Stern, Fritz 1926- (Fritz Richard Stern)
Stern, Fritz 1926- (Fritz Richard Stern)
Born February 2, 1926, in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland); immigrated to the United States, 1938, naturalized citizen, 1947; son of Rudolf A. (a physician) and Catherine (an educator) Stern; married Margaret J. Bassett, October 11, 1947 (divorced, 1992); married Elisabeth Niebuhr Sifton, January 1, 1996; children: (first marriage) Frederick Preston, Katherine Bassett. Education: Columbia University, B.A., 1946; M.A., 1948, Ph.D., 1953.
Historian and educator. Columbia University, New York, NY, instructor, 1949-51, assistant professor, 1953-57, associate professor, 1957-63, professor of history, 1963-67, Seth Low Professor of History, 1967-92, provost, 1980-83, university professor, 1992-96, university professor emeritus, 1997—; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, acting assistant professor of history, 1951-53; U.S. Embassy, Bonn, Germany, senior adviser, 1993-94. Visiting professor at Yale University, 1964-65, and Free University of Berlin; appointed permanent visiting professor, University of Konstanz (Germany), 1967; Elie Halevy Professor, University of Paris, spring, 1979. Member of OECD examination panel for West German education, 1971-72; member of visiting board, department of German, Princeton University, 1972—. Consultant to U.S. Department of State, 1966-67; editorial consultant, International Archive for the Social History of German Literature, 1974—.
American Historical Association, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Council on Foreign Relations, American Philosophical Society, Deutsche Akademie fur Sprache und Dichtung, Berlin Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Council on Foreign Relations, Phi Beta Kappa.
Fellowships from Stanford University, 1957-58, Social Science Research Council, 1960-61, American Council of Learned Societies, 1966-67, Oxford University, 1966-67, Guggenheim Foundation, 1969-70, Princeton University, 1969-70, Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, 1972-73, and Ford Foundation, 1976-77; Great Teachers award, Society of Older Graduates of Columbia University, 1975; Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit, Federal Republic of Germany, 1976; Lionel Trilling Award, Columbia University, 1977, and National Book award nomination, 1978, both for Gold and Iron; Leopold-Lucas Prize, University of Tubingen, 1984; visiting scholar, Russell Sage Foundation, 1989 and 1993; Peace Prize, German Book Trade Frankfurt Book Fair, 1999; Bancroft Award for Retiring Professor, Columbia University; elected to Germany's Orden Pour le Mérite für Wissenschaften und Künste; Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize; Leo Baeck Medal, 2005, for contributions to German scholarship; LH.D., Princeton University, 2007; since 1997, the Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize has been awarded annually by the German Historical Institute.
(Editor) The Varieties of History: From Voltaire to the Present, Meridian (New York, NY), 1956, reprinted Vintage Books (New York, NY), 1973.
The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1961.
(Editor with Leonard Krieger) The Responsibility of Power: Historical Essays in Honor of Hajo Holborn, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1967.
Um Eine Neue Deutsche Vergangenheit, Konstanzer Universitaetsreden (Konstanz, Germany), 1972.
The Failure of Illiberalism: Essays on the Political Culture of Modern Germany, Knopf (New York, NY), 1972.
(With Klaus Schuetz) Ernst Reuter, Colloquium (Berlin, Germany), 1976.
Gold and Iron: Bismarck, Bleichroeder, and the Building of the German Empire, Knopf (New York, NY), 1977.
Germany 1933: Fifty Years Later, Leo Baeck Institute (New York, NY), 1984.
(With Hans Jonas) Reflexionen Finsterer Zeit: Zwei Vorträge, Mohr (Tübingen, Germany), 1984.
Dreams and Delusions: The Drama of German History, Knopf (New York, NY), 1987.
(With others) L'Europe Retrouvée: Textes des conferences et des entretiens, Editions de la Baconniere (Neuchâtel, Switzerland), 1992.
Verspielte Grosse: Essays zur Deutschen Geschichte, Beck (Munich, Germany), 1996.
Einstein's German World, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1999.
Five Germanys I Have Known (memoir), Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to books, including European Landed Elites in the Nineteenth Century, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977; Art, Politics, and Will, Basic Books, 1977; Chapters in Western Civilization, Volume II, 3rd edition (Stern was not associated with earlier editions), 1962; and Columbia History of the World. Contributor of reviews to Foreign Affairs, 1962-95; contributor of articles to journals. Member of board of editors, American Historical Review, 1974-77, and Foreign Affairs, 1978-92.
Fritz Stern, a distinguished historian of modern Germany, is the author of several acclaimed works of nonfiction. "Fritz Stern has always had a rare gift for weaving together individual biography with wider historical and moral concerns," wrote Michael Burleigh in the Times Literary Supplement. Stern has accomplished this in several books, the reviewer noted, citing both The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology and Gold and Iron: Bismarck, Bleichroeder, and the Building of the German Empire, which Burleigh dubs "classics of modern historical writing." Stern continues in this vein in Einstein's German World, termed "a superb and gripping collection of essays" by Foreign Affairs contributor Stanley Hoffman.
Much of the book concerns prominent Jews of Germany before the Nazis came to power, and Stern explores not only the lives of these individuals—including Albert Einstein, fellow scientist Paul Ehrlich, and businessman-statesman Walther Rathenau—but also the overall relationship between Germany and its Jewish citizens. In addition, he looks at several other aspects of twentieth-century Germany, such as the reunification of the 1990s and the unwavering nationalism with which most German historians viewed World War I. A major theme of the book is how what Stern calls "the passivity of decent citizens" contributed to Germany's catastrophes of the past century, including the Holocaust and all the other horrors of World War II.
"Without ever pointing an accusatory finger, Stern's approach helps readers to grasp how the extraordinary potential for ‘what could have been’ Germany's century ended so disastrously," a Publishers Weekly critic observed, adding that Stern makes clear that what happened in Germany could happen anywhere. But to Stern, the future looks much better than the past. For instance, Einstein's German World contains an optimistic piece on modern relations between Germany and its World War II victim, Poland. Concluded Burleigh: "Elegiac, subtle and wide ranging in scope, Fritz Stern's book goes a long way to restoring one's hopes for a Germany that once included Einstein."
In his autobiographical Five Germanys I Have Known, Stern "traces 100 years of his homeland's history, at the same time telling the story of his coming-of-age as an intellectual and a citizen," according to a critic in Kirkus Reviews. Born in 1926 in Breslau, Germany (now a part of Poland), Stern immigrated to the United States with his Jewish parents in 1938, following the rise of the Nazi Party. "Stern's best stories come not from the archives but from his own family memories," remarked Washington Post Book World contributor Anne Applebaum. Tom Reiss, writing in the New York Times Book Review, stated that the opening chapter, which concerns Stern's grandparents, "is the book's greatest pleasure, offering a glimpse into an educated Jewish milieu of the late 19th and early 20th centuries."
In addition to chronicling Stern's development as a scholar and educator, the memoir examines the cultural history of the "five Germanys" he has witnessed—the Weimar Republic, Hitler's Third Reich, the postwar East and West Germanys, and today's reunited Federal Republic. In the words of Christian Science Monitor reviewer Francine Kiefer, "Stern … sweeps through the decades, bridging continents and generations, creating an overview that, if not groundbreaking, is useful in its breadth." The author "covers an immense stretch of cultural and intellectual ground and is unapologetically fierce in his judgments," Stanley Hoffman similarly noted in Foreign Affairs.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Deshmukh, Marion, and Jerry Z. Muller, editors, Fritz Stern at Seventy, German Historical Institute (Washington, DC), 1997.
Stern, Fritz, Five Germanys I Have Known, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York, NY), 2006.
American Historical Review, February 1, 1989, Allan Mitchell, review of Dreams and Delusions: The Drama of German History, p. 168.
Booklist, August 1, 2006, Brendan Driscoll, review of Five Germanys I Have Known, p. 32.
Books, October 1, 2006, David Myers, review of Five Germanys I Have Known, p. 3.
Business Week, January 18, 1988, Frederic A. Miller, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 12.
Choice, March 1, 2007, H.P. Langerbein, review of Five Germanys I Have Known, p. 1235.
Christian Science Monitor, January 8, 1988, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 7; January 6, 1993, Ruth Walker, review of The Failure of Illiberalism: Essays on the Political Culture of Modern Germany, p. 13; August 29, 2006, Francine Kiefer, "Watchful Eyes on Germany," review of Five Germanys I Have Known.
Chronicle of Higher Education, December 2, 1987, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 6.
Encounter, April 1, 1988, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 62.
Foreign Affairs, January 1, 1987, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 443; November-December, 1999, review of Einstein's German World, p. 139; September-October, 2006, Stanley Hoffman, "Western Europe," review of Five Germanys I Have Known.
Historian, May 1, 1989, Earl R. Beck, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 496.
History Today, February 1, 1989, Jeremy Noakes, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 57.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2006, review of Five Germanys I Have Known, p. 627.
Library Journal, November 1, 1987, Joseph W. Constance, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 111; July 1, 2006, Barbara Walden, review of Five Germanys I Have Known, p. 95.
Nation, January 8, 2007, Omer Bartov, review of Five Germanys I Have Known, p. 28.
National Review, April 15, 1988, Paul Gottfried, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 50.
New Republic, January 25, 1988, Josef Joffe, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 40.
New York Review of Books, January 30, 1986, Gordon A. Craig, review of Reflexionen Finsterer Zeit: Zwei Vortrage, p. 21; October 8, 1987, Gordon A. Craig, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 38; October 19, 2006, "The Triumph of a Double Life," p. 26.
New York Times, October 6, 1987, John Gross, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 17.
New York Times Book Review, October 25, 1987, Wolfgang J. Mommsen, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 7; October 25, 1987, "Professing the Past, Debating the Present," p. 9; April 16, 1989, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 34; October 8, 2006, Tom Reiss, "Can It Happen Here?," review of Five Germanys I Have Known.
Publishers Weekly, September 11, 1987, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Dreams and Delusions: The Drama of German History, p. 74; July 26, 1999, review of Einstein's German World, p. 73; May 29, 2006, review of Five Germanys I Have Known, p. 47.
Quill and Quire, January 1, 1988, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 30.
Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 1988, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 3.
Sewanee Review, April 1, 1991, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 286.
Times Literary Supplement, August 26, 1988, Richard J. Evans, review of Dreams and Delusions, p. 937; October 29, 1999, Michael Burleigh, "An Imploding World," p. 29.
Virginia Quarterly Review, spring, 1988, review of Dreams and Delusions.
Washington Post Book World, September 17, 2006, Anne Applebaum, "The Persistence of Memory," review of Five Germanys I Have Known.