German Expert, Author to Speak at UT March 30

KNOXVILLE – Helmut Walser Smith, an expert on German history and author of the award-winning book, “The Butcher’s Tale: Murder and Anti-Semitism in a German Town,” will discuss his book then give an afternoon talk at the University of Tennessee on March 30.

Helmut Walser Smith

Smith will lead a roundtable discussion of “The Butcher’s Tale” at 1 p.m. in the large conference room on the sixth floor of Dunford Hall.

He will speak on “The Nation Before Nationalism: Germany, 1500-1800” at 4:15 p.m. in the Hodges Library Auditorium.

Smith is the Martha Rivers Ingram Professor of History and the director of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities. He teaches various history classes, including Western Civilization and the Holocaust.

His most recent book, “The Butcher’s Tale,” received the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History. It was named an L.A. Times Non-Fiction Book of the Year, a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and was listed by Damals, a popular history magazine in Germany, as one of the three most innovative works of history in 2002. The book has been translated into German, French and Dutch.

Publisher’s Weekly said this about the book: “Two residents out for a stroll in Konitz, Germany, in March 1900, discovered a carefully tied package in a nearby lake. Its contents, the upper torso of a missing youth, set off a chain of events that brought national attention to an unremarkable village on the eastern edge of the Austro-Prussian empire. After weeks in which no suspect or motive was offered, the vacuum began to fill with rumor; the flames were fanned by the arrival on the scene of anti-Semitic journalists, and soon most of Konitz was convinced that the death was a Jewish ritual murder – Drawing on a remarkably detailed documentary record, Smith analyzes social, class and other factors in the violence – and in an original piece of analysis, shows how the townspeople’s response was itself a form of ritual murder.”

Smith is now working on a book entitled “The Boundaries of German History,” and a large project entitled “The Discovery of Germany: A Cultural History, 1500-1900.” He wrote “German Nationalism and Religious Conflict, 1870-1914” and was the editor of “Protestants, Catholics and Jews in Germany, 1800-1914,” and “The Holocaust and other Genocides: History, Representation, Ethics.” He also was part of the team that edited “Exclusionary Violence: Anti-Semitic Riots in Modern German History.”

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Contacts:

Amy Blakely, (865) 974-5034, amy.blakely@tennessee.edu
David G. Tompkins, (865) 974-9896, dtompki3@utk.edu