A former BBC programme maker and author has been talking about how family memories of the war inspired his new book on a hidden aspect of the Nazi past.
Knaresborough-based Colin Philpott said his parents’ memories of going through the Second World War were in his thoughts as he wrote Relics of the Reich.
Colin said: “I’d been interested in the subject since I studied history at school. The war was always a big topic of family discussion round the dinner table when I was younger, too.”
Published by Pen & Sword, Colin’s new book tells the story of what happened to the buildings Hitler left behind.
Part architectural survey, part military and social history, it’s a subject not previously mined by other historians.
Painstakingly researched and fully illustrated, the book traces the history of sites all across Germany associated with the Nazi era, from the Nuremberg rally ground in Bavaria to the Gestapo headquarters in Berlin.
One of Colin’s goals from the start was to avoid the trap of the book turning accidentally into a “dark tourism” travel guide.
The matter of Germany’s collective guilt over the terrible nature of its past is weaved in and out of every page of the book’s fascinating 200 pages.
This former director of the National Media Museum in Bradford said: “The book is dedicated to the victims of the Nazis, one of the most heinous regimes in human history.
“But a great deal has been written about that. My interest is in how Germany has dealt with its awful legacy and what happened to the buildings and public places not obliterated by the Allies.”
As well as his writing, Colin is still a creative director and a radio and event presenter.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Relics of the Reich, which has already featured on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme is learning how the scars of war continue to affect ordinary Germans to this day.
Over the years, the German government has designated many buildings and places as “perpetrator sites” and “victim sites”.
But other locations have just been quietly subsumed into every day life such as the Hamburg Flaktower which now houses a music school, shops and a night club.
He said: “At the moment, politicians in Nuremberg are deciding what to do with the infamous rally ground and stadium. They’re falling apart and it will cost around £60 million to repair. There’s been debate but, in principle, they are going to do it.”