Elizabeth and Tony Comper Holocaust Education Fund
Book Launch for Doris Bergen's Between God and Hitler: Military Chaplains in Nazi Germany
During the Second World War, approximately 1000 Christian chaplains accompanied Wehrmacht forces wherever they went, from Poland to France, Greece, North Africa, and the Soviet Union. Chaplains were witnesses to atrocity and by their presence helped normalize extreme violence and legitimate its perpetrators. Military chaplains played a key role in propagating a narrative of righteousness that erased Germany’s victims and transformed the aggressors into noble figures who suffered but triumphed over their foes. Between God and Hitler is the first book to examine Protestant and Catholic military chaplains in Germany from Hitler’s rise to power, to defeat, collapse, and Allied occupation. Drawing on a wide array of sources – chaplains’ letters and memoirs, military reports, Jewish testimonies, photographs, and popular culture – this book offers insight into how Christian clergy served the cause of genocide, sometimes eagerly, sometimes reluctantly, even unknowingly, but always loyally.
Book Launch Panel:
Belinda Davis is professor of history at Rutgers University and author or co-editor of six books, including the coedited Social Movements After ’68: Selves and Solidarities in West Germany and Beyond (2022); The Internal Life of Politics: Extraparliamentary Opposition in West Germany, 1962-1983 (forthcoming with Cambridge); and the forthcoming Voices of the Organized Poor: Learning from the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign’s Everyday Struggles for Survival and Alternative Futures. From 2018 to 2022, she directed the Rutgers Center for European Studies.
Yaniv Feller is an assistant professor of religion and Jewish studies at the University of Florida, and a proud graduate of the Department for the Study of Religion and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Jewish Imperial Imagination: Leo Baeck and German Jewish Thought, which will be published with Cambridge University Press this October, won the Jordan Schnitzler First Book Publication award of the Association for Jewish Studies. Yaniv co-edits, With Paul Nahme, the volume Covenantal Thinking: Essays on the Theology and Philosophy of David Novak, which will be published with the University of Toronto Press in March 2024. His research has been supported, among others, by an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship and a Center for the Humanities Fellowship at Wesleyan University. Next summer, Yaniv will be a Dr. Gabriele Meyer/Zeit Foundation fellow at the Institute for the History of German Jews in Hamburg.
Anna Shternshis is the Al and Malka Green Professor of Yiddish studies and director of the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. She received her doctoral degree (DPhil) from Oxford University in 2001. Shternshis is the author of Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923 - 1939 (Indiana UP, 2006) and When Sonia Met Boris: An Oral History of Jewish Life under Stalin (Oxford UP, 2017), and most recently co-author (together with Oleg Budnitsky, David Engel and Gennady Estraikh) of Jews in the Soviet Union: A History: War, Conquest, and Catastrophe, 1939–1945 (New York UP, 2022). Together with artist Psoy Korolenko, Shternshis created and directed the Grammy-nominated Yiddish Glory project, an initiative that brought back to life forgotten Yiddish music written during the Holocaust in the Soviet Union. A recipient of 2020 Guggenheim Fellowship, she is currently working on a book tentatively entitled Last Yiddish Heroes: A Lost and Found Archive of the Holocaust in the Soviet Union about Yiddish music created in Nazi-occupied Ukraine.
Moderator: James Retallack teaches courses and supervises PhD field preparation in European history from 1770 to 1945. His research interests (1830-1918) include German regional history, nationalism, anti-Semitism, elections, and historiography. His recent publications include: Das rote Sachsen. Wahlen, Wahlrecht und politische Kultur im Deutschen Kaiserreich (Leipzig / Dresden, 2023), German History in Documents and Images, vol. 4, Forging an Empire: Bismarckian Germany (1866-1890), 2nd rev. ed. online 2023 and German Social Democracy through British Eyes: A Documentary History, 1870-1914 (Toronto, 2022). Professor Retallack has held grants, fellowships, and research prizes from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service, the SSHRC of Canada, the Jackman Humanities Institute, the Killam Program at the Canada Council for the Arts and the John S. Guggenheim Foundation.
Respondent: Doris Bergen
Doris Bergen is the Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies. Her research focuses on issues of religion, gender, and ethnicity in the Holocaust and World War II and comparatively in other cases of extreme violence. Her books include Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich (1996); War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (2003); The Sword of the Lord: Military Chaplains from the First to the Twenty-First Centuries (edited, 2004); and Lessons and Legacies VIII (edited, 2008).
Prof. Bergen has held grants and fellowships from the SSHRC, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the DAAD, and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and she has taught at the Universities of Warsaw, Pristina, Tuzla, Notre Dame, and Vermont. Her current projects include a book on Germany military chaplains in the Nazi era and a study of definitions of Germanness as revealed in the Volksdeutschen/ethnic Germans of Eastern Europe during World War II and the Holocaust. Bergen is a member of the Academic Advisory Committee of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington , D.C.
This event will be delivered in-person in JHB100 (170 St. George Street) on Monday, September 11, 2023 at 4 PM.