« Desert Island Discs

Margaret MacMillan, historian

2019-02-24 | 🔗
Professor Margaret MacMillan is a Canadian historian, author and broadcaster. In 2018 she delivered the Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4, in which she examined the tangled history of war and society. She was born in Toronto in 1943, and her interest in history was kindled by the stories her parents told about when they were young and by the historical adventure novels she read as a child. After a long academic career in Canada, she found herself in the international spotlight in her late 50s. Her book Peacemakers, about the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, won the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize and many other awards, and became a best-seller. Margaret is the great-granddaughter of David Lloyd George, who attended the Paris Conference as the British Prime Minister. She has also written books about Nixon and Mao, about Europe’s path to World War One, and about personalities who have shaped history. She became the Warden of St Antony’s College, Oxford, in 2007, and retired from the role in 2017. In the 2018 Queen’s New Year’s Honours List, Professor MacMillan was appointed a Companion of Honour. She continues to research and write. BOOK CHOICE: À la Recherche du Temps Perdu by Proust LUXURY: A machine to help her learn to sing CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Mood Indigo by Duke Ellington Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Sarah Taylor
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
BBC sounds music, radio, podcasts, hello, I'm Lauren Laverne, and this is the desert island discs podcast. Every week I ask my guests to choose the eight tracks book and luxury they'd want to take with them. If they were cast away to a desert island and for rights reasons, the music is shorter than the original broadcast. I hope you we listening my cast away this week is the highest story and professor Margaret macmillan, she's known for her perception
if the analysis of events and for her ability to assess the way they are shaped, both by the historical forces of the time and by the individuals who participate in them. As for her own history, it might have been childhood spent in canada, hearing stories about family connections all over the british empire. That first kindled her interest in her chosen subject, it's equally possible that playing with a first well war hand grenade a souvenir of her grandfathers put on the path to becoming industry historian. She spent twenty five years as a teacher before she wrote a first book and it was her second published in two thousand and one that would be her breakthrough. Hurricane If the paris peace conference in nineteen nineteen became a best seller and she became the first woman to win the samuel Johnson prize for non fiction decorated. many times over, both in the uk and canada. In the past year alone, she's received the simons metal in recognition of her exceptional contribution.
Canadian life undelivered, the twenty eighteen reith lectures on radio for exploring was place in human culture, cheese, as history- can help me- make sense of your present situation to remind you that there were other situations like it in the past and to help you ask the right questions. It me hope you like a sign on the road that says dangerous curve ahead and makes you drive more carefully profess. Margaret macmillan. Welcome to desert island discs. Thank you. So I mentioned you prize winning book peacemakers about the paris peace conference of nineteen nineteen. Now it's success must have been all the more pleasing because, surprisingly, it was rejected, wasn't it by a number of publishers. Quite a few I, The file somewhere I found the other day and- and I was quite amused the lovin one said nobody wants to read about a bunch dead white men sitting around a table talking about peace treaties and another said which was from quite a well to do university. Press said we can't afford to publish a book that only a few people will buy. So why did they get it so wrong?
do you think it and what was it about the book that connected with people? I think what why publishes perhaps got it as it was at the end of the cold war, and everyone is looking ahead and the paris peace conference seems so far in the past and why worry about it, but as the pulls began after the cold war ended in a we also, there's gonna, be this lovely moment of peace, and then suddenly yugoslavia felt he says you got troubles in the middle east trouble and ghana, stand and people began to ask. How did this holes and why these places having these conflicts and you have to go back to understand them. to stand the middle east conflict. You have to go back, and so I think my book came at a time when people beginning to ask questions and just to check many copies as it's old. No I've never done a final top. It well the half a million. So what I well demand- and you are to rename your book for the american market because apparently books with that the word peace on the cover don't sell so well. Why is that they came out in the uk thousand one. It was coming out in the u s in two thousand and two. So that's all
in september. The eleventh and the americans were in an angry mood my editor new york, said look. Peacekeeping is not something they want to think about at the moment and that she said also. Americans live paris. And so they renamed it, paris, nineteen, nineteen and- and actually I think it was a good move. Tell us about your first piece today. Why have you chosen it and what are we going to hear while the first pieces is the welsh ballad, malawi and its part. Because my mother was welsh. She had a wonderful voice in and she adored welsh me sick, and whenever a welsh choir came to toronto, where I grew up, we always went and as children we went sometimes to north wales to see my grandmother and was always music then, and my father, who is scots and and who, of course, love. The bagpipes did also love welsh music, and this was his favorite whale songs as well as one of my mother's. So it's one that has particular sort of memories for me, the
the if oh, the is
never angry, composed by Joseph perry, with words by MR davies and performed by the morrison orpheus choir the track that represents your connection to your welsh family, Margaret macmillan, in your book, paris. Nineteen nineteen did that to you, while the great granddaughter of David Lord George, the liberal prime minister, who was out at paris conference. Would you been told about him when you are growing up told by my grandmother, my great onto who I was very fond of and and by various goes to my mother's. You know that he was a great political figure and they took on his sort of MM cheese. He had had corals with the generals, they thought the generals. and they were partners and, of course, and then I started
studying history serious, and I think I became a bit more detached as one does, and I think I used to slightly annoy the older generation by saying I don't think he was perfect in every way which you do and you and then when I started doing research for the paris peace conference book. I approach and I hope I think with it with a very objective and sceptical mine, but I did come round to thinking. Yes, he had his faults, but he was great negotiator and he was somebody wants to try and get the different sides together, which I think is a great talent in a statesman. So developed, an admiration for which I hadn't had before, as as I was doing, the book written extensively about the first world war and said that being canadian has benefited you in that process, why would I come from a small country, not small jerry, ethically but small in terms of power and population, and I never felt when I was writing about great events like the first world war that I had to
and my country or or blame my country. I mean it's, I think it's more difficult if you're, german or british or american, because your country's was so important in these conflicts and I think you're under more pressure to take a stand and I felt being a canadian. I could be somewhat detached. and simply tryin and look at all sides. I don't if I succeeded bright, I think, coming from a small power actually has certain advantage and you're writing career took off after many years spent teaching, I wonder how your teaching experiences shaped. He was a writer. I think it was hugely important. I told her to polytechnic where none of the students were doing history as a main subject? They had to do liberal arts electives, and so sometimes did very reluctantly loading, engineering or business, and they thought much more important to concentrate on the core subjects and so I learnt I think through that twenty five years- and we did a lot of teaching, I learnt to tell stories I lent to get them interested, not everybody. I couldn't, but I,
I think I did learn to be better teacher and if you learn to tell a story than it also helps you writing, let's go music. What's next well, this is. It is music that comes from the second world war and was very much part of as when I was growing up in my group just after the second world war and it still part of what we listen to its duke ellington. And it's me indigo, which is so wonderful and I've always had the greatest admiration for him. He was a wonderful, wishing you was a great bandleader. He was so dignified. You know he dealt with american racism and he just kept this wonderful dignity. My parents were both medical students invest your toronto in the nineteen forty during the war and they dance to this at the medical students. Graduation with duke ellington ban. I know anything it meant, a lot to them and we heard it as children and then one of my brothers graduated from an american university princeton. I guess the set, undies and my parents went down to a graduation and there was duke ellington ban, and so they danced again
It's lovely music and I remember it very fondly the the the the I know, where I
Do you care in the end, mood indigo favor of your parents, Margaret macmillan, so tell me a little bit more about your life growing up. You were born in toronto and you're the eldest of five children. I think how did you get along, Not always well I mean we were bit like come europe before the first world, shifting alliances, so there are sometimes my sister and I would fight than sometimes my sister, my eldest brother, fight and sometimes the three of us would get on. We came up against the youngest too, but I'm devoted to them. All I mean with over the years. We became very good friends and we still see each other lawton and I'm very lucky in that. I have to ask you about the hand grenade that are mentioned in the introduction. It was a family album of sorts something like later, and father was a doctor. As well and he'd gone with a groove canadian doctors in the first world war, two fights initially with the army? Because it was no canadian court that point and he brought back souvenirs
including hand grenade and my grandmother used to keep it in those days, people who things call curio cabinets which levels of gold things new, had little souvenirs from your trips or whatever and the hand grenade was at it and we take it out and roll around the floor and at one point I think, when I was getting interest in military history, I said to them. You know the pin is still in it. and there was a sort of consultation among the elders left hand grenade was removed. I think it may have still been live. Where is now. Do we know what we don't unforeseen, my further buried it up in the country. My parents had a firm at sight drawn any buried it. We have no idea where he buried it, so we just hoping no and puts a spade and We more about your mother. What sort of person was she she was a terrific mother she died only about, I think three is going and we'll still miss her. She was very long I believe she was very vivacious. She was like a lot of the other mothers in the neighborhood and that's no. They were nice, but she was much more fun and some of my friends still say you was so lucky, even though she just was fine and she encourages to read and she encourages
lay in all the other has risen in toronto was very sedate in those days and every has had a best front room. It was the best partner and you never went into it, and people covered the finnish with plastic and table cloth and things and our living room was a living room and we could turn the senator upside down and make for it's and we all sat there and read. It was the only house on the street that was like that tend to go to the museum. Tell me about your third desk today. Why have you chosen this one? One of the things I love is art print and I love verde, and this is that famous duet from la Traviata where the father via letters lover comes to her and says. Look for the baron comes to her and says: look for the sake of my son. You have to leave him for the sake of our daughter, who will never make a respectable marriage and it is beautiful and she does renounce her lover, and you can see that the baron is beginning to understand who she is and what sort of woman she is. And it's just. I find it incredibly moving
the The the was the The the, detail our giovanni from VERDI's. Let Traviata some
elaine courtroom, bash and sherrill milnes with the bavarian state orchestra conducted by Carlos kleiber, Margaret macmillan, your father, doctor was on board a naval ship during world war, two when he got wind of your birth from a newspaper. I think what happened he was summer after broad trip that his ship was was helping two convoys across the atlantic. And he got a summer for signal from another ship sank. Congratulations, your father and he apparently sing back saying what sex and the same before on the other ships. I don't know and that just simply being an item in the newspapers that lloyd George had had his first great grandchild, and so that was me, but my father, he didn't meet me, tell us two years old and did you find it took tibet, his war experiences? He didn't how much he D told us funny stories as children. He would tell us very funny stories about being in gibraltar in and all that knows walking along land in asia and spain, and so you tell us stories, but only one
So we were all together as a family and we were all quite grown up and he's just the summary and started telling us what the time his ship was. Nearly sunk and he got quite It was emotional and then we all got worried about him and didn't want him to be so. We said well patted him on the back that it was the only time he talked about the sort of terrors of war, and I do very vividly your parents sound like extreme We can do people, I wonder how much of their sense of adventure rubbed off on you and the great pattern: Toronto and most canadian cities was to have a sum a cottage. Then you go north spend the whole summer at the cottage and my father hated it? He just hated cottages. He thought they were boring said there was nothing to do and so, my parents, just put us in car five of this they stood it and we drove we drove to the west coast rideau to the east coast. We went hiking, we went on canoe trips and canoe. Trips are quite strenuous. We went on canoe trips for two weeks where you had to carry everything over port ashes and paddle. but none of us have ever go to some a cottage or wanted one. You can be fine on this island. I think Margaret my hopes and when I was
I have a very good at the campfire stuff, so I'm going to have to brush up. I think temp symbol, music, the fourth disc. Well, it's canadian! That's why I've chosen it. We haven't had a very violent, drink. Had we had two rebellions in the thirty in and thirty seven and an hour people who lead those rebellions were sent into exile, both english and french speakers, and this the song in french about some of those exiles sung by an english canadian focusing which I think shows something. I hope about the way our two cultures meld, but it says something me about all those canadians who are forced to leave or do leave, and you always miss canada and you, mrs space, in numerous countries. Every time I hear it, I think, about canada. In canada, yeah yeah woo I can't in
is a if Bonnie, canadian arrow. Margaret macmillan, you began studying history at the university of toronto in nineteen. Sixty two had this sixty start to swing about point with a swinging view. No, not really When I went to university of toronto, it was very proper. I mean we didn't wear trousers. We will skirts. We, Little cardigans men war ties, it was extraordinary ebony, it happened when I was at university. You began to hear about this. Something called marijuana people were talking about. It also began to happen, and music, and it was a time of considerable turmoil. I'm in canada we were much more commerce, but even there we were effective.
what was going on in the? U s and the american consulate was conveniently very close to the investor toronto. So between lectures we go down and demonstrate for civil rights. You phd thesis was I told the social and political attitudes of the british in india, and why did you choose that subject as both growing up in canada? Do you you cannot but be interested in the british empire? cause. We were part of it, an era when we were growing up. Our passports were british passports everywhere you had the pictures of the of the monarch, and I became very interested in the gradual change of the british empire and the british commonwealth in the in the in the tendency of the different countries and india also because my maternal grandfather was a doctor in india and we had his children a tiger skins that he I'm sorry too, if he had shot a tiger, but anyway, in those days it was okay and we used to play with the tiger skin and my mother been born, they're. So maybe I I we have learnt something through that
gave me here in india, which was fabulous, guess researching, go thesis and in the pre internet era. What did that involve? In a way? I think we're lucky, although is much more difficult, and there was no photocopying in those days you had to go and look at the documents and take notes by and you had to go to where they were. and nowadays I notice with with my graduate students, as they will often go some of her. We can take lots of photos and then come home, but I'm not sure you, get the sense of a place in the same way as if you have to live there and and what made a difference to me. I was writing about the british and indian. Before I went, I thought they were pretty awful and the women were awful and they were so intolerant and they really didn't like living end in they complained about it and then, when I was there, I thought you know. I can understand how home It's you get your minority in a very, very different culture, very alien culture, and I remember one night thing incredibly homesick and I think I had some called dengue fever which didn't help, and I thought I just won't be home eating the food. I know with people I know, and then I was lost.
my radio had little short way. Radiant suddenly heard this mozart horn concerto on my little radio. They may feel incredibly homesick. The the the. the the
part of the world though, from Mozart, hon, concerto number, two in e flat, major performed by dennis brain and fill ammonia orchestra conducted by herbert phone carryin, Margaret macmillan. How do you feel about that ask that awaits the historians of the future of the people who becoming through the mass of digital information to make sense of our own age for insights. I dont know what they're going to do because This going to be too much, I think into little I mean, as can be endless, of email and twitters. Assuming it survives I think a lot of governments and storing it so that maybe it will survive, but I think what's happening and it's partly wiki partly wikileaks. I think, and the other sort of big spills of data that people are getting very cautious about what they say and so governments
government officials aren't putting down on paper or in electronic form what they really think and that I think, is gonna be a real problem, because what we do- and we look at the past particulars of nineteenth century we can read- is that people wrote and they wrote them, knowing that nobody else is going to see what they wrote, except for my three other people. So the very frank- and I think it's gonna be difficult, so that share ability is as shifted things I think. So. I might even wonder people keeping diaries as much anymore do you still enjoy seeing results? materials and actually being and contact with something that puts even in touching distance of the past absent really I mean. I remember the first time I was reading something before the first world war and and the wizard of comments scribbled on the side and then the initials w c, and I thought, whose of internet that Winston churchill you know and- and you thought he just scribbled something hastily on listen, and that is exciting what we reading it was documents, something
naval strategy. I think because he was very much engage in that because he was the first lord of the admiralty, but even physical objects, seeing something that someone once held a member, an exhibition once that had Peter the great's boots and they were huge. You know you just thought who was this man we're going to go to the music now six disk today. Why? Because in this one bob dylan boy in the wind? Well again, that's part of my youth- and perhaps you remember these things from when you younger, very vividly, and it was sixties and vietnam was something that was a big cause. A lot of canadians opposed it. We had our own demonstrations being very canadian, quite polite demonstrations, oh- and this was a song just wove its way as a lot of bob dylan music did through the sixties, and it seemed to it wasn't just about vietnam. It was about the term ali upheaval, civil rights movements that the whole whole of challenge to what had been an an did, structure many sea mass, the why the sale,
she's leaves, and is many times mass. The cannonballs fly, the river band The answer, my friend in the wind and is some wonderful bob Dylan and blowing in the wind margaret went melon in your recent book histories. People, you look it leadership on you, discuss in detail Joseph Stalin, Margaret thatcher, Adolf hitler, woodrow wilson. How often does what you find out about a person doing the research process? Surprise you, and how often do you change your opinion of someone I think, I'm often surprised you find out things about people's private tastes about what they're really interested in
woodrow wilson, for example, I found out told terrible jokes and that some gave me different view of him. You know someone with a tin ear for jokes it. It says something I think, or you find out, that your sir edward grey, the british foreign secretary before the first world war, had a passion for bird watching and I think the only book he wrote was about bird watching, and that gives you a dimension. I I cut you. I can't say that it makes you think about them totally differently. I mean Hitler was a vegetarian and nice to dogs. It didn't change my view of him and how possible is it to look beyond the public face that a person present, particularly You know, and I conic world leader and find a real person and how important is it to do that? Will I think it is very important, I think, we're all at base and by our emotions and our passions and our fears- and I once and of course we have intellectual idea, as well in and we think things through because more rational beings. But I think we are a bundle and I think great leaders are just as much a bundle
of emotions and ideas, and everything else is the rest of us. You can almost revere them too much and see them a sort of plaster saying so, plus two monsters or see them? This is, really being fully human and of course they are driven by the same such things as the rest of us, perhaps on a bigger scale and you ve described. History is more a bunch of late. Richer than if science, but often has very real world effects. Can history books influence leaders to change their policy decisions, for example? They can. I think that the trouble is, of course, of its leaders red selectively. I'm in bill Clinton apparently read a book about yugoslavia in the balkans when the whole place was blowing a part which argued that the balkans, I've always been trouble. I've always been like that. They ve always vote each other and I think that help to persuade him not to get involved, which I dont think was necessarily good thing. Kennedy
read Barbara tuchman seconds of over august just before the cuban missile crisis, and he was very conscious and I'm like glad he was that you can sometimes blunder into catastrophic situations without meaning to and having steadied the personalities of past leaders and the way that their individual character traits and changed and shape the course of history. What do you make of the current crop of world leaders- It is interesting, isn't it I mean I dont want to be too pessimistic, but it seems we are rather difficult time where the very few well leaders who inspire at least in me much confidence and you know trump- is clearly totally incompetent. I think way beyond his depth. I mean he, he wasn't a great real estate developer, new york and he doesn't have any of the qualities. In my view that you need for president. I think we have also seen of certain, I would say, failure, polluter the leadership in a number of countries. Perhaps I dont be rude about britain but term. The sort of drift in the past few years strikes me is as something very, very unfortunate
and we ve only seen a rise of authoritarian leaders who are necessarily great leaders but who have a particular way meaning and manipulating the country so individually. Just don't make the difference for everything and and the time matter in the economic forces matter and all that matters. But I do think individuals can for better was push history in one direction or another. He said you don't want to be pessimistic where the bright spots we'll canada I named and patriotic, but no I mean, I think, it was one arm. Press ups are pretty pretty pretty good, but now I mean I think there are bright spots and I think democracy is strongly rooted in in ways that it wasn't. Perhaps in the nineteen thirties in some countries I mean who would have thought Nineteen in the would have thought that germany would become the great and bulwark of democracy, and a liberal international order, tanks, moments, What are we gonna annex? Well, this is from a composer. Came too late in life bognor, I didn't get Varden when I was younger, I found it
heavy. I dont know what I thought it, but I died and I perhaps I was influenced by vagueness own appalled. Views on many things, including his anti semitism, but I began to listen to bognor began to listen to the ones that oppress more accessible. Like the flying dutchman and the mice to sing. I began to get it. I think, and I finally went to a ring cycle and I found I did it in a week- and I found the music just kept going on and on through my head and and so now, I'm I'm, not the vagueness fanatic, but I'm much closer to that end of the spectrum. and I was- and so this is the overture from the MR sayer, which is one of the first five nor offers I really came to love the
the the overture
from vagueness de meister singer for known burke, performed by the oslo fella monaco castra conducted by maris young since Margaret macmillan we ve talked a bit about the past. I would like to ask you about the present as well. Some commentators believe that institutions, like the u n and the eu, which was set up to maintain peace, seem quite vulnerable in today's climate and you start your reflection, theories with the ominous phrase. We have a lot to be pessimistic about. How worried are you about where we are now in and what comes next? Well, I don't to be worried and anything pessimism is something you slip into too easily and I certainly don't wanna be cynical about what's happening, but I am. Concerned, and I would have been say five years ago years ago I think it's partly because we attending to forget, with the passage of time it's inevitable, why we wanted a united nations. Why we wanted the things like the world bank, the bretton woods organizations well, bank, the I am asked them well trade organization why
European union seemed like a good idea to european countries. Who'd been at war with each other so much, and I think we forget that these institutions, came at a time when the world was was shattered and a very bad way and have proved as Kosovo faults in angola, defending everything they do have done, but they came at a time. when, when people wanted something that would guarantee stability and peace, which is not such a bad thing to want- and I think we now contemptuous of them- we don't understand that purpose when I think we have united states, which has become increasingly isolationist, at least under the present president, and if the united states is not engage Then it's it's really bad for all of us, and so I am worried and I'm worried about the growth of liberalism. I'm worried about the growing hostility in so many countries to immigrants. This fear of I think these are not good signs have also written we ve lost a sense of common ground. What do you mean by that? Will the way which politics has become arise dumb in certain countries that the people simply won't speak to each other? The more
the? U s these days. Republicans and democrats are just not speaking and Quite often there, the living, indifferent suburbs or different bits of the city's owed or different parts of the country, and that's why worrying because you know we do have common ground. We have to work together in. Of course, we can do agree, but a certain level. We want to make sure that our society works. Let's go to music, it's your eighth disk today tell me about this. Well from the Rosen cavalier, which is another of my favorite operas, but it's from the last act when hush lean recognizes that active in is in love with younger women and she's recognising her age and sets about aging, and since I'm not seven, five aging is something I am. I think about. Not all the time but I am aware of and it's it's a very moving yes, I think, and at its foot, when the rose and heavily stops being a comic opera and become something
Santer anyway. It's elegiac and it is, I think, my wonderful piece of music. the the the yes, Is the the
the true from a tree of devereuxs and carefully with sophie cook, rennie fleming andean adoniram? They were accompanied by the munich philharmonic conducted by christian, tell him on it's time to cast you away to a desert island, Margaret macmillan? What do you think would present the biggest challenge to your survival while you're there one issue that good building things and so on. thank you and I hope it's going to be a warm tropical island, because the idea that I can be in a swiss family robinson and build a nice little commode, Shall I don't think so? How are you with solitude and your own company, not bad action, think I spend a lot of time on my own and writers. Do I think after a few days,
If I been writing- and I haven't talked to people- I think I'm getting a bit rusty at human interactions. I better get out and meet someone, but yeah, I'm not too bad. Okay, I'm sending you away with the complete works of shakespeare and the bible. You can also choose a book of your own to take with you. What are you going to go for what I'd like to go for, but it may besides the cheating is some produced. Oliver chest you tom to do, and I would like to take it in french, because my french is rusty and it would force me to read in french and it would keep me going quite a while, of course, you may have it's yours. You can also have a luxury to make life more comfortable. What would you have me what my luck for I dont know, meetings and technology, but what I would like is something tat, possibly device that will teach me to sing so that I can practise singing. it'll be good on a desert island, because no one can hear me now by a device to help you practice singing what what have you got any idea. What am I being? Would you think not what I'm thinking of some because I'm not allowed another book. Otherwise, I can take singing for dummies, but if there was something that would play a few know,
and then I would singing back to the thing and it would play it back to me. can't do anything else with it. It would just be for learning to sing We'll have to invent that, but margaret. If we can will russell one up and we did he gets. Please please, and I thought I sit there and saying, and not bothering, but maybe eventually the dolphins will come in sing to me too Finally, one last choice, which of the eight discs that you ve chosen today, would you decide to save? I think they might take mood indigo, because was played all over the war in the pacific the second world war and I'd be on an island somewhere in might remind me of all, as other people who came through professor Margaret macmillan. Thank you very much for sharing your design island discs at us. Will you ve made me want to get to the desert island thanks. The
ass. We leave Margaret honour island reading produced this. Just time The me to remind you that there are many historians and out back look including sir Simon sharma, lady Antonia, fraser and joy. julius no rich in ninety. Ninety five sue lowly spoke to Eric hobbs born who recounted his childhood at bringing in berlin during the early nineteen thirties, after the death of both parents, he and his sister when- live with her aunt and uncle we were taken over by an aunt and uncle it so happened. My father's brother had married my mother's sister says it was a closer relationship between these uncles and aunts day, more or less took us over and went on. Educating us looking after us and this was in berlin- this was in berlin, which of course was a historic time early thirties. It was an extraordinary period, absolutely extraordinary
mean this. These few years are in many ways the absolute crucial period in at least in my life. It was living through what we knew to be an extraordinary, dramatic turning point in history. You knew, then, even that, yes, we knew what the stakes were. I remember the afternoon when hitler came to power. You know seeing the headline as myself and my sister were walking back from school. I was already politically organized in some kind of schoolboys association. Communist type. Can you remember your reaction in that moment when you saw that headline the reaction was what, if anything, could be done and meetings distributing leaflets all the rest of it didn't do much good, and what do you remember of those months after hitler came to power in january thirty three? How did things change
As far as I myself was concerned, obviously didn't change we weren't affected by it. We were. We were english. We were not german. Consequently, the worst that could conceivably have happened is being expelled, but as far as other people are concerned, we knew that in some ways it was end and a terrible dangerous period had begun. Otherwise it so happened that my family left a few months after that not for medical reasons, because a mild man's job and folded in the depression and went back to england to try and reconstruct his life there. That was the summer of thirty three and you would have been sixteen, not quite sixteen years. the historian Eric hopes born, and you can hear his edition Download many more programmes via the desert island discs website join me next week when my guest
be the hairdresser Travis obey the did. You know that technology can make us kinder to one another. Did you hear about the diver who walked out of the sea onto a portuguese beach, dragging the internet behind him? Did you realize that how you speak to the little robot helper in your house might cement age old stereotypes for decades to come? I'm Alex Curtis sky and those are just some of the stories that we've looked at in the digital human, the podcast that explores what it means to be human in the digital age. If you want to hear more- and I guarantee we will surprise- you come check us out exclusively on bbc- sounds.
Transcript generated on 2022-06-12.