Historian Zara Steiner’s Succinct Characterization of 1920s, 1930s

The period leading up to World War II was a time of “few heroes, two evil Titans and an assortment of villains and knaves.” Adolph Hitler was ““an opportunist who knew where he was going.” Josef Stalin was a cruel tyrant whose purges of more than one million Russians in the 1930s grew out of his “fierce determination to establish his control over all men and institutions that might threaten his monopoly of power.”

These were the assessments of Zara Steiner, a historian of the period who died in February 2020. Her “magisterial books on 20th-century diplomacy were considered authoritative studies of Europe from World War I to World War II,” according to The Washington Post.  As accomplished as her histories of 20th century Europe were,  she said of the villains she portrayed in her books: “I have not enjoyed their company.”

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