Department of German and Russian
Talk to Explore Nazism Through German-Jews' Personal Writings
- By LeeAnn Cox
"Locating Nazi Evil: German-Jewish Intellectuals Confront the Crimes of the Third Reich" will be delivered by Professor Steven Aschheim of Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. in John Dewey Lounge, Old Mill.
"Ashchheim is an exceptionally engaging speaker," says Alan Steinweis, professor of history and director of the Center for Holocaust Studies. "He's very skilled at making a serious subject entertaining. And he is without question one of the world's leading historians of German-Jewish intellectual history."
Using remarkable diaries, letters and lesser-known writings of three distinctive thinkers — Gershom Scholem, Hannah Arendt and Victor Klemperer — the lecture will examine their intimate reflections and what they reveal about their evolving identities and world views as each wrestled with new questions of evil and the meaning of being both German and Jewish before, during and after Hitler's Third Reich. This composite "history from within" seeks to shed new light on the complexity and drama of the 20th-century European and Jewish experience.
"His approach is novel," says Steinweis. "He's trying to get at this from the perspective of members of the victim group who were trying to figure out what made the perpetrators tick."
Aschheim holds the Vigevani Chair of European Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he is also director of the Franz Rosenzweig Research Centre for German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History. His many books include Brothers and Strangers: The East European Jew in German and German-Jewish Consciousness, 1800-1923; The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany, 1890-1990 and Culture and Catastrophe: German and Jewish Confrontations with National Socialism and Other Crises.
The event is sponsored by the Carolyn and Leonard Miller Center for Holocaust Studies.