Part IV turns to biography. The individuals discussed here were not major ideologues of the Nazi regime; all were detached from it in one way or another; the last two, indeed, Claus von Stauffenberg and Winston Churchill, became its mortal enemies. Chapter 14 takes a close look at the conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, whose conduct in staying in Germany for the duration of the Third Reich has aroused fierce controversy over the years. Steering a careful course between Furtwängler’s partisans, who refuse to believe that a great musician could not be a great man, and his critics, who refuse to believe that anyone who occupied as prominent a position in the cultural life of Nazi Germany as he did could not be an out-and-out Nazi himself, the chapter argues that Furtwängler is best understood as a man whose political conservatism and German nationalism caused him to have deeply ambivalent though by no means wholly hostile feelings towards the regime. When it originally appeared in The Times Literary Supplement in 1992, the review article was violently attacked by Furtwängler fans, while the letters and articles published in its support by critics of the conductor such as Bernard Levin did it little service either by going much further than I had done in condemning his conduct. Steering a middle course in a debate that had become totally polarized over the years proved, in other words, to be no easy task.
Equally fierce controversy was aroused by Chapter 15 when it originally appeared in the same journal a few weeks before the article on Furtwängler. Here the debate was polarized between those who, like Britain’s wartime government and many since, just dismiss the Bomb Plot of 20 July 1944 as an outbreak of internecine warfare within the Nazi regime at a time when Germany was obviously heading for total defeat, and those who, like the surviving relatives of some of the plotters who wrote objecting to the review, consider that the plotters should simply be celebrated as brave men to be remembered and admired without criticism. In fact, a man such as Claus von Stauffenberg, the soldier who planted the bomb, was far more