Guenther Roth (1955)

Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Columbia University

I came to the United States in 1953 from the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research to finish a denazification study with Kurt Wolff at OSU. From 1955 until 1958 I was a full-time research assistant under Reinhard Bendix for the Ford Project on Labor in Economic Development housed in the Institute of Industrial Relations. A part-time graduate student in the Soc. Dept., I picked up my Ph.D. in 1960 with one of the first dissertations in historical sociology. For many of us assistants in the interdisciplinary Institute the apprenticeship nature of research was more important than disciplinary study, since we could look over the shoulders of our masters. For some of us our first teaching experience was in the Social Science Integrated Course. What all of this meant to me I have tried to recollect in Bennett Berger's "Authors of Their Own Lives" (UC Press 1990), where I also recount my growing up in Nazi Germany and surviving the war.

I retired from Columbia in 1997 to finish my last book, a historical lesson for German readers, "Max Weber's Anglo-German Family History 1800-1950" (in German, 2001). I document Weber's descent from one of the wealthiest Anglo-German families in the 19th century and suggest counterfactually that a stronger cosmopolitan bourgeoisie might have helped prevent the catastrophes of the 20th century. 

I will publish a book on the Leo Baeck Institute website in early 2011: Edgar Jaffe, Else von Richthofen and their children: From German-Jewish assimilation through antisemitic persecution to American integration. This concerns the circle around Max and Alfred Weber and their exiled colleagues. My manuscript is based on my discovery of 1,500 letters in the possession of an American grandson; I have annotated these letters and arranged for their donation to the Leo Baeck Institute in New York.

Dissertation Title: 
The Social Democratic Labor Movement in Imperial Germany
Dissertation Book Title: 
The Social Democrats in Imperial Germany