University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Center for Holocaust Studies

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Schedule of Events for 2013-14

Past Events


Monday, April 28, 2014, 7:00 PM, Waterman Memorial Lounge (Room 338)

Yom Hashoah Lecture

Religion, Race and Emotion:
The Aryan Jesus in Nazi Germany

Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College

HeschelFor those Christians who embraced National Socialism, the figure of Jesus posed a particularly difficult problem: How could a Nazi worship a Jewish god? For some, the conflict led to a rejection of Christianity and a revival of medieval Teutonic myths and symbols. For others, the answer lay in a redefinition of Jesus as an Aryan whose goal was the destruction of Judaism. During the Third Reich, a group of German Protestant theologians, motivated by racism and tapping into traditional Christian anti-Semitism, redefined Jesus as an Aryan whose goal was the destruction of Judaism, and Nazism as fulfilling his mission. In 1939, these theologians established the “Institute for the Study and Eradication of Jewish Influence on German Religious Life,” financed by the Protestant church, that produced a dejudaized, nazified Christian Bible, hymnal, and theology. A center of passionate, pseudo-scholarship in the field of theology, this Institute was a powerhouse of antisemitic propaganda during World War II, and its members continued to hold flourishing careers in East and West Germany after the war.

Susannah Heschel is the Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College. Her scholarship focuses on Jewish-Christian relations in Germany during the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of biblical scholarship, and the history of anti-Semitism. Her numerous publications include Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus (University of Chicago Press), which won a National Jewish Book Award and Germany's Geiger Prize, and The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (Princeton University Press). She is the author of over seventy articles and has edited several books, including Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays of Abraham Joshua Heschel; Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust (with Robert P. Ericksen); Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism (with David Biale and Michael Galchinsky). The recipient of many grants and awards, she has been a Rockefeller fellow at the National Humanities Center, and two years ago received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Colorado College; in 2008 she received an honorary doctorate from the Augustana Theologische Hochschule, a Protestant seminary in Bavaria, Germany. In November 2009, she received an honorary doctorate of sacred letters from the University of St. Michael's College, the graduate faculty in Catholic theology of the University of Toronto, and in May 2010 she received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, where she also delivered the Baccalaureate address. Between 1999 and 2008 she served on the Academic Advisory Committee of the Research Center of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and on its subcommittee on archival materials and publications.

Underwritten by the Henry and Lili Altschuler Endowment

Last modified April 08 2014 10:09 AM