A Hassidic con-man in Holland under Nazi occupation, a cross-dressing Manchu princess in wartime China and Japan, a Baltic German with a Finnish passport—all of these individuals collaborated with regimes that murdered millions of people. They were fraudsters, mythmakers, and Hochstapler who reinvented themselves over and over again, and ultimately became the stuff of legend. In this talk, Ian Buruma examines the reasons why such figures have thrived in times of crisis, and why they decide to collaborate with criminal regimes. He considers the confused national loyalties, ideological delusions, and sheer opportunism that can lead to collaboration in wartime—seen most recently in our own times, in Ukraine.
08 May 23