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Dr Toby Thacker 


Toby Thacker, Joseph Goebbels: Life and Death (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) xiii + 407pp.

Abstract: Joseph Goebbels was the most notorious demagogue of the twentieth century, and Hitler’s closest confidant. This is the first biography to use his complete diary from 1923-1945, only recently released from the Soviet Union, together with a range of other primary sources, and it presents a challenging new interpretation of his life. It charts Goebbels’ rise from provincial obscurity in the Rhineland, through his emergence as the most dynamic speaker of the Nazi Party and the Gauleiter of Berlin in the 1920s, to his appointment as Hitler’s Propaganda Minister in 1933. Combining analysis of Goebbels’ relationship with women and of his political career, it argues that there were clear threads running through his life, from a turbulent adolescence through to his death. Goebbels’ love of German culture, his obsession with ‘sacrifice’, his fascination for Hitler, and his hatred of the Jews led him into a fatal involvement with German politics which culminated with his suicide, together with his wife and six children, in Hitler’s bunker in 1945. 


Toby Thacker, Music after Hitler, 1945-1955 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007) x + 280

Abstract: This book explores how music was controlled in Germany under Allied occupation from 1945-1949, and in the early years of ‘semi-sovereignty’ between 1949 and 1955. While emphasizing political, social, and economic structures that influenced the production and reception of different musical forms, the book is informed by a sense of human agency and explores the role of salient individuals in the reconstruction of music in post-war Germany. The focus is not restricted to any one kind of music but concentrates on those aspects of music, professional and amateur, live and recorded, which appeared to be the most highly charged politically to contemporaries. Particular attention is given to ‘denazification’ and the introduction of international music, and the book explores how governments in East and West Germany after 1949 sought to control and influence music through mechanisms of censorship and positive support.


Toby Thacker, The End of the Third Reich: Defeat, Denazification, and Nuremberg, 1944–1946 (Stroud: Tempus, 2006)

Abstract: Most existing histories of Germany in the twentieth century end or begin in 1945. This book argues that the Allies were committed after 1943 not only to forcing the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, but to a thorough process of ‘denazification’, to be carried out under military occupation. It therefore presents the period 1944-1946 as a continuum, and analyses how the wartime objectives of the Allies were realised after the military defeat of Germany in 1945.

Noting the significance of the discovery and liberation of German concentration camps in 1945, the book details the establishment of the Allied Control Council, the abolition of Nazi laws, and of the Nazi Party. It examines the creation of the International Military Tribunal, and the trial held before it in Nuremberg, as well as other significant ‘war crimes’ trials. It also examines the wider process of denazification – the removal of former Nazis from public life, and the elimination of Nazi ideas and influences from education, the media, and the arts.

Articles and Book Chapters

Toby Thacker, 'Using music as historical text in teaching European history', Cultural and Social History 6: (2009), pp. 187-194

Toby Thacker, 'Music and Politics in Germany, 1933-1955', History Compass 5:4 (2007), 1338-58

Toby Thacker, “‘Renovating’ Bach and Handel: New Musical Biographies in the German Democratic Republic”, in Jolanta Pekacz (ed.), Musical Biography: Towards New Paradigms(Ashgate, 2006), pp. 17-41.

Tony Thacker, 'Liberating German Musical Life: The BBC German Service and Planning for Music Control in Occupied Germany, 1944-1949', Yearbook of the Research Centre for German & Austrian Exile Studies 5 (2003), pp. 77-92

Toby Thacker, 'The fifth column: dance music in the early German Democratic Republic', in Patrick and Osmond (eds), The Workers' and Peasants' State: Communism and Society in East Germany under Ulbricht, 1945-71 (Manchester University Press, 2002), pp. 227-243