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< All Fellows and Scholars

Professor Katharina von Kellenbach

Dr. Katharina von Kellenbach
2005-2006 Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellow

"The Politics of Christian Discourses of Forgiveness: Prison Chaplains Counsel Nazi Perpetrators"

Professional Background

Professor Katharina von Kellenbach earned a Ph.D. and an M.A. in religion from Temple University and a B.A. in theology from Georg August University of Goettingen (Germany). During her fellowship at the Museum, she was Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. For her Charles H. Revson Foundation Fellowship for Archival Research, Professor von Kellenbach researched “The Politics of Christian Discourses of Forgiveness: Prison Chaplains Counsel Nazi Perpetrators, 1945-1970.”

Professor von Kellenbach is the author of Anti-Judaism in Feminist Religious Writings (Scholars Press, 1994) and co-editor of Zwischen-Räume: Deutsche Feministische Theologinnen im Ausland (LIT Verlag, 2000) and Von Gott Reden im Land der Täter (Gutersloher verlagshaus, 2001). Her scholarly research has also been published in numerous book chapters and journal articles. In 2003, her article “Vanishing Acts: Perpetrators in Postwar Germany” appeared in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Journal of Holocaust and Genocide Studies ( The recipient of several esteemed honors, Professor von Kellenbach has been awarded the Coolidge Colloquium Fellowship of Columbia University, a research fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung, a Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship and a Scholarship for the National Conference of Christians and Jews, among others. She has lectured extensively on her work including a lecture on “Crimes without Punishment: Reflections on Perpetrators in German Families” which she presented at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 1999. At the time of her fellowship she was a member of the Christian Scholars Group on Jewish-Christian Relations (Boston College).

Fellowship Research

During her fellowship tenure, Professor von Kellenbach examined the struggles of “coming to terms with the past” that emerge from interactions between imprisoned Nazi perpetrators and their Christian pastoral counselors and prison chaplains after the Holocaust. Examining the promises and limitations of Christian discourses of forgiveness, she closely analyzed American and German chaplaincy work with convicts of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremburg, the role of confessions that became increasingly expected in the 1960’s, and the vast network of legal, social, charitable and political aid organizations developed by the Protestant and Roman Catholic Churches.

Professor von Kellenbach was in residence at the Mandel Center from March 1 to June 30, 2006.