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Laurence Rees

Laurence Rees

I founded WW2History.com because I wanted to provide an accessible and authoritative multimedia history of World War Two for the web.

I hope you find it is of use.

Laurence Rees Signature


Laurence Rees is a former Head of BBC TV History Programmes, as well as the founder, writer and producer of WW2History.com, which won 'Best in Class' awards in both the Education and Reference categories at the Interactive Media Awards.

His latest book, 'the Holocaust: A New History', was published by Viking/Penguin in January 2017 and was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. It was described as 'groundbreaking' (Mail on Sunday), 'absorbing, heart-breaking' (Sunday Times), 'a fine book' (Guardian), 'excellently written' (The Times), 'his masterwork' (The Spectator), and 'the finest single volume account of the Holocaust ever written' (The Daily Telegraph).

For the last twenty-five years he has specialized in writing books and making television documentaries about both the Second World War and the Third Reich. His work includes the BBC television series and books: 'Nazis: a Warning from History' (1997); 'War of the Century' (1999); 'Horror in the East' (2001); 'Auschwitz, the Nazis and the 'Final Solution'' (2005); 'World War Two: Behind Closed Doors' (2008) and  'The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler (2012)'. His ninety minute feature length documentary, 'Touched by Auschwitz', transmitted on BBC2 in 2015.

In 2006 he won the British Book Award for history book of the year for 'Auschwitz: the Nazis and the 'Final Solution'' - a work that is also the world's bestselling history of the camp. His many television awards include a BAFTA, a Grierson Award, a Broadcasting Press Guild Award, a BANFF festival award, a Broadcast Award, a George Foster Peabody Award, two International Documentary Awards and two Emmys. In New York in 2009 he received the 'Lifetime Achievement Award' from 'History Makers', the worldwide congress of Historical and Current Affairs programme makers.

Some of the awards won by Laurence Rees

In 2005 he gave the annual public lecture at the House of Lords for the Holocaust Educational Trust, and also in 2005, he presented an analysis of his work - 'Inside the Nazi State' - on UK TV History.

Laurence Rees was educated at Solihull School and Oxford University. He left the BBC in 2008, and in 2009 he was appointed a Visiting Senior Fellow in the International History Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science, London University.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate for services to history by the University of Sheffield in 2005, and an honorary doctorate from the Open University for services to Arts and Sciences in 2011.

He gave the 2011 Humanities lecture at the University of Kansas, the 2012 Tans memorial lecture at the University of Maastricht, the 2015 keynote lecture at the HET Ambassadors' conference in Westminster, the 2017 annual Public History lecture at the LSE and the 2017 Mervyn Smith memorial lecture at the Cape Town Holocaust Centre.

Read more at www.laurencerees.com

Laurence Rees

Laurence Rees

Laurence Rees interview

Read a candid interview with Laurence Rees in which he talks about his experience meeting Nazi perpetrators and gives more background on WW2History.com.

Quotes about Laurence Rees and his work

  • Scholars across the world owe a considerable debt of gratitude to Laurence Rees for his immense and unique contribution to historical understanding.

    From the citation awarding Laurence Rees an Honorary Doctorate, University of Sheffield.
  • Rees's research is impeccable and intrepid.

    David Von Drehle, Washington Post, reviewing 'Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution'.'
  • Rees knows a vast amount about the Second World War and his judgments can seldom be faulted.

    Sir Max Hastings, Sunday Times.
  • One of the greatest documentary series of all time.

    Daily Mail review of Laurence Rees's 'The Nazis: A Warning from History.'
  • Thank God... that occasionally books of the stature of Laurence Rees's superb Auschwitz are published.

    Andrew Roberts, Evening Standard.
  • A lasting contribution to our understanding of the Second World War and a powerful insight into the behaviour of human beings in crisis.

    The Independent review of Laurence Rees's 'Their Darkest Hour'.
  • A gripping portrait of an entire nation under the sway of evil.

    Guardian review of Laurence Rees' 'The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler' BBC TV.
  • As a writer, producer and director, he has made a particularly outstanding contribution to our understanding of one key period in history: the Second World War… Laurence Rees has ensured we have a history that we can all learn from today.

    From the citation awarding Laurence Rees an Honorary Doctorate, the Open University.
  • Laurence Rees, who has made so many classic TV histories... returns with this hugely impressive six parter.

    Daily Mail review of 'World War Two: Behind Closed Doors'.
  • Laurence Rees has done more for good history on television in this country than anyone else.

    Antony Beevor, the Daily Telegraph.
  • Laurence Rees's film tracks down six survivors of the camp in five countries to ask the complex questions of how a person endures the unendurable and then explains the inexplicable.

    The Guardian review of Laurence Rees' film 'Touched by Auschwitz'.
  • Excellent.

    The Sunday Times review of Laurence Rees' film 'Touched by Auschwitz'.
  • Television has yielded some of its finest hours in Laurence Rees' chilling historical reconstruction for the BBC of the practical mechanics of mass murder.

    The Evening Standard review of Laurence Rees' 'Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution''.
  • Laurence Rees is currently producing the best documentaries ever made about the Nazi era.

    Clive James, 'Revolt of the Pendulum: Selected Essays 2005-2008'.
  • Rees is one of the few people - perhaps the only one - who has met and interviewed at length not only hundreds of people who suffered from the barbarities of World War Two right across the globe but also, crucially, many of the perpetrators. All this has given Rees a comparative, cross-cultural perspective on the horrors of the war that no academic could match.

    Daniel Snowman, from his profile of Laurence Rees in 'Historians' a collection of essays from 'History Today' on Britain's leading historians.
  • With forensic calm and devastating power, Laurence Rees's [Auschwitz] series analysed one of the foremost horrors of the 20th century. A rare example of television that will benefit future generations as much as our own.

    David Chater, The Times, December 2009 - in a review of the decade's top TV programmes.
  • Another stunning slice of history from Laurence Rees.

    Daily Telegraph review of Laurence Rees's 'Horror in the East' BBC TV.
  • This magnificent book... exciting and disturbing at the same time.

    Rafael Nunez Florencio, El Mundo, Spain, reviewing 'Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution'.'
  • This superb series.

    Daily Mail review of Laurence Rees' 'The Dark Charisma of Adolf Hitler' BBC TV.
  • In this wonderfully readable and sensitively balanced book, Laurence Rees tells a depressing and ugly story, but one that badly needed to be told.

    Adam Zamoyski, reviewing 'World War II: Behind Closed Doors'.
  • Chilling... an important read.

    Financial Times review of Laurence Rees' 'Their Darkest Hour.'
  • Masterfully written and produced by Laurence Rees with equal parts tenacity, intelligence, and integrity... It's a remarkable achievement, as important as Shoah as a definitive exploration of one of the darkest chapters in human history.

    Jeff Shannon's review of Laurence Rees' 'Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution'' on PBS.
  • Superb.

    Daily Telegraph review of Laurence Rees' film 'Touched by Auschwitz'.
  • After watching this documentary, you may well think that the human spirit is unbreakable.

    Daily Mirror review of Laurence Rees' film 'Touched by Auschwitz'.
  • So understatedly eloquent that it can fool you into assuming that it must be simple to make - which would be as misguided as thinking that Matisse's line drawings (which were repeatedly rehearsed and refined) must also be effortless, since they, too, look so effortlessly simple.

    The Times review of Laurence Rees' 'Auschwitz: The Nazis and the 'Final Solution''.