Klemens von Klemperer

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Klemens Wilhelm von Klemperer (born November 2, 1916 in Berlin , † December 23, 2012 in Easthampton , Hampshire County (Massachusetts) ) was a German-American historian.


Klemens Wilhelm von Klemperer was born in Berlin in 1916 as the son of Herbert and Frieda Kuffner von Klemperer. His father was the director of the Berlin locomotive factory, his grandfather Gustav Klemperer von Klemenau (1852–1926), an important financier of Jewish origin and chairman of the Dresdner Bank , had been ennobled by Emperor Franz Josef I of Austria in 1910 and came from a family of traders in Prague who is also largely related to the Romanist Victor Klemperer . Klemens von Klemperer and his siblings were the first generation of the family to be baptized Protestants.

After graduating from the French Gymnasium in Berlin , Klemens von Klemperer went to Balliol College in Oxford in 1934 before moving to the University of Vienna to continue his studies in legal history with Heinrich Mitteis . After the " Anschluss of Austria " to the German Reich in March 1938, Klemperer was involved in the resistance against National Socialism together with Otto and Fritz Molden . He fled to the United States shortly after the pogrom on November 9, 1938, which he witnessed as a witness in Berlin . There he was able to attend Harvard University as part of a Roosevelt government program for exiled scientists from Europe .

From 1942 to 1946, Klemperer served in the G2 unit of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe before receiving his doctorate at Harvard in 1949. He then went on to teach at Smith College , where he spent his entire career and also met his wife Elizabeth, who later became Professor of Literature at Smith College.

As early as the 1970s, Klemperer was an internationally respected specialist in historical research on National Socialism and German resistance, who held visiting professorships and fellowships at Oxford and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin . In 1998 Klemperer gave the memorial address for Dietrich Bonhoeffer at Westminster Abbey , who was immortalized there as one of ten martyrs of the 20th century. For Klemperer, the theologian was an example that humanity is possible even under cruel tyranny. In 1997 Austria honored him with the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class , for his services as a scientist . From 2000 to 2005 Klemperer was a member of the board of the Volkswagen Foundation and from 2000 until his death on the advisory board of the research association July 20, 1944 . In 2010 he received the Dorothee Fliess Prize for Resistance Research .

In addition to his academic work, Klemperer was an avid alpinist . He had conquered the Matterhorn at a young age and had joined the Appalachian Mountain Club in the United States . Well into his old age he went for extensive hikes in the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire .

Klemperer was the father of two children. His son James von Klemperer is an architect in New York and taught architecture at Yale. a. the master plan for New Songdo City .

Works (selection)

  • Germany's New Conservatism (Princeton, 1957).
  • Ignaz Seipel: Christian Statesman in a Time of Crisis (Princeton, 1972).
  • Kurt von Schuschnigg . New Austrian Biographies, Volume 22 (Vienna, 1987).
  • A Noble Combat: The Letters of Shiela Grant Duff and Adam von Trott zu Solz, 1932-1938 (Oxford, 1988).
  • German Resistance Against Hitler: The Search for Allies Abroad 1938-1945 (Oxford, 1992). German edition: The abandoned conspirators. The German Resistance in Search of Allies, 1938–1945 (Berlin, 1994)
  • "More on the German Resistance," Smith Alumnae Quarterly , Summer 1993.
  • "For Germany". The men of July 20, 1944. Ed. With Rainer Zitelmann and Enrico Syring. Ullstein, Frankfurt / M. 1996, ISBN 3-548-33207-2 .
  • German Incertitudes: The Stones in the Cathedral (Westport, 2002).
  • Voyage Through the 20th Century: A Historian's Recollections and Reflections (New York / Oxford, 2009).


  • Andreas W. Daum: Refugees from Nazi Germany as Historians. Origins and Migrations, Interests and Identities . In: Daum u. a. (Ed.): The Second Generation: Émigrés from Nazi Germany as Historians . Berghahn Books, New York 2016, ISBN 978-1-78238-985-9 .
  • Werner Röder; Herbert A. Strauss (Ed.): International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933–1945 . Volume 2.2. Munich: Saur, 1983 ISBN 3-598-10089-2 , pp. 842f.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Mr. Klemens Wilhelm von Klemperer (1916 - 2012). In: Daily Hampshire Gazette. December 26, 2012, accessed on July 5, 2018 (obituary).
  2. Nazi researcher Klemperer died. (No longer available online.) In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. December 29, 2012, archived from the original on March 5, 2013 ; Retrieved January 2, 2013 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.sueddeutsche.de
  3. Klemens von Klemperer: It Hardly Needs Emphasis That My Own Generation, the Second, is Deeply Indebted to the First . In: Andreas W. Daum, Hartmut Lehmann, James J. Sheehan (eds.): The Second Generation. Émigrés from Nazi Germany as Historians . Berghahn, New York 2016, ISBN 978-1-78238-985-9 , pp. 55-58 .
  4. The Federal Chancellor's answer to the inquiry. (PDF; 6.6 MB) April 23, 2012, p. 1141 , accessed on July 5, 2018 .
  5. Contact address. Research Association July 20, 1944, December 17, 2012, archived from the original on March 5, 2013 ; accessed on July 5, 2018 .
  6. Andreas W. Daum, Hartmut Lehmann, James J. Sheehan (eds.): The Second Generation. Émigrés from Nazi Germany as Historians . Berghahn Books, New York 2016, ISBN 978-1-78238-985-9 , pp. 406 .
  7. Klemens Wilhelm von Klemperer died. In: Tachles . December 31, 2012, accessed December 31, 2012 .