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Georg G. Iggers (1926–2017)

  • Andreas W. Daum (a1)
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I would like to thank Volker Berghahn, Larry E. Jones, Peter H. Reill, and Christopher Notaro for their feedback on earlier drafts of this essay. My special thanks go to Wilma and to the late Georg Iggers for having shared with me over the years many insights into their work, as well as many personal stories.

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1 See the autobiographical account by Wilma, and Iggers, Georg G., Two Lives in Uncertain Times: Facing the Challenges of the 20th Century as Scholars and Citizens (New York: Berghahn, 2006) [first published in German as Zwei Seiten der Geschichte: Lebensbericht aus unruhigen Zeiten (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2002)]. The University Archives at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo hold the Georg G. Iggers Papers, no. 22/6F/270, c. 1955-2007; as well as the Georg and Wilma Iggers Oral Histories Collection, no. 22/6F/1261, 1988.

2 Daum, Andreas W., Lehmann, Hartmut, and Sheehan, James J., eds., The Second Generation: Émigrés from Nazi Germany as Historians. With a Biobibliographical Guide (New York: Berghahn, 2016), includes a short biography of Georg and Wilma Iggers (pp. 385-88), as well as an autobiographical essay by Georg Iggers: “History and Social Action Beyond National and Continental Borders” (pp. 82-96).

3 Iggers, Georg G., “An Autobiographical Approach to the German-Jewish Legacy,” in The German-Jewish Legacy in America, 1938–1988: From Bildung to the Bill of Rights, ed. Peck, Abraham J. (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1989), 39-40.

4 Ibid., 36.

5 Iggers and Iggers, Two Lives, 28.

6 University Archives at SUNY Buffalo, Georg and Wilma Iggers Oral Histories Collection, Georg Iggers, tape 1, side 2 (recorded in 1988).

7 Andreas W. Daum, “Refugees from Nazi Germany as Historians: Origins and Migrations, Interests and Identities,” and Volker R. Berghahn, “Thinking about the Second Generation Conceptually,” in Daum, Lehman, and Sheehan, Second Generation, 1-52, 152-73.

8 Iggers, “An Autobiographical Approach,” 37.

9 Iggers, “History and Social Action Beyond National and Continental Borders,” 83.

10 University Archives at SUNY Buffalo, Georg and Wilma Iggers Oral Histories Collection, Georg Iggers, tape 2, side 1.

11 Bleek, Wilhelm, Geschichte der Politikwissenschaft in Deutschland (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2001), 250-51 (specifically on Bergstraesser, see pp. 290-91, 298-99, 302-4, 316-17); Lehmann, Hartmut and Sheehan, James J., eds., An Interrupted Past: German-Speaking Refugee Historians in the United States after 1933 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991).

12 Iggers and Iggers, Two Lives, 52.

13 Daum, “Refugees from Nazi Germany,” 8-12.

14 Iggers, Wilma, “Refugee Women from Czechoslovakia in Canada: An Eyewitness Report,” in Between Sorrow and Strength: Women Refugees of the Nazi Period, ed. Quack, Sibylle (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 121-28.

15 Iggers, Wilma, Die Juden in Böhmen und Mähren: Ein historisches Lesebuch (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1986) [in English translation as The Jews of Bohemia and Moravia: A Historical Reader, trans. Wilma Abeles Iggers, Káča Poláčková-Henley, and Kathrine Talbot (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1992)]; idem, Women of Prague: Ethnic Diversity and Social Change from the Eighteenth Century to the Present (Providence, RI: Berghahn, 1995) [in German translation as Frauenleben in Prag. Ethnische Vielfalt und kultureller Wandel seit dem 18. Jahrhundert (Vienna: Böhlau, 2000)]. Also see Kohn, Joseph Seligmann, Der jüdische Gil Blas, ed. Iggers, Wilma (Munich: Scaneg, 1993).

16 Georg G. Iggers, “Heine und der Saint-Simonismus,” MA thesis, University of Chicago, 1945.

17 Georg G. Iggers, “Heine and the Saint-Simonians: A Re-Examination,” Comparative Literature 10, no. 4 (1958): 289-308 (quotes on pp. 308, 303).

18 Among the émigré scholars Iggers encountered in New York were the sociologists Carl Mayer and Albert Salomon, the economists Eduard Heimann and Frieda Wunderlich, and the philosopher of law Felix Kaufmann. Iggers did not meet Hannah Arendt. See Iggers and Iggers, Two Lives, 53-54.

19 Georg G. Iggers, “The Social Philosophy of the Saint-Simonians (1824-1832),” PhD thesis, University of Chicago, 1951. In addition to Bergstraesser, Iggers was advised by Louis R. Gottschalk, a historian of France, and James Luther Adams, a Unitarian theologian and later professor at Harvard University. Iggers admired Adams's integrity and ethics, and dedicated his second monograph to him; see Georg G. Iggers, The German Conception of History: The National Tradition of Historical Thought from Herder to the Present (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1968), xi.

20 Iggers, Georg G., The Cult of Authority: The Political Philosophy of the Saint-Simonians. A Chapter in the Intellectual History of Totalitarianism (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1958; 2nd ed., 1970).

21 The Doctrine of Saint-Simon: An Exposition. First Year, 1828–1829, trans. Georg G. Iggers (Boston: Beacon Press, 1958).

22 See Iggers, Georg G., “Further Remarks about Early Uses of the Term ‘Social Science,’Journal of the History of Ideas 20, no. 3 (1959): 433-36.

23 See Berghahn, Volker, “Fritz Stern (1926-2016),” Central European History 49, no. 3/4 (2016): 312-14.

24 Iggers, Cult of Authority, 3.

25 Iggers, The Doctrine of Saint-Simon, ix, xxxvi; idem, The Cult of Authority, 3.

26 In the second edition of the Cult of Authority, which appeared in 1970, Iggers dropped the second subtitle (“A Chapter in the Intellectual History of Totalitarianism”), and, in a new foreword, he profiled the Saint-Simonians as political thinkers in their own right, rather than as predecessors of twentieth-century political ideas and practices; he also acknowledged the humanitarian core of their thinking.

27 Stern, Fritz, The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961); idem, The Failure of Illiberalism (New York: Knopf, 1972). Iggers later dealt more generally with antirational forms of the philosophy of history in Europe; see Iggers, Georg G., “The Idea of Progress in Recent Philosophies of History,” Journal of Modern History 30, no. 3 (1958): 215-26.

28 Iggers, Cult of Authority, 105. Four decades later, Iggers used new findings on the involvement of German scholars, including historians, in Nazi research on the East (Ostforschung) to articulate a much more critical position; see his foreword to German Scholars and Ethnic Cleansing 1919–1945, ed. Ingo Haar and Michael Fahlbusch (New York: Berghahn, 2005), vii-xviii.

29 Daum, “Refugees from Nazi Germany,” 21-27.

30 See Gerber, David A., “From Hamburg to Little Rock and Beyond: The Origins of Georg Iggers's Civil Rights Activism,” in Geschichtswissenschaft vor 2000: Perspektiven der Historiographiegeschichte, Geschichtstheorie, Sozial- und Kulturgeschichte. Festschrift für Georg G. Iggers zum 65. Geburtstag, ed. Jarausch, Konrad H., Rüsen, Jörn, and Schleier, Hans (Hagen: Rottmann, 1991), 509-22.

31 Edgecomb, Gabrielle S., From Swastika to Jim Crow: Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges (Malabar, FL: Krieger, 1993).

32 University Archives at SUNY Buffalo, Georg and Wilma Iggers Oral Histories Collection, Georg Iggers, tape 3, side 2.

33 Jones, Larry E., ed., Crossing Boundaries: The Inclusion and Exclusion of Minorities in Germany and America (New York: Berghahn, 2001), includes three essays that are particularly relevant in this context: Tony A. Freyer, “Objectivity and Involvement: Georg G. Iggers and Writing the History of the Little Rock School Crisis” (pp. 172-92); Manfred Berg, “Activists, Leaders, and Supporters: On the Role of Whites in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People” (pp. 193-210); Tony A. Freyer, “Crossing Borders in American Civil Rights Historiography” (pp. 213-32). On the controversies at the Little Rock branch of the NAACP with regard to seeking litigation, see Freyer, Tony A., Little Rock on Trial: Cooper v. Aaron and School Desegregation (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2007), 18-48.

34 University Archives at SUNY Buffalo, Georg and Wilma Iggers Oral Histories Collection, Georg Iggers, tape 5, side 2.

35 Iggers, “The Idea of Progress in Recent Philosophies of History,” 226.

36 See Iggers, Georg G., Bödeker, Hans Erich, Knudsen, Jonathan B., and Reill, Peter H., eds., Aufklärung und Geschichte: Studien zur deutschen Geschichtswissenschaft im 18. Jahrhundert (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986).

37 Quote from University Archives at SUNY Buffalo, Georg and Wilma Oral History Collection, Georg Iggers, tape 5, side 1.

38 Iggers, German Conception, 13.

39 Ringer, Fritz K., The Decline of the German Mandarins: The German Academic Community, 1890–1933 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1969).

40 Iggers, German Conception, 173. Max Weber's political position increasingly became the subject of critical scrutiny following the publication of Mommsen, Wolfgang J., Max Weber und die deutsche Politik: 1890–1920 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1959).

41 Iggers, Georg G., “The Idea of Progress: A Critical Reassessment,” American Historical Review 71, no. 1 (1965): 5. Iggers repeatedly discussed the issue of how best to translate the term Historismus into English. Early in his career, he differentiated between an early historism (a term he preferred) and historism (the term that became common), only to accede later to the more commonly used term historicism; see “Historicism,” Dictionary of the History of Ideas, vol. 2, ed. Philip P. Wiene (New York: Scribner, 1973), 456-64; Iggers, Georg and Moltke, Konrad von, eds., Leopold von Ranke: The Theory and Practice of History (Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1973), xviii, n. 11. Late in life, Iggers returned to the term historism, which, he believed, best signified the idealist assumptions of the early nineteenth century. See Iggers, Georg, “Historicism: The History and Meaning of the Term,” Journal of the History of Ideas 56, no. 1 (1995): 136-37; Ranke, Leopold von, The Theory and Practice of History, ed. Iggers, Georg G., trans. Iggers, Wilma A. (London: Routledge, 2011), xiii, n. 11; Iggers, “History and Social Action,” 91.

42 Novick, Peter, That Noble Dream: The ‘Objectivity Question’ and the American Historical Profession (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988).

43 Iggers, German Conception, 177.

44 Iggers and Iggers, Two Lives, 57-58; Iggers, Georg G., “Die deutschen Historiker in der Emigration,” in Geschichtswissenschaft in Deutschland: Traditionelle Positionen und gegenwärtige Aufgaben, ed. Faulenbach, Bernd (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1974), 97111; idem, Refugee Historians from Nazi Germany: Political Attitudes towards Democracy (Washington, DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2006). Also see Iggers's preface to Keβler, Marion, Exilerfahrung in Wissenschaft und Politik: Remigrierte Historiker in der frühen DDR (Cologne: Böhlau, 2001), 9-11.

45 Iggers contributed a chapter to Wehler's anthology on German historians; see Iggers, Georg G., “Heinrich von Treitschke,” in Deutsche Historiker, ed. Wehler, Hans-Ulrich, vol. 2 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1971), 66-90. Also see Blackbourn, David, “Hans-Ulrich Wehler (1931-2014),” Central European History 47, no. 4 (2014): 700–15.

46 See Wurgaft's, Lewis D. review of The German Conception of History in History and Theory 8, no. 2 (1969): 404-18; Liebel, Helen P., “Reply to Georg Iggers,” Eighteenth-Century Studies 5, no. 4 (1972): 594-603; Jaeger, Friedrich and Rüsen, Jörn, Geschichte des Historismus: Eine Einführung (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1992); as well as Wolfgang J. Mommsen's 1970 inaugural lecture as professor in Düsseldorf, published as Die Geschichtswissenschaft jenseits des Historismus (Düsseldorf: Droste, 1971).

47 Letter from Nipperdey to Iggers, Feb. 15, 1971 (private collection of Georg and Wilma Iggers).

48 Nipperdey, Thomas, “Historismus und Historismuskritik heute,” in Gesellschaft, Kultur, Theorie: Gesammelte Aufsätze zur neueren Geschichte (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1976), 68 (Nipperdey's essay was first published in 1975). See Iggers, German Conception, 235; idem, “Objectivity and Involvement: Writing the History of Historiography,” in Iggers, Crossing Boundaries, 233-41.

49 Farber, Karl-Georg, Mommsen, Wolfgang, and Grab, Walter, Three Lectures in Modern German History, ed. Iggers, Georg (Buffalo, NY: Council on International Studies, 1976); Puhle, Hans Jürgen and Stürmer, Michael, Two Lectures in Modern German History, ed. Iggers, Georg (Buffalo, NY: Council on International Studies, 1978).

50 It might not be a coincidence that other émigrés also used their familiarity with European traditions to trace the development of historical thinking in a comparative perspective.  See von Laue, Theodore H., Leopold Ranke: The Formative Years (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1950); Stern, Fritz, ed., Varieties of History: From Voltaire to the Present (New York: Meridian Books, 1956); Weintraub, Karl-Joachim, ed., Visions of Culture (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1966); Schmitt, Hans A., ed., Historians of Modern Europe (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1971); Gay, Peter and Cavanaugh, Gerald J., eds., Historians at Work, 4 vols. (New York: Harper & Row, 1972-1975); Peter Gay, Style in History (New York: Basic Books, 1974); Meinecke, Friedrich, The Age of German Liberation, 1795-1815, ed. Paret, Peter (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977); Hamerow, Theodore S., Reflections on History and Historians (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987).

51 Iggers, Georg G., “The Image of Ranke in American and German Historical Thought,” History and Theory 2, no. 1 (1962): 17-40; Iggers and Moltke, eds., Leopold von Ranke (1973); Iggers, Georg and Powell, James M., eds., Leopold von Ranke and the Shaping of the Historical Discipline (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1990).

52 Norman Baker, a colleague of Iggers in Buffalo, contributed the section on British social history. For the German edition, Iggers added a chapter by Michael Frisch on new trends in American social history; see Neue Geschichtswissenschaft: Vom Historismus zur Historischen Sozialwissenschaft. Ein internationaler Vergleich (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1978), 219-57.

53 Iggers, Georg G., New Directions in European Historiography (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1975; rev. ed. 1984), 42.

54 See Iggers's review of a volume on the emergence of historicism, edited by Horst Walter Blanke and Jörn Rüsen, in History and Theory 26, no. 1 (1987): 114-21, as well as Iggers, Georg, “Das Programm einer Strukturgeschichte des historischen Denkens. Anmerkungen zu H. W. Blanke,” in Geschichtsdiskurs, vol. 1: Grundlagen und Methoden der Historiographiegeschichte, ed. Küttler, Wolfgang, Rüsen, Jörn, and Schulin, Ernst (Frankfurt/Main: Fischer, 1993), 331-35. Iggers expanded on the discussion in Germany in “Historismus—Geschichte und Bedeutung eines Begriffs. Eine kritische Übersicht der neuesten Literatur,” in Historismus am Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts: Eine Internationale Diskussion, ed. Gunter Scholtz (Berlin: Akademie, 1997), 102-26.

55 Quote from a review of New Directions in American Historical Review 81, no. 4 (1976): 851.

56 His doctoral students, listed here in chronological order from 1969 to 2004, include Zdenka Gredel, Clarence Pate, Micah Tsomondo, Henry Darce, Walter Peterson, William Wright, Peter Th. Walther, Richard A. Cohen, Sangwoo Lim, Liang-Kai Chou, Garth Montgomery, Alan Nothnagle, Christopher Forth, Lixin Shao, John Hinde, Supriya Mukherjee, Thomas Behr, Bruce Hall, Gregory Witkowski, and Axel Fair-Schulz.

57 Iggers, Georg G. and Parker, Harold T., eds., International Handbook of Historical Studies: Contemporary Research and Theory (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979).

58 Iggers, Georg G., ed., The Social History of Politics: Critical Perspectives in West German Historical Writing since 1945 (Dover, NH: Berg, 1985), 40-45.

59 Blackbourn, David and Eley, Geoff, Mythen deutscher Geschichtsschreibung: Die gescheiterte bürgerliche Revolution von 1848 (Frankfurt/Main: Ullstein, 1980) [in English translation as The Peculiarities of German History: Bourgeois Society and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984)].

60 Boia, Lucian, ed., Great Historians from Antiquity to 1800: An International Dictionary (New York: Greenwood Press, 1991), with Iggers, Ellen Nore, and Keith Hitchins serving as associate editors. Iggers reserved for himself the entries on Ranke (pp. 302-3) and on Treitschke (pp. 318-19). It should be noted that the commission was renamed the International Commission for the History and Theory of Historiography in 1995, and that Iggers succeeded Wolfgang J. Mommsen as president that year. By that time, he had already joined, together with Peter H. Reill, Jörn Rüsen, and Hans Schleier, the editorial board of a new German-language book series devoted to the history of historiography: Fundamenta Historica: Texte und Forschungen (Stuttgart: Frommann-Holzboog). Four volumes appeared by 2012.

61 Iggers and Iggers, Two Lives, 163.

62 Ibid., 154, 162, 184, 190.

63 Iggers, Georg G., Ein anderer historischer Blick: Beispiele ostdeutscher Sozialgeschichte (Frankfurt/Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1991). For the translated and expanded edition, see Iggers, Georg G., Marxist Historiography in Transformation: East German Social History in the 1980s (New York: Berg, 1991); as well as the summary by idem, “New Directions in Historical Studies in the German Democratic Republic,” History and Theory 28, no. 1 (1989): 59-77. Jarausch, Iggers joined Konrad H., Middell, Matthias, and Sabrow, Martin in coediting Die DDR-Geschichtswissenschaft als Forschungsproblem (Munich: Oldenburg, 1998).

64 White, Hayden V., Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973). See Iggers's review of White's study and of Peter Gay's Style in History, which he found less original but more convincing: “Style in History: History as an Art and as Science,” Reviews in European History 2, no. 2 (1976): 171-81; also see Iggers and Iggers, Two Lives, 126-27.

65 Iggers, “Style in History,” 175-76. Also see Koselleck, Reinhard, Futures Past: On the Semantics of Historical Time, trans. Tribe, Keith (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985), 155.

66 Iggers, Georg G., “Historiography between Scholarship and Poetry: Reflections on Hayden White's Approach to Historiography,” Rethinking History 4, no. 3 (2000): 378. See White's response: “An Old Question Raised Again: Is Historiography Art or Science?,” Rethinking History 4, no. 3 (2000): 391-406; also see Iggers's more general remarks on the linguistic turn: “Zur ‘Linguistischen Wende’ im Geschichtsdenken und in der Geschichtsschreibung,” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 21, no. 4 (1995): 557-70.

67 Iggers, Georg G., “Comments on F. R. Ankersmit's Paper, ‘Historicism: An Attempt at Synthesis,’History and Theory 34, no. 3 (1995): 162-67.

68 Iggers also coedited, with Bialas, Wolfgang, Intellektuelle in der Weimarer Republik (Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang, 1996), to which he contributed a critical summary: “Einige kritische Schluβbemerkungen über die Rolle der Intellektuellen in der Weimarer Republik am Beispiel der Historiker” (pp. 445-60).

69 Iggers, Georg G., Geschichtswissenschaft im 20. Jahrhundert: Ein kritischer Überblick im internationalen Zusammenhang (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1993; new ed., 2007); idem, Historiography in the Twentieth Century: From Scientific Objectivity to the Postmodern Challenge (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1997).

70 Iggers, Geschichtswissenschaft im 20. Jahrhundert, 30. Iggers continued to expand on these themes; see idem, “The Intellectual Foundations of Nineteenth-Century ‘Scientific’ History: The German Model,” in The Oxford History of Historical Writing, vol. 4: 1800–1945, ed. Stuart Macintyre (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 41-58.

71 Iggers, Geschichtswissenschaft im 20. Jahrhundert, 144.

72 Iggers and Iggers, Two Lives, 195-98.

73 Iggers, Georg G. and Wang, Q. Edward, eds., Turning Points in Historiography: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2002).

74 Iggers, Georg G. and Wang, Q. Edward, eds., A Global History of Modern Historiography (New York: Pearson Longman, 2008; 2nd ed., 2017) [in German translation as Geschichtskulturen: Weltgeschichte der Historiografie von 1750 bis heute (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2013)].

75 Iggers and Wang, A Global History, 80-87, 120-25.

76 Ibid., 217-18, 331-32.

77 Ibid., 5-12, 14, 19, 32.

78 Iggers and Iggers, Zwei Seiten der Geschichte; Iggers and Iggers, Two Lives.

79 For a survey of the book translations through 2015, see Daum, Lehmann, and Sheehan, Second Generation, 386-87.

80 Iggers, Geschichtswissenschaft vor 2000; Diesener, Gerald, ed., Historiographischer Rückspiegel: Georg G. Iggers zum 70. Geburtstag (Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 1997); Iggers, Crossing Boundaries; Wang, Q. Edward and Fillafer, Franz L., eds., The Many Faces of Clio: Cross-Cultural Approaches to Historiography. Essays in Honor of Georg G. Iggers (New York: Berghahn, 2007).

81 Iggers, Georg G. and Wang, Q. Edward, Marxist Historiographies: A Global Perspective (New York: Routledge, 2016).

82 Georg G. Iggers, “The Role of Marxism in Sub-Saharan and South African Historiography,” in ibid., 244.

I would like to thank Volker Berghahn, Larry E. Jones, Peter H. Reill, and Christopher Notaro for their feedback on earlier drafts of this essay. My special thanks go to Wilma and to the late Georg Iggers for having shared with me over the years many insights into their work, as well as many personal stories.

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