Kristallnacht 80 Years On: Some Reading about the Most Notorious State-Sponsored Pogrom

Eight decades on, the thought of the state encouraging people to attack groups of citizens is hard to believe. Here are some books that might help. Introduction On the evening of November 9 1938 a Nazi pogrom raged across German and Austrian cities. Nazis branded the atrocity with a poetic term: Kristallnacht or “Crystal Night”.[…]

The Mass Destruction of Jewish Homes during ‘Kristallnacht’

Most histories highlight the shattered storefronts and synagogues set aflame. But it was the systematic ransacking of Jewish homes that extracted the greatest toll. By Dr. Wolf GrunerShapell-Guerin Chair in Jewish Studies and Professor of HistoryFounding Director, USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide ResearchDornsife College of Letters, Arts and SciencesUniversity of Southern California Introduction[…]

Betrayal in Berlin: Soviet Disinformation and the Berlin Crisis in 1958

On November 10, 1958, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev fired the opening salvo of what would become known as the Berlin Crisis. Fears that Russian intelligence is actively working to undermine Western democracy—in the United States, Europe and around the globe—are running high. Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III documented multiple systemic interferences[…]

The Nazi Census and a Quiet Hero

René Carmille, director of the National Statistical Service (SNS), stepped in to control and process Nazi census data on Jews. In 1940, Germany invaded and captured France. Step-by-step, the  Nazi occupiers began implementing a new state. There, as in other countries, the Nazis established a census to identify and locate Jews. Once identified, the Nazi occupiers planned to arrest French Jewsand[…]

Visigoths: Ancient Germanic Tribes of Western Europe

After Alaric I, the Visigoths migrated to Spain where they established themselves and assimilated with the Romans. Introduction The Visigoths were the western tribe of the Goths (a Germanic people) who settled west of the Black Sea sometime in the 3rd century CE. According to the scholar Herwig Wolfram, the Roman writer Cassiodorus (c. 485-585 CE) coined the term Visigothi to[…]

The Rabbi, the Telegram, and the Holocaust

Seventy-seven years ago, a telegram bearing a horrifying and unforgettable message reached America’s foremost Jewish leader. It revealed the first comprehensive details about the systematic mass murder that would come to be known as the Holocaust. The author of the fateful message was Gerhart Riegner, a 30 year-old attorney serving as the Geneva representative of the World Jewish[…]

Devil’s Bargain: The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact 80 Years Later

On August 23rd, 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union stunned the world by announcing a nonaggression pact. By David Carlin Joseph Stalin cracks a smile. The dictator’s cold eyes even appear to twinkle. Next to him, the Nazi foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, beams with smug satisfaction. That night, Stalin will toast Hitler’s health.[…]

The Trial of Hannah Arendt: The Dangerous Act of Thinking in the Nazi Era

She caused a furor when she coined “the banality of evil” to describe mindless acts of Nazi horror. By Kathleen B. JonesWriter, Editor, Publisher “There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is a dangerous activity.” Hannah Arendt Fifty years ago, on October 28, 1964, a televised conversation between the German-Jewish political theorist, Hannah Arendt, and the well-known[…]

“The Last I Write to You”: The Courage of Youth Resisters in World War 2 France

About 3000 resisters, many under the age of 25, were tried in German military courts in France and executed. World War II in Europe was the cause of innumerable atrocities against civilians: for instance, the Shoah, Allied and Axis carpet bombing, the destruction of Warsaw, and the cruelties of enforced starvation. Another example is less[…]

How Janet Flanner’s “High-Class Gossip” about Paris and Europe Changed America

The journalist’s witty Paris Letters for the New Yorker helped establish Americans’ feelings of superiority over Europe. By Matthew Wills Janet Flanner, part of that famous group of ex-pats in Paris that included Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, was a significant journalist in her own right, though she once described herself as “a high-class gossip[…]

Between “Bildung” and “Wissenschaft”: The 19th-Century German Ideal of Scientific Education

Without a doubt, the most influential concept in German university history is that of the “unity of teaching and research”. Abstract Prior to the 19th century, poetry, rhetoric, historiography and moral philosophy were considered particularly valuable to humane education, as they transmitted knowledge of beauty, goodness and truth. These so-called “fine sciences” (“schöne Wissenschaften”) were[…]

“It Can’t Happen Here”: Americans and the Holocaust

Widely held beliefs in eugenic “science” and pervasive fear of foreigners led the US Congress to pass quota laws that had severely restricted immigration to the United States since 1924. Introduction On his first day in office in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt told the American people, “The only thing we have to fear is[…]

When Germany Called Its Soldiers Hysterical

After WWI, German psychiatrists diagnosed traumatized soldiers as having “hysteria,” othering the men to somewhat disastrous effect. For many soldiers who returned from World War I, the terror of combat never abated. Though the statistics are still fuzzy, at least one historian estimates that upwards of twenty percent of all soldiers suffered from shell shock, the early twentieth-century[…]

Depicting the Devil: How Propaganda Posters Portrayed Nazi Ideology

The poster became a cheap transmitter of these various messages and combined visual arts with psychological methods to incessantly repeat Nazi ideologies to the German public. In 1925, a bellicose Adolf Hitler understood that he needed the power of mass persuasion to push his political ideology on the German people. Citing propaganda as an essential component of statecraft[…]

Weimar, Founding City of the Bauhaus

The renowned German school of art and design now has its own museum in the town where it was founded a century ago. Introduction The Getty Research Institute exhibitions Bauhaus Beginnings (June 11–October 13, 2019) and Bauhaus: Building the New Artist (online from June 11) explore the founding years of the German Bauhaus, presenting rarely seen artworks, notes, and[…]

The Confessional Issue and Religious Networking in Post-Westphalian Europe

The often overlapping religious and diplomatic networks acted in concert to advance, for example, Protestant concerns. By Dr. Linda S. FreyProfessor of HistoryUniversity of Montana By Dr. Marsha L. FreyProfessor of HistoryKansas State University Geoffrey Parker, a noted historian of the Thirty Years’ War, argued that one of the great achievements of that conflict was[…]

Grim Relics: Excavating Long-Buried Stories from the Nazi Era

In a discussion with Reinhard Bernbeck, he delves into the origins and ethics of conducting archaeological investigations of the Nazi period. By Christopher DeCou the end of the Cold War, high school students from the German city of Witten visited the Dachau concentration camp to learn about the Holocaust. Walking among the still buildings, they[…]

The Template for the Holocaust – Germany’s African Genocide

Germany, which had only unified in 1870, was a latecomer to the colonial game. By David Carlin “Within the German borders every Herero, with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot.” General Lothar von Trotha, Commander of German Forces in South West Africa, 1905 Hundreds of emaciated prisoners look out helplessly.[…]

Hitler and France’s Maginot Line

The humiliating failure of the vaunted Maginot Line thrilled the vast majority of Germans, who adored their Führer and supported his ruthless agenda. “Monsieur Maginot built a fortified line,” noted the German justice inspector Friedrich Kellner in his diary in June 1940, just after Hitler’s army burst through the French fortifications. If France really expected[…]

A History of Arts and Culture in Jewish Hamburg

Jewish life did not solely consist of worrying about one’s day-to-day survival. Summary Jewish culture reflects the experience of Hamburg’s Jewish population. Jews might be the creators, sponsors or the audience of a given cultural product. It is often difficult to clearly separate Jewish culture from Christian culture. For example, the richly ornamented graves at[…]

Religion and Identity in Jewish Hamburg

The urban region of Hamburg represents a special case in the modern religious history of German Jewry in several regards. Summary The urban region of Hamburg represents a special case in the modern religious history of German Jewry in several regards: first, because the Ashkenazi Jews of the towns of Altona, Hamburg, and Wandsbek were[…]

Why the U.S. Bombed Auschwitz but Didn’t Save the Jews

Bombing bridges and railway lines over which both deported Jews and German troops were transported could have qualified as necessary for military purposes. By Dr. Rafael MedovFounder and DirectorThe David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies Seventy-five years ago this week—on March 19, 1944—German troops marched into Hungary. The country’s 800,000 Jews, the last major[…]

The Death of Appeasement: The 80th Anniversary of the Invasion of Prague

The appeasement policy pursued by Britain and France was founded on the premise that Germany was maltreated by the victors of World War I. A turning point in the history of international relations refers to an event that alters significantly the present process in international relations, which entails a long-lasting, considerable effect in it. A turning[…]

Migration to and from Germany, 17th Century to Today

Germany can look back on a long history of migration. By Dr. Vera Hanewinkel and Dr. Jochen OltmerProfessors of HisoryUniversität Osnabrück Migration Flows during the 17th, 18th and 19th Centuries The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) led to serious destruction and a significant reduction in population in some German regions. The respective sovereigns therefore recruited employable[…]

The True Story of the Reichstag Fire and the Nazi Rise to Power

When the German parliamentary building went up in flames, Hitler harnessed the incident to seize power. By Lorraine Boissoneault Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and where there’s fire, conspiracy theories are sure to follow. At least, that’s what happened in Germany on February 27, 1933, when a sizeable portion of the parliamentary building in Berlin,[…]

Culture War and the Völkischer Beobachter: How the Nazi Party Recast Nietzsche

High culture played an important political role in Hitler’s Germany. References to music, history, philosophy, and art formed a key part of Nazi strategy. High culture played an important political role in Hitler’s Germany. References to music, history, philosophy, and art formed a key part of the Nazi strategy to reverse the symptoms of decline[…]

Anti-Semitic Propaganda and the Christian Church in Hitler’s Germany: A Case of Schrödinger’s Cat

The effectiveness of the propaganda machinery altered perception, thus reality. Abstract In his epic Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler made a point of disparaging the intelligentsia. He asserted that propaganda was the most effective tool to use in political campaigns since especially the popular masses generally possessed limited astuteness and were generally devoid of intellect. This[…]

A History of Antisemitism in Germany since the 18th Century

Hostility against Jews intensified in the course of the crises caused by social and cultural changes. Introduction Beginning at the end of the 18th century, the spreading idea of human rights, the new, Enlightenment-era way of thinking about the state, and the social change from a corporative society divided into estates to a bourgeois-capitalist society led[…]