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Anna Corsten

Junior Fellow (01/2020–07/2020)


From Outsiders to Pioneers. Emigrated Contemporary Historians Interpret National Socialism and the Holocaust


CORSTENAfter 1945, interest in German history grew internationally as various scholars attempted to explain the country’s slide into dictatorship. Important impulses in this regard came from German-speaking Jewish historians, many of whom had emigrated to the USA.


This project analyses how these historians (including a few women), as border crossers between American and (West) German scholarship, attempted after 1945 to (re-)interpret German history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This endeavour went hand in hand with their engagements with their own personal fates, leading to their frequent stigmatisation as ‘biased’. The project therefore also investigates the reactions to their research in West Germany and the USA.


The analysis is based on the following case studies: George Hallgarten, Hans Rosenberg, and Hajo Holborn as representatives of social history-dominated aetiology; George Mosse, Fritz Stern, and Georg Iggers, who focussed on intellectual and cultural history analyses of the rise of National Socialism; Adolf Leschnitzer and Herbert A. Strauss as representatives of contemporary Jewish history; and Henry Friedlander, Raul Hilberg, Rita Steinhardt Botwinick, and Gerhard Weinberg as pioneers of Holocaust research. The project is based on their personal papers and works as well as discussions of their works.


Anna Corsten is a doctoral candidate in the Historical Seminar at Leipzig University and was a stipend recipient of the Gerda Hinkel Foundation from 2016 to 2019. She studied history and sociology at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena and the University of Lausanne. In 2014 and 2015, she completed internships at the Leo Baeck Institutes in New York and London. In 2017, she was a Doctoral Fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington D.C.


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The Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI) is funded by:


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