Thirty tourists will pay 3100 dollars for an eight-day Face of Evil Tour luxury tour The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. The tour has the approval of the German authorities.
Two British historians are selling tickets for a tour of Adolf Hitler’s stamping ground during Germany’s nazi years.
British historians Nigel Jones, author of Countdown to Valkyrie, and Roger Moorhouse who wrote Killing Hitler, will lead the Hitler tour.
The tour itinerary includes visits to many historical sites associated with the nazi era and specifically with Adolf HItler. They include:
– the lakeside villa where plans for the Holocaust were drawn up
– the Burgerbraukeller – a beer hall where Hitler plotted his attempt at a coup in 1923
– Hitler’s home in the Bavarian Mountain town, Berchtesgaden
– Berlin’s Holocaust memorial
– the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
– and the place where Hitler finally recognised defeat and committed suicide
Jones and Moorhouse say the tour is being promoted as a study tour and is aimed at ‘tourists’ with a serious interest in nazi history. They also say they intend to check that would-be tour members are not nazi sympathisers or neo-nazi activists.
Nigel Jones said: “Just to make sure, we will even phone all the people wanting to come on the tour about their motives and interest. We are serious historians with a track record.”
Critics of the tour have argued that ‘Hitler tourism’ or ‘Hitler holidays’ trivialise the fascist era and the Holocaust. There is a risk, they say, that the tour will in effect be a “perverse pilgrimage” or homage to Hitler.
David Cesarani is a well-known and respected British expert on nazi Germany. He says:
“German historians have confronted the nazi past with seriousness. But there is a danger of sensationalism when it is incorporated in what I’d call a holiday tour. If you focus on the sites most pertinent to Hitler, you are concentrating on the cult of that personality. The trip in effect becomes a perverse pilgrimage.”
Readers of this article will have their own views about the Face of Evil tour. I have a lot of respect for David Cesarani’s work. I have slightly mixed feelings about the tour though. On the one hand it seems to be
a tasteless cashing in on a tragic period in history. On the other hand, there’s no valid objection to reasonable people studying the rise of fascism or the history of Hitler’s enormously destructive life. I’ve visited the Holocaust museum in Berlin and found it hugely informative as well as, inevitably, emotive. On a purely personal note, the fascists had a good attempt at killing my father during World War Two and, had they succeeded in doing more than seriously wounding him, I would never have seen the light of day and never wondered around the museum. Looking at the many exhibits reminds you that the nazis’ millions of victims are not with us today – and neither are all the children and grandchildren many would have gone on to have. I’ve also visited Treblinka with a jewish friend who was researching his Polish family’s fate. It was spine-chilling to walk on that ground as dusk fell, with an old jewish chap singing a lament nearby, presumably to his own murdered family.
On balance, I’d say the Face of Evil tour is pretty tawdry. The holiday aspect makes it seem shabby and sensationalist. But perhaps Jones and Moorhouse will present some work following up on the tour, showing that it had some valid place in the study of Hitler and the nazi era. Somehow though, I doubt it.