Professor Conan Fischer

Professor Conan Fischer

B.A., M.A., DPhil, FRHistS

Contact Details

E-mail -
Telephone - +44 (0)1334 463025
Fax - +44 (0)1334 462914

Research Profile on Research@StAndrews




Teaching and Research Interests

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, I studied as an undergraduate at the University of East Anglia, and as a postgraduate at the University of Sussex.  I came to St Andrews in 2010, having previously worked at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and before that at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. I have taught and supervised widely on 20C European history, with a particular interest in Germany’s story during the Weimar and Nazi eras, and also in Franco-German relations during the inter-war years.

My research and writing has by and large reflected my teaching.  In 2011 I published a general history of earlier 20C Europe, Europe between Democracy and Dictatorship 1900-1945 (see publications) while my earlier work looked at Nazism during Hitler’s drive to and consolidation of power. My study of the Nazis’ paramilitary wing, the Storm Troopers (SA) established that its members were primarily from the unemployed working class, which fostered a wider interest in the relationship between Germany’s workers and the Nazi movement and also in relations between the Nazi and Communist extremes during the Weimar era. (See major publications) In ca. 2000 I turned to the history of inter-war Franco-German relations, beginning with a major study of the 1923-24 Ruhr Crisis during which Germany and France in particular sought to revise unilaterally the terms of the Versailles Peace Treaty in their own favour. A French military occupation of Germany’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr pitted its civilian population against the armed might of the occupying forces at terrible personal cost and at a devastating price for the Weimar Republic. (See publications)  

My current research project investigates and appraises Franco-German relations during the inter-war Great Depression. Contrary to received wisdom, the two countries responded to the challenges of the 1929-1932 global economic crisis by striving to forge an enduring rapprochement founded on a Franco-German customs union. This bilateral alliance envisaged far-reaching economic and social collaboration that would, in due course, serve as the cornerstone of wider-ranging European integration. British obstruction and a host of unanticipated practical difficulties combined to undermine these efforts, which nonetheless serve as a pre-history of the contemporary European Union and even the challenges it currently faces. My book, A Vision of Europe (see publications) has appeared with Oxford University Press 2017.

Main Publications

  • A Vision of Europe: Franco-German Relations during the Great Depression, 1929-1932 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2017)
  • Stormtroopers: A Social, Economic and Ideological Analysis, 1919-35 (London, Allen and   Unwin, 1983)
  • The German Communists and the Rise of Nazism (Basingstoke and London, Macmillan, 1991)
  • The Rise of the Nazis (Manchester and New York, Manchester University Press, 1995) 2nd revised and expanded edition, 2002
  • (ed.) The Rise of National Socialism and the Working Classes in Weimar Germany (Oxford and Providence RI, Berghahn, 1996)
  • The Ruhr Crisis, 1923-1924 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2003)
  • (ed. with Alan Sharp) After the Versailles Treaty: Enforcement, Compliance, Contested Identities (London, Routledge, 2008)
  • Europe between Democracy and Dictatorship 1900-1945 (Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010)

Other Recent Publications

  • 'The Limits of Nationhood' History Today, 67 (6) 2017, pp 12-14.
  • ‘The Nazi Empire,’ in John MacKenzie (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Empire (4 vols) (Chichester, Wiley Blackwell, 2016) online ref. 1-7.
  • ‘Remaking Europe after the First World War,’ in Nicholas Doumanis (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of European History 1914-1945 (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 160-176.
  • ‘The Human Price of Reparations,’ in Fischer, C and Sharp A, (eds.), After the Versailles Treaty: Enforcement, Compliance, Contested Identities (London & Abingdon, Routledge, 2008), pp. 81-96.
  • ‘The Failure of Détente? German-French Relations between Stresemann and Hitler, 1929-32,’ in McDonough, F (ed.), The Origins of the Second World War: An International Perspective (London, Continuum International Publishing, 2011), pp. 82-100.
  • ‘1919. After Versailles,’ in Isakhan, B & Stockwell, S (eds.) The Edinburgh Companion to the History of Democracy (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2012), pp. 293-303.
  • ‘The Failed European Union: Franco-German Relations during the Great Depression of 1929-32,’ The International History Review, 34 (4) 2012, pp. 705-24.

Research Students

Current Research Students

  • Jake Berg, The Visual Image of the Sturmabteilung in Nazi Germany, 1923-1945 (with Professor Riccardo Bavaj; co-tutelle with Richard Scully and Thomas Kehoe, University of New England, Australia)

Completed Research Students

  • Kevin McNamara, In the Service of His Majesty’s Government: The British Embassy and Consulate Network in Nazi Germany between 1937-1939
  • Jack Woods, Building Castles in the Sky: The Role and Function of Rumours In the Lodz and Stanislawow Ghettos