George S. Vascik

  Research


Photo of Dr. George S. Vascik and Gudrun Kudick


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Peasants and Jews

I am currently revising my manuscript of Peasants and Jews: Anti-Semitism and Rural Politics in Northwest Germany for publication This work addresses the troubling conundrum of how the liberal political order that existed along Germany's North Sea coast before the Great War was overturned as the rural population embraced National Socialism. Drawing upon material collected in 25 archives and culled from 34 newspapers, this study both clarifies and reassesses numerous shibboleths about the nature of rural politics and the growth of radical anti-Semitism. The innovative heart of Peasants and Jews is cutting-edge statistical and GIS technology. I have mapped, correlated, and analyzed election results and census data from 582 polling places between the Elbe and the Ems for the 14 national elections between 1893 and 1933. To view my results, see http://www.peasantsandjews.org.

My work most recently took me to the Kreisarchiv Rotenburg-Wümme in Bremervörde (I am pictured above with Archivleiterin Gudrun Kudick). During this visit, I was interviewed by the major regional newspaper, the Bremervörder Zeitung on my work. A copy of the interview can be found here. I have a fuller description of the trip and my findings on my personal home page.

Diederich Hahn

Diederich Hahn was the most famous and controversial Agrarian radical in Wilhelmine Germany. A historian by training, Hahn was an archivist for the Deutsche Bank for seven years before his election to the Reichstag in 1893. From 1897 until his death in 1918, Hahn was the Director of the Bund der Landwirte, Germany's largest and best-organized special interest group. In this role, Hahn proved to be an agitator and organizational innovator of the highest order, leaving his imprint upon German rural politics long after his passing. 

Although a very public man, writing Hahn's biography has been difficult. Mutinous Matrosen who sacked his home destroyed most of Hahn's diaries and notebooks in 1919, and many of the files held by the Bund der Landwirte (later Reichslandbund and Reichsnährstand) were destroyed by series of disasters between 1934 and 1945. Hahn's surviving papers - those not turned over to the Bund - are housed in the Niedersächsisches Staatsarchiv Stade. In the summer of 2008, I visited Haneworth – Hahn's estate– that is now in the possession of Heinz-Christian Gresens. Herr Gresens has beautifully restored the home and maintains it as a Gestüt.  See http://www.haneworth.de/. Projected completion of my biography is 2012. I have created a web site, http://www.diederichhahn.org, to support my work on Hahn and German rural politics. Click here for a list of my papers and articles on Hahn.

East Friesland

As I began integrating GIS and spatial analysis into my work in 2002, I decided that my work on Diederich Hahn would benefit by comparing the social/economic and political culture of Hahn's district between the Elbe and Weser with the neighboring coastal area of East Friesland. This began an intense period of learning as I immersed myself in the extensive literature of the area and tried to grapple with a bewildering diversity of landscape types, agricultural and social patterns, and political folkways. The result has been enjoyable in every way, as I enjoyed repeated visits to the Ostfriesische Landesbibliothek, the Lower Saxon Staatsarchiv in Aurich. Since I expanded my research to include the entire North Sea coast, I have been pleasantly received at the Staatsarchiv and Staatsbibliothek in Oldenburg, the library of the Männer vom Morgenstern in Bremerhaven, county archives in Wittmund and Bremervörde, and Emden city archive. I have collected material for a variety of projects that will continue the rest of my career. Click here for papers.

The Industrial Revolution and other economic history topics

In 1995, I was fortunate enough to attend a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute held at the Ludwig-Maximillians Universität in Munich under the direction of Prof. Dr. John Komlos. The result was a spate of articles and papers on that topic, but the seminar's greatest impact has been on my teaching. In my Western Civilization survey, in my advanced courses, and in the Teaching American History program, I have had the opportunity to disseminate the lessons that I learned in Munich and through my continued reading of the professional literature. Click here for articles and papers.

The German Sugar Industry

My sugar research is all Michael Geyer's fault. When we discussed my future dissertation topic and I mentioned my interest in the work that Hans Rosenburg did on the German "Great Depression" of the 19th century, Michael suggested that I test Rosenburg's thesis through a study of a successful rural sector – the beet sugar industry. Between 1880 and 1910, Germany was the world's leading producer of sugar, regularly accounting for more than one-fifth of the total world supply. A complex web of production incentives nurtured sugar beet cultivation, sugar milling and sugar refining, export subsidies and scientific-technical research. Sexy as I think this sounds, academic hiring committees tended not to agree. It did, however, give me a thorough grounding in Imperial German economic policy making that has informed my work ever since. Click here my work on the topic.

Political history topics

Sadly, in the world of modern German history as practiced in the Anglosphere, political history is the sin that dare not speak its name. Too bad, really, for those of us who love it. Click here my work on the topic.



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