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Lecture and Book Signing – April 2

An American in Hitler’s Berlin: Abraham Plotkin’s Diary, 1932-33

Lecture by Professor Catherine Collomp

Date: April 2
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: 105 Ives Hall, ILR School

Professor Catherine Collomp will discuss her new book, An American in Hitler’s Berlin: Abraham Plotkin’s Diary, 1932-33, just released by the University of Illinois Press. This is the first edition of the diary of Abraham Plotkin, an American labor organizer of Jewish origin who lived in Berlin between November 1932 and June 1933, during the fall of the Weimar Republic and Hitler’s rise to power. The unique eye-witness account was discovered among the papers Plotkin donated to the Kheel Center archives,
ILR School.

Plotkin was an organizer for the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. His diary focuses on the German working class, the labor movement, and the plight of German Jews. He investigated Berlin’s social conditions with the help of German Social-Democratic leaders, whose analysis of the situation he records alongside his own. Compared to the writings of other American observers of the Third Reich, Plotkin’s diary is unique in style, scope, themes, and time span. Plotkin is especially attentive to socio-economic factors, providing an alternative view that stems from his own experience as a labor activist and his access to key German labor and socialist leaders. Chronologically, the diary reports on the moment when Hitler’s seizure of power was not yet inevitable and when leaders on the left believed in a different outcome of the crisis, but it also includes Plotkin’s account of the complete destruction of German labor in May 1933. The diary was never published, but Plotkin’s reports to the American labor press became the first link in a chain of solidarity established between German and American labor during the Nazi years.

Catherine Collomp is Professor of American History at Universite’ Paris VII, France. Bruno Groppo, a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherché Scientifique in Paris, co-authored the book.

For more information please see:

A book signing will follow the lecture, which is free and open to the public.


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