Germans and their Nazi past on tap in Ethics Center season opener

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News
Photo of Martin Hille.


KALAMAZOO, Mich.—An expert on the regional history of Weimar, Germany, and Nazi Germany will examine the issue of Germans and their Nazi past when he speaks this month at Western Michigan University.

Dr. Martin Hille, associate professor of early modern and modern history at Passau University, will speak at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 22, in 205 Bernhard Center. His presentation, titled "The Germans and their Nazi Past: To What Extent Have They Accepted Responsibility?" is free and open to the public and will kick off the WMU Center for the Study of Ethics in Society Fall 2015 Lecture Series.

Historical reappraisal

The historical reappraisal of Germany's Nazi past fills whole libraries. This reappraisal includes the question of whether the Germans accepted responsibility for the crimes of the Third Reich. In his presentation, Hille will explore this question using the example of Munich, the former cradle of the Nazi movement and, since May 2015, home of one of the largest Nazi documentation centers in the world.

Hille will give a brief review of the most important stages of dealing with the Nazi past in Germany and Munich since 1945, sketch the diverging practices of historical reappraisal over seven decades and try to answer his central question and draw conclusions for the future.

Martin Hille

Hille became a professor at Passau University after obtaining the venia legend, also known as habilitation, the highest academic qualification a scholar can achieve by his or her own pursuit in many countries in Europe and elsewhere, and the degree of a post-graduate university lecturer in 2008. He earned a doctoral degree from Munich University in 1994, before he was appointed as a research associate at the Academy of Political Education in Tutzing, Germany, in 1995 and at Passau University in 2002.

He is a member of several historical associations and surveyor for the Austrian National Fund to foster scientific research. In 2009, he won the Karl-Heinz-Pollok-Memorial Award for outstanding post-doctoral thesis. The thesis explores the worldview of German Catholic chroniclers during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation period and reflects one of his main research interests.

Hille has written or edited four books and 44 scholarly articles and has made numerous contributions to newspapers, magazines and the broadcasting media. He is at WMU this fall as part of the faculty exchange between WMU and the University of Passau.

Hille's presentation is co-sponsored by the Haenicke Institute for Global Education, the Department of History and the Department of World Languages and Literatures.

Upcoming presentations

  • Sept. 24: Stacy Nigliazzo, registered nurse, Memorial Hermann Hospital, Houston, 4:45 p.m., Putney Auditorium, Fetzer Center, "The Necessary Tablet: The Healing Power of Creative Expression."
  • Nov. 3: Ta-Nehisi Coates, national correspondent, The Atlantic, 8 p.m., Miller Auditorium, "Between the World and Me."
  • Nov. 19: Nelson Miller, associate dean (Grand Rapids), and professor, WMU Cooley Law School, 6 p.m., Room 205, Bernhard Center, "Sources of Ethical Commitment: Finding Your Ground for Finding Your Way."
  • Dec. 4: Helen Frowe, director, Stockholm Centre for the Ethics of War and Peace, 5:30 p.m., Room 157, Bernhard Center, topic to be announced.

For more information, contact Dr. Sandra Borden at or visit

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