Advanced Study in the University of Cambridge. It is a community that welcomes graduate students and senior scholarly visitors and their families from all over the world.

Clare College, the second oldest in the University of Cambridge, was known as Clare Hall from nearly the time of its foundation in 1326 up until 1856.

Clare College founded Clare Hall as a separate Institute for Advanced Study in 1966 and Clare Hall received its own Royal Charter as an independent College in the University in 1984.

The lecture, which is now fully booked, will take place from 6pm at Robinson College Auditorium, Grange Road.

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