‘True knowledge is knowledge of why things are as they are, and not merely what they are.’

Isaiah Berlin

Dr. Helene von Bismarck, F.R.Hist.S.

Helene von Bismarck is a historian, writer and public speaker. Her main interest is Britain’s role in international relations during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Helene’s first book explored the connections between oil and imperialism in the Persian Gulf during the 1960s. With her new research project about Margaret Thatcher and Jacques Delors, Helene has moved on from the empire to another contentious topic of Britain’s history: its relationship with the European Union. Helene’s fascination with the past motivates her dedication to the present. She has published numerous essays providing historical context to current affairs, addressed academic and non-academic audiences around the world, and acted as a commentator in the press and on radio and television. Helene is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for British Politics and Government at King’s College, London.

Why did it take a murderous war on Ukraine for Germany to wake up to the threat from Russia?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has triggered a public debate in Germany about the future of its security policy, and about its relations with Central and Eastern Europe. Historic arguments about the Second World War and the Cold War play an important role in this discussion.

For Hamburg, devastated by allied bombing, King Charles’ visit is so much more than a photo-op

St Nikolai Church in Hamburg, built by an English architect, was destroyed during the so-called ‘Operation Gomorrha’, a series of allied air raids against Hamburg in 1943. For King Charles III to visit this memorial during his first state visit abroad is a very significant and much appreciated gesture. At a time when politicians all over the world like to pick and choose from history with the sole purpose of suiting their narratives, it matters.

Shutting down parliament is worse than a coup. It’s a mistake.

Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament in the middle of a significant national crisis has provoked outrage at home and abroad. Leaving the consitutional implications aside, this article argues that Johnson made a significant strategic mistake with this decision. He may have hoped to bully both the EU27 and Parliament into accepting a deal of his choosing, but, instead, he has united the British opposition against him.

Brexit, Boris Johnson and the EU. (Channel 4 News)

Interview with Matt Frei on Channel 4 News on 4 July 2019 about the Tory leadership contest, Boris Johnson, and Brexit. Details

Das Klischee vom ewigen Störenfried

Is the drama about Brexit just the culmination of a British EU-membership that has always been doomed to fail? This article for the Swiss Republik magazine argues that this is not the case. The frustrations about Brexit are no excuse for a selective reading of history. It is time to dispense with the stereotypes and allow for a more nuanced view of Britain’s historic role in the European integration process.

Two countries in search of their role: a history of the Anglo-German Königswinter Conferences

Since 1950, politicians, high-ranking officials, business people and influential journalists from Britain and Germany have met annually at theKönigswinter Conferences for a frank, informal and confidential exchange of views. This essay discusses the relevance of these conferences for the Anglo-German relationship. Published by Deutsch-Britische Gesellschaft.