Skip to main content

Leo Baeck Institute London Lecture Series 2004-05

Wiener Library, Centre for German-Jewish Studies, Leo Baeck Institute 

For the first time, Britain's leading institutions for the study of German-speaking Jewry and the Holocaust have combined to present a programme of public lectures. Drawing on the strengths of these three renowned institutions, the lectures pose a series of probing questions: How did Jews in the aftermath of the Shoah deal with feelings of revenge? In what ways does the concept of trauma help us to understand the life of individual survivors? How did Christians and Jews live together in a German city between 1933-1945? What can we say about coercion and consent during the Third Reich? 

The Wiener Library, founded in 1933, is Britain's largest documentation centre for the study of the Nazi era, the Shoah and the historical consequences of the attempted annihilation of Europe's Jewry. 

The Centre for German-Jewish Studies at Sussex University is the first university-based research institute where students are taught German-Jewish history, culture and thought. 

The Leo Baeck Institute, named after the last public representative of the Jewish community in Nazi Germany, was founded in 1955, and is the world's leading research institute in the field of German- Jewish history.


The distinguished psychiatrist Dr Hans Keilson will speak about his life's work in psychiatric trauma. Born in Germany in 1909, he published his first novel Das Leben geht weiter (Life goes on) in 1933, shortly before his emigration to the Netherlands. In 1943 he went underground and worked as a doctor and courier for the resistance group "Vrije Groepen Amsterdam". In 1948 he received his Dutch approbation as a doctor and subsequently specialised in psychiatry and psychoanalisis. 

Professor Robert Liberles (Ben Gurion University, Beersheva) 

Coffee first arrived in Germany from the Middle East in the late seventeenth century and spread across Europe in the early eighteenth century. The lecture will explore German Jewish responses to the introduction of the new beverage. Professor Liberles will examine responses by Jews and the Jewish community to questions of halachah or religious law, social challenges, and the economic opportunities that emerged with the arrival of coffee. The "coffee debates" provide a fascinating insight into some of the…

Professor John Grenville 

In the years following Hitler's rise to power, Jewish-Christian relations were more varied than popularly supposed - as demonstrated in the case of Hamburg, a traditionally liberal city with a strong mercantile past. Professor Grenville uses data from offi cial records and private documents to present a vivid picture of a city in crisis. Reichsstatthalter and Gauleiter Karl Kaufmann was the Nazi in overall command. Although one of Hitler's favourites, he was not always as obedient and offi cious as his leader might have wished. There were instances…

Gerhard Riegner Memorial Lecture 

Professor Carlo Ginzburg (University of California, Los Angeles) 

Georges Bataille, the French thinker and novelist, put forward a religious interpretation of Fascism in the framework of the Collège de Sociologie, which he founded in Paris with his friend Roger Caillois in 1937. The lecture will deal with the precedents, ambiguities, and relevance of Bataille's approach. 

Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture

Professor Anson Rabinbach (Princeton University) 

Research Professor John Rohl (University of Sussex) 

What are the roots of National Socialism and where do the origins of the Holocaust lie? Attention is beginning to turn to the attitudes and activities of the royals and aristocrats who dominated Germany's ruling elite prior to 1918. One key development has been the discovery of the depth of the last Kaiser's antisemitism, particularly during his long years of exile in Holland. The realisation has led to widespread recognition of the long strands of continuity reaching back from the Third Reich into the Imperial past. The…

Hilde and Max Kochmann Memorial Lecture 

Research Professor Edward Timms, University of Sussex. 

Dr Jael Geis

The majority of Jews living in Germany in the immediate aftermath of the war expressed very little desire for revenge. Considering the Nazi aggression directed at every single Jew and Judaism on the one hand, and the complete suppression of one's own aggression as a condition of survival on the other hand, one would have expected a ringing cry for vengeance at the very least. Why was there so little of it? In order to understand this surprising absence, Dr Geis will investigate issues relating to estrangement, isolation, selfpreservation, lack of energy and last but not…

Dr Avraham Barkai 

The Centralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens (Central Union of German Citizens of Jewish Faith), known as the C.V., was the most infl uential Jewish representative body before and during the Nazi Era. The lecture, based on the fi rst comprehensive study of the CV includes a signifi cant amount of recent archival fi ndings and will trace how this institution shaped German Jewish identity. 

Professor Richard J. Evans, University of Cambridge

Dr Nikolaus Wachsmann (Birkbeck College, London) 

This lecture compares and contrasts the two main sites of confi nement and terror in the Third Reich: the SS concentration camps and the regular prisons controlled by the legal apparatus. Looking at the conditions inside the two institutions, inmate relations, and the behaviour of their respective offi cials, the lecture will highlight differences and similarities between these two parallel institutions of imprisonment.