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Broken Lives: How Ordinary Germans Experienced the 20th Century

February 12, 2017 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

This event is part of the North Carolina German Studies Seminar and Workshop Series.

Based on six dozen autobiographies of the age cohort born during the Weimar Republic, this project looks at the ruptures of German history from below which overturned or ended all too many lives. The analysis seeks to ascertain common patterns of experience in order to get at what happened to most Germans and to explore tropes of shared memory with which they tried to come to terms with such upheavals in retrospect. This perspective sheds new light on why so many ordinary people supported the racist imperialism of the Nazis, then embraced anti-Fascist alternatives and finally sought to make sense of their choices. In contrast to conventional accounts of history from above, this reverse view seeks to understand the widespread patterns of individual actions and personal memories.

Konrad H. Jarausch is Lurcy Professor of European Civilization at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Senior Fellow of the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung in Potsdam. He has written or edited about 40 books on German and European history including United Germany: Debating Processes and Prospects. Most recently he has published a sweeping synthesis of 20th century European history, entitled Out of Ashes: A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century.

Moderation: Tobias Hof | UNC Chapel Hill, Department of History

Conveners: Carolina Seminars | The Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies | Duke University (Center for European Studies | Department of Germanic Languages & Literature | Department of History) | The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Center for European Studies | Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages & Literatures | Department of History)

Organizers: Karen Hagemann (Speaker) UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History) ( | Lorn Hillaker ( and Larissa Stiglich ( (UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History) (Graduate Assistants)

Acknowledgement of Support:This event has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this event are the sole responsibility of The UNC Center for European Studies and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.


February 12, 2017
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Category:


569 Hamilton Hall
102 Emerson Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
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