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Spring 2021


Because of the Covid-19-pandemic, we will hold the NCGS Seminars in the fall 2020 and the spring 20021 online and organize them via Zoom.

We will communicate the Zoom URL for each NCGS seminar  before the event via our NCGS list serve.

If you are not on this list serve please contact the NCGS  organizers MAX H. LAZAR ( and MICHAEL SKALSKI (mskalski@live.unc.eduand ask them to be added this list serve or request the URL for the specific event. The NCGS  organizers  will take care of the  technology of the Zoom Seminars.

For our NCGS Online Seminar Etiquette click here.



Friday, 29 January 2021

UNC Chapel Hill  I  4:00 – 5:30 pm I Online Seminar


Konrad H.  Jarausch Essay Prize Winner for Advanced Graduate Students in 2020

PETER B. THOMPSON  I  University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Department of History

Masters or Victims of the Chemical World?: The Question of Complicity in a Chemically-Minded Third Reich


The presentation will examine the ways in which the gas mask served as a technological site of discipline, conformity, and complicity in the envisioned air and gas protection community of the Third Reich. Throughout the 1930s, the Nazis used the gas mask as a material tool in the creation of a compliant and chemically-minded German subject. With masks donned, German civilians now appeared as technologically augmented soldiers in the Nazis’ envisioned struggle for national survival. Indeed, in the eyes of the Nazis, the mask created a physically homogenized society that could survive, if not thrive, in a modernity defined by its toxic environment. Exploring the role of gas mask technology in the creation of a national community predicated on violent exclusions and bodily discipline, this presentation will argue that the average German civilian under the gas mask maintained a complex subjectivity that regularly shifted between perpetrator, bystander, and victim of the Nazi regime.

PETER B. THOMPSON is a PhD graduate in the History Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His broad research interests lie at the intersection of German cultural history and the history of science and technology at the turn of the twentieth century.


Welcome: LISA LINDSAY (Chair, UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History)

Introduction of the Prize Winner:  JAMES CHAPPEL  I  Duke University, Department of History

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

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of History, and UNC-Chapel Hill History, Department of History, and Center for European Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill

PDF of the Flyer



Friday, 29 January 2021

UNC Chapel Hill  I  12:00 – 2:00 pm I Online Seminar

Graduate Writing Seminar

with PETER B. THOMPSON  I University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign, Department of History

Discussion of “The Pale Death: Poison Gas and German Racial Exceptionalism, 1915-1945”


In the second year of Wolf War I, the German-Jewish chemist Fritz Haber supervised the first deployment of industrialized chemical weapons against French colonial troops. The uncertain nature of the attack, both in its execution and outcome, led many German military men to question the controllability of poison gas. Over the next three decades, Germans would continue this line of inquiry, as aero-chemical attacks appeared increasingly imminent. This article narrates the German search for control over chemical weapons between the World Wars, revealing the ways in which interwar techno-nationalists tied the mastery of poison gas to ethno-racial definitions of German-ness. Under the Nazis, leaders in civilian aero-chemical defense picked up this interwar thread and promoted a dangerous embrace of gas that would supposedly cull the technically superior Germans from other lesser races. While this vision of a chemically saturated world did not suffuse German society, such logic did play out in the gas chambers of the Holocaust


Comments:  JAMES CHAPPEL (Duke University, Department of History) and KONRAD H. JARAUSCH (UNC—Chapel Hill, Department of History)

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

The paper will be distributed to the participants before the workshop. Please contact the organizers of the event.

Co-Conveners: Duke University, Department of History, and UNC-Chapel Hill History, Department of History and the  Center for European Studies

PDF of the Flyer


Friday, 26 February 2021

UNC Chapel Hill  I  4:00 – 5:30 pm I Online Seminar


MICHAEL SKALSKI  I  Graduate Student, UNC—Chapel Hill, Department of History

FDJ-ler Make New Friends: International Youth Exchanges in the Eastern Bloc, 1972-1989


In the spirit of communist internationalism, Eastern Bloc regimes provided ample opportunities for children, teenagers, and students to travel and become acquainted with their peers from other peoples’ democracies. Not only were the exchanges a popular vacation alternative for young people, they also served the purpose of strengthening Bloc cohesion and adherence to socialist values. Thousands of East German youth came into contact with their Polish, Czech, and Soviet peers annually, making lasting friendships, exchanging experiences, and falling into conflict over cultural differences. This presentation explores the quality and outcomes of these interactions, the role of political ideology and nationality in shaping the outlooks of the next generation of socialist citizens to argue that the state-sponsored programs returned the children as “better” Germans (or Poles or Czechs) rather than better communists.


MICHAEL SKALSKI is a PhD graduate in the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation, “A Socialist Neighborhood: Cross-Border Exchanges between Poland, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia, 1969-1989,” explores successes and failures of internationalism and integration in the Eastern Bloc.


Moderation: ANDREA SINN (Elon University, Department of History and Geography)

Co-Conveners: UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History, and Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies

PDF of the Flyer



Friday, March 26, 2021

UNC Chapel Hill  I  2:00 – 4:00 pm I Online Seminar



Antisemitism in Germany Today

STEFANIE SCHÜLER-SPRINGORUM  I  Director of and Professor at the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung of the TU Berlin

On Numbers and Feelings: Antisemitism in Germany Today


Antisemitism seems to be on the rise, in Germany and elsewhere. However, the scope of this rise, its reason, its agents and last but not least its meaning, as well as the political consequences to be drawn from it, are fiercefully debated. In my paper, I will discuss the various ways of assessing antisemitism in Germany today: Survey and Polls, historical and sociological qualitative research, statistics by police and civil society organizations as well as the media covering of important events. I will put special attention to the pitfalls of each approach and to the problems of the media discourse. Finally, I will discuss the results of this overview against the backdrop of rising populism, racism and other forms of resentment in Germany, Europe and worldwide. 

STEFANIE SCHÜLER-SPRINGORUM, is the Director of the Center for Research on Antisemitism and Co- Director of the Selma-Stern-Center for Jewish Studies, both in in Berlin, and, since 2020, is the Director of the Berlin branch of the Center for Research on Social Cohesion. Her main fields of research are Jewish, German, and Spanish History. Recent publications include Four Years After: Antisemitism and Racism in Trump’s America (edited with N. and M. Zadoff, H. Paul, 2020); The Challenge of Ambivalence: Antisemitism in Germany Today (2018); Perspektiven deutsch-jüdischer Geschichte: Geschlecht und Differenz (2014).


Opening Remarks: RUTH BERNUTH (Dircector, Carolina Center for Jewish Studies, UNC Chapel Hill)

Comment: THOMAS PEGELOW-KAPLAN  I  Appalachian State University, Department of History

Moderation: ANDREA SINN  I   Elon University, Department of History and Geography

Co-Conveners: UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History, Carolina Center for Jewish Studies and Center for European Studies, and Appalachian State University, Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies

PDF of the Flyer



Thursday, April 9, 2021

UNC Chapel Hill  I  4:00 – 6:00 pm I Online Seminar

HEATHER R. PERRY  I  Associate Professor, UNC—Charlotte, Department of History

Nourishing the Volk: Nutrition, Health, and National Belonging in Germany’s Long Great War


The talk examines Germany’s “long” Great War (1914-1924) through the lenses of food, health, and gender.  Whereas most scholars have focused on how hunger and deprivation in war-time Germany contributed to social unrest and female politicization, this research focuses instead on how male nutritional scientists forged relationships with female philanthropists, women’s groups, and housewives’ organizations to re-shape national ideas about food and identity in the struggling German nation.  Moreover, it shows how despite the demobilization of the nation’s (male) military soldiers in 1918, the ongoing resource scarcities in Germany between 1918-1923 necessitated the continuous mobilization of the nation’s “kitchen soldiers” during the often overlooked periods of occupation, humanitarian intervention, and national re-building.

HEATHER PERRY  is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her  specialty is the history and culture of the First World War; however, she focuses more broadly on the study of German and European History, the History of Medicine and the Body, and the History of War and Society. Her recent publications include: the monograph Recycling the Disabled: Army, Medicine, and Modernity in WWI Germany  (2014); and the  volume Food, Culture and Identity in Germany’s Century of War, which she edited with Heather Merle Benbow (2019). Currently she works on a book project titled Feeding War: Nutrition, Health, and National Belonging in Germany, 1914-1924.

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

Co-Convener: UNC-Chapel Hill, Peace, War and Defense Curriculum

PDF of the Flyer