Fritz Stern Dissertation Prize, 2007

The 2007 Fritz Stern Dissertation Prizes were awarded to Monica Black (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) and Winson Chu (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee). The award ceremony took place at the 16th Annual Symposium of the Friends of the German Historical Institute on November 16, 2007. The Stern Prize Selection Committee was composed of Norman J. W. Goda (Ohio University), Astrid M. Eckert (Emory University), and George S. Williamson (The University of Alabama).

  • Monica Black (University of Tennessee, Knoxville), The Meaning of Death and the Making of Three Berlins: A History, 1933-1961 (Ph.D. dissertation, Department of History, University of Virginia, 2006; Advisor: Professor Alon Confino). For more information on Black's dissertaion, see her article in the GHI's Bulletin.

    Prize citation: In a sophisticated cultural history Monica Black has written herself into the historiography of death and burial. She has wrested the topic from graveyard enthusiasts and placed it squarely into 20th century German history. Black shows that ways of remembering the dead in Berlin under the Nazis and then under divided communist and democratic rule defined how Berliners viewed themselves as Germans and how, by negative example, they defined others less civilized than they, from slave laborers to those on the other side of the Cold War divide. Black’s sources are broad and include every conceivable archive in Berlin down to Kreisarchive and Bezirksämter as well as obscure pamphlets and journals. By reconceiving death and the representation of the dead, Dr. Black shows how Berliners displayed changing values across three political systems.
  • Winson Chu (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee), German Political Organizations and Regional Particularisms in Interwar Poland (1918-1939) (Ph.D. dissertation, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley, 2006; Advisor: Professor John Connelly). For more information on Chu's dissertaion, see his article in the GHI's Bulletin.

    Prize citation: Winson Chu has written a new and innovative political history of the German minority in Poland. His theoretical argument is that the very conception of a national minority is misleading, still carrying the mark of interwar völkisch thought. By studying German communities from Poznan to the Ukraine, Chu shows that the minority had its own internal hierarchy, that it was riddled with infighting, and that it held differing agendas concerning Germanness on the one hand and reactions to the Polish state on the other. National cohesion within the minority was problematic from the start, and contrary to common belief, Germans in Poland never became a more unified minority during the interwar years. Instead they grew more regionally distinct. Through the use of fifteen archives in Germany and Poland and through broad rethinking of key concepts from “nation” to “region,” Chu has written a history that reveals the limits of national solidarity as well as these terms themselves.