Timothy Snyder

The Reichstag Warning

The Reichstag fire shows how quickly a modern republic can be transformed into an authoritarian regime. There is nothing new, to be sure, in the politics of exception. The American Founding Fathers knew that the democracy they were creating was vulnerable to an aspiring tyrant who might seize upon some dramatic event as grounds for the suspension of our rights. As James Madison nicely put it, tyranny arises “on some favorable emergency.” What changed with the Reichstag fire was the use of terrorism as a catalyst for regime change. To this day, we do not know who set the Reichstag fire: the lone anarchist executed by the Nazis or, as new scholarship by Benjamin Hett suggests, the Nazis themselves. What we do know is that it created the occasion for a leader to eliminate all opposition.
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On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

In the twentieth century, European democracies collapsed into fascism, Nazism and communism. These were movements in which a leader or a party claimed to give voice to the people, promised to protect them from global existential threats, and rejected reason in favour of myth. European history shows us that societies can break, democracies can fall, …
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20 Lessons from the 20th Century

Americans are no wiser than the Europeans who saw democracy yield to fascism, Nazism, or communism. Our one advantage is that we might learn from their experience. Now is a good time to do so.
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Timothy Snyder was Awarded “Man of the Year” Prize by Gazeta Wyborcza

Gazeta Wyborcza, the first Polish independent broadsheet established in 1989, celebrated its 27th anniversary and awarded its “Man of the Year” prize to Timothy Snyder, Professor of History at Yale University and a Permanent Fellow at the IWM.
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Poland vs. History

Perhaps the greatest surprise in the Polish government’s decision is the implicit alliance with current Russian memory policy. The move to limit the Polish history of World War II to the week-long engagement with Germany at Westerplatte in 1939 follows a Russian script that is entirely on the record. In a speech at Westerplatte in 2009, Vladimir Putin accepted that Poland, and not the USSR, was the first victim of German aggression. But there was an important proviso, which he has amplified several times since. The German attack on Poland, Putin asserts, was a consequence of Poland’s own dealings with Nazi Germany before the war, rather than a result of the Soviet-German alliance of 1939.
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Warnings from Another Refugee Crisis

The last world war began amidst a refugee crisis. In discussions of refugees today, many European politicians neglect to mention how exclusion led to murder the last time around.
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Black Earth. The Holocaust as History and Warning

Black Earth. The Holocaust as History and Warning New York: Tim Duggan Books, 2015 In this epic history of extermination and survival, Timothy Snyder presents a new explanation of the great atrocity of the twentieth century, and reveals the risks that we face in the twenty-first. Based on new sources from eastern Europe and forgotten …
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Die EU-Ostpolitik aus Polnischer Perspektive

Polen leistet einen wichtigen und konsequenten Beitrag zur europäischen Außenpolitik und zur Entwicklung der Beziehungen zu den Staaten östlich der EU. Die historischen Verbindungen, kulturellen Traditionen und die geographische Nähe machen aus Polen einen Experten auf diesem Gebiet, der wertvolle Perspektiven in die Debatten und Entscheidungen der EU einzubringen vermag. Den Beziehungen zum Nachbarland Ukraine …
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When Stalin was Hitler’s Ally

As Russia revives the tradition of wars of aggression on European territory, Vladimir Putin has chosen to rehabilitate the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact as good foreign policy. But why violate now what was for so long a Soviet taboo? Timothy Snyder explains.
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Putin’s New Nostalgia

As Russian military convoys continue the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has chosen to rehabilitate the alliance between Hitler and Stalin that began World War II. Speaking before an audience of Russian historians at the Museum of Modern Russian History, Putin said: “The Soviet Union signed a non-aggression agreement with Germany. They say, ‘Oh, how bad.’ But what is so bad about it, if the Soviet Union did not want to fight? What is so bad?”
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