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Book Title: Five Germanys I Have Known|
The size of the: 572 KB
Edition: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Date of issue: July 24th 2007
ISBN 13: 9780374530860
The author of the book: Fritz Stern
Format files: PDF
Read full description of the books Five Germanys I Have Known:The "German question" haunts the modern world: How could so civilized a nation be responsible for the greatest horror in Western history? In this unusual fusion of personal memoir and history, the celebrated scholar Fritz Stern refracts the question through the prism of his own life. Born in the Weimar Republic, exposed to five years of National Socialism before being forced into exile in 1938 in America, he became a world-renowned historian whose work opened new perspectives on the German past.
Stern brings to life the five Germanys he has experienced: Weimar, the Third Reich, postwar West and East Germanys, and the unified country after 1990. Through his engagement with the nation from which he and his family fled, he shows that the tumultuous history of Germany, alternately the strength and the scourge of Europe, offers political lessons for citizens everywhere—especially those facing or escaping from tyranny. In this wise, tough-minded, and subtle book, Stern, himself a passionately engaged citizen, looks beyond Germany to issues of political responsibility that concern everyone. Five Germanys I Have Known vindicates his belief that, at its best, history is our most dramatic introduction to a moral civic life.
Read information about the authorFritz Richard Stern was born in Breslau, Silesia, to prominent parents: his father, Rudolf Stern, a physician and medical researcher, and his mother, Käthe Brieger Stern, a noted theorist and reformer in the education of young children. After converting from Judaism to Lutheran Protestantism in the 1890s, his family emigrated to the United States in 1938, forced to leave by the virulently anti-Jewish policies of Adolf Hitler's National Socialist government and increasing violence against all Germans of Jewish ancestry. The family settled in New York City where Stern attended Columbia University from which he received his bachelors, masters and PhD. From 1953 to 1997, he was a professor at Columbia, obtaining the eminent Seth Low Chair before attaining the rank of University Professor.
Much of Stern's work tracks the development of the rise of National Socialism in Germany, tracing that the origins of Nazism back to the 19th century völkische movement. In Stern's opinion, the virulently anti-Semitic völkische movement was the result of the "politics of cultural despair" experienced by German intellectuals who were unable to come to grips with modernity. He rejects the Sonderweg interpretation of German history which considers Germany to have followed a unique course from aristocracy into democracy distinct from other European countries. In the 1990s, Stern was a leading critic of the controversial American author Daniel Goldhagen, whose book Hitler's Willing Executioners he denounced as unscholarly and full of Germanophobia.
Another major area of research for Stern has been the history of the Jewish community in Germany and how Jewish and German cultures have influenced each other -- what Stern has often called the "Jewish-German symbiosis," the best examplar of which was Albert Einstein.
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