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Friedrich Katz

Essays zu Leben und Wirken eines transnationalen Historikers - Essays on the Life and Work of a Transnational Historian

Series:

Martina Kaller, David Mayer and Berthold Molden

Die in diesem Band versammelten Essays sind dem Historiker und Lateinamerikanisten Friedrich Katz (1927-2010) gewidmet. Sie fußen auf einem Symposium, das im Herbst 2011 zu seinen Ehren in Wien abgehalten wurde, und vereinen unterschiedliche Perspektiven auf sein Leben und Werk. Friedrich Katz war einer der großen Sozialhistoriker zur lateinamerikanischen Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts. Seine Arbeiten zur Mexikanischen Revolution zählen zu den grundlegenden Werken über dieses Thema. Er verstand es, in quellenkritischer Tiefe die Besonderheiten Mexikos in die Weltgeschichte einzuschreiben. Andererseits verschlug eben diese Weltgeschichte ihn selbst als Kind von Wien über Berlin, Paris und New York nach Mexiko, nach 1945 wieder nach Wien und Ostberlin und schließlich nach Chicago.
The essays collected in this volume are dedicated to the historian and Latin Americanist Friedrich Katz (1927-2010). They are based on a symposium held in his honour in Vienna in the autumn of 2011 and bring together varying perspectives of his life and work. As one of the great social historians of our time, Friedrich Katz had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the sources relevant to Latin America’s twentieth century history. His studies of the Mexican Revolution rank foremost among contributions to the field. More than anyone before he succeeded in relating the specifics of Mexico’s history to the broader processes of global history. That same global history impacted repeatedly on Katz’ own life: he was forced to leave Vienna as a child and moved with his family to Mexico, via Berlin, Paris and New York; he returned to Vienna after 1945 only to leave again for East Berlin before finally settling in Chicago.

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The Self-Empowerment of the Mouse. The life and survival of Friedrich Katz Berthold Molden

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Throughout his life, Friedrich Katz cast anchor in waters of many different kinds: geographical, epistemological, cultural and political. Much has already been said and written, not least in this volume, about his role as a historiog- rapher and the many ties that link him especially to the history of Mexico. In the following pages I will be presenting a chain of associations, focussing on one particular aspect of the great historian’s life and work that seems indispensable to me if we are to understand Friedrich Katz more fully: his identity – a term, admittedly, that he himself would invariably have used with a generous pinch of ironical scepticism – as a survivor. In my attempts to outline this aspect I will allow myself a couple of volte-faces, which may at first look like insufficiently argued leaps or far-fetched associations but will be found, I trust, to contribute to a more clear-sighted appreciation of Friedrich Katz. On August 8, 1942, the Geneva representative of the World Jewish Con- gress, Gerhard Riegner, dispatched a telegram in which he summed up the in- formation on what the Nazis called the “Final Solution” that had been passed on to him by a German informant. Riegner told the president of his organisation in New York, Rabbi Stephen Wise, that the Nazis wanted to round up four million Jews, put them in concentration camps and exterminate them. Historians consid- er Riegner’s telegram crucial evidence that the world had learned about the Hol- ocaust at a time when people...

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