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Fritzsche, Peter 1959–

Fritzsche, Peter 1959–

PERSONAL:

Born July 3, 1959, in Chicago, IL; son of Hellmut (a physicist) and Sybille (a lawyer) Fritzsche; married Karen Hewitt (an editor), July 23, 1988; children: Lauren. Education: University of Pennsylvania, B.A., 1980; University of California, Berkeley, Ph.D., 1986. Politics: "Inconsistent."

ADDRESSES:

Home—Champaign, IL. Office—Department of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 810 South Wright St., Urbana, IL 61801. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, professor of history, beginning 1987.

MEMBER:

American Historical Association.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Humboldt research fellow, 1992-93.

WRITINGS:

Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1990.

A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular Imagination, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1992.

(With Karen Hewitt) Berlinwalks, Holt (New York, NY), 1994.

Reading Berlin 1900, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1996.

(Editor, with Charles C. Stewart) Imagining the Twentieth Century, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1997.

Germans into Nazis, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1998.

(Editor, with Alon Confino) The Work of Memory: New Directions in the Study of German Society and Culture, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 2002.

Stranded in the Present: Modern Time and the Melancholy of History, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.

Nietzsche and the Death of God, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.

Life and Death in the Third Reich, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 2008.

SIDELIGHTS:

Peter Fritzsche, professor of history of the University of Illinois, has written several well-received books on modern German history. Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany was described by English Historical Review contributor Stefan Berger as a "fascinating account of the political ambitions and motivations of the German burgher in the Weimar Republic." Fritzsche focuses on the middle classes to show that it was they, and not the elites, who facilitated the rise of National Socialism.

In Germans into Nazis Fritzsche further develops this argument, showing how intense nationalism during World War I and the defeat and humiliation that followed contributed to discontents that supported Nazism. Writing in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Donna Harsch noted that the book challenges several myths about ordinary Germans' political engagement and emphasizes that bourgeois Germans indeed actively supported the Nazi Party because it offered what they saw as the promise of democratic reforms.

Though Harsch found this thesis largely persuasive, the critic noted that "nagging doubts remain. An explanation that turns on ideology and the genuine commitment of Nazi voters, as opposed to crisis and the volatile mood of despairing citizens, cannot dispose of anti-semitism as a motivating political factor so easily as Fritzsche claims." Christian Century critic Victoria Barnett, however, observed that "Fritzsche's interpretation helps explain the rapidity with which German society became Nazified at all levels…. If, as Fritzsche believes, Nazism was both the reason and the vehicle for greater popular participation in politics, this made the divisions between Jews and non-Jews all the more powerful. Open antagonism toward Jews was an early sign of popular support for the new regime."

Germans into Nazis received many positive reviews. Historian contributor George S. Vascik praised it as not only "good history," but also "excellent popular history that is written in a most lucid fashion." Writing in the Journal of European Studies, Joachim Wahley called the book "an evocative, beautifully written, carefully analytical account of the evolution of what it meant to be ‘German’ during the first decades of the twentieth century. It is one of the best and most convincing books on the genesis of Nazism for many years."

Fritzsche continues his analysis of ordinary Germans and Nazism in Life and Death in the Third Reich. This volume looks at how people adapted to life under the National Socialist party. Fritzsche looks at diaries, letters, and other artifacts to show that people were gradually won over by the party's promises of democracy and unity. The book, wrote Library Journal Frederic Krome, "demolishes the myth of contemporary ignorance about the Shoah," and about "the artificial divide between the apolitical Wehrmacht and the evil SS."

Fritzsche explores the earlier foundations of German national consciousness in Stranded in the Present: Modern Time and the Melancholy of History. Drawing from personal documents such as letters and journals, memoirs, biographies, and fiction and poetry rather than official political documents, the historian examines cultural life in the early nineteenth century. His analysis, according to Studies in Romanticism contributor Emily Rohrbach, includes "a surprising range of provocative details about the melancholy that the rupture of the French Revolution effected, creating the sense of the past as lost…. Fritzsche's study brings us closer to the intimate effects of large-scale historical change, above all to the self-conscious ‘historicization of private life.’" Fritzsche's thesis is that the extreme upheavals of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, which lasted until 1815, caused European nations to radically reimagine the concepts of time and history. Indeed, the political and military violence uprooted many communities, exiling individuals and groups who, as a result, felt permanently homeless. As Bette W. Oliver put it in a Libraries & Culture review: "Unable to return to their previous homes or lives, these people were left in an uncomfortable place and were nostalgic for what had been lost; they found themselves cut off from the past and ‘stranded in the present.’"

Many critics admired Stranded in the Present as a fascinating and insightful work. Journal of Social History reviewer Hasso Spode called it an "inspiring" book and a "brilliant study on the history of the making of remembrance and of our feelings toward the past." John R. Hinde, writing in Historian, admired the book as "an intriguing and highly ambitious foray into the origins of modern Western historical consciousness."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Air and Space Smithsonian, February, 1993, review of A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular Imagination, p. 96.

American Historical Review, October, 1991, Larry Eugene Jones, review of Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany, p. 1223; April, 1993, review of A Nation of Fliers, p. 520; December, 1997, Katherine Roper, review of Reading Berlin 1900, p. 1511; April, 2005, review of Stranded in the Present: Modern Time and the Melancholy of History.

Booklist, September 15, 1994, review of Berlinwalks, p. 103; October 15, 1997, Margaret Flanagan, review of Imagining the Twentieth Century, p. 382.

Central European History, summer, 2003, Robert G. Moeller, review of The Work of Memory: New Directions in the Study of German Society and Culture, p. 496; fall, 2005, Suzanne Marchand, review of Stranded in the Present, p. 653.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, November, 1992, review of A Nation of Fliers, p. 489; October, 1996, review of Reading Berlin 1900, p. 283; July-August, 1998, G.P. Blum, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 11; January, 2005, review of Stranded in the Present, p. 922.

Christian Century, July 28, 1999, Victoria Barnett, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 745.

Clio, June 22, 2005, Mark Hulliung, "Two Tales of Modernity and Its Discontents," p. 443.

Contemporary Review, August, 1998, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 110; February, 2000, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 108.

Dissent, summer, 1993, Stanford R. Ovshinsky, review of A Nation of Fliers, p. 394.

English Historical Review, June 1, 1994, Stefan Berger, review of Rehearsals for Fascism, p. 797; September 1, 1999, Paul Bookbinder, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 1022; September, 2006, Peter Mandler, review of Stranded in the Present, p. 1201.

Ethnic and Racial Studies, July, 1999, Michael Levin, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 763.

Germanic Review, March 22, 1998, review of Reading Berlin 1900, p. 198.

Germanic Studies Review, February, 2001, Gregory Weeks, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 208.

Guardian, May 17, 1992, review of A Nation of Fliers, p. 28.

Historian, summer, 1991, Donald R. Tracey, review of Rehearsals for Fascism, p. 779; January 1, 2000, George S. Vascik, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 451; March 22, 2006, John R. Hinde, review of Stranded in the Present, p. 198.

History: Review of New Books, March 22, 1997, John F. Flynn, review of Reading Berlin 1900, p. 124; January 1, 2000, Bruce F. Pauley, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 69; September 22, 2004, Ralph Leck, review of Stranded in the Present, p. 38.

International History Review, February, 1993, review of A Nation of Fliers, p. 206.

Journal of European Studies, March 1, 1999, Joachim Wahley, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 124.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, autumn, 1991, Dietrich Orlow, review of Rehearsals for Fascism, p. 323; March 22, 1994, William E. Fischer, review of A Nation of Fliers, p. 726; October 1, 1999, Donna Harsch, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 329.

Journal of Modern History, March, 1992, Roger Chickering, review of Rehearsals for Fascism, p. 161; September, 1996, Eric Leed, review of A Nation of Fliers, p. 735; June, 1998, Gerhard H. Weiss, review of Reading Berlin 1900, p. 504; June, 2003, Corey Ross, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 462.

Journal of Social History, March 22, 1998, Warren Breckman, review of Reading Berlin 1900, p. 716; September 22, 2007, Hasso Spode, review of Stranded in the Present, p. 186.

Journal of Urban History, July, 1999, Andrew Lees, review of Reading Berlin 1900, p. 743.

Kliatt, March, 2000, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 37.

Libraries & Culture, fall, 1998, review of Reading Berlin 1900, p. 460; March 22, 2006, Bette W. Oliver, review of Stranded in the Present, p. 284.

Library Journal, June 1, 1994, Edward B. Cone, review of Berlinwalks, p. 140; June 1, 1996, Barbara L. Walden, review of Reading Berlin 1900, p. 124; April 1, 1998, Mary F. Salony, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 104; May 1, 2004, Frederick J. Augustyn, review of Stranded in the Present, p. 123; March 1, 2008, Frederic Krome, review of Life and Death in the Third Reich, p. 92.

Los Angeles Times, May 10, 1998, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 3.

Modernism/Modernity, January, 2003, Esther Leslie, review of The Work of Memory, p. 196; September, 2005, Robert Wohl, review of Stranded in the Present, p. 517.

New York Review of Books, August 14, 1997, review of Reading Berlin 1900, p. 49; March 18, 1999, Gordon A. Craig, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 32.

Publishers Weekly, February 16, 1998, review of Germans into Nazis, p. 196; January 7, 2008, review of Life and Death in the Third Reich, p. 46.

Science Books & Films, March, 1992, review of A Nation of Fliers, p. 40.

Studies in Romanticism, September 22, 2006, Emily Rohrbach, review of Stranded in the Present, p. 486.

Technology and Culture, April, 1993, Michael J. Neufeld, review of A Nation of Fliers, p. 440.

University Press Book News, June, 1992, review of A Nation of Fliers, p. 45.

ONLINE

Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/reviews/ (May 2, 2008), Matthew E. Brown, review of Stranded in the Present; Benjamin Lapp, review of Reading Berlin 1900; Shelley Baranowski, review of Germans into Nazis.

University of Illinois, Department of History Web site,http://www.history.uiuc.edu/ (May 2, 2008), Peter Fritzsche faculty profile.

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