In 1978, I enrolled in a degree program in History and Political Science at the Darmstadt University of Technology. I was studying toward the state exam to become a secondary-school teacher, not because I wanted to be a teacher, but because I was not entirely sure what career I would pursue later on. Politics and history were simply my main preoccupations. In my early student days, I was still very much the Marxist. The thing was: on campus, being a Marxist was not the exception, but the rule. Having left leanings was the way to be. I found myself resenting the idea of being “mainstream.” My attitudes began to shift gradually when I began to study the phenomenon of National Socialism. I had read Joachim Fest’s highly acclaimed biography of Adolf Hitler, and began to study the National Socialist era in depth. I wanted to understand why so many Germans had followed a man who caused so much misery for the world and, of course, for Germany, too.

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