Category Archives: Washington History Seminar

Sponsored jointly by the National History Center and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Washington History Seminar meets each week, January to May and September to December, on Monday afternoons at 4 o’clock at the Wilson Center. It aims to facilitate understanding of contemporary affairs in light of historical knowledge of all times and all places and from a variety of perspectives. For the latest schedule, please click on Spring 2012 Schedule. For more information on past speakers, topics, and videos, please click on Washington History Seminar Schedule.

5/2: Jeffrey Herf on “Undeclared Wars with Israel: East Germany and the West German Far Left, 1967-1989”

Author Jeffrey Herf draws upon his recently published work Undeclared Wars with Israel:  East Germany and the West German Far Left, 1967-1989. The book examines the spectrum of antagonism to Israel coming from the East German and West German organizations of the far left during these years – including hostile propaganda, political warfare at the United Nations in New York, military training, cooperation of secret services, and delivery of weapons to Arab states and Palestinian organizations then engaged in wars and terrorist campaigns against Israel. The book and lecture offer considerable details based on work in the archives of the former East German regime, those of the West German government, West German leftist organizations, Jewish organizations in West Germany, the U.S. State Department and the United Nations.

Jeffrey Herf is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of History at the University of Maryland in College Park. He received his BA from the University of Wisconsin in 1969 and PhD from Brandeis University in 1981. He taught at Harvard, and at Ohio University in Athens before coming to Maryland in 2000. His publications include Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys (Harvard U. Press, 1997); The Jewish Enemy:  Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust (Harvard U. Press, 2006); and Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World (Yale University Press, 2009). His bookUndeclared Wars with Israel: East Germany and the West German Far Left, 1967-1989 was published in April 2016.

4:00pm – 5:30pm
Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom

The seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.

4/25: Ada Ferrer on “Cuba: An American History”

In March 2016, President Barack Obama became the first American president to travel to Cuba since the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The trip was the culmination (so far) of an effort by the two governments to normalize relations after more than half a century of conflict and enmity. Ada Ferrer, a leading historian of Cuba, reflects on the ways in which a dynamic understanding of the history of Cuba, and of its long and complex relationship to the US, informs both the real possibilities and dangers attendant on the current moment of rapprochement.

Ada Ferrer is Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University. She is the author of two award-winning books, Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868-1898 (UNC Press, 1999) andFreedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution (Cambridge, 2014), which won three prizes from the AHA, as well as the Frederick Douglass Book Prize from the Gilder Lehman Center for the Study of Slavery, Abolition, and Resistance.  She is currently writing a history of Cuba to be published by Scribner.

4:00pm – 5:30pm
Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom

The seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.

4/18: Terry Lauch on “John Birch, China, and the Cold War”

John Birch: A Life (Oxford, 2016) is the first authoritative study of an idealistic young American who was a missionary and military intelligence officer in China during the Second World War. Thirteen years after his death in a dispute with Chinese Communist soldiers, he became the namesake of the controversial right-wing John Birch Society. Terry Lautz argues that the perceived martyrdom of John Birch is a misguided view, appropriated for Cold War political purposes. His life and death offer a cautionary tale on America’s relations with China.

Dr. Terry Lautz is interim director of the East Asia Program at Syracuse University and former vice president of the Henry Luce Foundation. He is also trustee and chair of the Harvard-Yenching Institute and a director of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, and holds MA and PhD degrees from Stanford University. His new book has been reviewed in the New Yorker and the Wall Street Journal.

4:00pm – 5:30pm
Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Boardroom

The seminar is co-chaired by Eric Arnesen (George Washington University) and Christian Ostermann (Woodrow Wilson Center) and is sponsored jointly by the National History Center of the American Historical Association and the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program. It meets weekly during the academic year. The seminar thanks the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the George Washington University History Department for their support.