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Dr. Julia Timpe

Judith B. and Burton P. Resnick Postdoctoral Fellow
“Happiness and Destruction in the Third Reich: ‘Kraft durch Freude’ and Nazi Concentration Camps”

Professional Background

Dr. Julia Timpe is Lecturer for Modern and Contemporary History at the University of Bremen (Germany) and served as College Fellow and Lecturer at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the academic year 2012-2013. She earned her PhD in history from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, in May 2013. Her dissertation is entitled “Hitler’s Happy People:  Kraft durch Freude’s Everyday Production of Joy in the Third Reich. Dr. Timpe is a native speaker of German, is fluent in English, and has a working knowledge of French. She has taught courses on the history of Nazi Germany, the Weimar Republic, Stalinism, and everyday life under dictatorial regimes at Brown University, Harvard University, and the University of Bremen.  While in residence at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, Dr. Timpe conducted research on her project entitled “Happiness and Destruction in the Third Reich: ‘Kraft Durch Freude’ and Nazi Concentration Camps.”

Recent papers by Dr. Timpe include “Picturing Hitler’s Racial Community: Visual Propaganda of the Nazi Organizations ‘Strength through Joy’ and ‘German Labor Front’” at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association in Washington, DC; “’Die Kunst dem Volke’: On the Nazi project of “Bringing Culture” to German Workers in the Third Reich” at the 2013 Annual Conference of the German Studies Association, in Denver, Colorado; and “‘One Just Ought to Enjoy Oneself’: Nazi Entertainment during World War II,” at the 2012 Annual German Studies Conference in Milwaukee,  Wisconsin.

Fellowship Research

For her Judith B. and Burton P. Resnick Postdoctoral Fellowship, Dr. Timpe conducted follow-up research on her work on the Nazi organization “Kraft durch Freude” (“Strength through Joy”, or in short, KdF), which analyzed the organization’s numerous activities, including the offering of inexpensive cultural events, entertainment programs, and sports courses to Germans. During her fellowship, Dr. Timpe investigated the links between this organization and the Holocaust, and looked specifically at events put on by KdF in concentration camps for the entertainment of SS guards. Among other questions, she examined the content and format of theses performances, their reception by SS men, and the extent of camp’s inmates’ knowledge about and involvement in these activities. Dr. Timpe also investigated the connections between KdF’s “beautification campaigns” and Nazi reeducation propaganda in regards to (early) concentration camps. Overall, Dr. Timpe is interested in exploring the inextricable link between Nazism’s "happiness," as directed at the “Aryan” German population, and the destruction and crimes of the Holocaust.

Dr. Julia Timpe was in residence in the Center from February 1 to August 31, 2014.