Gerhart Hass (29 March 1931 – 3 May 2008) was a German historian. His approach reflected the Marxist prism through which East Germany's historical establishment viewed their subject. He worked at the History Institute, part of the Berlin based (East) German Academy of Sciences and Humanities, where from 1974 he was a professor.[1] His work concentrated on the History of Fascism in Europe and the Second World War.[2]

Life

Gerhart Hass was born in Berlin roughly two years before the Nazis took power and transformed Germany into a one-party dictatorship. By the time he left school in 1949 half of Berlin and a large area surrounding the city were being administered as the Soviet occupation zone. He joined the Free German Youth ("Freie Deutsche Jugend" / FDJ), becoming a district secretary for what was in effect the youth wing of the ruling party in what was relaunched, in October of that year, as the German Democratic Republic, a new kind of one-party dictatorship. The next year Hass transferred to Berlin's Humboldt University and embarked on a degree course in History. After a year, however, in 1951 he was recommended for a transfer abroad. For five years he studied History at the Zhdanov University in Leningrad (as the Saint Petersburg State University was then known), and it was from Leningrad that he emerged in 1956 with a History Degree.

During 1956/57 Hass was employed in a support capacity at the East German Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In 1957 he started work as a research assistant - later becoming a research team leader - in the "1917-1945" department at the Institute for History at the (East) German Academy of Sciences and Humanities ("Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin"). By 1962 he had also become an "extraordinary academic aspirant" ("außerplanmäßige wissenschaftliche Aspirantur"), which in Soviet bloc countries was a step along the way to a career in the higher reaches of the academic hierarchy. He received his doctorate in April 1962 from Halle University. His dissertation was a study of "the development of differences between American and German imperialisms on the eve of the Second World War (1938–1939)":[3] his supervisors for the work were Leo Stern and Werner Basler.

In 1965 Hass took on leadership of the research group "Fascism and the Second World War". His higher level doctorate ("Promotion B") was received in 1970 in return for a piece of work on "The Second World War in the confrontation between both social systems". Between 1974 and 1991 Hass held a professorship at the (East) German Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He contributed to a vast project on "Germany in the Second World War", which covered domestic policy, the war economy, anti-fascist resistance, foreign policy and policy in respect of occupied territories. The project addressed German policy on these matters through the interpretational prism of Lenin's Theory of Imperialism and of Dimitrov's thesis of fascism. A valuable by-product was volumes of suitably edited documents.

Hass was secretary to the German section of the Commission of East German and Soviet Historians. After reunification, from 1991 till May 1995 he worked under the framework of the Academic Integration Programme of Coordination and Reconstruction Initiatives in Berlin.

It later transpired that in 1965 Gerhart Hass signed an agreement with the Ministry for State Security whereby he became an Informal collaborator ("inoffizieller Mitarbeiter" / IM), providing information in the context of the ministry's vast surveillance programme. The files show his cover name as "IM Rolf". The historian Martin Sabrow asserts that Hass was a type of "expert collaborator" operating only in a peripheral manner, but called in for consultation if an operation had gone wrong. One attraction of providing information to the Stasi for ambitious professional people was the possibility of gaining increased influence in the work place. It was also seen as a way to win the trust of the authorities and thereby to improve one's chances of obtaining permission to visit the west.[4]

In 1985 Hass was deprived of his party membership after falling into arrears with his party contributions. The Ministry for State Security also ended relations with him in 1985.[4]

Publications

References

  1. ^ "2008 Gerhart Hass stirbt im Alter von 77 Jahren ..." Brigitte Ferlet. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  2. ^ Lothar Mertens: Lexikon der DDR-Historiker. Biographien und Bibliographien zu den Geschichtswissenschaftlern aus der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik. K. G. Saur, München 2006, ISBN 3-598-11673-X.
  3. ^ "Verfasser: Hass, Gerhart ... Hochschulschrift: "Teilw. zugl.: Halle, Univ., Diss., 1962 u.d.T.: Hass, Gerhart: Die Entwicklung der Gegensätze zwischen dem amerikanischen und dem deutschen Imperialismus am Vorabend des 2. Weltkrieges"". On-line library catalogue. Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
  4. ^ a b Martin Sabrow: Das Diktat des Konsenses: Geschichtswissenschaft in der DDR 1949–1969. Oldenbourg, München 2001, ISBN 3-486-56559-1, pp. 172-173.