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May 20, 2016 1:34 am

The New York Times Remembers Fritz Stern, Vaguely

avatar by Ira Stoll

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Prof. Fritz Stern. Photo: Alchetron.

Prof. Fritz Stern. Photo: Alchetron.

A New York Times obituary of Fritz Stern, a professor at Columbia who was a historian of Germany, reads in part:

Like many German historians of his generation, Professor Stern sought to explain the causes behind the events that upended his own life and that of his family, Jews who lived a prosperous, assimilated life in Breslau until oppressive conditions forced them to emigrate to the United States in 1938.

Later, the Times reports:

Fritz Richard Stern was born on Feb. 2, 1926, in Breslau. His father, Rudolf, was a physician, like nearly all his male relatives. His mother, the former Käthe Brieger, held a doctorate in physics. Both families had converted to Lutheranism.

Was Professor Stern himself a Jew or a Lutheran, a German or an American? Or all four? The Times obituary is disappointingly vague or perhaps even self-contradicting on the point.

More of Ira Stoll’s media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here.

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