Audrey Wade Hittinger Katz and Sheldon Toby Katz Professor of History
Affiliated Department(s): International Studies
Office: Miller 250
5331 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, Maine 04901-8853
Habilitation – Universität Basel (Switzerland), 2003
Ph.D. – Brandeis University, 1993
Lizentiat – Universität Zurich (Switzerland), 1988
Musical training as a cello student – Konservatorium und Musikakademi (Zurich), 1980-1981
Areas of Expertise
Prisoners of war in World War II (specifically French colonial prisoners)
Crimes against French black African soldiers in World War II
German political history 1914-1945
History of Yugoslavia
German history and literature
Modern European history and politics
Swiss funding for Hitler
I have published five books and many articles on German history at the time of the world wars. My third book Hitler’s African Victims (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006 [hardcover] and 2008 [paperback]) was translated into French (2007) and German (2009). The book sparked an investigation by the German office for Nazi crimes, and I was interviewed for the documentary “Les 43 tirailleurs” (by Mireille Hannon) in 2010 and by C-SPAN’s book tv program in September 2012. My fifth book, French Colonial Soldiers in German Captivity during World War II (Cambridge University Press, December 2014), deals with French colonial prisoners of war in German POW camps, 1940-45, examining the conditions of their captivity, the struggle of the German and French authorities for the loyalty of these prisoners, and the influence of the prisoners’ experiences on the postwar move toward independence in the colonies. My next project deals with love relations of French prisoners of war and German women during the Second World War as well as with larger issues concerning POWs and civilian internees (legal, social, diplomatic, economic).
In 2011, I identified an anonymous manuscript of a Senegalese soldier in German captivity as having been written by Léopold Sédar Senghor, the eminent French-Senegalese poet, cultural philosopher, and first president of the Republic of Senegal (1960-1980). The French newspaper Le Monde and the magazine Jeune Afrique interviewed me about this discovery, as did the Colby Magazine and French journalist Ivan Amar (for Radio France Internationale).
I was born in Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany) and grew up in Germany, Israel, and (mostly) in Switzerland (first in Geneva, later near Zürich). I started out as a cello student at the conservatory in Zürich but then decided to study History at the University of Zürich and Brandeis University (USA). I have a Habilitation Degree from the University of Basel (2003). I am a German citizen (I point this out because French newspapers discussing my book on the massacres of black French soldiers often argued that it took an “American” historian to uncover this crime). Since 1994, I have taught modern European and German history at Colby College, where I also served as chair of the History Department for two terms (2000-2003 and 2005-2008) and as director of the Jewish Studies program (2011-14).
Please visit my personal home page with more information on my research, some course materials, and a recipe for Linzertorte.
Access the Interview in the Colby Magazine about the discovery of a document by Léopold Sédar Senghor.
Click here to view Professor Scheck’s article on Senghor, in PDF format.
Read this article in French about Senghor and Professor Scheck’s scholarship on the subject.
See information on my fifth book, French Colonial Soldiers in German Captivity during World War II.
“This is a well-written tale of how ordinary men become brutal killers and how racism can corrupt their moral sensibilities.” Martin Klein, University of Toronto
“This elegant, slender volume describes a forgotten war crime: the murder by the German soldiers of thousands of Black African soldiers in the French Army in June 1940.” Jonathan Steinberg, University of Pennsylvania
“Professor Scheck has provided a great service by carefully researching this vile episode and also placing it into the context of a military descending step by step into an abyss of ever worse criminality.” Gerhard Weinberg, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (emeritus)
“Professor Scheck’s excellent and original study details instances during the French campaign of 1940 when German Army and Waffen SS units killed French colonial troops after they had surrendered …” Charles W. Sydnor, Jr.
Click here to see the C-SPAN about the book.
Mothers of the Nation – Right-Wing Women in Weimar Germany
What role did right-wing women play in the Nazi rise to power? Mothers of the Nation analyzes the work of women in the German People’s Party and the German National People’s Party – parties that covered the range from the moderate to the radical right. Looking at politics on both the local and national level, the author discusses issues ranging from social welfare to foreign policy. He shows that right-wing women, in keeping with the tradition of the German bourgeois women’s movement, refused to stand up primarily for women’s interests and instead invoked the Volksgemeinschaft (community of the people), a vision of harmony and cooperation of the groups involved in production.
“In this excellent study, Raffael Scheck explores a series of fateful paradoxes that imperiled Weimar democracy: attachments to household and motherhood propelled women into the public arena; the mobilization of voters strengthened the nationalist, anti-democraci Right; the effort to imbue middle-class parties with the virtues of the people’s community only helped the Nazis; and the campaign to protect Christianity legitimized eugenic legislation. Scheck’s great contribution is to trace so well the seams of Germany’s political culture between 1918 and 1933.” Peter Fritzsche, author of Reading Berlin 1900 and Germans Into Nazis.
Alfred von Tirpitz and German Right-Wing Politics, 1914-1930
In a skillful combination of biographical case study and contextual analysis, Raffael Scheck presents a readable, often thrilling, account of German right-wing politics in the two decades before the rise of the Nazis and the role played in them by Great Admiral von Tirpirtz. In examining that, he explains the predicament of the conservatives during the period.