Kristine Latta

World War II historian, Nazi expert to kick off Hall Center lecture series

Wed, 09/14/2011

LAWRENCE — Laurence Rees, award-winning documentarian and author of “Auschwitz” and “World War II Behind Closed Doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West,” will present “Talking with Nazis,” the first Humanities Lecture Series presentation of the 2011-2012 academic year. The event will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union and is free and open to the public. A reception and book signing will follow.

Rees will use extracts from his Peabody award-winning television series “The Nazis: A Warning from History” to explore the alternately harrowing and fascinating experience of interviewing former Nazis, from those who worked for Hitler to those who personally committed war crimes on his behalf.

Rees is the former head of BBC Television's history programs and the author of numerous best-selling books on World War II. Rees has earned numerous awards in journalism, TV and history, including the BAFTA, the most prestigious British film award. Rees’ most recent project,, provides an opportunity for more interactive, philosophical reflection in the guise of online forums and discussions.

Rees’ career began when he served as editor for the BBC series “Timewatch,” which took a broad perspective on world history, focusing on great expanses of time. Yet Rees was continually drawn toward the events of World War II. His intellectual and emotional fascination with World War II has led to what many recognize as the most important and groundbreaking programs on the topic ever produced. The Sunday Timeswent so far as to state that “his judgments can seldom be faulted.”

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Henry Louis Gates Jr., Mary Oliver and T.R. Reid. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule. For information on other lectures in the 2011-2012 series, visit the Hall Center website at

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