Director

Thomas Pegelow KaplanDr. Thomas Pegelow Kaplan

Dr. Pegelow Kaplan is a graduate of Eberhard-Karls University Tübingen (Germany) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before his appointment at ASU, he served as an Associate and Assistant Professor of Modern European History at Davidson College (2007-15) and Grinnell College (2005-07), specializing in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. Dr. Pegelow Kaplan's research focuses on histories of violence, language, and culture of Nazi Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe and the 1960s global youth revolts. His broader project is a linguistic history of comparative genocide in the modern world. He is the author of The Language of Nazi Genocide: Linguistic Violence and the Struggle of Germans of Jewish Ancestry (Cambridge University Press), which explores how words preceded, accompanied, and made mass murder possible. This study explains how Nazi perpetrators constructed difference, race, and their perceived enemies; how state and Party agencies communicated to the public through the nation's press; and how Germans of Jewish ancestry received, contested, and struggled for survival and self against remarkable odds. Dr. Pegelow Kaplan is the co-editor (with Jürgen Matthäus and Mark Hornburg) of Beyond "Ordinary Men": Christopher R. Browning and Holocaust Historiography  that reassesses the complex ways in which Browning's influential oeuvre has shaped the field and was shaped by it.

Dr. Pegelow Kaplan is currently working on a project on trans-European Jewish petitioning practices during the Holocaust. A completed co-edited volume (with Wolf Gruner) entitled Petitions Resisting Persecution: Negotiating Self-Determination and Survival of European Jews is currently under review by a scholarly press. Throughout German-controlled Europe, tens of thousands of Jewish community officials, ordinary members, Jewish converts to Christianity, and other men and women of partial Jewish heritage submitted entreaties to redress grievances and request support, for example, for an exemption from pending deportations. They approached ministerial bureaucracies in the capitals, regional administrative agencies, heads of state, leaders of ruling fascist parties, and even the Christian Churches. His work demonstrates how Jewish communities and families established widespread transnational networks that critically informed their petitions and played a crucial role in the petitioners' struggle for survival. In addition, Dr. Pegelow Kaplan is working on a book entitled Taking the Transnational Turn in the Face of Nazi Persecution: German Jewish Periodicals and Communication beyond German Borders, 1933-1943 that offers a new view on the Jewish press in Nazi Germany during the 1930s and early 1940s by demonstrating how many of its periodicals participated in establishing transnational spaces, in which their readers had access to trans-European and global networks, verbiage, strategies, and support. The volume, to be published in Hebrew, will be part of the German-Jewish press series by the Research Center for the Study and Research of the Holocaust in Germany at the International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem, Israel. He has also embarked on a project to reassess the future of Holocaust testimonies (with Boaz Cohen, Miriam Offer and Wolf Gruner) at a time when fewer and fewer survivors remain to recount this genocide and new and old forms of anti-Semitism, white supremacy, and denial have begun to pose profound challenges. 

Dr. Pegelow Kaplan is, finally, completing a book on the interactions between leftist protest movements in West Germany and the United States from the 1950s until the early 1980s, their changing imageries and verbiage of past and current mass crimes such as black genocide, and the impact on their societies' memory cultures. The book challenges distorted political and scholarly readings of left-wing groups, ranging from "left-wing fascists" to gun-toting separatists and "criminals," by shifting the focus to the increasingly transnational activists' naming and mnemonic practices that had far-flung influences, also on political organizing and culture today.

In recent years, Dr. Pegelow Kaplan has been a visiting faculty member in the Department of Philosophy at De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines, and a visiting research fellow at the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem, the Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the Technical University of Berlin, the Simon Dubnow Institute for Jewish History and Culture at Leipzig University, the German Historical Institute (DHI), Washington, D.C., the Centre for Contemporary History (ZZF) in Potsdam, Germany, and the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

As an ardent supporter of transatlantic scholarly exchanges, Dr. Pegelow Kaplan has been active in a number of American and German professional organizations and networks. He is currently co-organizing the Thirteenth Annual Southeast German Studies Consortium Workshops that also includes a co-operation with the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung at the Technical University of Berlin, Germany. The workshop will bring together American and German Germanists from Texas and Alabama to Washington, D.C., and Berlin on the ASU campus. More recently, Dr. Pegelow Kaplan has fostered co-operations with a range of Israeli universities and centers, including a co-organized conference in Akko (with the Holocaust Studies Program at Western Galilee College and the USC Shoah Foundation's Center for Advanced Genocide Research). He has also taken students on research excursions to archives, research centers, and genocide memorials in the United States, Germany, and Poland and is in the process of working on similar research and travel endeavors at ASU. At Appalachian State University, Dr. Pegelow Kaplan is offering classes on the Holocaust, comparative genocide in the twentieth century, and modern German and European-Jewish histories.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)