Professor Steven T. Katz, Founding Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for...
Spotlight on Faculty
Professor Paula Fredriksen Elected to be a Member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences
Professor Paula Fredriksen is an affiliate faculty of the Elie Wiesesl Center for Judaic Studies and long-time supporter of Jewish studies at BU. Her expertise is in the social and intellectual history of ancient Christianity, and in pagan-Jewish-Christian relations in the Graeco-Roman world. Read more here…
Professor Michael Grodin receives Boston University Faculty Career Award in Research and Scholarship
The School of Public Health has chosen Prof. Michael Grodin to receive the “Faculty Career Award in Research and Scholarship” at this year’s graduation ceremonies (2013). The award is based on his contribution to scholarship in the fields of Bioethics and Human Rights with particular acknowledgement of his work on Medicine and the Holocaust.
Professor Steven T. Katz honored at Holocaust Memorial Events in Europe (2012/13)
Steven T. Katz, CAS, Slater Professor of Jewish Holocaust Studies (RN) and founding Director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies lectured in several European countries primarily in his role as Academic Advisor to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a union of 31 countries that encourages Holocaust education, research and remembrance. In December 2012 Prof. Katz was in Liege, Belgium at the plenary meeting of the IHRA.
In January 2013 he was invited by the Spanish government to participate in the annual Holocaust Memorial ceremony in Madrid at the Parliament building, where he lighted one of the six candles on the occasion of the commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz and gave a lecture. He also met with senior officials of the ministries of education and justice. Following that, he went to Dublin at the invitation of the Irish government and spoke at their Holocaust memorial event in the Mayor’s Palace in Dublin. He met with the Minister of Education and Justice and lectured at Trinity College and at the Irish-Jewish Historical Museum. He then went on to London for discussions with British officials and gave a lecture at the Wiener Library.
In March, as a guest of the Greek government and the Thessaloniki Jewish community, he spoke at the official commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the Jews from Thessaloniki and met with the Prime Minister of Greece Antonis Samaras and the Mayor of Thessaloniki about creating Holocaust educational programs.
In April, as a guest of the Hungarian government, he met with government officials in Budapest about Holocaust matters and recent antisemitic political activity. After that, as a guest of the Polish government, he attended the “pre-opening” of the new Jewish Museum in Warsaw, met with government officials on matters of mutual concern, and lectured in Warsaw at the Jewish Historical Association and in several venues in Krakow.
An interview from 2012 with Professor Jonathan Zatlin, Associate Professor of History, who was on leave in Berlin, Germany, doing research on a history of the German Democratic Republic.
“Like most historians, I love working with original documents. It’s like being a detective…”
Q: What is your background?
JZ: I’m from Atlanta, did my BA at Yale in literary theory, my MPhil in Modern European History at Oxford, and my PhD at UC Berkeley, also in Modern European History. My specialty is German and European history in the 19th and 20th centuries. I’d probably call myself a cultural and economic historian, but I write in a variety of modes. You can see descriptions of my early work and a description of my current book project from my CV on the history website (http://www.bu.edu/history/people/faculty/jonathan-r-zatlin/).
Q: What are you currently working on in Berlin? Why did you choose Berlin?
JZ: I’m working on two different book projects, a short history of the GDR for Hill and Wang for the general public and a scholarly book on the old prejudice that Jews are good with money. I chose Berlin partly because of the archives and libraries here, though I sometimes wish I were in Munich (and not only because of the beer).
Q: Why would you rather be in Munich?
JZ: Despite what Berlin offers culturally, politically, and historically, I’d prefer to spend time in Munich for purely personal reasons — because I know Berlin pretty well, and have lived in northern, western, and eastern Germany, but not in Bavaria; because I need to remind myself that many Germans are Catholic after living in the Protestant north for so long; because most research tends to be focused on Prussia/Berlin; and because the food is much better in Munich.
Q: What is exciting, interesting, or intellectually rewarding about working abroad?
JZ: Like most historians, I love working with original documents. It’s like being a detective: You know how the story ends, but you don’t know the details; you have to track down all sorts of leads, but don’t know where they’ll take you; you learn an enormous amount, which also re-connects you with the reasons you wanted to be a historian to begin with (in my case, historicizing things — making the familiar strange by explaining how things got to be how they are). And then of course it’s amazing to hold in your hand original documents, whether it’s the legal advice given by a prominent lawyer and the head of the Berlin Jewish community regarding the trial of those accused of burning down a synagogue in 1881, or Adolf Hitler’s intervention in a financial question in 1933. The entire process is lots of fun, and is really refreshing — not only for my work, but also for my teaching. I’ll end up redesigning lectures based on what I’ve learned and the interesting stories I’ve collected. I’ll also try work up a few new courses based on my research. And being in Berlin is great because there are so many scholars here that I can speak with.
Q: What do you for fun in your free time?
JZ: I have 3 small children — two seven-year old twins and a 4-year old, so most of my life is centered around them. Aside from that, I like reading trashy detective novels and fishing, which I can’t do in Germany because you have to take a test that’s pretty involved. I used to do a fair amount of traveling, but I don’t like being away from the kids, so I’ve tried to reduce the time I’m away giving lectures (this year I’ll only give a few, mostly in Berlin and Potsdam, with one in Prag and maybe in West Germany). But I will end up spending a lot of time in West Germany visiting archives: in Heidelberg for the archives of the Central Council of Jews in Germany (notice that the title is “Jews in Germany” rather than German Jews — given German-Jewish history, there is little belief in any meaningful “symbiosis,” as people used to refer to the German conditions of integration), to Frankfurt for the archives of the Deutsche Bank, and to Cologne for the archives of Sal. Oppenheim & Cie.
Q: How does your work (in Boston and abroad) relate to the Judaic Studies Center?
JZ: You can see my book on Jews and money (http://www.bu.edu/history/people/faculty/jonathan-r-zatlin/), which tries to avoid reducing Jewish history to the history of anti-Semitism, as most commentators on German history are wont to do, or to give an account of Jewish that is not linked to German history, which Jewish historians tend to do.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being Berlin?
JZ: The archives and — to some extent — the European approach to life.
*Professor Zatlin teaches HI 443
The interview was conducted and edited by Nicole Troelstrup, a junior in COM and student assistant to the EWCJS; follow-up and secondary editing was provided by Jessica Stewart, a student assistant to the EWCJS.