George Mosse

From Academic Kids

George Lachmann Mosse (September 20, 1918-January 22, 1999) was a German-born American left-wing Jewish gay historian of fascism in general and Nazi Germany in particular who saw fascists as "scavengers" who took bits of other ideologies to create a new one.

Mosse was born in Berlin into one of Germany's richest Jewish families. The Mosse family owned a large chain of newspapers including several of the most prestigious papers in Germany, most notably the Berliner Tagesblatt. Mosse was educated at an exclusive boys' school run by former Army officers, where, as a frail youth, he had difficulty with the demanding physical education regime imposed on the pupils. In 1933, the Mosse family fled Germany to Britain. In 1936, Mosse moved to the United States. Despite his background, Mosse was an self-proclaimed "Marxist of the heart", meaning that while he did not believe in Marxism as a theory, he nonetheless sympathized with it as an ideology. Mosse graduated with a BS from Haverford College in 1941 and from Harvard with a PhD in 1946. He served as professor at the University of Iowa (1944-1955) and the University of Wisconsin from 1955 onwards.

Initially, Mosse began as an expert in family life in Tudor and Stuart England, but from the early 1960s on, he frequently wrote about Nazi Germany, Fascism, anti-Semitism, and Jewish history. Later, Mosse wrote about the history of sexuality. He specialized in developing arguments about how symbols were created and used by leaders to win and keep followers. Another major interest for Mosse was the brutalization of politics, especially in the Nazi era. For Mosse, fascism was not an rational ideology, but was rather the expression of irrational feelings. Yet another area of interest for Mosse was the intellectual origin of Nazism.

After the unification of Germany in 1990, Mosse petitioned, with considerable success, to reclaim the family property that had been expropriated by both the Nazis and the Communists. At his death in 1999, Mosse was a wealthy man, and he left the bulk of his estate to fund History scholarships at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


  • The Struggle for Sovereignty in England from the Reign of Queen Elizabeth to the Petition of Right, 1950.
  • The Holy Pretence: A Study in Christianity and Reason of State from William Perkins to John Winthrop, 1957.
  • The Culture of Western Europe: The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, An Introduction , 1961.
  • The Crisis of German Ideology: Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich, 1964.
  • Nazi Culture: Intellectual, Cultural and Social Life in the Third Reich, edited by G.L Mosse 1966.
  • 1914: The Coming of the First World War, co-edited with Walter Laqueur, 1966.
  • Literature and Politics in the Twentieth Century, co-edited with Walter Laqueur, 1967.
  • German and Jews: The Right, the Left, and the Search for a "Third Force" in Pre-Nazi Germany, 1970.
  • Historians in Politics co-edited with Walter Laqueur, 1974.
  • Jews and Non-Jews in Eastern Europe, 1918-1945 co-edited with Bela Vago, 1974.
  • The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars through the Third Reich, 1975.
  • co-written with Michael Ledeen Nazism: a Historical and Comparative Analysis of National Socialism, 1978.
  • Toward the Final Solution: A History of European Racism, 1978.
  • International Fascism: New Thoughts and New Approaches, edited by G.L Mosse, 1979.
  • Masses and Man: Nationalist and Fascist Perceptions of Reality, 1980.
  • German Jews beyond Judaism, 1985.
  • Nationalism and Sexuality: Middle-Class Morality and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe, 1985.
  • Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars, 1990.
  • Confronting the Nation: Jewish and Western Nationalism, 1993.
  • The Image of Man: The Creation of Modern Masculinity, 1996.


  • Ascheim, Steven "Between Rationality and Irrationalism: George L. Mossse, The Holocaust and European Cultural History" pages 187-202 from Simon Wiesenthal Center Annual, Volume 5, 1988.
  • Drescher, Seymour; Sabean, David Warren; Sharlin, Allan (editors) Political Symbolism in Modern Europe: Essays in Honor of Geogre L. Mosse, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction, Mosse



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