Christian Ingrao, "Believe and Destroy: Intellectuals in the SS War Machine" (Polity, 2015)


How did a generation of Germany's best and brightest become radicalized? What convinced young intellectuals to join the SS and perpetrate genocide in pursuit of a racial utopia? Find out in our conversation with Christian Ingrao about his book Believe and Destroy: Intellectuals in the SS War Machine (Polity Press, 2015). Christian traces the experiences of the war youth generation from defining events in childhood, through their student activism, into the Reich Security Main Office, and abroad where they could finally realize their ideas. The resulting portrait reveals how a generation of intellectuals came to believe, and how those beliefs led them to destroy. Christian Ingrao is the former director of the Institute of Contemporary History (IHTP) and their current director of research. He teaches at the Catholic University of the West (Angers). His most recent book La promesse de l'Est : Esperance nazie et genocide, 1939-1943 (Le Seuil, 2016) explores Nazi dreams of victory and visions of the Thousand Year Reich.
Ryan Stackhouse is a historian of Europe who specializes in modern Germany and political policing under dictatorship. His debut chapter in Interrogation in War and Conflict suggested that terror remains overstated in our understanding of routine investigation practices in Nazi Germany. Ryan's research exploring Gestapo enforcement practices toward different social groups is nearing completion under the working title Policing Hitler's Critics. He also cohosts the Third Reich History Podcast. He tweets @Staxomatix and can be reached at

Your Host

Ryan Stackhouse

View Profile