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"Germany, Europe and the USA: Where do we go from here?"

Discussion with former U.S. ambassador Philip D. Murphy, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, Monday, April 21, 4 p.m, Auditorium of the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library. Reception to follow. (Text: Join former U.S. ambassador Philip D. Murphy on Monday, April 21 for a candid discussion of the United States’ relationship with Germany, one of its closest allies in Europe. A former senior director at Goldman Sachs, Mr. Murphy served as U.S. Ambassador to Germany for four years, until 2013. Prior to his diplomatic service, he worked 23 years for Goldman Sachs, holding senior positions in Frankfurt, New York and Hong Kong. Upon his retirement from the firm, heserved as the Democratic National Committee’s National Finance Chair (2006-2009) before being confirmed by the U.S. Senate as ambassador in 2009. Sponsored by The College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the Department of Politics, the Center for German Studies and the Miller Center.

Celebrating Alon Confino's new book

Why exactly did the Nazis burn the Hebrew Bible everywhere in Germany on November 9, 1938? The perplexing event has not been adequately accounted for by historians in their large-scale assessments of how and why the Holocaust occurred. In this gripping new analysis, Alon Confino draws on an array of archives across three continents to propose a penetrating new assessment of one of the central moral problems of the twentieth century. To a surprising extent, Confino demonstrates, the mass murder of Jews during the war years was powerfully anticipated in the culture of the prewar years.

The author shifts his focus away from the debates over what the Germans did or did not know about the Holocaust and explores instead how Germans came to conceive of the idea of a Germany without Jews. He traces the stories the Nazis told themselves—where they came from and where they were heading—and how those stories led to the conclusion that Jews must be eradicated in order for the new Nazi civilization to arise. The creation of this new empire required that Jews and Judaism be erased from Christian history, and this was the inspiration—and justification—for Kristallnacht. As Germans imagined a future world without Jews, persecution and extermination became imaginable, and even justifiable.

Alon Confino is professor in the Department of History at the University of Virginia and at Ben Gurion University, Israel. A leading scholar of German memory and national culture, he is the author of three previous books. He lives in Charlottesville, VA.

German Kaffeestunde, every Tuesday, 2:00-3:00pm (Spring 2014)

First floor of Nau/Gibson (within the vicinity of Starbucks, as space allows): An hour of coffee and conversational German in a relaxed and casual atmosphere. All levels of German speakers welcome! For more information, contact Ani Tramblian,

Dr. Barbara Gügold, Director of IES Abroad Berlin, "Germany Today: Not Separate, Yet Not Quite Unified"

Interview with Richard Register

Download the Interview with Richard Register

Richard Register, President of Ecocity Builders and author of Ecocities: Building Cities in Balance with Nature, on ecocities that are built around people not cars. PDF document icon View the event poster. (.pdf)

Peter Debaere, Darden School of Business, Interview on the Car and Its Future Podcast

Download the Peter Debaere, Darden School of Business, Interview on the Car and Its Future podcast

Family Weekend Symposium on the Car of the Future/Future of the Car, November 5-6, 2010

Center members Manuela Achilles (German and History), Tim Beatley (Architecture), Peter Debaere (Darden), Dana Elzey (Engineering), and Gordon Stewart (College) were instrumental in conceptualizing and organizing a first University-wide Family Weekend symposium at UVa. Bringing together many UVa schools and programs, the two-day event explored, from a cross- and interdisciplinary perspective, conceptions of a more sustainable society by focusing on one of its central everyday objects: the car.

Nationally and internationally prominent experts on sustainability joined UVa faculty to discuss alternative car technologies and fuels, as well as the effect of cars on our health, city planning, and culture. Panelists included bestselling authors Jeremy Rifkin, Daniel Sperling and Debbie Gordon, car company executives Chris Borroni-Bird (GM) and Frank Weith (VW), battery expert Michelle Buchanan from the Oakridge National Laboratory, and cultural historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch. Faculty from the University included Bob Davis (Chemical Engineering), Brent Gunnoe (Center for Catalytic Hydrocarbon Funtionalization), Mike Lenox (Darden School), Audrey Synder (School of Nursing), and Kim Tanzer (School of Architecture).

On-site exhibits featured the newest car technology and car-related projects by UVa students, and a pristine 1927 Model T convertible made available by Law alumnus Peter Bernhardt. A University-wide prize competition challenged UVa's undergraduates to imagine the car of the future or a future without cars. The winners were announced by President Teresa A. Sullivan in front of a large audience. In cooperation with the Virginia Film Festival, the symposium concluded with a film screening of "The Nature of Cities" by UVa's Tim Beatley, followed by a discussion of the key challenges of urban mobility for the cities of the future.

The symposium was sponsored by the Center for German Studies, Page-Barbour Fund, Center for Global Initiatives (Darden School of Business), Batten School of Public Policy, School of Architecture, School of Engineering and Applied Science, School of Nursing, College of Arts and Sciences, Office of Development and Public Affairs, and Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany. All events were free and open to the public. Film clips of the sessions will be available soon on this website.

Download a PDF document icon program (.pdf, 118KB) or PDF document icon poster of the conference (.pdf, 1.7MB).

The Car and its Future – Undergraduate Prize Contest, Fall 2010

Sponsored by the Center for German Studies in cooperation with many UVa programs and schools, and supported by the German Embassy, this University-wide prize competition asked UVa undergraduate students to explore the future of a sustainable society by focusing on the car of the future and the future of the car. The best project received a cash award of $2,500 (first runner up $1,000, and second runner-up $500). The prize was announced in the presence of President Teresa A. Sullivan on Nov. 6, 2010 during UVa's family weekend symposium on the car and its future.

First Prize: Kyle Smalkowski, PDF document icon "The Future of the Automobile" (.pdf, 1.0MB)

Kyle joined UVa in the fall of 2009 as a prospective chemical engineer. He is a member of RideForward, an interdisciplinary project initiated by UVa Professor Jim Durand to research, design and build alternative energy vehicles. Kyle hopes to attend graduate school for materials science or chemical engineering. His ultimate goal is to research large-scale alternative fuels for various transportation systems and small-scale solutions for home use. His prize-winning essay combines a knowledgeable discussion of technological change with a description of RideForward's conversion of conventional cars into to electric drive. His essay thus puts on the map an often ignored question: what to do with the old existing cars, and how to upgrade their operating systems.

Second Prize: David Tracy, PDF document icon "Blast from the Past" (.pdf, 887KB)

David grew up in a military family and spent a large portion of his childhood in Bavaria (Germany). The cars he saw in Europe inspired his love for automobiles. When he was twelve years old, he moved to Leavenworth, Kansas, which he now considers his home town. David is the founder and President of the Virginia Automotive Club. His ultimate goal is to become an engineer for a major automobile company. His prize-winning essay imagines the car of the future through the eyes of a (female) race car driver who awakens after 30 years in a coma. As she reacquaints herself with the object of her desire, the reader learns not only about the technologies of the future, but also experiences how the cars of the future will feel.

Third Prize: Lauren Caldwell, PDF document icon "Non-Motorized Transportation in the United States and Germany" (.pdf, 214KB)

A recent graduate of UVa, Lauren has a long-standing interest in sustainability and international affairs. She covered the university's sustainability initiatives for the Cavalier Daily, and took courses in architecture, environmental science and "Building a Sustainable Future." She interned at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and hopes to attend graduate school to study international communication. Her prize-winning essay starts with the observation that the United States and Germany share many similarities, yet have vastly different rates of walking, bicycling and automobile use. Based on an impressive comparative analysis of statistical data, she shows that planning is an important contributing factor in establishing walking and cycling as sustainable (and healthy) alternatives to driving automobiles.

"Our Choices Matter" – Climate and Energy Weeks at UVa, Nov. 6-12, 2010

Transatlantic Bridge

Funded by the German Embassy, and organized by Dr. Martin Sheehan's "Environment and Energy" seminar, the Transatlantic Climate Bridge Initiative at the University of Virginia enriched this year's family weekend with playful and informative outreach activities about climate change and energy security. The main events—"Bike for Light" and "Bridge to Sustainability"—took place on Saturday, November 6, 2010. Located on the central Newcomb Hall Plaza, the attractive activity stations invited students and their families to stop by and learn in very practical ways about clean energy and recycling strategies. The "Bike for Light" station allowed participants to compete for the creation of as much energy as possible. Software linked to the bike compared the energy produced to the average per-capita energy consumption of different countries. The "Bridge to Sustainability," on the other hand, introduced participants of all ages to the German art of Mülltrennung (waste separation). Prizes included organic cotton shirts, re-usable water bottles, and re-usable bags. Green Frisbees encouraged exercise and healthy lifestyles. The student-driven climate bridge initiatives culminated in a sustainable barbecue, hosted by the University's International Residents College on November 12, 2010. Organizers and guests enjoyed local organic bratwurst served on compostable plates with biodegradable cutlery to match. The pleasant atmosphere fostered many fruitful and international discussions of climate change and its many implications—social, economic, and political.

Participate in our Essay Competition, Spring 2012

The Center for German Studies is pleased to announce its third annual essay contest for all undergraduate students at the University of Virginia. The student with the best essay will receive a cash award of $300 (first runner-up $200 and second runner-up $100). Your essay may draw on a seminar paper you wrote here at UVa, and should be five to six pages long (double-spaced). The topic of this year’s contest is open. Please submit your essay to Professor Bjorklund (; 518 Cabell Hall). The deadline is April 8, 2012. The winners will be announced during the third week of April.

First Prize Essays: PDF document icon 2009 (.pdf, 104KB), PDF document icon 2010, (.pdf, 148KB) PDF document icon 2011 (.pdf, 302KB)

German Studies Luncheon Colloquium

Seeking to address a wide range of topics related to German culture and society, the German Studies Luncheon workshops are held 2-3 times a semester on a Thursday from noon to 1:30 in Newcomb Hall. Lunch will be provided.

Upcoming events: TBA

German Forum

The German Forum is a series of occasional presentations about the German-speaking countries for the broader Charlottesville and University communities. The Forums are held 2-3 times a semester in the later afternoon. The format for these occasions is intentionally informal so as to promote participation of area residents, students, and faculty. For questions, please contact Ms. Manuela Achilles ().

Upcoming events: TBA

The Center for German Studies

University of Virginia
521 New Cabell Hall, P.O. Box 400125
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4125

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office hours: Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5 pm

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