Nathan Stoltzfus

PhD (Harvard University 1993)
Dorothy and Jonathan Rintels Professor of Holocaust Studies

Nathan Stoltzfus is the Dorothy and Jonathan Rintels professor of Holocaust Studies at Florida State University and author or editor of seven books: Hitler’s Compromises: Coercion and Consensus in Nazi Germany (Yale University Press, 2016); Protest in Hitler’s National Community: Social Unrest and the Nazi Response (Berghahn Books, 2015); Nazi Crimes and the Law (Cambridge University Press, 2008); Courageous Resistance: The Power of Ordinary People (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2007); Shades of Green: Environmental Activism around the Globe (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006); Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany (Princeton University Press, 2001); Resistance of the Heart (W.W. Norton, '96). Resistance of the Heart was the Fraenkel Prize co-winner and a New Statesman Book of the Year and prize winner of Munich’s Besten Liste for nonfiction. His work has been translated into German, French, Swedish, Greek, Turkish, and Russian. Stoltzfus has been a longterm member of the faculty of the National Judicial College. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1993, and has been a Fulbright and IREX scholar in East as well as West Germany, a Friedrich Ebert Stiftung grantee, a DAAD research scholar, a Humboldt German American Center for Visiting Scholars grantee, and a H.F. Guggenheim Foundation Scholar as well as a Florida State University “Developing Scholar.” His work has formed a basis for films and he has published in the Atlantic Monthly, the Daily Beast, Der Spiegel, The American Scholar, and Die Zeit.  His current book projects include the study of the memories of World War II as a basis for national myths and social cohesion.


His publications include the following books: 



Hitler's Compromises Coercion and Consensus in Nazi Germany (Yale University Press, 2016) is a comprehensive and eye-opening examination of Hitler’s regime, revealing the numerous strategic compromises he made in order to manage dissent.

Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of The National Interest, wrote of Hitler’s Compromises that “Stoltzfus’s ambitious study seeks to correct the perception of the Nazi state as a seamless totalitarian organization that easily cowed Germans into unthinking obedience. The author suggests there was more to it than that: rather than seek to rely automatically on outright terror, Hitler was surprisingly prepared to compromise politically in order to avoid jeopardizing his popularity with the German people. .. . Hitler regularly restrained his subordinates from escalating their persecution of the churches during wartime.” By 1943 propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels complained, “The people know exactly where to find the leadership’s soft spot and will always exploit it.” Stoltzfus demonstrates that by pretending to be moderate at key points, Hitler worked to enlist Germans to fulfill his mission of building a New Order, a sobering reminder about the threat posed to any democratic society by a crafty demagogue.

Kirkus Reviews wrote of Hitler’s Compromises (Yale, 2016) that it "advances a cogent argument with broad moral, historical, and sociological implications . . . serious students of history will be thoroughly engaged. A lucid work of historical argumentation that succeeds in establishing compromise as a crucial instrument in Hitler’s political arsenal."

Stoltzfus’ lectures on Hitler’s Compromises include the Krasno Distinguished Lectureship at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 

and the Institute for European Studies series at U Cal Berkeley

During the run up to the 2016 election, in light of Hitler’s Compromises: Coercion and Consent in Nazi Germany, Stoltzfus was asked to comment in the media on the frequent comparisons of Hitler and Donald Trump.

"His book Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany (W.W. Norton 1996, paperback 2001 with a forward by Walter Laqueur) was published in German (Hanser Verlag/dtv). See reviews, foreward by German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Introduction and Chapter 1. It was a co-recipient of the Institute of Contemporary History's Fraenkel Prize, a New Statesman 'Book of the Year', #2 on the German Bestenliste for nonfiction (October, 1999), Main Selection (March-April, 2004) of the Swedish Book Club Clio, and identified by Germany’s leading intellectual weekly Die Zeit as the 'standard work' on the protest."

This seminal work has spawned a considerable debate among academics, leading to what Die Zeit called a "historian's controversy" (kleine Historikerstreit). His interviews have brought to publication the voices of Germans who were otherwise never interviewed about their wartime experiences, not only of Nazi victims but also its perpetrators including Leopold Gutterer, Joseph Goebbels’ Under Secretary of Propaganda. His work has been published in seven languages.

Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany (Princeton University Press, 2001), co-edited with Robert Gellately, reveals the range of groups persecuted under the Nazis and the role of society in their victimization.
Shades of Green: Environmental Activism around the Globe (Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), co-edited with with Doug Weiner and Christoph Mauch, represents the diversity of national, regional and international environmental activism, showing that the term "environmentalism" describes a wide range of perceptions, values and interests.
Courageous Resistance: The Power of Ordinary People (Palgrave MacMillan, 2007), co-authored by professors of history, political science, and sociology, introduces readers to a spectrum of types of resistance to tyranny and investigates the factors that motivate and sustain opposition to human rights violations.
Nazi Crimes and the Law (Cambridge University Press, 2008), co-edited with Henry Friedlander, examines the efficacy of national and international law to prosecute perpetrators of Nazi crimes, the centerpiece of twentieth-century state sponsored genocide and mass murder. Stoltzfus’ article for this collection as well as for The Oxford Handbook of Fascism, R.J.B. Bosworth, editor (Oxford University Press, 2009) considers the memory and representations of fascism since WW II in Italy and Germany.
protest in hitler's
 Protest in Hitler's “National Community” Popular Unrest and the Nazi Response (Berghahn Books), co-edited with Birgit Maier-Katkin, Afterword by David Clay Large. In common perceptions, Hitler’s Gestapo slapped down every sign of opposition. This study of public, collected displays of dissent by “racial” Germans within the Reich examines cases of public, social dissent both before and during the war that were serious enough to command a response from the regime. Not only workers, but also women protecting their families as well as Protestants and Catholics determined to continue their church traditions, convinced the regime to appease rather than repress expressions of disagreement by “racial” Germans.


His graduate students and their dissertation topics:

Rebecca Shriver, Europa and the Bull: Gendering Europe and the Process of European Integration, 1919-1939.

Chris Osmar, Violence against Foreign Workers in the Ruhr at the End of the Second World War.

Melissa Hughes, Intersecting histories of the Roma as Understudied Victims of the Nazis.

Dallas R. Scouton  Ideological Indoctrination: Nazi Germany’s Kinderlandverschickung Program: 1940-1945.

Danielle Wirsansky, M.A. student


Stoltzfus has been published or critically acclaimed in, among other publications, The Atlantic MonthlyDie ZeitThe Times Literary Supplement, Frankfurter Allgemeine ZeitungThe New York TimesThe Philadelphia InquirerChristian Science MonitorThe Financial TimesThe Times of LondonThe Chronicle of Higher Education, The Sunday Telegraphthe New Statesman, The Jerusalem PostLe Monde. He has appeared on various German, British, and American radio and TV programs including ZDF, RIAS, SFB, COMCAST, Monitor TV, NPR, BBC. He is also the chair of the FSU Rhodes Scholarship Competition Committee and a member of the faculty of the National Judicial College. Before his academic career Stoltzfus interned with the ACLU, was the editor of the American Indian Journal, and a Public Information Specialist for the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior.

His articles include the following:

Dissent in Nazi Germany (with selected letters to the editor), The Atlantic Monthly, September, 1992. 
These letters were selected to show the range of criticisms to this article and they include accusing the Germans of knowing about the Holocaust when they in fact knew nothing; calling the Holocaust the "greatest crime in history" by ignoring other "cruelties"; propagandizing on behalf of Germans while having a "Jewish first name"; slighting the role of women in protests in Hitler's Germany; "lugubrious manipulation [of] this hypothetical event"; gullibly in claiming that "peoples" bear some responsibility for the "conduct of their governments"; writing a history of "America in the 60's and 70's not Germany in the 30's and 40's"; ignoring Allied guilt by focusing on that of the Germans, and so forth. It was not until my years in Berlin as a Fulbright scholar that I began to realize that not just a few persons suspected I had Jewish ancestry, apparently because of my name. A friend from the Jewish Community Gad Beck astonished me one day by stating that I must immediately tell persons that I am not Jewish since otherwise they will assume I am, and then feel like I deceived them when they find out otherwise. Growing up in tightly knit community that strove for separation from 'the world' , my name had been little more than that of a minor biblical character--many of my ancestors, being Mennonites and Amish, had names from the Hebrew Bible as well.
Die Wahrheit Jenseits der Dokumententen, Die Zeit, October 30, 2003. This is my contribution to what Die Zeit editors in their introduction called a "Historikerstreit" about the meaning of the Rosenstrasse Protest in Berlin in the late winter of 1943. It was written in response to an article by the esteemed German historian Wolfgang Benz, although other excellent scholars have disagreed with my interpretations as well.
His other articles include:

Hannah Arendt on Trial:The 1963 publication of her Eichmann in Jerusalem sparked a debate that still rages over its author’s motivations,  With Daniel Maier-Katkin, The American Scholar, Vol. 82, No. 3, (Summer 2013)

A Great Achievement of German Troops in Mountain Warfare:” Cold War Pressures and the German Persecution of Wehrmacht War Crimes in the Case of Cephalonia, 1943,” in Nazi Crimes and the Law, Nathan Stoltzfus and Henry Friedlander, eds. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008)


Public Space and the Dynamics of Environmental Action: Green Protest in the German Democratic Republic,” in Archiv für Sozialgeschichte, Vol. 43 (2003)


Rosenstrasse: Deabte and Documents

OSS "trustworthy" Source Information on the Protest
Excerpts from Goebbels Diaries on Intermarried Jews and Protest
The debate over the impact of the protest on Berlin's Rosenstrasse in late winter 1943 concerns basic elements of the character of the Nazi regime and how it has been perceived. What role did National Socialism allot for the "racial" German people in its conception of power and in its functions? 
Thus the debate has implications for the question of whether and under what circumstances "racial" Germans could or did modify the regime's policies, even if merely on a local scale or in matters of timing. It is well established that the regime did delay the implementation of some actions required by its ideology in order to avoid social unrest and to maintain the appearance put forth in its propaganda that all but a fringe of Germans were united behind Hitler. Public protests by groups voicing the opinion of many Germans could pose problems the regime wanted to avoid.
An OSS telegram dated April 1, 1943 cites a "trustworthy" source and refers to the protest caused by the arrests of intermarried Jews in February and March 1943, during a massive roundup of the remaining remnants of Jews in Berlin: "Action against Jewish wives and husbands on the part of the Gestapo . . . had to be discontinued some time ago because of the protest which such action aroused."
The basic conflict for the regime of deporting intermarried Jews was expressed by Hitler as Goebbels recorded it in his diaries on November 22, 1941: "Concerning the Jewish Question, the Führer is fully in agreement with my points of view. He wants a forceful policy against the Jews, though one that does not cause us unnecessary difficulties. . . . Concerning the Jewish mixed marriages, especially those in artist's circles, the Führer recommends [empfiehlt] that I follow a somewhat reserved course of action since he is of the opinion that these marriages in any case will die out bit by bit, and one shouldn’t get any gray hair over this.” 
The regime wanted to kill Jews married to non-Jews, for after all they were identified by the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 as "full Jews" to be included in all aspects of the persecution. Outside of the boundaries of Germany the regime did kill intermarried Jews. But Hitler notes that within Germany, intermarried Jews were to be deported only up until the point that this caused unnecessary difficulties.
In his diary for March 7 1942, Goebbels identifies circumstances that led Hitler to anticipate difficulties, writing that intermarried couples and their children raise "a gazillion questions of extraordinary delicacy." The Regime learned during its "Euthanasia" program that it was often difficult to victimize just one member in a family without stirring up surviving family members. The regime tried to keep this program secret but it had become clear that it was killing Germans who could not pull their weight economically. This program to kill "racial" Germans whom the regime considered congenitally weak led to rumors and public denouncements from the pulpit in 1941. Bishop Galen warned that the decisions about who was killed, under this program, was arbitrary and that no one could be sure who would be killed next; would a soldier seriously injured at war also be put to death for costing the state more than he could now give in return?
To avoid a repetition of rumors and protests while carrying out the genocide of Jews, the regime wished to maintain an obvious line between who was the victim and who was not in danger, between the Jewish population being deported and the German population who should feel safely exempted. If the "racial" German in the intermarried couple requested divorced, the regime's policy was to deport the divorced Jew. However, as long as an intermarried couple insisted on remaining married, the regime treated them as a single unit. It did not as a policy forcibly separate intermarried couples because this could have led to rumors and protests by the remaining family members, like those caused by the "Euthanasia" murders. 
Concerning street protest and the release of intermarried Jews in Berlin Goebbels wrote on March 6, 1943: "The people gathered together in large throngs and even sided with the Jews to some extent. I will commission the security police not to continue the Jewish evacuations during such a critical time. Rather we want to put that off for a few weeks; then we can carry it out all the more thoroughly." Goebbels writes that he does not intend a change of racial ideology or policy but only a change of timing. For him, whose job was to maintain morale, this was an episode about timing. But historians who deny that the protest had any impact not only discount the OSS telegram and other documents, they discount this statement from Goebbels (although they do cite his diaries elsewhere as a basis of factual information).


Graduate Seminars
Crimes of the Powerful HIS 6934 (co-taught with Dan Maier-Katkin)
Comparative Fascism
State, Society, Rebellion in Modern Germany HIS6934
Weimar and Nazi Germany-EUH 5467
Dictatorship and Society in Twentieth Century Germany: The GDR - HIS 6934 
Hitler and Stalin: Their Eras and Legacies (co-taught with Jonathan Grant) - EUH 6934 
Modernity, Time, and Space (co-taught with Dr. Barney Warf ) - HIS 6934/GEO5934

Undergraduate Lecture Courses
Hitler and Stalin: Era and Legacies (co-taught with Jonathan Grant) - EUH 2035 
Europe Since 1945-  EUH 4282 
World War II
Weimar and Nazi Germany - EUH 4465
Twentieth Century Europe Through Film-HIS 4930 

Senior Seminar 
Crimes Against Humanity-HIS 4935 
Modern Germany