European Leo Baeck Lecture Series London 2008/2009

You can download the leaflet here.

Programme

25 September 2008

How does one write a history of Germany in the Second World War? In this lecture, Richard J. Evans discusses why he came to the project, how he has approached the subject, and what his principal arguments are. “The Third Reich at War” traces the mobilization of an entire “people’s community” in the service of a war of conquest, racial subjugation and genocide. Blending narrative, description and analysis, “The Third Reich at War” creates a picture of a society rushing headlong to self-destruction and taking a large part of Europe with it. Depicting and explaining how this society functioned, and how the Nazis led Germany from conquest to annihilation, is one of the greatest challenges a modern historian can face.

Prof. Richard J. Evans has been Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University since 1998. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and Editor of the Journal of Contemporary History. In 2000 he was principal expert witness for the defence in the libel action brought by David Irving against Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher. His books include “Telling Lies About Hitler”, “The Coming of the Third Reich” and “The Third Reich in Power”. His new book, “The Third Reich at War”, the final volume in his trilogy on Nazi Germany, is published by Penguin Books on 13 October (some copies will be available for sale on the evening).

13 November 2008

In this lecture, Professor Heschel will present some archival material she uncovered that discloses the existence of an antisemitic propaganda institute, financed by the Protestant church, from 1939 to 1945. She will describe its activities, membership, and publications, and will trace the postwar careers of some of its more renowned professors of theology, who maintained careers of importance after the war and helped shape the course of theology, particularly New Testament scholarship, in West and East Germany. The purpose of the lecture is not only to delineate a little-known aspect of the history of the church during the Third Reich, but also to raise questions about the affinities between theology and racial theory. Why were theologians so drawn to racial antisemitism?

Susannah Heschel holds the Eli Black Professorship in 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 antisemitism. 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 a forthcoming book, The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (Princeton University Press).


10 December 2008

In her lecture, Professor Schüler-Springorum will present the findings of her forthcoming book on the history of the Condor Legion, the National Socialist elite force which contributed significantly to Franco’s victory in 1939. Based on rich archival and autobiographical material, she will focus on the day-to-day history of the war, as experienced by the pilots themselves. By examinig their expectations, perceptions and ways of remembering, she presents insights into the minds of this generation of young German men, who enthusiastically followed Hitler into World War II and who later on became the pillars of modern West German democracy.

Stefanie Schüler-Springorum is Director of the Institute for German-Jewish History in Hamburg and teaches Modern German history at Hamburg University. Her scholarship focuses on German-Jewish History in the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of the Holocaust and modern Spanish history. She is the author of Die jüdische Minderheit in Königsberg/Pr. 1871-1945 (1996); co-author of Denkmalsfigur. Biographische Annäherung an Hans Litten (2008) and co-editor of Deutsch-jüdische Geschichte als Geschlechtergeschichte. Studien zum 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (2005). Her forthcoming book is: Krieg und Fliegen. Die Legion Condor im Spanischen Bürgerkrieg (2009).


12 February 2009

With Israel, a nation renewed itself from the ashes of Holocaust in Europe and from uprooted Jewish communities. Zionism was not a revolt against this or that system but an uprising against the fate that has characterized Jewish history until now. Today, the memory of rural pioneers and the new Hebrews during the Jischuv years might enjoy local appreciation. New structures, big cities, and a digital pulse from the Internet, marked by a molecularization of concerns and processes, now determine the trends between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. We learn about different jewish “tribes” in an Israeli society that has become plural and complex. What does it mean for the life and perception of Jews in Europe? The emerging of an identity that could be called American-Jewish, European-Jewish, or Israeli-Jewish, means both that perceptions are in transition and a new coalescing of values becomes a reality. It is worthwhile to defend the success of a plural society based on knowledge and universal rights – in the state of Israel as well as in the domiciles called ‘Diaspora’ where Jews live today.

Jacques Picard, Professor for Modern History and Jewish Culture at the University of Basel where he serves as dean of Research of the Faculty of Humanities.


2 April 2009

Toleration, liberty of conscience and freedom of religion belonged to the key and most controversial values of the Dutch Golden Age. Dutch debates on these values go back to the Dutch Revolt, the fight for independence against Philip II and his government in the second half of the 16th century. Initially the focus was on how different Christian groups and communities, including most notably Calvinists, Catholics and Mennonites should live and tolerate each other. The settlement of Jewish refugees in the beginning of the seventeenth century added a new dimension. The central aim of the lecture is to explore how a number of central figures of the Golden Age discussed and analysed the position of Jewish communities and of Judaism in the Dutch Republic. Rembrandt, so often celebrated as the painter of Jewish life, Hugo Grotius, one of the key intellectuals of the Golden Age and a founding father of theories of international law and natural rights, and Menasseh Ben Israel, one of the rabbis of the Amsterdam Jewish community and a key figure in 17th century European intellectual life – all, in their own way, contributed significantly to the dialogue between Judaism and Christianity in early modern Europe.

Martin van Gelderen is Professor of European Intellectual History at the European University Institute in Florence. His research focuses on the political and religious thought of early modern Europe. He is co-editor with Quentin Skinner of the forthcoming volume Freedom and the Construction of Europe: New perspectives on philosophical, religious and political controversies (Cambridge, 2010).

14 May 2009

Toleration, liberty of conscience and freedom of religion belonged to the key and most controversial values of the Dutch Golden Age. Dutch debates on these values go back to the Dutch Revolt, the fight for independence against Philip II and his government in the second half of the 16th century. Initially the focus was on how different Christian groups and communities, including most notably Calvinists, Catholics and Mennonites should live and tolerate each other. The settlement of Jewish refugees in the beginning of the seventeenth century added a new dimension. The central aim of the lecture is to explore how a number of central figures of the Golden Age discussed and analysed the position of Jewish communities and of Judaism in the Dutch Republic. Rembrandt, so often celebrated as the painter of Jewish life, Hugo Grotius, one of the key intellectuals of the Golden Age and a founding father of theories of international law and natural rights, and Menasseh Ben Israel, one of the rabbis of the Amsterdam Jewish community and a key figure in 17th century European intellectual life – all, in their own way, contributed significantly to the dialogue between Judaism and Christianity in early modern Europe.

Martin van Gelderen is Professor of European Intellectual History at the European University Institute in Florence. His research focuses on the political and religious thought of early modern Europe. He is co-editor with Quentin Skinner of the forthcoming volume Freedom and the Construction of Europe: New perspectives on philosophical, religious and political controversies (Cambridge, 2010).