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Spring 2020

UNC Weeknight Parking Program Details


Thursday, 23 January 2020

Global Education Center 4003  I   5:00 – 7:00 pm

DAVID BLACKBOURN I Cornelius Vanderbilt Distinguished Chair of History, Vanderbilt University, Department of History

The German Atlantic: Recovering an Invisible World

Atlantic history, the history of the great interactions that took place between Europe, Africa and the Americas, has emerged since the 1980s as a dynamic field of study that has generated its own programs, textbooks, essay collections, book prizes and online list-serve. The German presence in the Atlantic world remains largely hidden because of the absence of a German nation state before 1871. Settlers, merchants, mining engineers, missionaries and scientific travelers from the German lands did not fly under a German flag. We have to look for them in the empires established by others, whether Spanish, Dutch, British or French. This lecture, drawn from a larger project on “Germany in the World, 1500-2000”, tries to recover this invisible German presence and shows that Germans played a greater role than we think, often as major brokers or intermediaries.

DAVID BLACKBOURN is Cornelius Vanderbilt Distinguished Chair and Professor of History at Vanderbilt University. A Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the British Academy, he is the author of Class, Religion and Local Politics in Wilhelmine Germany (1980), The Peculiarities of German History [with Geoff Eley] (1984), Populists and Patricians (1987), Marpingen (1993), The Long Nineteenth Century: A History of Germany, 1780-1918 (1997) The Conquest of Nature (2006), and Landschaften der deutschen Geschichte (2016).

Moderator: KONRAD H. JARAUSCH I UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

In cooperation with the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for European Studies


Friday, January 24, 2020

Fedex 4003 I 12:00 – 2:00 pm

Graduate Luncheon and Reading Seminar

with DAVID BLACKBOURN I Cornelius Vanderbilt Distinguished Chair of History, Vanderbilt University, Department of History

Organization and Moderation: MAX LAZAR and MICHAEL SKALSKI (UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History)

The workshop is open to all graduate students from the region, but space is limited. RSVP by January 20, 2020 to Max Lazar:

In cooperation with the Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill Departments of History



Friday, January 24, 2020

Fedex 4003 I  4:00 – 6:00 pm

Roundtable Discussion: A Vanishing Century: The State 19th Century European Studies

This Roundtable explores from multiple perspectives the often-stated impression that the nineteenth century is “vanishing” from German and European history. It asks how one can explain this trend, what consequences it has for the development of historiography and public historical knowledge, if and why the nineteenth century matters for the present, and what the future of nineteenth-century history might be.  Five experts on different regions and historiographical approaches to European history discuss these questions.

Moderation: KAREN HAGEMANN (UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History)

Participants of the Roundtable:

    • DAVID BLACKBOURN (Vanderbilt University, Department of History), German Central European History
    • JAKOB NORBERG (Duke University, Department of Germanic Languages and Literature), German Studies
    • KAREN AUERBACH (UNC Chapel-Hill, Department of History), History of Eastern  Europe
    • LLOYD KRAMER (UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History), French History
    • CEMIL AYDIN (UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History), Global History

See also: “Discussion Forum: The Vanishing Nineteenth Century in European History?” ed. by  Karen Hagemann and Simone Lässig, in Central European History: Volume 51, Issue 4, December 2018 , pp. 611-695

In cooperation with the UNC Chapel Hill Center for European Studies and Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies, the Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill Departments of History, and the French Studies and Slavic Studies Seminar


Friday, 7 February 2020

UNC Hamilton Hall  569  I  4:00 – 5:30  pm

MAX LAZAR  I  PhD Candidate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of History

Swastikas on Jakob-Schiff-Straße: The Aryanization of Jewish Street Names in Frankfurt am Main, 1933-1938 

Frankfurt’s municipal government “Aryanized” the names of nearly fifty streets named after prominent Jewish individuals in a campaign that lasted until September of 1938. Given the fact that the Nazis had effectively managed to roll back high levels of Jewish integration in various areas of political, economic, cultural, and everyday life in Germany by the end of 1933, how is it possible that the names of Jewish individuals continued to remain physically integrated into the fabric of this city for so long? To answer this question, the talk will employ elements of spatial theory in order to challenge historians to reconsider the nature and continuities of Jewish integration in Germany both before and after 1933.

MAX LAZAR is a PhD Candidate at UNC Chapel Hill specializing in modern German, Jewish, and urban history. His dissertation is a local study of Jewish integration in Frankfurt between 1914 and 1938.

Moderator: KAREN AUERBACH UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

In cooperation with the UNC-Chapel Hill Carolina Center for Jewish Studies and the Duke Center for Jewish Studies



Friday, 21 February 2020

UNC Hamilton Hall  569  I  4:00 – 5:30  pm

DANIELA WEINER  I  PhD Candidate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hill, Department of History

A Democratic Imperative: Textbook Revision and Knowledge Production in Occupied Italy and Germany, 1943-1949

At the end of the Second World War, the Allies saw education as a vital tool in the remaking of postwar Europe. Therefore, revision of textbooks was a matter of vital importance. While the denazification process of the school system and the textbooks in Germany is fairly well studied, it is less well known that a similar process took place in Italy. Consequently, there is little comparative scholarship on the topic. This presentation seeks to inject a comparative and transnational perspective into the study of reeducation and textbook revision in these two countries (soon to become three states). The presentation answers the following questions: How did the textbook revision process in occupied Italy, which began in 1943, compare to and influence later efforts in occupied Germany? Did the strategies of knowledge construction vary by occupation zone and occupier?  Were some strategies more effective than others, and if so, why?

DANIELA R.P. WEINER is a PhD candidate in History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Goodman Dissertation Fellow at the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies (2019-2020).

Moderator: PRISCILLA LAYNEUNC Chapel Hill, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages & Literatures

In cooperation with the Duke University Department of History and the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of History


Friday, 3 April 2020 (Cancelled)

UNC Hamilton Hall  569  I  4:00 – 5:30  pm


BILL SHARMAN   I  PhD Candidate, Duke University, Department of History

Third-World Refugees, Rights, and West Germany in the 1970s and 80s

During the 1970s and 80s, tens of thousands of refugees from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia began seeking asylum in West Germany each year. While scholars have examined how the West German media, state, and society responded to refugee “crises,” this talk draws on archival sources, documentary films, poetry, and oral histories to examine the intellectual and social worlds of refugees themselves. As individuals and in groups, a number of non-European refugees developed critiques of nationalism and racism, denounced refugee encampments as contrary to international law and democracy, and made legal claims to asylum. These assertions recast immigration as a matter of rights—and not merely of contract labor or humanitarian compassion—and altered perceptions about West Germany’s place in the post-1945 world.

BILL SHARMAN is doctoral candidate at Duke University, where he studies modern European, African, and global history. He is working on a dissertation called “Moral Politics: Global Humanitarianism, the Third World, and West Germany.”


Moderator: JAMES CHAPPEL I  Duke University, Department of History

In cooperation with the Duke University Department of History and the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of History



Fall 2019


Thursday, 12 September 2019

5:00 – 7:00 pm, UNC Global Education Center 4003


STEFANIE M. WOODARD I Limited Term Assistant Professor  I  Kennesaw State University, Department of History & Philosophy  –Inaugural Konrad H. Jarausch Essay Prize Winner–

“Feeling German”: Migration and Ethnic Identity in a Cold War Borderland

Between 1970 and 1990, approximately 835,000 ethnic German Aussiedler migrated from Poland to West Germany. Most of these “resettlers” hailed from Upper Silesia, a borderland in western Poland. Although scholars have frequently described Silesians as nationally indifferent or ethnically ambiguous, the Cold War thrust them into the center of a clash over ethnicity and memory. Whereas the Polish government downplayed or denied the Silesians’ German heritage, West German authorities cast these borderlanders as “sufferers for Germanness” and the last victims of World War II. Not simply the passive subjects of Cold War discourse, Silesians also catapulted themselves into the ethnicity debate. The resettlers’ borderland context enabled them to invoke their German ethnicity to receive privileged-immigrant status in West Germany or, later, to lobby for cultural rights in Poland. This talk, thus, highlights how an ethnically-coded conflict over victimhood and memory shaped not only the lives of individual émigrés from Silesia, but also West German-Polish relations as a whole.

STEFANIE M. WOODARD is a Limited Term Assistant Professor at Kennesaw State University. She received her PhD in May 2019 from Emory University.

Moderator: JAMES CHAPPEL I  Duke University l, Department of History

In cooperation with the Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill Departments of History  and the UNC Center for European Studies



Friday, 13 September 2019 

UNC Hamilton Hall  569 I  9:00-11:00 AM (Breakfast will be served)

Writing Workshop for History Graduate Students: How to Prepare a Manuscript for the Publication in a Journal like Central European History?


Publishing an article can be a daunting task. This workshop, led by accomplished scholars, will offer insights into the process, make suggestions for revisions, and prepare graduate students for submitting a first-rate paper to academic journals. The discussion will focus on a pre-circulated draft titles “Feeling German”: Migration and Ethnic Identity in a Cold War Borderland” by this year’s winner of the Konrad Jarausch Essay Prize for Advanced Graduate Students in Central European History, STEFANIE M. WOODARD (Visiting Assistant Professor, Kennesaw State University, Department of History & Philosophy).


    • KONRAD H. JARAUSCH  I  Lurcy Professor of European Civilization, UNC–Chapel Hill, Department of History
    • CHAD BRYANT  I  Associate Professor, UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History


    • KAREN HAGEMANN  I  James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of History, UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

The workshop is open to all graduate students from the region, but space is limited.

RSVP by September 7, 2019 to Max Lazar:

In cooperation with the Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill Departments of History


Thursday, 26 September 2019

5:00-7:00 pm I UNC Chapel Hill I Hamilton Hall 569


SABINE GRENZ  I Professor of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies, University of Vienna

Gendered Memories of the NS-Volksgemeinschaft and the Holocaust: The Theme of ‘Shame’ in Women’s Diaries

Shame is a well-known feature of German cultural memory of National Socialism. Whereas research on cultural memory often concentrated on public and political representations, the personal feelings of shame frequently in family memories were ignored. The talk will explore expressions of shame and feelings of guilt in diaries written by German women immediately after the Second World War. In that period, the diarists could not turn a blind eye to the Holocaust or rumors about it and some of them reflected more openly on the brutal nature of the racialized Nazi community, the Volksgemeinschaft. Hence, these diaries offer a nuanced perspective on who and what people were ashamed of at the time and also display wartime gender and other social relations, in which shame and guilt were embedded.

SABINE GRENZ is Professor of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies at the University of Vienna. She published widely on commercial sexuality and prostitution, gender methodology, qualitative empirical research and gendered meaning of life constructions. Currently, she is working on an article about shame and German cultural memory and published on this subject “Reading German Women’s Diaries from the Second World War: Methodological, Epistemological and Ethical Dilemmas,” in: Feminist Critique of Knowledge Production, Silvana Carotenuto et al., eds. (Naples, 2014).

Moderator: KAREN AUERBACH  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

In cooperation with the UNC-Chapel Hill Carolina Center for Jewish Studies


Thursday, 24 October 2019

5:00-7:00 pm I UNC Chapel Hill I Hamilton Hall 569

JENNIFER ALLEN I Assistant Professor, Yale University, Department of History

Twentieth-Century Anti-Utopianism and its West German Antidote

A melancholic thread in assessments of the end of the Cold War, the triumph of liberal democracy and capitalism over “really existing socialism” led academics and public intellectuals to pronounce the end of utopian ambitions. Some West Germans, however, resisted this logic and refused to abandon hope for a superlative existence. But they also recognized that old paradigms of utopian thought had lost their currency, jettisoning the conviction that society marched incrementally and inexorably toward an ideal form. Instead, they developed a new temporal sensibility that stressed action in and for the present. Beginning in the 1980s and 90s, this attitude generated a series of grassroots projects, which touched West German political, aesthetic, and intellectual life. Not simply reformist visions for a future deferred, these projects aimed for nothing less than the total transformation of those jurisdictions. This talk highlights the resilience of utopianism in the late twentieth century and charts the development of a new utopian imagination in the 1980s that relied on practice over anticipation.

JENNIFER ALLEN is Assistant Professor of modern European history at Yale University. Her research and teaching focus on the history of modern Germany with an emphasis on cultural history, the theories and practices of memory, counterculture and grassroots activism, and utopianism/anti-utopianism. She has published in the Journal of Modern History, Central European History, German Studies, and the Journal of Urban History.

Moderator: KAREN HAGEMANN  I  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

In cooperation with the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for European Studies 

Friday, 22 November  2019 (Canceled)

5:00-7:00 pm I UNC Chapel Hill I Hamilton Hall 569

JEFFREY HERTEL I  Graduate Student, Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies

“Ein lustiger Guerillakrieg”: Comedy and Censorship in the Vormärz


As the turbulent decades before the Revolution of 1848 progressed, radical and liberal dramatists such as Georg Büchner, Karl Gutzkow, and Heinrich Laube wrote dramas that functioned as stand-ins for their liberational aspirations. Given the sneakiness with which these authors had to pursue their aims due to censorship, their dramatic works evoke what Heinrich Hubert Houben, the first major historian of German censorship, has elsewhere called “ein lustiger Guerillakrieg.” The authors pursued surreptitious strategies to smuggle a message into the popular medium of the stage under the nose of the censoring apparatus. These works, therefore, offer a perspective on a literary form that accomplished goals similar to more traditional political critiques by recourse not to reasoned argumentation, but to witty, often allegorical ridicule. The talk is an assessment of German Vormärz comedy, the authors who wrote it, and the agents of the Metternichean Bund who kept those authors in check.

JEFFREY HERTEL is in a graduate student of the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies, where his research focuses on early nineteenth-century drama. He has a forthcoming article in Monatshefte on Johannes R. Becher’s Levisite oder der einzig gerechte Krieg.

Moderator: JAKOB NORBERGDuke University, Department of Germanic Languages and Literature

In cooperation with Duke University Department of Germanic Languages and Literature and the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages & Literatures


Friday, 6 December  2019

5:00-7:00 pm I UNC Chapel Hill I Hamilton Hall 569

ERIC ROUBINEK  I  Assistant Professor UNC Ashville, Department of History

Whose Peculiarities? Race in National Socialist Overseas Colonial Planning

With the passing of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, Nazi racial ideology became the hegemonic discourse of international propaganda and diplomacy. In turn, it linked Nazi racial antisemitism to the Third Reich’s overseas colonial ambitions and portrayed Germany’s colonial policies as peculiar: different and more radical than those of its European neighbors. This talk seeks to challenge this national distinction by focusing on what the colonial organizations under the Third Reich were actually planning and with whom. By decentralizing international diplomacy and the Nazi leadership to focus on the middle management of the German colonial movement and their professional networks, it demonstrates the strong tensions that existed between colonial and racial discourses on the national, international, and transnational scales.

ERIC ROUBINEK is Assistant Professor of history at the University of North Carolina Asheville. His research focuses on the intersection of race and nation in the colonial planning of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. He authored several articles and book chapters, most recently “From a Nazi Colonialism to a Fascist Colonialism: Transnational Nationalisms and the Creation of a ‘New Europe’.” In Nazi-Occupied Europe, edited by Raffael Scheck et al. (Routledge, 2019). Lately, he has delved into the history of fashion and consumption of German women in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Moderator: MAX LAZARUNC Chapel Hill  University, Department of History

In cooperation with the Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill Departments of History


Spring 2019

Sunday, 20 January 2019

GEORGE S, WILLIAMSON   I  Florida State University, Department of History

“Russian Spy,” “German Voltaire,” “Fickle Genius”: August von Kotzbue as a Problem for German History and Literature

The author of over 200 plays, August von Kotzebue (1761-1819)  was one of the most prolific and successful writers of his day. Yet Kotzbue’s career was shadowed by controversy and bitter disputes, which culminated in his assassination by the student radical Carl Sand. After his death, Kotzbue was largely forgotten by literary history and, despite  some recent interest, he remains understudied. This talk argues that a reconsideration of Kotzbue ‘s turbulent life and legacy has the potential to reshape our understanding of the so-called Goethezeit, pointing ing to new interpretations of the intellectual and political history of this era.

George Williamson is Associate Professor of History at Florida State University. He is the author of The Longing for Myth:  in Germany: Religion and Aesthetic Culture from Romanticism to Nietzsche (University of Chicago Press, 2004), as well as articles and book chapters on German Religious History, Schelling’s theory of race, debates on the historicity of Jesus, and the death of Kotzebue and its aftermath. His current book project is entitled August von Kotzbue(1761-1819): A Political History

Moderator: KAREN HAGEMANN  I  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

Sunday, 3 February 2019

LORN HILLAKER  I UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

The “Better State”: Competing Images of West and East Germany in the 1960s

During the Cold War, a competition emerged between East and West Germany over their political legitimacy based upon their mutual goals of leaving the Nazi past behind and offering a more promising, yet distinct, model for the future. As time passed, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) pointed to its economic miracle, successful Western integration, and developed democratic society. The German Democratic Republic (GDR), in contrast, emphasized the successes of the “revolutionary tradition” and the “liberation from fascism.” Each state worked to represent and distinguish itself in international cultural diplomacy as the “better” German state and society, in large part through the creation of a distinct Deutschlandbild with the aim to find more international recognition. One important tool for this mission were the illustrated magazines GDR Review produced by the East German foreign ministry and SCALA International published by the FRG government.

Lorn Hillaker is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at UNC-Chapel Hill. He specializes in modern German and European History, media history and diplomatic history, in particular cultural diplomacy. Currently he is finishing his dissertation, entitled “Promising a Better Germany: Competing Cultural Diplomacies between West and East Germany, 1949-1990.”

Moderator: JAMES CHAPPEL  I  Duke University, Department of History

Thursday, 21 February 2019

5:30-7:00 PM, FedEx Global Center, Room 3009

KIRAN K. PATEL I Professor and Chair of European and Global History, Univ. of Maastricht

The Making of a European Alternative: Cooperation and Integration in Western Europe after 1945


Kiran Klaus Patel is Professor and Chair of European and Global History at Maastricht University. He also serves as Jean Monnet Chair and Head of the Department of History in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He is the  member of an international team of historians researching the history of the German Ministry of Labor during the Third Reich. Also see my latest book Projekt Europa. Eine kritische Geschichte as an analysis of European integration history.

The event is organized by the


Sunday, 3 March 2019

KIRA THURMAN  I   University of Michigan, Departments of History and German Languages and Literatures

Singing Schubert, Hearing Race: Black Concert Singers and the German Lied in Interwar Central Europe

This presentation explores the rise in popularity of African American classical musicians in interwar Germany and Austria. singing Lieder by Schubert, Brahms, and others, they challenged audiences’ expectations of what a black performer looked and sounded like in the transatlantic “jazz age.” Audiences labeled the singers “negroes with white souls,” and marveled at their musical mastery. If the listener closed his or her eyes and listened, these African American musicians, many remarked, “sounded like Germans.” How had they managed to accomplish this feat? By exploring Austrian and German reception of black singers, the presentation finds a new way to answer the question, “Can someone be black and German?” by instead asking another: “What has it meant to be black and perform German music?”

Kira Thurman is Assistant Professor of History and Germanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. A classically trained pianist, she earned her PhD in history from the University of Rochester in 2013. Her research focuses on two separate topics that occasionally converge: the relationship between music and national identity in European history, and Europe’s historical and contemporary relationship with the black diaspora.

Moderator: ANNEGRET FAUSER I  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of Music


Sunday, 31 March 2019

MARGARET REIF  I  Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies

Created Wild: Criminal Children and the Bourgeois Family in German Realism, 1850-1900

The literary figure of the criminal child in German realism is framed not as a problem of rising industrialization and urbanization but rather as a problem of the emerging bourgeois family. Theodor Fontane’s Grete Milde (1879) and Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach’s Das Gemeindekind (1887) demonstrate how the aestheticization of structures such as the bourgeois family extends to incorporate marginal figures, including the criminal child. Through the relationship between the criminal child and bourgeois family, Fontane and Ebner reveal both the allure and danger of the emerging bourgeois family as an organizing principle in late-nineteenth century German and Austrian Reality.

Margaret Reif is a PhD candidate in the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies. Her research interests include the cultural history of childhood, postcolonial theory, and fairytales. Her dissertation “Disruptive Organizers: Wild Children in German Realism, 1850-1900” examines the literary movement of German realism through the representation of children.

Moderator: PRISCILLA LAYNE I  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of German Languages and Literatures



Sunday, 14 April 2019 — Canceled

MARK W. HORNBURG  I  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History

The “Ideal German Soldier” in the Military Propaganda of Nazi Germany

During the Nazi era a flood of media – books, newspapers, magazines, posters, films, plays, radio broadcasts and training manuals – confronted German men with the image of the “ideal German soldier.” This presentation highlights the set of characteristics that men serving in the German military – the Wehrmacht – were expected to embody according to this propaganda, and discusses the impact that it might have played in shaping the expectations and behavior of soldiers. The paper argues that the methodology employed by many historians in examining this material produces interpretive distortions, and that a more holistic approach reveals surprising trends that challenge our assumptions about Nazi propaganda and the expectations of soldiers under the Nazi regime.

Mark Hornburg is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at UNC-Chapel Hill who specializes in Modern German History. He is currently finishing his dissertation entitled “Cleansing the Wehrmacht: The Treatment of Social Outsiders in the German Military under the Nazi Regime.” He is currently co-editing the volume Beyond ‘Ordinary Men’: Christopher Browning and Holocaust Historiography (with Jürgen Matthäus and Thomas Pegelow Kaplan), forthcoming in 2019. 

Moderator: KONRAD H. JARAUSCH  I  UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History


Fall 2018


Sunday, 23 September 2018

ANDREW ZIMMERMAN  I  The George Washington University, Department of History

Conjuring Freedom: German Central Europe in a Global History of the American Civil War

The presentation will discuss the contribution of German communists to the revolution against slavery and the defeat of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. While the Lincoln administration and top Union generals developed a military strategy to restore the status quo antebellum in the Chesapeake Bay region, German émigrés in the Mississippi River Valley worked with enslaved African Americans and some native-born white people to create what Carl von Clausewitz termed “war by means of popular uprisings.” German communism shaped the course of the American Civil War, and the American Civil War, in turn, shaped German communism.

Andrew Zimmerman is Professor of History at The George Washington University. He is the author of Alabama in Africa: Booker T. Washington, the German Empire, and the Globalization of the New South (2010). He has also edited Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ The Civil War in the United States (2016). He is currently writing a history of the American Civil War as a transnational working-class rebellion titled “A Very Dangerous Element.”

Moderator: NOAH STROTE  I North Carolina State University, Department of History


Sunday, 14 October 2018

CLAIRE GREENSTEIN  I  Georgia Institute of Technology, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs

Political Cover or Moral Imperative: Reparations in West Germany

After World War II, the West German federal government set an international and historical precedent by paying reparations to its own citizens for abuses committed by the former German regime. This paper examines what motivated the West German government to promise and pay reparations to German Jews after the war. It argues that Jewish Germans were able to obtain reparations because organized Jewish victims’ groups placed a high level of pro-reparations pressure on the West German government, found sympathetic political allies within the upper echelons of West German government, and sustained that pro-reparations pressure over time.

Claire Greenstein is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. She received her PhD in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in July 2018. Her research focuses on transitional justice and social movements, with a particular emphasis on domestic reparations programs that are established in response to governmental human rights abuses.

Moderator: TOBIAS HOF  I UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History


Sunday, 4 November 2018

OFER ASHKENAZI   I   Hebrew University, Department of History and Minerva Center for German History

Toward a Critical Zionist Vision: German-Jewish Photographers and Filmmakers in 1930s Palestine

Following the emergence of National Socialism, several German-Jewish photographers and filmmakers went into exile. A small number of them arrived in Mandate Palestine and greatly influenced the Zionist visual culture of the following decades. This talk focuses on two veterans of Germany’s film industry, who participated in Zionist propaganda campaigns in the mid-1930s and created imagery that was repeatedly copied and referenced by other Zionist artists. In their work they integrated Labor Zionism with a critical, anti-nationalist discourse of the Weimar era. While they identified with, and propagated, some aspects of the Zionist vision, they visualized the local landscape in a way that criticized and protested particular aspects of Jewish nationalism.

Ofer Ashkenazi teaches modern European history and is the director of the Koebner-Minerva Center for German History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His publications include the monographs A Walk into the Night: Reason and Subjectivity in Weimar Film (2010); Weimar Film and Modern Jewish Identity (2012); and Anti-Heimat Cinema: The Jewish Invention of the German Landscape (forthcoming).

Moderator: KAREN AUERBACH  I  UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History


Sunday, 2 December 2018

JAKOB NORBERG   I  Duke University, Department of Germanic Languages and Literature

The People’s Property: The Brothers Grimm and the Tales of the Nation

In August 1846, Jacob Grimm wrote a letter to the Prussian king to encourage him to invade Schleswig-Holstein in order to protect the resident German-speaking population against attempts by Denmark to consolidate Danish rule over the areas. The philologist Grimm claimed to know the real borders of Germany and urged the king to protect them. In fact, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm believed in the crucial political role of Germanic philology for the constitution of a German nation state. In the age of nationalism, the king must be advised by a philologist; there must be a philologist king.

Jakob Norberg is Associate Professor of Germanic Languages at Duke University. He is the author of Sociability and Its Enemies: German Political Thought After 1945 (2014) and over twenty journal articles on German political thought and literature in Cultural CritiqueGerman QuarterlyNew German CritiquePMLATelosTextual Practice and other journals. His next book, The Philologist King: The Brothers Grimm and the Nation, is in preparation.

Moderator: GABRIEL TROP  I  UNC Chapel Hill, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures



Spring 2018


Sunday, 28 January 2018

KAREN HAGEMANN  I  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of History

Memory and Emotions: The Anti-Napoleonic Wars in 19th-Century Historical Novels

In the decades following the Anti-Napoleonic Wars of 1806 to 1815, historical novels evolved into one of the most important popular media of the memories of these wars. They reached increasingly broader audiences. These readers expected both edification and entertainment from historical novels, which should address not just the mind, but also the heart. Historical novels became a ‘school of national emotions.’ They played an important role in the construction of 19th century Germans’ national identity, because people’s connection to a nation is mainly emotional, not rational. Nations are not only “imagined” but also “emotional communities.”

Karen Hagemann is the James G. Kenan Distinguished Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has published widely in Modern German and European history, gender history and the history of military and war. Her most recent books include the edited volumes Gender, War, and Politics: Transatlantic Perspectives, 1775-1830 (2010) and War Memories: The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars in Modern European Culture (2012); and the monograph Revisiting Prussia’s Wars Against Napoleon: History, Culture, Memory (Cambridge University Press, 2015), which won the Hans Rosenberg Prize for the best book in Central European History in 2016 by the Central European History Society.

Moderation: JONATHAN HESS  I  UNC Chapel Hill, Department of Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literatures


Sunday, 11 February 2018

THOMAS KÜHNE  I  Clark University, Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies

The Nazi Volksgemeinschaft: From Myth to Reality

Examining ordinary Germans’ consent to the Nazi dictatorship and the Holocaust, historians have debated the social meaning and the implementation of the Nazi concept of a Volksgemeinschaft, or ‘people’s community,’ the vision of establishing a truly united nation that would be free of the chasms and cleavages of modern societies. While prominent historians dismiss the Volksgemeinschaft as a hollow propaganda phrase, this talk probes into its integrative power and shows how it became real. The Nazis may not have succeeded in standardizing Germans’ mindsets but they succeeded in aligning the choices Germans took. The Volksgemeinschaft became real not in a utopian fashion as a grand community of social harmony and security but in a dystopian mode as the acme of nation building through violent action—through war, terror and genocide.

Thomas Kühne is the Director of the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University, where he holds the Strassler Chair in Holocaust History. He studies the cultural and social history of war and genocide in the 20th century, with a focus on Holocaust perpetrators and bystanders. His most recent books include The Rise and Fall of Comradeship: Hitler’s Soldiers, Male Bonding and Mass Violence in the 20th Century (2017); and Belonging and Genocide. Hitler’s Community, 1918-1945 (2010).

Moderation: NOAH STROTE  I  NC State University, Department of History


Sunday, 25 March  2018

LORN HILLAKER   I   University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of History

Competing Images of West and East Germany in the 1960s

After unsure beginnings, West and East German foreign cultural policy took on a harder edge in the 1960s. The construction of the Berlin Wall and Cold War tensions provided essential background for the divided German states to define themselves against each other and within their respective systems. This resulted in a series of conflicting images of themselves and their rival that offered foreign audiences a view in to life in divided Germany. The presentation explores both Germanys’ confrontational foreign cultural policy during the critical 1960s when they responded to profound challenges to their states’ international image and each sought to outdo the other up to the emergence of Ostpolitik and détente.

Lorn Hillaker is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he is writing his dissertation entitled, “Promising a Better Germany: Competing Cultural Diplomacies between West and East Germany, 1949-1990.” He specializes in modern German history and the comparison of the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic. His research interests include media history, intermediality, cultural diplomacy, and diplomatic history.

Moderation: TOBIAS HOF   I  UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History


Sunday, 15 April  2018

SIMONE LÄSSIG   I  German Historical Institute (GHI) Washington D.C

Religion as “Agent of Change”: Jewish and other Responses to Modernity in Germany, 1780-1860

The presentation explores the ambivalent role of Judaism and religiosity during the Sattelzeit, when German Jewry was confronted with deep reaching, sometimes threatening social change. The presentation sheds new light on Jewish coping strategies and the transformation of a socio-cultural system shaped by religious practices and knowledge orders in response to modernity. It will show how a new group of Jewish “movers and shakers” used religion and tradition to translate innovation and to make change socially relevant. Focusing on lived experience in communities beyond the centers of the reform movement, the presentation offers a fresh perspective of this astonishing transformation.

Simone Lässig is the director of the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. and professor of modern History at the University of Braunschweig. Her research has cut across the fields of German history, Jewish history, and the history of knowledge. She is currently working on two projects: a reconsideration of family and kinship in the modern era (1800-2000) through the lens of a multi-generation family biography and a book, provisionally entitled “Coping with Disruptive Change: Jews, Middle Class Culture, and Social Transformation in early 19th Century Germany.”

Moderation: KAREN HAGEMANN   I  UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History

In cooperation with the UNC Center for European Studies and the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies



Fall 2017


Sunday, 24 September 2017

TILL VAN RAHDEN  I  Université de Montréal, Department of History

When, How, and Why Did Jews Become a “Minority”? Remapping Difference in Central Europe, 1815-1919

The conceptual couple of majority/minority is viewed as a harmless way of identifying an arithmetic relationship. The idea of a dichotomy between majority and (Jewish) minority as a short hand to describe relations between ethnic or religious groups, however, is recent. In fact, as the lecture will demonstrate, it did not exist before 1919 when in the wake of World War I the idea of democracy and the idea of the homogeneous nation-state triumphed simultaneously. Prior to 1919, languages of diversity invoked embedded concepts that referred to specific constellations of difference, such as colony or community, churches, nations, races, or tribes. The opposition of majority and minority introduced a level of abstraction into struggles over recognition. “Minority rights” for Jews and others became a miracle cure in such conflicts and seemed to offer a universal formula promising an efficacious remedy.

Till van Rahden is the Canada Research Chair in German and European Studies, Université de Montréal, Department of History. His book, Jews and other Germans: Civil Society, Religious Diversity and Urban Politics in Breslau, 1860-1925 (2008), received the “Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History”. He has co-edited Juden, Bürger, Deutsche: Zur Geschichte von Vielfalt und Differenz 1800-1933 (2001); Demokratie im Schatten der Gewalt: Geschichten des Privaten im deutschen Nachkrieg (2010); and Autorität: Krise, Konstruktion und Konjunktur (2016).

JAMES CHAPPEL  I  DUKE University, Department of History

In cooperation with the UNC Center for European Studies, the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies and the Center for Judaic, Holocaust and Peace Studies at Appalachian State University Seminar


Sunday, 15 October 2017

LARISSA STIGLICH  I  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of History

From Shortage to Surplus: Demographic Change and Demolition in Eisenhüttenstadt, 1980-Present

After the Wende the former socialist model-city, Eisenhüttenstadt, experienced a fundamental transformation of its “housing problem” from an acute shortage to a surplus. Although many of the processes of transition have long since been completed, the social, economic, and cultural challenges that Eisenhüttenstadt—and many other former East German cities—continue continues to face are inextricably tied to the conditions of late stage socialism. As such, historical understandings of the Wende and the 1990s remain incomplete if presented in truncated narratives that overlook certain continuities that accompanied the fast-paced political, economic, social, and cultural changes of German unification.

Larissa Stiglich is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is writing her dissertation titled After Socialism: The Transformation of Everyday Life in Eisenhüttenstadt, 1980-Present. She specializes in history of the GDR and of unified Germany, and her research interests also include the social history of post-socialist transition and Alltagsgeschichte in East Germany and the former ‘Eastern bloc.’

Moderation: KONRAD H. JARAUSCH  I  UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History

Sunday, 29 October 2017

5-7 pm I UNC Chapel Hill I FedEx Global Education Center I Room 4003

Roundtable: Transatlantic Research and Academic Collaboration: Challenges and Changes

The recent political tensions have made academic exchanges across the Atlantic more difficult. The ethnic and religious diversification of students and scholars on both sides of the Atlantic can no longer take a shared cultural heritage for granted. Justifying a study of Europe in the US and of the United States in the EU has to confront undercurrents of Eurotrashing and Anti-Americanism. At the same time the Internet has made long distance communication and cooperation much easier. The creation of informed and positive academic relations between Europe and the US therefore requires more dedication. The roundtable will explore the current situation and possibilities for future exchange and collaboration by discussing the following three questions:

    1. How well are the current instruments of academic exchange between the United States and Europe functioning for teaching and research?
    2. What should be done in order to incorporate the opportunities of the digital tools?
    3. How can the vitality of transatlantic cooperation be safeguarded in the future?

Introductory Remarks:

NINA LEMMENS  I Director of German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) North America, New York

Nina Lemmens  is the Director of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) North America office in New York, which is responsible for the organization‘s activities in the USA and Canada. She is also is the Executive Director of the German Center for Research and Innovation in New York City. She studied art history and worked as a freelance journalist for ten years during her time at university. After finishing her PhD, she  joined the DAAD in 1997 and since then has held numerous positions, including Director of the DAAD London office from 2000 to 2006 and Director of the Asia-Pacific Department in the Bonn head office from 2006 to 2009. From July 2009 to December 2013, she was Director of the Department for Internationalization and Communication in DAAD in Bonn.

Moderation: KAREN HAGEMANN  I  Professor, UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History


  • FITZ BRUNDAGE  I  Chair, UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History
  • JOHN STEPHENS  I Director, UNC Chapel Hill, Center for European Studies & UNC Department of Political Sciences
  • KONRAD H. JARAUSCH Professor, UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History
  • JONATHAN HESS  I  Chair, UNC Chapel Hill, Department of German & Slavic Languages and Literature)
  • LISBETH HOOGE Professor, UNC Chapel Hill, Department of Political Sciences

In cooperation with the UNC Center for European Studies, Department of German & Slavic Languages and Literatures and Department of History


Sunday, 12 November 2017

ROBIN ELLIS  I Davidson College, German Studies Department

Staging Translation: Refugee Voices in German Theater

When Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek’s play Die Schutzbefohlenen premiered in 2014 in Mannheim, Germany, it prompted debate about the representation of refugees in European theater. Jelinek’s text, loosely based on Aeschylus’ The Suppliants, features an undefined “we” telling of flight across the sea, and in the Mannheim production, German actors were joined by a chorus of actual refugees. While critics discussed the production’s political and ethical implications, the Vienna-based translation collective Versatorium responded by translating Jelinek’s monolingual play into nine languages, including Pashto, English, and Urdu. Versatorium, which consists of students, refugees, and professional translators, has also performed dramatic readings of this translation, titled Die, Should Sea Be Fallen In. By staging translation as a multidirectional process of encounter, Versatorium speaks back to models of advocacy that position refugees as mute victims while also extending the polyvocal potential of Jelinek’s text

Robin Ellis is a Visiting Assistant Professor of German Studies at Davidson College. She received her Ph.D. in German Studies from the University of California, Berkeley with a dissertation titled “Making Translation Visible: Interpreters in European Film and Literature.” Her research focuses on questions of transnational mobility and intercultural communication, and her publications include articles on Joe May’s 1921 film The Indian Tomb and Feridun Zaimoglu’s 1998 mock-ethnography Headstuff.

Moderation: RICHARD LANGSTON  I  UNC Chapel Hill, Department of Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literatures


Sunday, 3 December  2017

PETER N. GENGLER  I  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of History

Constructing and Leveraging ‘Flight and Expulsion’: Expellee Memory Politics in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1944-1990

The presentation examines the widespread antagonism and hostility that victims of flight and expulsion faced upon their arrival in Germany between 1945 and 1949 and expellee responses. A condensed version of chapter three of his dissertation, Peter argues that in the early postwar years, expellees articulated their experiences of sufferings in “sympathy narratives” in order to cope with their traumas and argue for social recognition and material aid to overcome the humanitarian crisis. In doing so, they cultivated an identity of a unique “community of fate” that provided a platform for the politicization of “flight and expulsion” during the 1950s.

Peter Gengler is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research broadly focuses on East and West German cultural memories of war and dictatorship. He is currently completing his dissertation, “’Flight and Expulsion’: Expellee Victimhood Narratives and Memory Politics in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1944-1990.”

Moderation: PRISCILLA LANE   UNC Chapel Hill, Department of Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literatures.



Spring 2017


Sunday, 19 January 2017

CAROLINE NILSEN I University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

German-Norwegian Romance, Marriage, and Childbirth: Sexual Relations under the Strain of Occupation

The German Wehrmacht occupied Norway in April 1940 and stayed in the country until the end of the Second World War. The presentation explores the tensions that characterized this occupation and the experiences of the occupying German soldiers. The disparities between Nazi ideology, expectations and reality will be examined with a focus on the masculine sexual behavior and its consequences. The racist Nazi propaganda written by and for German soldiers, which encouraged relations between German soldiers and Norwegian women will be contrasted with the practice of sexual relations and marriages between them, which led to 10,000 to 12,000 German-Norwegian children born during the occupation. These children seem to indicate that the Nazi expectations were fulfilled to quite a high degree. At the same time, however, personal interactions of German men and Norwegian women were to a surprising extent hindered by the military concerns of the German occupation regime.

Caroline Nilsen is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has just returned from 18 months of research in Germany and Norway, and is in the early stages of writing her dissertation, entitled “Children of Shame: The Contested Legacy of the SS Lebensborn Program, 1940-Present.”

Moderation: KAREN HAGEMANN I UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History

In cooperation with the Carolina Gender, War and Culture Series


Sunday, 11 February 2017

KONRAD H. JARAUSCH I University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Broken Lives: How Ordinary Germans Experienced the 20th Century

Based on six dozen autobiographies of the age cohort born during the Weimar Republic, this project looks at the ruptures of German history from below which overturned or ended all too many lives. The analysis seeks to ascertain common patterns of experience in order to get at what happened to most Germans and to explore tropes of shared memory with which they tried to come to terms with such upheavals in retrospect. This perspective sheds new light on why so many ordinary people supported the racist imperialism of the Nazis, then embraced anti-Fascist alternatives and finally sought to make sense of their choices. In contrast to conventional accounts of history from above, this reverse view seeks to understand the widespread patterns of individual actions and personal memorie.

Konrad H. Jarausch is Lurcy Professor of European Civilization at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Senior Fellow of the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung in Potsdam. He has written or edited about 40 books on German and European history such as “United Germany: Debating Processes and Prospects.” Most recently he has published a sweeping synthesis of 20th century European history, entitled “Out of Ashes: A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century.”

Moderation: TOBIAS HOF I UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History

In cooperation with the UNC Chapel Hill, Center for European Studies


Sunday, 26 March 2017

ASTRIED ECKERT I Emory University

The Unintended Consequences of Socialism: What Ultimately Protected Nature in the GDR

“Giftküche DDR” – the lead story of Der Spiegel in January 1990 about the GDR’s toxic legacy confirmed the worst fears about the environmental record of state socialism. Yet days before unification became official in October 1990, the only freely elected government of East Germany created five national parks, six biosphere reserves, and three nature parks, putting 10% of its state territory under nature protection, compared to 1% in the West. The existence of ecologically valuable landscapes on the territory of the GDR obviously preceded the state. But the fact that such landscapes still proved worth protecting in 1990 appears at first irreconcilable with the news coverage. The presentation uses the national park program as a window onto the environmental history of East Germany and seeks to explain how ecologically precious landscapes emerged amidst the bankruptcy assets of the GDR.

Astrid M. Eckert is Winship Distinguished Research Professor and Associate Professor of History at Emory University in Atlanta. She is a historian of Modern Europe and Germany. Her publications include: The Struggle for the Files: The Western Allies and the Return of German Archives after the Second World War (2012). Her current project explores the meaning and consequences of the Iron Curtain for West Germany in economic, cultural and environmental terms.

Moderation: KONRAD H. JARAUSCH I UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History

In cooperation with the UNC Chapel Hill, Center for European Studies