Brown-Fleming, Suzanne 1969-

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Brown-Fleming, Suzanne 1969-


Born 1969. Education: Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, B.A., 1991; University of Richmond, M.A., 1993; University of Maryland, Ph.D., 2002.


Office—United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, University Programs Division, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl. SW, Washington, DC 20024-2126. E-mail—[email protected]


Scholar. University of Maryland, College Park, teaching assistant, 1994-98; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, University Programs Division, Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Washington, DC, program officer, 2001-05, senior program officer, 2005—.


American Catholic Historical Association, American Historical Association, American Society of Church History, German Studies Association, Phi Alpha Theta.


German Historical Institute-Washington Dissertation Scholarship, 1999; Mary Savage Snouffer Dissertation Fellowship, University of Maryland, 1999-2000; Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Fellowship, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2000; The Gordon W. Prange Award for High Achievement in the Study of European History, University of Maryland, 2001; also recipient of travel grants.


The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience: Cardinal Aloisius Muench and the Guilt Question in Germany, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 2006.

Contributor to books, including The United States and Germany in the Era of the Cold War, 1945-1990: A Handbook, edited by Detlef Junker, University Press, 2004; Lessons and Legacies VI: New Currents in Holocaust Research, edited by Jeffry M. Diefendorf, Northwestern University Press, 2004; Germany and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History (encyclopedia), edited by Thomas Adam, ABC-CLIO, 2005; Lessons and Legacies VII: The Holocaust in International Perspective, edited by Dagmar Herzog, Northwestern University Press, 2006; and Antisemitism, Christian Ambivalence and the Holocaust, edited by Kevin P. Spicer, Indiana University Press in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2007.

Contributor of articles and book reviews to professional journals, including Contemporary Church History Semi-Annual Journal for History, Theology and New Catholic Encylopedia, Religion in Eastern Europe, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Shofar, Expository Times, Judaism, Review of Politics, and Maryland Historian.


Suzanne Brown-Fleming is a scholar in the field of Holocaust studies whose primary interests are the Roman Catholic Church and the Holocaust. In addition to her research into the relations between the Vatican and Germany during the papacies of Pius XI and Pius XII, which covers the years leading up to World War II and the decade-plus following the war, the author is also interested Catholic anti-Semitism.

In The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience: Cardinal Aloisius Muench and the Guilt Question in Germany, the author examines the world of the Catholic Church following World War II when Catholic leaders were still coming to terms with the Holocaust and the Nazis. Specifically, she focuses on the American-born Cardinal Aloisius Muench (1889-1962), who played a key role in how German and German American Catholics reacted to the Holocaust, Judaism, and Jews from the end of World War II to the end of the 1950s. As the Vatican representative in occupied Germany and then in West Germany, Muench has been viewed by some historians as perhaps the most powerful American Catholic figure during these times.

"Muench was the Bishop of Fargo, N.D., when he was appointed apostolic visitor to a defeated and divided Germany by Pius XII in 1946," wrote Jose M. Sanchez in a review of The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience for America. "In 1951 the pope named him nuncio to the new West German state, where he remained until he was made a cardinal by John XXIII in 1959. At the same time as his initial appointment, he was also selected by the American government as liaison representative between the Catholic Church authorities and the Office of Military Government in the United States Zone."

Drawing from Muench's collected papers, the author presents her case that Muench was a primary player in helping to justify how the Catholic Church conducted itself in the 1940s and the 1950s as it not only failed to address Nazism or the Holocaust adequately but also was complicit in the anti-Jewish ideology of the Nazis. The author points out that Muench's own German history played a role in his sympathy with occupied Germany following the war and his agreement with the German citizens that, as a people, they were not responsible for the Jewish genocide. "In her view, Muench, as the Vatican's leading representative in Germany from 1946 to 1959, contributed to the lack of self-examination and the perpetuation of anti-Semitic prejudices among German Catholics," wrote John S. Conway in the Catholic Historical Review. "In this way, he was emblematic of the Catholic Church's failure in this period to confront its own complicity in Nazism's anti-Jewish ideology."

The author begins her book with an introduction that examines the question of guilt and responsibility that should be attributed to Muench. She then writes about the Catholic priest's life and career, his excuse of the Holocaust for the German people, and his relationship with the German Catholic hierarchy and with the German laity and clergy. She also discusses his role in the Catholic clemency campaign for some German prisoners who were deemed war criminals.

Referring to The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience as "an insightful and well-researched examination," Kevin P. Spicer wrote in his review for Church History: "Through her comprehensive investigative study of Cardinal Muench, Brown-Fleming adds much to our current historiography on anti-Semitism, the Catholic Church during Muench's time, and on the Holocaust. She also allows us to see firsthand the depth of anti-Semitism not only in the German Catholic Church, but also in the American military and in the Catholic Church of the United States." Shofar contributor Mi- chael R. Ott commented: "The import of this book is not only its critical historical analysis of the legitimizing, self-preserving, and antisemitic ‘conscience’ of the Roman Catholic Church in the immediate aftermath of World War II and the increasing world-wide awareness of the Holocaust horror. Through a critical reading of the text, it also forewarns of an all too similar contemporary trend developing now on a global scale in the form of the U.S.-led neo-conservative notion of a ‘clash of civilizations.’"



America, November 28, 2005, Jose M. Sanchez, "Vatican Rep Gets Rapped," review of The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience: Cardinal Aloisius Muench and the Guilt Question in Germany, p. 25.

American Historical Review, April, 2007, Jacques Kornberg, review of The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience, p. 610.

Catholic Historical Review, July, 2006, John S. Conway, review of The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience, p. 344.

Central European History, March, 2007, Mark Edward Ruff, review of The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience, p. 183.

Church History, March, 2007, Kevin P. Spicer, review of The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience, p. 205.

Shofar, spring, 2007, Michael R. Ott, review of The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience, p. 179.


Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies, University of Minnesota Web site, (July 21, 2008), faculty profile of author and author's curriculum vitae.

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Brown-Fleming, Suzanne 1969-

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