Thursday, January 26, 2012

German Faculty Continues Work on Creating New Courses and Activities

New Goals Include More Cooperation with Other CSB/SJU Departments; Continued Rise in Number of Majors and Minors; Excellence in Our Programs Abroad; and Stronger Relationships with Minnesota High School Teachers

Dear Friends,
German Departments across the nation are strengthening their curricula with new courses aimed at engaging a broader variety of students, intensifying student learning about culture, and forming partnerships with professors from a variety of departments in the humanities, arts, and sciences. Even in the process of developing new courses and extracurricular events for our department these past two years, we have seen an astonishing rise in numbers of majors and minors in German, a trend we hope will continue. Thank you to our colleagues and administrators who have given important support to our curricular developments.

Special thanks to Provost Rita Knuesel, Dave Lyndgaard, Mike Connolly in Student Development and John Taylor in Institutional Advancement for helping make the Fulbright position possible on our campuses this coming year. John, thank you again for your work on our behalf with a local foundation which supports German activities. Thank you Fr. Tom Andert for your superb teaching of German students preparing for a teaching career. Thanks also to Professors Wendy Klepetar and Gregory Schroeder. We appreciate your work with our German students who have completed the German Option in your courses in Management and German History. Thank you Mary Niedenfuer for all the energy you bring to the faculty and students of Modern and Classical Languages as department coordinator! To all of you, we are grateful to be working with colleagues like you who care deeply about students and faculty.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Brooke Kreitinger '01 Completing German PhD Degree at Georgetown University

Dear Friends at CSB/SJU,  
   Wonderful to hear from you! I hope this finds you and all in the German Department enjoying a productive, stimulating start to a new semester.  I indeed continue to use my German since graduating from St. Ben's/St. John's and hope to keep doing so in a new setting starting next fall!
   After a DAAD Grant for a year of research in Germany at the University of Trier, I am back at Georgetown completing my dissertation titled "Practicing the Spatial Imagination of Accelerated Globalization in Contemporary German-language Novels," which I will defend this May. As for my plans upon completion of my PhD, I am applying for positions at colleges/universities throughout the country, so that I will hopefully be able to continue teaching at the college level and researching topics related to German language, literature and culture. And of course, I hope that sooner rather than later I am able to lead a study abroad adventure to a German-speaking region of the world.
   All my best,    Brooke

Dear Brooke,
   We are all so proud of you.  I hope you can come and visit sometime.  All good things as you complete your PhD work and plan for your future!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

John Herbeck '90 Visits Frau Paeske in Salzburg

Fr. Mark:

     I found Frau Paeske. We spent a few hours together in her dining room and she is just as giddy and friendly as always. We shared laughs and also a couple of tears. Herr Paeske died a few years ago, and her daughter Birgitte died just a couple of years ago from some type of brain/head issue, maybe cancer.
     She currently has one student, from a former Yugoslav republic.   She pulled out her photo album, and I wrote in it for the third time. The last time I had visited was in the spring of 2001.
     She has built up quite the legacy and I feel rather compelled to do something while she is still around, and maybe connect those who have stayed with her/them. She wants visits and is still sharp as a tack. I am hoping to visit her again, but don't know when I can make it back.   I am trying to connect with her other daughter and son-in-law via email.
     I have some insights and ideas about the Salzburg Progam and would love to come to St. John's and catch up with you, and continue to be an ambassador for German language and study abroad programs! For me it all started with you, Fr. Mark, and so thank you for that! I copied Mike Koalska on this message.

All the best,
John Herbeck
SJU '90

Friday, January 13, 2012

Professor Lisa Ohm Reviews Book about Childhood under Nazism

Mahlendorf, Ursula. The Shame of Survival: Working Through a Nazi Childhood. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State UP, 2009. Cloth, 376 pp., $29.95. Paper, 376 pp., $21.95. « »

   "Du bist nichts, dein Volk ist alles." In her new book, Ursula Mahlendorf, eighty-one, records a lifetime spent unpacking bit by bit that Nazi slogan embedded in her psyche as a child.
   Born in 1929 in the small German quarry town of Stehlin in Silesia, now Strzelin in Poland, young Ursula became a member of the Jungmädel, the Nazi youth organization for girls aged ten-fourteen, and then the Bund Deutscher Mädel [BDM], the Hilter Youth organization for girls fourteen-eighteen. She happily hiked with Hitler youth groups and dutifully collected winter clothing for German soldiers while she was being prepared to eventually teach in newly established German schools in the conquered territories to the East. Mahlendorf, Professor emerita in the University of California-Santa Barbara's German Department, earned the Ph.D. in German Literature from Brown University in 1958 and lives in the U.S. Once she started her memoir, she wrote quickly, finishing her first draft in six months. Although the flow of writing suggests she was able to "write herself free," she says that a sense of shame still haunts her today.
   Mahlendorf's book provides a necessary perspective on the Third Reich beyond the present dominance of Holocaust and resistance narratives. She describes her personal experiences growing up in Nazi Germany, freely admitting that she most likely would have become a Nazi despite her objections to certain aspects of the Party's program (26). The war's end in May 1945 ended her nazification process a few months before her sixteenth birth-day. She records how the Nazi system exploited her youth: her longing for a better education than the class system then allowed, her youthful desire to make a difference in someone's life, and her natural love of country and willingness to serve.
    Young Mahlendorf, in the face of her father's death, the war, illness, growing deprivation, loss, and resettlement, focused on the narrow goal of getting an education, which, she realized early, could not be stolen, lost, or left behind. Reading voraciously, she permitted herself to feel emotions generated by poetry, nature, and music, but buried her emotions of fury, resentment, regret, distrust, shame, grief, and loss deep below a shell of "numbness and toughness" (233).
   During the decades after World War II, few if any were prepared to see the Germans-even youngsters like Mahlendorf-as victims of Hitler and the Nationalsozialistishe Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, known simply as the Party since all other political parties had been outlawed. Mahlendorf argues that her experiences in the Hitler Youth, like the experiences of other perpetrators and bystanders, are highly instructive and must be studied as carefully as the stories of victims and resisters have been. For young women, she writes, "leadership in the Jungmädel, the BDM, and the labor Service opened up a wide spectrum of entirely new careers with prospects of rising in the HJ hierarchy all the way to the highest level, the Reichsjugendführung, the national youth leadership" (113). Those opportunities fueled her desire to compete and succeed.
   Two earlier accounts of HJ activity, Hans Peter Richter's I was there (1962) and Melita Maschmann's Account Rendered: A Dossier on my Former Self (1963) were important to Mahlendorf's Vergangenheitsbewältigung. Nearly a decade older than Mahlendorf, Maschmann was a BDM leader and later worked in the Labor Service in Polish territories occupied by and then incorporated into Hitler's Germany. Reading Maschmann in the 1990s, Mahlendorf writes that she "shuddered" when she realized what her own leadership role might have been in "Germanizing the conquered east" (166, 131).
   By placing her personal experiences growing up in the 1930s and 1940s in the wider socio-historical, political, and cultural context of the period and its aftermath, Mahlendorf's compelling memoir provides great value for students of history and social sciences as well as literature at the high school, university, or adult-learner level. Her story is well-written, many-sided, thoughtful, and honest. Mahlendorf's absorbing and powerful memoir reminds us how easily the goodwill and patriotism of the young can be exploited by a government to immoral ends, and how long-lasting and challenging the effects are for youngsters caught up in a political movement.

Anna Lisa Ohm
College of Saint Benedict
Saint John's University

Kristine Bornus to Attend Summer Session in Trier, Germany, through a Georgetown University Program

Congratulations Kristine on being accepted to this presitigous summer program.
What a great way to move ahead in German Studies! We are proud of you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Andrea Terhaar '02, German and Art History Double Major, Lives in Belgium, Tells of Her Adventures Abroad.

Hope you and the German department are well! It's so nice to hear from you, I think often of my wonderful German and Art History professors at CSBSJU.  I definitely have used my German major in a variety of capacities since graduating in 2002:
   2002-03 - I spent a year teaching in Vienna Austria with the Fulbright program - did much traveling in the meanwhile, and really came into fluency over the course of the year.
   Although I was a German and Art History major at CSBSJU, my experience teaching abroad revealed my love for teaching in general, so I went back the the UMN (mpls campus) for my Masters of Education in English. I taught at the secondary level in the Centennial District (Lino Lakes) for almost seven years - primarily English (which evidently German language studies have often come up when reading Shakespeare, etc). During my tenure there, and due to my German major, I was given the opportunity to teach one semester of German as a fill in for a teacher who had to suddenly leave the district. It was a wonderful semester of beginning Deutsch! Lots of fun, grammar, culture, role plays throughout the class.
   Last spring 2011, my husband and I moved to Brussels, Belgium and I am now teaching in one of the European Schools here, as an English and Ethics teacher to all the kids of EU consulates. I am using my German daily in a number of ways - directly with students and fellow colleagues, in translating Dutch (quite similar to German), traveling to Germany, and also in my every day research/reading/pleasure. I am now learning French, since it is the primary language in Brussels, however feel so at home when I am able to use my German, to me, such a wonderful and familiar language. I'm very happy to have been a German major and continue to read, speak and enjoy using it!
   Please give my regards to the German department faculty and students. Please feel free to pass on the link to our blog!

Alles Gute im neuen Jahr,
Andrea (Terhaar) Krueger

Robert Mevissen Enters Georgetown MA and PhD Studies in German and Modern European History

Hello all!
     I'm sorry that it's been a while since most of you have heard from me! Since graduation from CSB/SJU, life hasn't slowed down very much for me, which is just fine but hardly leaves room for my correspondence career. Most of you probably know that I just spend the last two years living, studying and working in Vienna- after meeting friends, exploring the city, playing in a first rate orchestra and finally feeling as though I could get used to this "European lifestyle," I realized that if my career plan had taken a definitive Austrophilic turn and I hoped to get back there sometime (professor of history at the University of Vienna?), I should probably continue my education and make myself slightly more valuable (those Austrians seem to love their "Magister" title, and most of my students agreed that "Bachelor Bertl" didn't sound so impressive on a CV).
     Thanks in part to a very supportive group of people, I sent in my applications to graduate schools last fall- I applied to a lot of Midwest universities to pursue PhD studies and a few DC-based schools for MAs. Fortunately, my decision was very easy (only my first choice school accepted me into its PhD program), so, I am now in Washington, DC (with my girlfriend Elisabeth- whom I met in Vienna) having just completed my first semester at Georgetown University. My program is a joint "MAGES-PhD" degree, which means that I will receive an MA in German and European Studies and a PhD in Modern European history.
     The MA curriculum focuses entirely on current (or modern historical) European events, such as EU institutions, European Economy, European cultural theory, etc. I've recreated EU Council Summits, written papers dissecting the German response to the Euro crisis and (true to my roots) I've just finished writing my final economics paper on the "Production, Consumption and Marketing of Austrian Wines," which unfortunately did not lead to any "field" research. The PhD curriculum, which I am completing simultaneously, is very heavy in historical theory, which is fascinating and frustratingly difficult to understand (have any of you read "Metahistory" by Hayden White- holy cow!). My fields of study as of now are the Austrian and German Empires in the 19th century, nationalism and European empire-building. And with my newfound knowledge in gender, class and subaltern narrative building, I hope not to silence too many voices in the course of my research.
     Both groups of students with whom I am studying are amazing- the MAGI (our nickname for the MA cohort) are fun, spunky, highly intelligent individuals, who all foresee "State Department" or "CIA" in their future. The PhD crowd is a bit more subdued, perhaps because they realize that they have five years of school in front of them still, but they are also very insightful and endearing personalities. Although the historians stick to themselves, the MAGES department has a lot of contact with the PhD students in the German department here (maybe because we meet up every Thursday to practice our German at "Stammtisch"), and at the beginning of the year, I met Brooke Kreitinger - a former Bennie! Don't worry, dear French professors, I am also maintaining a good level of French, having enrolled in a French language/culture course and practicing with the three other MAGI who also speak French- one of whom is from France. Although the fourteen other students in the program poke fun at us when we speak French in the BMW Center, we've decided that they're just jealous that they peuvent pas parler francais.
     As I said, I am now finishing up the semester! The great news that I wanted to share with you involves my recently-discovered summer plans! At the beginning of November, I applied through the State Department to work at an overseas embassy. I just found out that the US Embassy in Vienna accepted my application, so I will be going back to Austria this summer for ten weeks to work as an intern in the embassy's Economic-Political section ( I am massively excited, as that was exactly what I hoped to be doing! After having quickly responded that I was interested in taking the internship, I got another email yesterday from the US Embassy in Berlin, who had also accepted my application. It was very difficult to write back and decline the position.
     In any event, life is good and thanks to all of you who got me here, I feel well-prepared for it!! I hope that the fall semester back at CSB/SJU was a grand success. I would love to hear from each of you and find out what is going on, so once you have the time, please write!! If anyone mentions that there is snow on the ground, I might become insanely jealous, as DC seems to be experiencing a resurgence of warm weather (like "shorts, t-shirt and umbrella" weather). I'm excited to return home to my family in Minnesota in a few weeks, once all my final papers are written...

I hope you are all well!! Take care!

Gratefully yours,


ps. I've also attached a recent photo of my in front of a bus that I saw in DC last week, which made me happy! Also, don't mind the scruffy look- it's "no-shave November" and it was my first time ever participating...