It’s long been a truism of publishing that putting a swastika on the front of a book will guarantee healthy sales. (Yes, yes, or indeed a healthy readership for a blog post.) I have direct experience of this, as most of the books I write feature swastikas, or eagles, or similar pieces of Third Reich iconography. Unsurprisingly, I’ll therefore be tuning in to Radio 4 at 11.30 this morning, which is broadcasting a documentary called Nazi Gold on the publishing industry’s Third Reich fetish. (Ironically enough, at the time of writing, a piece about the program is the third-most read story on the BBC news website.) As one of the interviewees for the program, I was asked why the publishing industry, and indeed why such a large segment of the (male) population, maintains this interest in a murderous regime that extinguished millions of lives. It’s a question I tried to answer nearly nine years ago, in a piece I wrote for The Spectator shortly after I published my first book (which was about Nazis). I concluded then that the fetish arises from ‘the human attraction towards evil’. “The Devil not only gets the best tunes,” I wrote, “but, in the case of the Nazis, the best costumes, the best generals, the best weapons, the best iconography and even the most powerful-sounding language. From Göttermorgen to Götterdämmerung, it is the blackest story ever told, and it’s still being told everywhere.”I’m not sure that after nearly a decade of immersing myself in the Third Reich that I can come up with much better than that. We, like many other cultures, do tend to glamourise evil and violence – read David Wilson in today’s Daily Mail about TV’s love affair with serial killers – and there is no doubt that this often lurid obsession with Nazis is part of that malaise.