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Hitler historian Eberhard Jäckel dies

August 17, 2017

Holocaust historian Eberhard Jäckel, known for his award-winning publications aimed at understanding Hitler's worldview as a means of making sense of the war, has died at the age of 88.

Eberhard Jäckel
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/B. Weißbrod

"National Socialism determined my career path," Eberhard Jäckel once said.

Best known for his political activism to force engagement in the commemoration of the Holocaust on the national level, the historian and professor at the University of Stuttgart was highly influential in the way that contemporary Germany remembers its past.

Born in 1929 in Wesermünde, Jäckel became well known after the 1969 publication of his book, "Hilter's Weltanschauung: A Blueprint for Power" (the English version was released in 1972). In the book, Jäckel holds up the notion that long before he took power, Adolf Hitler had openly formulated his plans, among them the murder of European Jews.

Read more: Should Germany keep its Nazi relics to teach young people about the Holocaust?

Several books on Hitler, including "Hitler in History," followed, as did the award-winning documentary, "Der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland" (Death is a Mater from Germany). The multi-part series filmed with journalist and publicist Lea Rosh won the Scholl Prize.

View of the concrete at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe first opened in 2005Image: picture-alliance/Schoening

Influential in the Berlin Holocaust Memorial

Together with Rosh, Jäckel drove the political discussion that eventually resulted in the construction of a Holocaust memorial designed byPeter Eisenman in Berlin. The memorial, comprised of 2,700 cement steles to commemorate the millions murdered during National Socialism, was erected in the shadows of the Brandenburg Gate as a "place of information."

Read more: Selfies at Dachau: New film reveals embarrassing reality of remembrance

After learning of his death, the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which has become one of the most visited tourist sites in Germany, remembered Jäckel as one of the "most committed and influential fighters for the memory of the Holocaust."

The head of the board of trustees, German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert, remembered Jäckel for his civic engagement. "Jäckel's civic commitment led to the political decision to take up the memorialization of the Holocaust as a mission of the state."

ct/kbm (dpa, epd)