Professor Claudia Koontz’s lecture: Hitler’s Assault on the Golden Rule (February, 2008)

First posted December 29, 2011

The Third George J. Wittenstein Lecture

To ‘resist’ from the Latin resistere, means to stand fast, to uphold principles against pressure to abandon them. Claudia Koonz discusses the Nazis’ mandate to “Love only the neighbor who is like thyself.”

Using examples from visual and print media from the 1930s, Koonz explores the moral culture that normalized state-sanctioned persecution, theft, and murder. When we appreciate the force of this culture of impunity, we appreciate afresh the moral courage of the very few who resisted it.

Claudia Koonz is professor of History and Women’s Studies at Duke University. Growing up in Wisconsin and attending UW Madison inspired her to ask how ordinary, decent people become mobilized for dangerous, even criminal, collective aims. In graduate school at Columbia University and Rutgers University, she chose Germany as a case study for this question, which she addressed in her books, Mothers in the Fatherland, The Nazi Conscience, and other works.

Hear the lecture on video:

and on You Tube: