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Benjamin Hett & Michael Wala – Otto John: Patriot or Traitor
Reception to Follow
Welcome address by Consul Yasemin Pamuk from the German Consulate General New York.
Co-presented with the University Alliance Ruhr (Ruhr University Bochum, TU Dortmund University and University of Duisburg-Essen), the Consulate General of Germany in New York, and the Hunter College Department of German, Roosevelt House is pleased to present a discussion of Otto John: Patriot or Traitor by Hunter College professor of history Benjamin Hett and professor of North American history at the Ruhr University BochumMichael Wala. The authors will be in conversation with Consul Yasemin Pamuk from the German Consulate General New York.
On July 20, 1954, the President of the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution disappeared from West Berlin and reappeared a few days later in East Berlin. 17 months later, Otto John returned to the West and was immediately arrested as a defector. A member of the German anti-Nazi resistance that had organized the failed assassination of Hitler ten years before, John had barely escaped the Gestapo in July 1944, he hid in Spain as well as in Portugal, and was eventually evacuated by British intelligence to support their anti-Nazi propaganda efforts, before returning to the Bundesrepublik in 1949. For decades it has remained unclear whether John went voluntarily to the GDR or, as he claimed, was kidnapped by Soviet intelligence.
In Otto John: Patriot or Traitor, co-authors Hett and Wala shed new light on a man who was part of the resistance and who made a career in Germany in the post-war period.
Michael Wala is professor of North American history at the Ruhr University Bochum. His research, teaching and publications focus on various aspects of American history, international and transatlantic relations, and the history of intelligence services. In 2023, Ch. Links will publish his next book Spy v. Spy: West German Counterintelligence and GDR Espionage.
Benjamin Carter Hett is Professor of history at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of: The Nazi Menace: Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, and the Road to War; The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic; Death in the Tiergarten; Burning the Reichstag: An Investigation into the Third Reich’s Enduring Mystery; and Crossing Hitler: The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand. Professor Hett has spoken at and moderated a number of public programs at Roosevelt House.
Yasemin Pamuk heads the Cultural Affairs and Science section at the German Consulate General New York. Previously, she served as liaison officer and personal advisor to Professor Volker Perthes, a former director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin and a senior advisor to Staffan de Mistura, Special Envoy for Syria at the United Nations in Geneva.
This event will be held in person at Roosevelt House and online via Zoom.
Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination will be required for all who attend, and masks must be worn at all times in Roosevelt House.