Helmut Walser Smith


I am a historian of Germany who writes mainly about the modern period, understood in the older sense of the term as stretching from around 1500 to the present. My major interests are in the history of nationhood and nationalism, the history of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and, more recently, the history of thinking, writing, and commemorating Germany’s troubled past. I also collect, make, and write about historical maps.

In terms of approach, I think of myself as primarily a historian of how people in the past, particularly in Germany, conceived of the world they lived in, and understand my research as one that draws on social, cultural, economic, and political history.

One of my favorite Nashville singers, Maura O’Connell, was onced asked what kind of singer she is, and replied, “just a singer.” That’s also how I would answer the question concerning me as a historian.


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