Lecture: “Memory and History: Reflections on Nuremberg and Other Places”

by Judith Sone


Ambassador John L. Hirsch, Senior Fellow, International Peace Institute

Event Details

Thursday, March 8, 2012
4:00 p.m.
Pyle Center, room 325 (702 Langdon Street)

This lecture is sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies, with additional support from the University Lectures Committee, the George L. Mosse Program in History, the African Studies Program, Global Studies, Center for German and European Studies (CGES), and the Center for European Studies (CES).

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Abraham Lincoln has said that history is to a nation what memory is to a person. Drawing on this idea, Ambassador Hirsch will consider the role of memory and history in our understanding of conflict and recovery, drawing on his 2011 visit to Nuremberg and Theresienstadt as well as his recollections from serving as an American diplomat in South Africa during the transition from apartheid to nonracial multiparty democracy twenty years ago. He will relate these experiences to the remarkable intellectual legacy of Professor George Mosse with whom he studied and in whose honor the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies is named.

About the speaker

John L. Hirsch (PhD ’65) joined the International Peace Institute (IPA) in July 1998 following the completion of a 32-year career in the United States Foreign Service. After three and a half years as Vice President he became Senior Fellow on January 1, 2002. He has been responsible for IPA’s program on “The United Nations and International Terrorism” in 2002-2003, and served as Acting Director of the Africa Program in 1999 and again from September 2004-December 2005.

Before joining IPA he served as United States Ambassador to the Republic of Sierra Leone from 1995-98. Ambassador Hirsch’s extensive African experience includes assignments in Somalia in 1984-86, and subsequently as Political Advisor to the Commander of UNITAF, General Robert Johnston, and as Deputy to President Bush’s Special Envoy, Ambassador Robert Oakley in 1992-93. Ambassador Hirsch also served as Consul General in Johannesburg, South Africa from 1990-93, the years of transition from apartheid to non-racial multiparty democracy. His earlier assignments in Israel at the start of the Middle East peace process in the mid-seventies and, subsequently, at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and in Pakistan have dealt with major issues of multilateral diplomacy and United Nations peacekeeping.

Ambassador Hirsch was a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in 1993-94 and Diplomat-in-Residence at Medgar Evers College, The City University of New York in 1994-95. He was Director of the International Fellows Program at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs for the 2000-01 academic year. Since 2002-2003 he is Adjunct Professor of Diplomacy and World Affairs at Occidental College, directing its United Nations program in New York City.

Ambassador Hirsch received his B.A. in American Studies from Columbia University in 1957 and his Ph.D. in European History from the University of Wisconsin in 1965. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Turin, Italy in 1962-1963, where he wrote a dissertation on the Italian Resistance Movement and its impact on postwar Italian political developments.