Franz Steiner Prize 2008

2008 Franz Steiner Prize for German-American Studies Awarded to Ulrike Weckel

October 23, 2008
Stuttgart

Every other year the German Historical Institute in Washington DC and the Franz Steiner Verlag in Stuttgart, which publishes the Institute's book series Transatlantische Historische Studien (THS), award the Franz Steiner Prize for an outstanding piece of research in transatlantic history. The prize carries an award of 3,500 Euros. This year's recipient was Dr. Ulrike Weckel, who teaches German and European History at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. She was honored for her path-breaking work Shameful Images: German Responses to Allied Documentaries on Nazi Concentration Camps. The prize was presented by Dr. Thomas Schaber, the head of the Franz Steiner Verlag, and Dr. Philipp Gassert, Deputy Director of the GHI. The ceremony took place during the German-American-Day celebrations, which were organized by the James Byrnes Institute in Stuttgart and the Association of German-American Clubs.

Ulrike Weckel's work represents an important piece of scholarship in four respects: First, it is the first complete examination of the "atrocity films" that were produced in the context of British and American reeducation efforts to confront German concentration camp guards, officials, and the general population with crimes perpetrated against humanity during World War II. Second, is it methodologically innovative by combining a traditional social-historical approach with film and literary studies. Third, Shameful Images not only looks at the production of these "atrocity films," but also investigates audience responses. For this purpose new source material such as the evaluations of questionnaires handed to the audiences were analyzed for the first time. Finally, by embedding the film screenings in the context of shame and shaming, instead of controversies over collective guilt, Ulrike Weckel's works opens a new perspective on the history of collective and individual "coping" with Nazism after 1945.

Philipp Gassert