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Book Talk: Before the Holocaust: New Histories of the Concentration Camps

Kim Wünschmann & Christopher Dillon in conversation with Nikolaus Wachsmann

This programme, co-hosted with the Centre for German Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex and co-sponsored by Harvard University Press, will include Kim Wünschmann and Christopher Dillon in conversation with Nikolaus Wachsmann on recent publications focused on the Nazi camp system. A reception will follow the presentations and discussion.

Kim Wünschmann, Before Auschwitz: Jewish Prisoners in the Prewar Concentration Camps, Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press, 2015.

Before Auschwitz explores the instrumental role of the concentration camps in the development of the Nazi regime's anti-Jewish policies in the 1930s. Investigating more than a dozen camps, from the infamous Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen to less familiar sites, the study uncovers a process of terror meant to identify and isolate Jews from German society and economy. The book analyses the function of terror in this process of turning ‘Germans’ into ‘Jews’ and forcing them into emigration. It also investigates Jewish responses and resistance to this most brutal form of exclusion.

Dr Kim Wünschmann is DAAD Lecturer in Modern European History and Acting Deputy Director of the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at the University of Sussex. She specialises in German and German-Jewish history in modern times. In 2012, she received her PhD in History from Birkbeck, University of London. Dr Wünschmann held Fellowships at the Franz Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center for German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History and the Martin Buber Society of Fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 2014, she was a Visiting Scholar at the Zentrum Jüdische Studien Berlin-Brandenburg.

Christopher Dillon, Dachau and the SS: A Schooling in Violence (Oxford University Press, 2015).

Dachau and the SS offers the first sustained academic study of the SS personnel at Dachau, a “school of violence” for concentration camp personnel throughout the pre-war period of the Third Reich. Combining extensive new research into the pre-war history of Dachau with insights from interdisciplinary scholarship on perpetrator violence, the book analyses the socialization of thousands of often very young males into the values of concentration camp service. It appraises the contributions of ideology, careerism, institutional dynamics, and ideals of masculinity to this process and explores the legacies of the Dachau School for the wartime criminality of the Third Reich.

Dr Christopher Dillon is a Lecturer in Modern European History at King’s College London. His research focuses on modern Germany history, particularly the Weimar and Nazi eras. He was part of the AHRC-funded project "Before the Holocaust: Pre-War Concentration Camps in Nazi Germany" at Birkbeck College.


Kim W√ľnschmann | talks
Christopher Dillon | talks
Nikolaus Wachsmann | talks


Date and Time:

25 April 2016 at 6:00 pm


2 hours



The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide
29 Russell Square
020 7636 7247

More at The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide...



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