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Theodore Hamerow
August 24, 1920 - February 16, 2013

Theodore Hamerow

Theodore Hamerow
Aug 24, 1920 - Feb 16, 2013

Theodore Hamerow
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Madison- Theodore Stephen Hamerow, G. P. Gooch Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, died on Saturday, February 16, 2013. Ted was born in Warsaw, Poland, on August 24, 1920. His parents, Chaim Shneyer and Bella Hamerow, were actors in the great Yiddish Vilna Troupe playing in Europe until 1925 when they emigrated to America. Ted lived with his grandmother in Poland and Germany until 1930 when he was reunited with his parents and they returned to New York . He was educated in the public schools of New York and graduated in 1938 from the elite Townsend Harris High School and from the City College of New York in 1942. He served in the U.S. Army in Europe from 1943 to 1946 as an infantryman and in the military police as a translator. After the war, he attended Columbia University, where he earned his M.A. in 1947, and Yale, where he earned his Ph.D. in 1951. He taught briefly at Wellesley and the University of Maryland's European program in Germany, and from 1952 to 1958 at the University of Illinois, when he joined the faculty at the University of Wisconsin. He taught at Wisconsin from 1958 to 1991 and served as department chair from 1973 to 1976. He was a Fulbright Research Scholar in 1962-63 and was chair of the Modern European History Section of the American Historical Association in 1978. He was one of the founders of The Historical Society, which makes an award annually in his name for the best dissertation in European History, and he was a member of the Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1992-2000. Ted was a prolific writer throughout his career and well past retirement, with a specialty in the history of Imperial Germany. His first book was Restoration, Revolution, Reaction: Economics and Politics in Germany, 1815-1871 (1958). This was followed by numerous books that he authored or edited, and he was particularly known for his two-volume Social Foundations of German Unification, 18581871 (1969, 1972). In the years after retiring, he published work on the 20th century, including On the Road to the Wolf's Lair: German Resistance to Hitler (1997) and Why We Watched: Europe, America, and the Holocaust (2008). In 2001 he published a memoir of his very early years up to 1930 entitled Remembering a Vanished World: A Jewish Childhood in Interwar Poland.
Ted well knew how fortunate he was to live in this country, which gave him the opportunity to thrive as a scholar and teacher and he worked diligently to assure this opportunity to others. He was known for his moral courage, always willing to speak up for what he believed was right even if his position was unpopular. He was a patriot in the finest sense of the word.
Ted is survived by his beloved wife Diane, his daughters, Judith Fielden (Peter) of Holbury, England, and Helena Hamerow (Eric Brown) of Oxford, England, step sons Joel and Jeff (Elisabeth) Franzen and by his 2 grandchildren Max and Anna and 5 step grandchildren Jack, William, Emma, Theo and Mia. Oh, how they loved to hear him sing!
Eloquent in speech, courtly in manner, passionate in beliefs well defended, he enjoyed a simple life. A kind and gentle man who loved well and was well loved.
A Memorial service will be held April 6, 2013 at 2:00 PM in the Grand Hall at Capitol Lakes Retirement Center, 333 West Main Street, Madison, WI.
Memorial contributions may be made in Ted's honor to UW Memorial Library, 728 State St. Madison, WI 53706 or YIVO Institute for the Jewish Research, 15 W. 16th St. New York, NY 10011

Joe Eisenberg on Jul 7, 2013

I took Modern European History from him. He was not 'Ted' to me, but a very serious, inspiring and learned teacher. We used his textbook.

Manfred Pagel on Jul 7, 2013

As undergraduate (1956-57) at the University of Illinois I attended Prof Hamerow's lectures on modern European history that reinforced my early interest in history. In my 30 years working as a journalist in Europe I repeatedly acknowledged the historical dimension of current affairs. After my retirement I studied German history and literature at the University of London (BA and MA)--a long-term effect of Prof Hamero's inspiring teaching. Dzienkuje

John Porto on Mar 8, 2013

There are many things that I miss as I grow older, and one of them will be the smile on Ted's face that always followed a quick witted comment.

Kathy Flynn on Mar 2, 2013

Dear Cousin Diane - I will always remember Ted as a kind, soft spoken gentleman. My thoughts are with you - Kathy

Bill Jordan IV on Feb 28, 2013

I remember stopping at Ted and Diane's one day. Ted was on his way out for one of his accustomed walks. We chatted for a bit and, when he learned that I spoke French, he switched from English to French! As a tribute to Ted's love of words and command of languages, I offer these closing lines from Colette's novel, La retraite sentimentale. The main character, Claudine, mourns the loss of her husband. The translation is my own.

Nous sommes seuls, à jamais. Venez! Nous laisserons la porte ouverte pour que la nuit puisse entrer, et son parfum de gardénia invisble, - et la chauve-souris qui se suspendra à la mousseline des rideaux, - et le crapaud humble qui tapira sous le seuil, - et aussi celui que ne me quitte pas, qui veille sur le reste de ma vie, et pour que je garde, sans dormir, mes paupières fermées, afin le mieux voir...

We are never alone. Come! We will leave the door open so that the night can enter, and the invisible perfume of the gardenias, - and the bat that will hang from the muslin of the curtains, - and the humble toad that will squat under the doorstep, - and also he who never leaves me, who attends to me for the rest of my life, and for whom I keep my eyelids closed, without sleeping, in order to see him better...

Laura Gellott (Ph.D. 1982) on Feb 27, 2013

I met Professor Hamerow in January 1976 on a visit to Madison prior to beginning my Ph.D. studies with him the following year. But I had already encountered him in the pages of "the three Rs book" which I first read as an undergraduate. Professor Hamerow was, and remained, everything promised by his prose: eloquent, erudite, witty and wise. As a graduate student I was his research assistant which, among other things, entailed typing up from the handwritten (in blue-ink fountain pen) manuscript the first draft of *The Birth of a New Europe: State and Society in the Nineteenth Century.* There I saw that his writing was a work of real craftsmanship. He would cross out a word or phrase, change it a second, even third time, sometimes returning to the original formulation. He held himself to exacting standards, and expected the same of his students.

In recent years I visited him at least once a year in Madison for lunch, first at Paisan's and later at Porta Bella, where he would unfailingly order a Garibaldi sandwich and a beer and settle in for conversation ranging from his ongoing reading and writing to the latest movies.

Professor Hamerow was, as has been noted, formal -- even courtly -- in manner and caring towards his former students.

When I first learned of his death this afternoon, among my reactions was a sense of a forward shift in the pews: von Ranke, Meinecke, Holborn, Hamerow -- now it is his students sitting in the front row, entrusted with passing on that legacy.

Bill Jordan III on Feb 27, 2013

Several years ago Buffy and I had dinner with you and Ted at your Terry Place house. We got to talking about a seal-fur hat I had bought some years earlier on a trip to Russia. We said that it looked great, but that we felt I couldn't wear it in Madison because it was fur. We had heard stories, true or not, of animal-rights activists accosting people wearing furs and throwing paint on them, and frankly didn't want to---How shall I put it?---get involved in that sort of thing as either target or perpetrator.

Ted listened sympathetically to this little story, which I'm sure recalled some of his own experiences with "liberals" (if that's the right word) down on campus, then said, "Well, that's really too bad. But I'll tell you what you can do. You"---and this with a generous flourish---"can give that hat to me."

This set our small table on a roar, and we've always remembered it as a great example of Ted's delightful sense of humor.

We're thinking of you, and look forward to seeing you soon.

Buffy Jordan on Feb 26, 2013

Thirty years ago I met Diane for lunch on the day she registered at the UW to resume her studies after a career in real estate. She came in, beaming, and said, " I just met a great guy. He's the most interesting man I've talked to in a long time. He's in the history department and he's going to be my adviser." So began the story of Diane and Ted, one that began with advising and grew into friendship, then a great love. Both Ted and Diane frequently said that their years together were the happiest of their lives, and I could see how true it was with Diane. We have been friends since we were three, and when Ted came into her life I saw a quiet change come over her, a deep contentment, and a joy whenever he walked into the room. I saw a mutual tenderness that seemed to deepen as Ted's health began to fail. This was a true love story, and I feel privileged to have witnessed it from the first day to the last. Thanks, Ted, for bringing the gift of love to my friend. Shalom.

Paul Rood (Ph.D, 1985) on Feb 25, 2013

The most brilliant man I ever met, and the most profound influence on my development as a historian. As a lecturer, he was famous for lecturing from a single sheet of paper, which he always tore up dramatically at the end of the lecture. He stated that he was a student of Hajo Holborn, who was a student of Friedrich Meinecke, who was a student of Leopold von Ranke; he jokingly referred to this as a case of "apostolic succession" from the founder of modern history. Nevertheless, Hamerow saw himself seriously as carrying the mantle of historical objectivity into the modern age. His book "Restoration, Revolution, Reaction" is still the single most thought-provoking book that I have ever read about German history. He was also a great mentor who cared greatly about his students. In short, a giant of the historical profession.

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