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00:00:00 - Start of Tape 00:00:29 - Music Plays 00:02:40 - Interviewer's Introduction 00:03:15 - Biographical Information

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Partial Transcript: "So here we are to talk about George Mosse, but to begin with Professor Drescher, let's just start with a little about your personal and your professional background."

Segment Synopsis: Seymour Drescher (SD) gave a brief background of his life before the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He was born in Bronx, New York, and went to school at Bronx High School of Science, before going to City College in Manhattan Island.

Keywords: Bronx, New York; City College; University of Wisconsin-Madison

00:04:08 - Family Background

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Partial Transcript: "What was your family background?"

Segment Synopsis: SD talked about his family background. His parents married in 1930 and came to the US from Europe after World War I. They lived in close proximity to their extended families in the Bronx and both of his parents were of Polish Jewish background.

Keywords: Bronx, New York; Immigration; Judaism; Poland

00:04:36 - Religious Upbringing

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Partial Transcript: "Did religion play a part in your upbringing?"

Segment Synopsis: Religion did not play a big part in SD's upbringing. His parents belonged to an orthodox synagogue and he had a bar mitzvah. SD said he deeply identified with members of the Jewish community.

Keywords: Bar Mitzvah; Jewish Community; Judaism; Orthodox Synagogue

00:05:00 - Parent's Education and Work

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Partial Transcript: "What level of education did your parents achieve?"

Segment Synopsis: SD's parents did not receive a formal education beyond the sixth grade. His father was a hatter and his mother worked in a tie factory. They both worked in the New York garment district. After his father lost his job, he became a Wall Street deliverer of large checks and other confidential information.

Keywords: Education; Garment Industry; New York; Wall Street

00:05:50 - Early Interest in History

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Partial Transcript: "Interesting, what were your early interests?"

Segment Synopsis: SD took an interest in history from an early age. As a kid, he would go to the New York Public Library and read everything he could from the history section. SD was so well read on various periods of history that he was often more knowledgeable on the particular period of history being studied in his high school classes than his teachers.

Keywords: High School; History; New York Public Library

00:06:34 - The Postwar Period

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Partial Transcript: "So when you graduated from Bronx High School of Science, it was 1951. The historic context of your life at that point, what had influenced you?"

Segment Synopsis: SD discussed attending a competitive high school in the wake of World War II. He followed the events of the war in the newspapers and talked about the huge mobilization for the war and the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. The events going on around him during this time caused SD to take more of an interest in European history than American history. His parents fled Europe in 1920 and were some of the last people to come to America before the quotas were introduced.

Keywords: 1948; Immigration; Israel; World War II

00:08:15 - Political Development

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Partial Transcript: "Did it have a political influence on you in terms of affiliating with a party or a platform?"

Segment Synopsis: SD talked about how his interest in history influenced his political party affiliations. Most of the people in the Bronx were Democrats and voted for Roosevelt and Truman, and SD did as well. There was one republican student from Manhattan in SD's high school discussion section and the class relied on this student for the Republican view. SD told a story about debating with a radical student from Austria in his high school.

Keywords: American Politics; Bronx, New York; Communism; Franklin D. Roosevelt; Harry Truman; Postwar Period

00:09:13 - Antisemitism

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Partial Transcript: "Did you experience any antisemitism yourself?"

Segment Synopsis: SD experienced very little antisemitism. He was assaulted once on Halloween when an outside group came into his neighborhood to cause trouble. The neighborhood that SD grew up in was composed of people of varying races and ethnic backgrounds.

Keywords: Antisemitism; Bronx, New York

00:09:39 - Seymour's Education

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Partial Transcript: "And even though your parents hadn't had the opportunity for higher education, did they want that for their children?"

Segment Synopsis: SD described his academic career at City College. His parents were adamant that he attend college. SD debated going into biology, but decided to continue pursuing history. He talked about his classes, subject interests; and professors. He graduated with a BA in History in 1955.

Keywords: Biology; City College; Education; History

00:12:52 - Meeting his Wife

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Partial Transcript: "Tell me what happens next?"

Segment Synopsis: SD met his wife the year he graduated from college. He told a story about his short relationship with her before proposing. Before the age of 21, SD had never traveled outside of the East Coast.

Keywords: City College; Madison, Wisconsin; Marriage

00:12:56 - Life in Madison

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Partial Transcript: "So really, coming to Wisconsin was like the wild west or something."

Segment Synopsis: SD talked about his early impressions of Madison and goes into further detail about his early days at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He wanted to work with Merle Curti, a well-known history professor and met with William Saxbe, chairman of the history department. Merle Curte was away on fellowship and SD instead began work with George Mosse.

Keywords: George L. Mosse; Graduate School; Madison, Wisconsin; University of Wisconsin-Madison

00:14:40 - Seymour's First History Seminar

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Partial Transcript: "I realized that I was a virgin and this man also was a virgin to Wisconsin and that, in fact, determined the composition of the first seminar."

Segment Synopsis: SD told the story of his first history seminar on intellectual history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The seminar had students ranging from freshmen to students working on dissertations from a variety of disciplines in history. The tone of the class as an intense critical, analytical seminar was set by the older students and the instructor, George Mosse. SD discussed his first paper on French Novelists writing about America in the 19th Century and the critical analysis that this paper received from the class. After the harsh critique in class, SD thought he was going to have to move back to New York, but got over it after a day. George Mosse told future students that he ‘reduced a student to tears and went weeping from the seminar,’ though it was an exaggeration.

Keywords: George L. Mosse; History Seminar; Intellectual History; UW-Madison

00:19:20 - Mosse's Fellowship

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Partial Transcript: "Well there's another part of George that has to be talked about, because this was his undergraduate teaching."

Segment Synopsis: SD told a story about his relationship with George Mosse as a lecturer and mentor. Mosse ensured that SD was given a fellowship worth $200 on the condition that SD buy a pair of pants that were not jeans. Years later, SD realized that Mosse may have specifically created that fellowship for him, which he appreciated. Mosse also influenced SD's own graduate teaching.

Keywords: Fellowship; George L. Mosse; UW-Madison

00:22:35 - Learning about Mosse

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Partial Transcript: "You want me to go on with this or shall I um..." "I've got many questions, but if there are places you want to go, I'll let you instead."

Segment Synopsis: At first, SD was not very comfortable with George Mosse because he was from the upper classes of Germany and attended a Quaker High School in England, causing SD to feel a great distance from him. He saw Mosse as a combination of a "German bourgeois" and "an English gentleman." The Suez War broke out in the fall of 1956 and George Mosse made a comment about the war in a seminar. SD had no idea that Mosse was Jewish or gay. He discussed reading Mosse's book on German history and discovering that Mosse was gay and Jewish. Before this book, all of Mosse's publications had been on 17th century England.

Keywords: 1956; English History; George L. Mosse; German History; Suez War

00:26:16 - Fulbright Scholarship

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Partial Transcript: "In '56, my wife, who played as much of a role in my development as did George, not my development as a human being, but in history..."

Segment Synopsis: SD's wife convinced him to apply for a Fulbright Scholarship in 1956, which he got and traveled to Paris. While in Paris, SD decided to study Alexis de Tocqueville's relationship with England. SD and his wife took a trip to England, where they met up with George Mosse and toured Cambridge together. While showing SD and his wife the campus, George Mosse was transformed into an undergraduate, English gentleman. SD told a story about getting a funny picture of George while punting in Cambridge.

Keywords: 1956; Alexis de Tocqueville; Cambidge University; Fulbright Scholarship; George L. Mosse; Paris; Punting

00:29:36 - Dissertation and Harvard

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Partial Transcript: "Okay, the next... okay, I've got one more thing, the most important."

Segment Synopsis: SD returned to Madison to continue his work on Alexis de Tocqueville and George L. Mosse could not understand why SD chose to study someone "so sane." In 1960, SD became very ill from a leaky appendix and underwent a complicated operation. Two weeks into SD's hospital stay, George Mosse showed up to his hospital room to inform him that he had landed a job at Harvard University that SD must take.

Keywords: Alexis de Tocqueville; Appendix; Dissertation; Harvard University; UW-Madison

00:32:56 - Mosse's Relationship with his Students

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Partial Transcript: "Do you think you were unique in the amount of attention he gave you as a graduate student or did he really take such a deep interest in the well being..."

Segment Synopsis: SD talked about how all of Mosse's students felt that he gave them individual attention. Mosse was able to give this care and attention because he did not have a wife or children. His students were like his children. SD talked about how Mosse was hired by UW-Madison because of "his ability to draw crowds."

Keywords: George L. Mosse; University of Wisconsin-Madison

00:36:50 - Mosse's Festschrift

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Partial Transcript: "Well it's such an interesting contrast to the holocaust to which he was..."

Segment Synopsis: SD talked about Mosse's Festschrift in the late 1970s, which Mosse demanded be completed in three years by SD and another graduate student. SD and his colleague working on the Festschrift disagreed over how Mosse was to be presented in the introduction. The story of Mosse's first visit to Madison and how UW-Madison finally hired him as the first Jewish history professor was told at the Festschrift's presentation.

Keywords: Festschrift; George L. Mosse; University of Wisconsin-Madison

00:41:18 - Views on Judaism and Israel

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Partial Transcript: "Did you ever have any conversations with him about being Jewish personally?"

Segment Synopsis: SD discussed how Mosse did not talk about the fact that he was Jewish until after his book on German history was published and the Jewish history program at UW-Madison was started. Mosse did not religiously identify as a Jew, but he was concerned with the development of Israel. Mosse worried about the dangers of nationalism, especially in the context of the formation of Israel.

Keywords: George L. Mosse; German History; Israel; Judaism; Nationalism

00:43:56 - End of Side 1/ Tape 1 00:44:09 - Mosse and Nazism

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Partial Transcript: "Tell me a little bit more about his approach to history and the use of empathy."

Segment Synopsis: SD talked about Mosse’s approach to history and how he moved into studying Nazi ideologies. Mosse took people seriously. After World War II, many academics looked at what happened under Hitler's regime and deemed it as a means to power and an ideology without coherence. Mosse disagreed. He examined the mindsets of the Nazis, their followers, and their predecessors and believed that Nazism appealed to all of the senses and did not have to rely on rationality.

Keywords: George L. Mosse; Nazi Ideology; World War II

00:47:28 - Today's Political Climate

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Partial Transcript: "It would be interesting to hear what he would have to say today about the political environment we're in currently."

Segment Synopsis: SD discussed how Americans scream at each other across television screens and the internet in the current political climate (2010). Mosse felt that it was crucial to draw people's attention to the facts of history. During the Nuremberg Trials, the Nazis defended the genocide on the grounds of collective public medicine and national public health being more important than individual health.

Keywords: George L. Mosse; Nuremburg Trials; Political Climate

00:50:39 - Seymour's Interests and Path

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Partial Transcript: "How did his interests and development as a scholar into these areas influence your path and what your interests became?"

Segment Synopsis: When SD left UW-Madison, George Mosse was still seen as the scholar of the reformation. SD charted his academic interests and discussed how he came to be interested in the myths of the abolitionists. Reading Mosse's work and seeing his approach to history indirectly shaped SD's studies over time. SD credited the mobilization of the masses with the relative success of the worldwide abolitionist movement.

Keywords: Abolition; George L. Mosse; Myths

00:53:30 - Madison, Wisconsin

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Partial Transcript: "Tell me a little bit, this is moving back sort of chronologically, does the context of Madison and the history department..."

Segment Synopsis: SD discussed his experiences in the history department and how the department has changed. Madison was a new world to him and he eventually did not want to leave. SD described Madison as more egalitarian compared to other places he worked, including Harvard. George Mosse made his graduate students feel like family.

Keywords: George L. Mosse; Harvard University; History; University of Wisconsin-Madison

00:56:38 - Politics of the 1950s

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Partial Transcript: "How much did the wider world of politics enter, I mean this is also the late "50s..."

Segment Synopsis: SD talked about the politics of the 1950s and how it influenced Madison. He was in Madison during the last wave of the McCarthy era. By the late 1950s, the ‘left’ began to take off. He discussed the Cold War and being wary of the people on the left. SD told a story about a discussion he had with a fellow student about the revolution in China in which the student categorized life in China as "cheap" causing SD to question the very nature of the revolution.

Keywords: 1950s; Chinese Revolution; Cold War; Joseph McCarthy; Madison, Wisconsin

00:59:46 - Lack of Political Involvement

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Partial Transcript: "Did George become active politically while you were here in any way?"

Segment Synopsis: George Mosse lacked interest in politics and cautioned his students to not get too deeply involved in politics, citing the Sterling Hall Bombing. Other professors encouraged students on campus to be involved in politics and then backed off after the bombing.

Keywords: George L. Mosse; Sterling Hall Bombing

01:00:46 - Collaborations with Mosse

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Partial Transcript: "So you worked on the festschrift, that was 1982. Tell me about other joint work that you did together."

Segment Synopsis: SD discussed the collaborative work he did with George Mosse aside from the festschrift. In 1984, he set up a European studies program at the Wilson Center. SD liked that this program did not initially divide eastern and western Europe, but the state department required the program to split Eastern and Western Europe in order to receive funding. SD brought George Mosse on as an advisor to the program and Mosse argued against the state department's stipulations. SD also worked as an editor for the Journal of Contemporary History with George Mosse, which SD was unsure if he was qualified to do because of his focus on 18th and 19th century history. SD enjoyed working with Stanley Payne on the journal.

Keywords: European Studies; George L. Mosse; Journal of Contemporary History; State Department; Wilson Center

01:04:40 - Commemorating Mosse

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Partial Transcript: "Did you and George stay in touch always?"

Segment Synopsis: SD and George Mosse stayed in touch throughout their careers. He talked about the last long conversation he had with George Mosse in 1997. George became very ill a few months later, but SD sent him the preface to his book to show Mosse that he had written about him. SD read the portion about George Mosse from his book "From Slavery to Freedom."

Keywords: 1990s; Academia; George L. Mosse

01:07:28 - Mosse's Academic Interests

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Partial Transcript: "And it sounds like he felt the same about you."

Segment Synopsis: SD talked about how George Mosse was often an enigma to him and an enigma to himself. He was astounded by the wide succession of Mosse's interests: German ideology, the mobilization of the masses, human behavior, fallen soldiers, Jewish studies, and sexuality and nationalism. SD told the story of the last festschrift he attended at Madison, which George enjoyed.

Keywords: George L. Mosse; German Ideology; Jewish Studies; Nationalism; Sexuality

01:10:44 - Mosse's Legacy

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Partial Transcript: "So what do you think his legacy is in your mind?"

Segment Synopsis: SD cannot comment on the nature of Mosses legacy and joked that he is often quoted saying the opposite of what he actually said. Mosse is still part of an ongoing historical conversation and still stimulates minds even after his death. He started the Jewish studies and LGBTQ studies programs at UW-Madison, which initially surprised SD. Mosse did not have a broad background in Jewish studies when he started the department, but his teaching assistant for his first Jewish studies class was amazed by the amount of information that Mosse seemed to learn overnight. SD discussed Mosse's talent for explaining the unknown with the known to make subjects relevant and empathetic to an audience.

Keywords: George L. Mosse; Jewish Studies; LGBTQ Studies

01:14:24 - Stories about Mosse

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Partial Transcript: "Is there anything I haven't asked you or a story you thought of in terms of..."

Segment Synopsis: Mosse was able to capture audiences by making himself into an "exotic person." SD put one of George's saying on his festschrift program: "I was born to rule the German empire. I was educated to rule the British Empire and they both vanished before my very eyes." SD discussed a trip to Berlin that he took with his wife during which he visited the newspaper building that was owned by George Mosse's father and grandfather.

Keywords: Berlin, Germany; British Empire; George L. Mosse; Germany

01:19:48 - Mosse's Sexuality

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Partial Transcript: "Do you have any sense of how the community responded to his coming out?"

Segment Synopsis: The revelation of George Mosse's sexuality did not cause any kind of stir at UW-Madison. SD talked about how he realized Mosse was gay before he formally came out. He felt that Mosse's sexuality did not really matter.

Keywords: George L. Mosse; Sexuality; UW-Madison

01:21:08 - Mosse's Advice and Influence

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Partial Transcript: "Well, shades of George Mosse in your current teaching, scholarly works..."

Segment Synopsis: SD's work on the myth of free labor ideology was shaped by George Mosse. He reiterated Mosse's advice for teaching in front of a classroom, which was, "Don't be a textbook wired for sound and don't be afraid to say outrageous things." SD also commented on the fact that if Mosse had said some of the things in 1995 that he had said in 1955, he would have lost his tenure. If Mosse was teaching today, SD speculated that all his lectures would make allusions to TV shows and he would constantly be scrolling through the internet for new material. He told a story about how Mosse showed him how to give lectures on controversial topics, such as masturbation.

Keywords: Contraversial Topics; George L. Mosse; Lectures; Tenure

01:25:15 - Paris 1968

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Partial Transcript: "This is complete non sequitur, but I did fail to ask you about a film that you mentioned, I believe, that you made in '68."

Segment Synopsis: SD made a film in 1968 called "Back to Irrationality" about the protests in 1968 by French students and workers, which brought the country to a standstill. SD was in Paris with his family in 1968-69 watching the aftershocks of the protests. He took splices of film from confrontations between the Parisian police and protestors and made the footage into a fifty minute film. The protesters caused a lot of damage to the streets and when France held an election, the conservatives won their biggest majority in French history.

01:28:45 - Closing Statements

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Partial Transcript: "Okay, anything else?"

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer thanked SD for sharing his stories about George Mosse and SD wished the interviewer luck with continuing her project.

Keywords: George L. Mosse

01:29:23 - Music Concluding the Interview 01:30:13 - End of Interview