On Sunday, July 14 at 1 pm Eastern Time Professor Mary Fulbrook, Professor of German History, University College London will join us for a Casual Conversation on Zoom.

Professor Fulbrook received her Ph.D. from Harvard University.  She is a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Memorial Foundation for the former concentration camps of Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora; the Academic Advisory Board of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation; the Editorial Board of Yad Vashem Studies; and the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Among her many writings are Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice (Oxford University Press (2018); and Bystander Society: Conformity and Complicity in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust (Oxford University Press 2023).  She was the first female Chair of the German History Society.   You may find her descriptive cv here:  https://www.ucl.ac.uk/institute-of-advanced-studies/professor-mary-fulbrook and here: https://profiles.ucl.ac.uk/4105-mary-fulbrook .

We are fortunate to have Professor Fulbrook as our guest.  As you will be able to tell from even the short description above, augmented by a review of her cv at either link (or both), she is one of the world’s experts on Germany and the Holocaust.  For that reason alone, you should attend this unique opportunity to speak with her. 

For this conversation, we will focus on her most recent book Bystander Society.  This is a very different bystander society than the one that classmate Peter Elias introduced us to in an earlier Casual Conversation, the Green Dot program, which trains bystanders in the best ways to intervene to defuse and thereby prevent potentially violent or harmful clashes among individuals.  For the good.  For the bad, in Germany the so-called bystander society, developed through the Weimar Republic and into the Nazi era of government in 1933 to the Holocaust.  Professor Fulbrook attaches significance to the racialization of society and of personal identity and to the separation, which became a “deep gulf,” between communities of empathy.  She seeks in her book to better “understand the development of a bystander society, in which people remained passive in the face of violence . . ..”  At 64. 

Professor Fulbrook frames the central question she urges us to confront at page 374:

       More broadly, millions of people had learned to acquiesce in, or to look away from, the consequences of Nazi persecution for those who were outcast.  Historically, the question of complicity when living within a system of collective violence remains of immense significance.

What then can we learn from the example of Nazi Germany, and what more general conclusions may be drawn?

Among the more consequential of our Casual Conversations, we will explore with our guest the process by which Germans moved from being bystanders of discrete incidents of Nazi violence to being complicit to varying degrees “through looking away, condoning violence, or more actively sustaining the system” of mass murder.

Usual rules.  Let me know by close of business Friday, July 12 at arthur.fergenson@ansalaw.com if you wish to participate. 

Arthur Fergenson


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