Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Peter Fritzsche  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1959 in Chicago, Illinois

-- Website --
-- Peter Fritzsche on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Fritzsche was born in Chicago and has been with the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, since 1987.

Biographical and Professional Information

Peter Fritzsche has been with the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, since 1987. He became a Professor in 1995 and served as the Department Chair from 2000-2005. Fritzsche has also edited two books: ''Imagining the Twentieth Century'' with Charles Stewart and''The Work of Memory: New Directions in the Study of German Society and Culture'' with Alon Confino.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Rehearsals for Fascism: Populism and Political Mobilization in Weimar Germany
ISBN: 0195057805

Oxford University Press. 1990

In this compelling and ambitious study, Peter Fritzsche analyzes the dramatic transformation of bourgeois politics before the Nazi breakthrough in 1930. Examining the local texture of civic life--market square protests, small town patriotism, and social clubs--as well as political parties and interest groups, Fritzsche provides a crucial perspective for understanding the fate of the Weimar republic, one which has been largely neglected by German historians. Even before the Great Depression the traditional bourgeois parties were eclipsed by a new breed of populist politicians who not only resisted the left but also embraced public activism and attacked big business, German conservatism, and the Weimar state itself. It was this populist sentiment to which the Nazis appealed with such consummate skill, not so much seizing power as assuming the ambitions and prejudices of middle class voters while transcending the limitations of the political organizations.

A Nation of Fliers: German Aviation and the Popular Imagination (History E-Book Project)
ISBN: 067460122X

Harvard University Press. 1994

From huge, fragile airships hanging in the sky to dashing young war pilots obsessed with death and destruction, this text describes Germany's perilous romance with aviation, covering the bright idealism of flight and its darker service in total war.

ISBN: 0752216015

Pan Macmillan. 1994

Reading Berlin 1900
ISBN: 0674748824

Harvard University Press. 1998

The great cities at the turn of the century were mediated by words--newspapers, advertisements, signs, and schedules--by which the inhabitants lived, dreamed, and imagined their surroundings. In this original study of the classic text of urban modernism--the newspaper page--Peter Fritzsche analyzes how reading and writing dramatized Imperial Berlin and anticipated the modernist sensibility that celebrated discontinuity, instability, and transience. It is a sharp-edged story with cameo appearances by Georg Simmel, Walter Benjamin, and Alfred Döblin. This sumptuous history of a metropolis and its social and literary texts provides a rich evocation of a particularly exuberant and fleeting moment in history.

Germans into Nazis
ISBN: 0674350928

Harvard University Press. 1999

Why did ordinary Germans vote for Hitler? In this dramatically plotted book, organized around crucial turning points in 1914, 1918, and 1933, Peter Fritzsche explains why the Nazis were so popular and what was behind the political choice made by the German people.

Rejecting the view that Germans voted for the Nazis simply because they hated the Jews, or had been humiliated in World War I, or had been ruined by the Great Depression, Fritzsche makes the controversial argument that Nazism was part of a larger process of democratization and political invigoration that began with the outbreak of World War I.

The twenty-year period beginning in 1914 was characterized by the steady advance of a broad populist revolution that was animated by war, drew strength from the Revolution of 1918, menaced the Weimar Republic, and finally culminated in the rise of the Nazis. Better than anyone else, the Nazis twisted together ideas from the political Left and Right, crossing nationalism with social reform, anti-Semitism with democracy, fear of the future with hope for a new beginning. This radical rebelliousness destroyed old authoritarian structures as much as it attacked liberal principles.

The outcome of this dramatic social revolution was a surprisingly popular regime that drew on public support to realize its horrible racial goals. Within a generation, Germans had grown increasingly self-reliant and sovereign, while intensely nationalistic and chauvinistic. They had recast the nation, but put it on the road to war and genocide.

Nietzsche and the Death of God: Selected Writings (The Bedford Series in History and Culture)
ISBN: 0312450222

Bedford/St. Martin's. 2006

German philosopher and self-proclaimed nihilist Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche stands out as a furious, explosive thinker who repeatedly pulled apart the certainties of the nineteenth century and whose writings attract, astonish, and unsettle readers to this day. This volume offers a selection of Nietzsche's writings, all newly translated by the author, that facilitate an understanding and discussion of his philosophies, style, and influence. In an engaging and accessible introduction, Peter Fritzsche familiarizes students with elements key to Nietzsche's thought and his extraordinary intellectual and political influence: his condemnation of the nineteenth century as degenerate and uncreative his rejection of Christianity, democracy, and socialism his belief that all cultures are founded on lies and illusions and his conviction that individuals should seek to overcome convention and morality in order to create themselves as supermen. Document headnotes give students background and guidance in reading Nietzsche's writings, and a chronology, questions for consideration, and a selected bibliography provide additional pedagogical support.

Stranded in the Present: Modern Time and the Melancholy of History
ISBN: 0674013395

Harvard University Press. 2004

In this inventive book, Peter Fritzsche explores how Europeans and Americans saw themselves in the drama of history, how they took possession of a past thought to be slipping away, and how they generated countless stories about the sorrowful, eventful paths they chose to follow.

In the aftermath of the French Revolution, contemporaries saw themselves as occupants of an utterly new period. Increasingly disconnected from an irretrievable past, worried about an unknown and dangerous future, they described themselves as indisputably modern. To be cast in the new time of the nineteenth century was to recognize the weird shapes of historical change, to see landscapes scattered with ruins, and to mourn the remains of a bygone era.

Tracing the scars of history, writers and painters, revolutionaries and exiles, soldiers and widows, and ordinary home dwellers took a passionate, even flamboyant, interest in the past. They argued politics, wrote diaries, devoured memoirs, and collected antiques, all the time charting their private paths against the tremors of public life. These nostalgic histories take place on battlefields trampled by Napoleon, along bucolic English hedges, against the fairytale silhouettes of the Grimms' beloved Germany, and in the newly constructed parlors of America's western territories.

This eloquent book takes a surprising, completely original look at the modern age: our possessions, our heritage, and our newly considered selves.

Life and Death in the Third Reich
ISBN: 0674034651

Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press. 2009

On January 30, 1933, hearing about the celebrations for Hitler’s assumption of power, Erich Ebermayer remarked bitterly in his diary, “We are the losers, definitely the losers.” Learning of the Nuremberg Laws in 1935, which made Jews non-citizens, he raged, “hate is sown a million-fold.” Yet in March 1938, he wept for joy at the Anschluss with Austria: “Not to want it just because it has been achieved by Hitler would be folly.”

In a masterful work, Peter Fritzsche deciphers the puzzle of Nazism’s ideological grip. Its basic appeal lay in the Volksgemeinschaft―a “people’s community” that appealed to Germans to be part of a great project to redress the wrongs of the Versailles treaty, make the country strong and vital, and rid the body politic of unhealthy elements. The goal was to create a new national and racial self-consciousness among Germans. For Germany to live, others―especially Jews―had to die. Diaries and letters reveal Germans’ fears, desires, and reservations, while showing how Nazi concepts saturated everyday life. Fritzsche examines the efforts of Germans to adjust to new racial identities, to believe in the necessity of war, to accept the dynamic of unconditional destruction―in short, to become Nazis.

Powerful and provocative, Life and Death in the Third Reich is a chilling portrait of how ideology takes hold.

The Turbulent World of Franz Göll: An Ordinary Berliner Writes the Twentieth Century
ISBN: 0674055314

Harvard University Press. 2011

Franz Göll was a thoroughly typical Berliner. He worked as a clerk, sometimes as a postal employee, night watchman, or publisher's assistant. He enjoyed the movies, ate spice cake, wore a fedora, tamed sparrows, and drank beer or schnapps. He lived his entire life in a two-room apartment in Rote Insel, Berlin's famous working-class district. What makes Franz Göll different is that he left behind one of the most comprehensive diaries available from the maelstrom of twentieth-century German life. Deftly weaving in Göll’s voice from his diary entries, Fritzsche narrates the quest of an ordinary citizen to make sense of a violent and bewildering century.

Peter Fritzsche paints a deeply affecting portrait of a self-educated man seized by an untamable impulse to record, who stayed put for nearly seventy years as history thundered around him. Determined to compose a “symphony” from the music of everyday life, Göll wrote of hungry winters during World War I, the bombing of Berlin, the rape of his neighbors by Russian soldiers in World War II, and the flexing of U.S. superpower during the Reagan years. In his early entries, Göll grappled with the intellectual shockwaves cast by Darwin, Freud, and Einstein, and later he struggled to engage with the strange lifestyles that marked Germany's transition to a fluid, dynamic, unmistakably modern society.

With expert analysis, Fritzsche shows how one man's thoughts and desires can give poignant shape to the collective experience of twentieth-century life, registering its manifold shocks and rendering them legible.



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