Department of History

Portrait (head shot photo)
Jochen Hellbeck
Distinguished Professor of History
Degree: Ph.D., Columbia University
Rutgers : At Rutgers since 2003
Specialty: History of the Soviet Union
Email: hellbeck@rutgers.edu
Office: 217A Van Dyck
Phone: 848-932-8230

RESEARCH INTERESTS

My research over the past two decades has centered on individual life stories and the shaping of the self in modern Europe, with a primary focus on the Soviet Union. I particularly seek to understand the place and the self-understandings of individuals in the context of cataclysmic events of the 20th century: the Russian Revolution, Stalin’s terror regime, and the Second World War. My earlier work examined the ways in which narratives of redemptive violence and transformation that defined the Soviet project attached themselves to many individuals on the ground. It revealed how authors of diaries and other personal texts became co-authors of the revolutionary script as they sought to fashion their lives to become worthy participants of a world historical drama. More recently, I have explored in comparative and transnational ways how the Soviet, German, and British states mobilized their citizens to fight during World War II. This research highlights the centrality of the Soviet war effort to the history of the Second World War as a whole.

Stalingrad: The City that Defeated the Third Reich (2015), first published in German, is the first Western study to probe the meaning of the Battle of Stalingrad for the Soviet soldiers and civilians who defended the city in this pivotal moment of World War II. Translated into Russian, Spanish, Chinese, and other languages, the book explores dozens of oral histories, ranging from army generals to nurses and riflemen, that were recorded by a group of Moscow historians who visited Stalingrad during and shortly after the battle. In 2009 and 2010 I visited former soldiers who had fought at Stalingrad in their homes in Russia and Germany. My website, Facing Stalingrad, features their portraits and voices.

I am currently working on two book projects - a documentary reader and a monograph. “Soviet Suffering under Nazi Rule” explores the first testimonies provided by Soviet survivors and other witnesses in the immediate aftermath of German occupation. Entitled “Total War,” the monograph presents a new reading of the Second World War centering on the elephant in the room - the Soviet Union.

As a member of the Rutgers graduate faculty I work with students interested in modern Russia and the Soviet Union, and in transnational explorations of Communism, WW II, and the Cold War. I encourage applicants to the graduate program in any of these areas to email me before the application deadline.

COURSES REGULARLY TAUGHT

Undergraduate

  • 510:391 World War II in Europe
  • 510:375 Revolutionary Russia and the Soviet Union
  • 510:373 State and Society in Imperial Russia
  • 510:271 Russia and the West
  • 510:102 Development of Europe, 1700-2000
  • 506:401/402 History Seminar: Autobiography
  • 506:401 History Seminar: Soviet Film
  • 506:102 World War II in World History

Graduate

  • 510:601 Colloquium in 20th c. Russian and Soviet History
  • 510:599 Problems and Directed Readings: Modern Europe
  • Seminar in European History

SELECT PUBLICATIONS

  • “Decisive Battle for the Freedom of Humanity” (interview with German National Radio, in German)
  • Stalingrad: The City that Defeated the Third Reich (New York: PublicAffairs, 2015)
  • “Formovka soldatskogo ‘ia’ [Forging the Soldierly Self],” in: XX vek: Pisma voiny [Twentieth Century: War Letters], ed. Serguei Oushakine, Alexey Golubev, Irina Rebrova and Elena Goncharova (Moscow: NLO, 2016)
  • Мy pobedim, kak pobedili 70 let nazad nashi dedy i pradedy”. Ukraina: prazdnovanie Dnia Pobedy v teni novoi voiny (with Dmitri Titarenko), [„’We will win, just as our grandfathers won 70 years ago’: Ukrainians Remember WW II in the Shadow of a New War “] Neprikosnovennyi zapas 108 (2016/4)
  • “Russian Sniper,” World War II Magazine, November-December 2015 (cover story)
  • “Battles for Morale: An Entangled History of Total War in Europe, 1939-1945,” in: The Cambridge History of the Second World War. Volume 3: Total War: Economy, Society and Culture, ed. Michael Geyer and Adam Tooze (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 329-362
  • “Commemorating the War in Wartime: Victory Day in Ukraine 2015” Eutopia Magazine, May 27, 2015.
  • “Ukraine Makes Amnesia the Law of the Land,” The New Republic, May 21, 2015
  • Victory Day in Ukraine,” EUTOPIA Magazine, 23 May 2014; click here for an interview in German and more images
  • Chelovek i lichnost' v istorii Rossii [History and Subjectivity in Russia], ed. with Nikolai Mikhailov (St. Petersburg: Nestor-Khronika, 2013)
  • Rossiiane i nemtsy v epokhu katastrof / Russen und Deutsche im Zeitalter der Katastrophen [= Russians and Germans in an Era of Catastrophes], ed. with Alexander Vatlin and Lars Peter Schmidt (Moscow: Rosspen, 2012)
  • "Breakthrough at Stalingrad: the Repressed Soviet Origins of a Bestselling German War Tale,” Contemporary European History, vol. 22, no. 1 (Winter 2013): 1-32; Russian translation: “Proryv pod Stalingradom. Vyrvannye sovetskie korni nemetskogo voennogo bestsellera,” Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie 116 (August 2012)
  • "Facing Stalingrad," Berlin Journal 21 (Fall 2011)
  • "In Memoriam Leopold Haimson" (with Peter Holquist), Kritika 12, 3 (Summer 2011), pp. 755-765
  • "Everyday Ideology: Life during Stalinism" Eurozine February 22, 2010
  • “The Diaries of Fritzes and the Letters of Gretchens”: Personal Writings from the German-Soviet War and Their Readers,” Kritika 8:3 (Summer 2009)
  • “The New Man in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany” (with Peter Fritzsche), in: Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared, ed. Sheila Fitzpatrick and Michael Geyer, Cambridge University Press, 2008), 302-344
  • “With Hegel to Salvation: Bukharin’s Other Trial,” Representations 107 (Summer 2009)
  • Revolution on My Mind: Writing a Diary Under Stalin (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, May 2006, paperback 2009)
  • Autobiographical Practices in Russia, ed. with Klaus Heller (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2004)

SELECT AWARDS

  • Morphomata Fellowship, Cologne (2019)
  • Guggenheim Fellowship (2017)
  • Short list, non-fiction prize of the Moscow Book Fair, (Revoliutsiia ot pervogo litsa, 2017)
  • Davis Center Fellowship, Princeton (2016)
  • Damals prize for best historical monograph of the year (Die Stalingrad-Protokolle, 2013)
  • American Academy in Berlin Fellowship (2009)
  • Rutgers Board of Trustees Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence (2007)
  • Michigan Society of Fellows (1997-1999)

Upcoming Events

Fri Apr 19 @11:00AM - 01:30PM
Black Atlantic Dissertation Writing Group
Tue Apr 23 @11:00AM - 01:00PM
Melissa Cooper: RCHA Seminar
Wed Apr 24 @10:00AM - 12:00PM
Faculty Meeting
Wed Apr 24 @12:00PM - 01:30PM
History Faculty Forum
Fri Apr 26 @ 9:00AM - 12:00PM
Annual Meeting, Rutgers Living History Society
Fri Apr 26 @12:00PM - 05:00PM
Honors Conference 2019

Undergraduate

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Graduate

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Faculty

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Events

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