Toward a Biography of Raul Hilberg (1926-2007)
With the appearance in 1961 of The Destruction of the European Jews, the American political scientist Raul Hilberg became the first person to publish a systematic and extensive investigation of Nazi Germany’s murder of millions of Jews. This book turned Hilberg into a pioneer of Holocaust historiography and is still regarded today as essential reading. This research project aims to present a biography of the Jewish expatriate Hilberg, who was born in 1926 in Vienna and fled to the United States in 1939. Furthermore, it will investigate the historical influence of his magnum opus.
The task will be to analyse the arguments about this monograph in historical discourse and debate, and contrast them with Hilberg’s own memoirs (The Politics of Memory, 1996). The project not only aims to trace the life of an extraordinary academic in detail, but also follows the early history of the reception of The Destruction of the European Jews. This biography will therefore concentrate on his life, but also at the same time shed light on structures and processes. The study of Raul Hilberg’s life is not intended to be a conventional biography of a ‘great man’. Using established biographical narrative methods, it aims to pay tribute to a critical person who established with his doctoral thesis a new field of research. Thus, this project will be an important contribution to the history of Holocaust research.
Dr. René Schlott
Centre for Contemporary History
Am Neuen Markt 1
Office: Am Neuen Markt 9d, room E.09
Email: schlott [at] zzf-potsdam.de