Center for German and European Studies

CGES - German History Lecture Series

2016 Program and Events

February 25, 2016

Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields

Wendy Lower
Professor of History, Claremont McKenna College

Wendy Lower

March 8, 2016

Fear and Democracy in Postwar Germany

Frank Biess
Professor of History and Director of European Studies, UC San Diego
Frank Biess

March 14, 2016

The British in Argentina, 1830-1930

Deborah Cohen
(Ph.D. Berkeley, 1996), Professor of History, Northwestern University
Deborah Cohen

2015 Program and Events

CGES German History Lecture Series

February 5, 2015

What was '1968'? The Year in West Germany in Global Perspective

Timothy Scott Brown
Professor of History, Northeastern University
Timothy Scott Brown

March 2, 2015

From the Watergate Scandal to the Compliance Revolution: Fighting Corruption in the U.S. and Germany, 1972-2012 

Hartmut Berghoff 
Director, German Historical Institute, Washington, DC 
Hartmut Berghoff

Professor Berghoff contrasted the recent treatment of corruption in the United States with similar  policies in Germany. He began his historical survey with the administration of President Nixon, who became famously associated with the Watergate scandal. Nixon’s resignation from office, according to Berghoff, marks the starting point of a long campaign against corruption in the US. The Foreign Corrupt Practice Act of 1977, which aimed to limit bribery of foreign officials, helped to uncover multiple secret offshore account firms with questionable payments by US firms. Berghoff compared this unilateral act of anti-corruption movement in the US to the rather controversial treatment of corruption in Germany. Bribes, considered a necessary part of doing business in many foreign countries, were considered tax-deductible as “useful expenditures” and obtained government approval. In the 1990s, however, a global shift in perspective on corruption due to the liberalization and democratization of the international market took place, altering German practices. The increased awareness of poverty in third world countries was accompanied by the creation of international organizations aimed at fighting government malfeasance, such as Transparency International and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. These shifts created the need for a globally competitive, well-organized market free from corrupt practices that could enable a fair exchange between countries like the US and Germany. This led to a reversal of German policy, and a tightening of anti-graft measures. 

March 9, 2015

Arming Your Enemy: Germany's Secret Dealings with Russia in the 1920s

Zachary Shore  
Associate Professor of History, Naval Postgraduate School; Senior Fellow at IES 
Zachary Shore

On the basis of research taken from his recentlypublished book A Sense of the Enemy: The High-Stakes History of Reading Your Rival's Mind (2014), Professor Shore presented a new theory for analyzing foreign affairs through what he termed "strategic empathy": the ability of leaders to analyze their enemy's thought processes in foreign affairs. He argued that rather than looking only for patterns in a foreign nation's behavior, it is more productive to examine their behavior in what he called "pattern-breaking" moments, which are more likely to reveal underlying goals and decision-making processes. To illustrate his point he used several examples from 20th- century Germany. In the early 1920s, for example, Germany encountered a Soviet Union that, on the one hand, was secretly allowing Germany to rearm in exchange for German technical expertise and weapons and, on the other consistently attempting to foment revolt within the country through the Comintern. When details of this plot were leaked in 1926, German foreign minister Gustav Stresemann correctly interpreted Soviet denials of the program as a prioritization of the military strengthening of the Soviet Union over its revolutionary goals to leverage a better position for Germany and weather the ensuing scandal with little damage to Germany's image abroad.

April 2, 2015

Explaining the Anti-Immigrant Movement in Dresden (and Beyond)

Jost Halfmann
Prof. Dr. Institut fuer Soziologie, Technische Universitaet, Dresden

Jost Halfmann

April 15, 2015

Germany and European Security: What Lies Ahead?

Johanna Bussemer
Head, Rosa Luxembourg Foundation, Regional Department for OECD Countries, EU, UN, and North Africa; Head of Office: Athens, Greece
Johanna Bussemer

Centrifugal forces seem to be pulling Europe apart. While the Greek crisis put the eurozone in jeopardy, and ongoing austerity crises in southern Europe are strengthening left- and right- wing parties and social movements, wars in other world regions, such as Syria and Ukraine, are encroaching on Europe's borders. The refugee catastrophe, a result of Brussels policies in recent decades,  is part of the new war scenario. Germany currently holds the position of the ‘power in the middle’. Bussemer raised the following questions: Will Chancellor Merkel's policies lead to a reintegration of Europe or will they destroy the European Project? What are the alternatives to current policies, and what would a future European security system look like?

September 14, 2015

Contingency, Prophecy, and the German Protestants’ Fight Against Nuclear Technology

Michael Schuering
DAAD Visiting Professor at Berkeley until 2014, now Visiting Professor at University of Florida, specializing in Modern Germany
Michael Schuering

Around 1980, West Germany's environmental movement had come to deeply affect the spiritual and cultural self-understanding of the country's Protestant churches, which saw themselves challenged to respond to growing societal concerns around pollution and sustainability. This lecture took a close look at two aspects of the intertwinement of environmentalism with modern German Protestantism: first, the attempts, referred to as "eco-biblicism", to reconcile Scripture with an environmentalist world-view; second, a tendency to incorporate concepts of natural religion claimed to have been preserved by Native American tribes into both theological reflection and liturgical practice.

October 26, 2015

Poor Economic Living Conditions: The German Kriminalpolizei and the "Investigation" of Jewish Suicides in the Lodz Ghetto, 1941-1942

Winson Chu
(Ph.D, Berkeley 2006), Associate Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, specializing in Modern Central Europe


October 7, 2015

Hans Asperger and the Nazi Origins of Autism

Edith Sheffer
(Ph.D. Berkeley 2008), Assistant Professor of Modern European History, Stanford University
Edith Sheffer

On October 7, CGES was pleased to welcome Edith Sheffer, Assistant Professor of History at Stanford University, to the Berkeley campus. Her lecture, entitled "'No Soul': Hans Asperger and the Nazi Origins of Autism," was part of the CGES lecture series in German history. Sheffer's presentation highlighted the ways in which the present-day definition of autism relates to the evolution of the diagnosis during Germany’s Third Reich. Focusing on three different areas of influence, Sheffer detailed the work of Hans Asperger and discussed the ways in which he both helped and hindered autistic children's access to proper care. The first area of influence, fascist psychiatry, countered the Nazi eliminationist psychiatry through its emphasis on reintegration of autistic children into the collective. In Asperger's clinic, this meant advocating for "redeemable" children through new, progressive treatment options, such as special playgroups and classroom aids. Nazi eugenics also influenced Asperger's work, however, as manifested through his different diagnoses of children with similar symptoms solely based on gender. To him, most girls were incurable and needed to be locked away, while most boys had the potential for reintegration into the community. The final area of influence discussed was child euthanasia, a fate Asperger prescribed to his most severe cases regardless of his lack of membership in the Nazi Party. Sheffer concluded by stating that Asperger's idea of autism was deeply imbedded in Third Reich mentality. She claims that umbrella labels such as "autism" make it difficult to treat children as individuals and questioned whether "autism" will still exist as a label in ten or twenty years.

Spring 2016 Lectures

  • February 25, Wendy Lower, Professor of History Claremont McKenna College
  • March 8, Frank Biess, Professor of History and Director of European Studies, UC San Diego
  • March 14, Deborah Cohen, (Ph..D. Berkeley, 1996), Professor of History, Northwestern University

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