Centre for German-Jewish Studies


Sussex historian’s new book helps sixth formers to work towards a university place

A group of sixth form students studied Anna Haag and her Secret Diary of the Second World War by Research Professor Edward Timms.

Anna Haag’s anti-Nazi diaries were written secretly in 20 notebooks.

Feedback from a University of Sussex historian on the study of his new book by a group of Year 12 students will help them as they work towards their aim of a university place.

The students attend Landau Forte Academy Tamworth Sixth Form in the West Midlands and are part of Sixth Form Select, an initiative at the academy for those who are aspiring to study at the UK’s top universities.

As part of the course, they studied Anna Haag and her Secret Diary of the Second World War by Research Professor Edward Timms, former director of the Centre for German-Jewish Studies at Sussex.

The book, subtitled A democratic German feminist’s response to the catastrophe of National Socialism, offers an interpretation of the anti-Nazi diaries of Stuttgart-based author Anna Haag.

The Tamworth students were asked to consider whether a personal diary represents a reliable historical record, and three of their essays were sent to Professor Timms.

He said: “This is a most imaginative educational initiative and I'm impressed by the student responses: clearly written, highlighting essential arguments and adding perceptive personal comments. Anna Haag, a lifelong educationalist, would have been most appreciative, just as I am.”

Professor Timms also shared the students’ work with the book’s international academic publisher, Peter Lang. Similarly wowed by their perceptive insights, the publisher has decided to support the students on their project.

To gain a deeper understanding of the topic, Sixth Form Select students will be visiting the Anna Haag Centre in Stuttgart as well as the United Nations Office and Jewish Museum in Vienna, Austria.

Dr Antony Edkins, Executive Principal at Tamworth Sixth Form, said: “Our job is to give our students every opportunity to succeed. For those in Sixth Form Select this means being equipped for undergraduate study at the best universities in the country.

“Our thanks go to Professor Timms and Peter Lang Publishing for providing a huge boost to our students as they work towards this goal.”

Professor Timms is a cultural historian with a special interest in 20th-century German and Austrian literature and politics, including radical critiques of the militarism that culminated in the two world wars.

His pioneering new study adopts Anna Haag’s diaries, which were written secretly in 20 notebooks, as a source for the study of everyday life in the Third Reich.

The opening sections sketch the paradigms that shaped Haag’s creativity, analysing the impact of the First World War and the feminist and pacifist commitments that influenced her literary and journalistic writings.

Extensive quotations from the diaries illustrate her responses to the cataclysms that followed the rise of Hitler, from the military conquests and Jewish deportations to the devastation of strategic bombing.

The book concludes with a chapter that traces the links between Haag’s critique of military tyranny and her contribution to post-war reconstruction.

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Posted on behalf of: Centre for German-Jewish Studies
Last updated: Tuesday, 5 July 2016