Brandon Bloch

Position title: Assistant Professor of History


Phone: 608.890.2612

Office: 5118 Mosse Humanities Building
Mailbox: 5039 Mosse Humanities Building
Curriculum Vitae (pdf) | Website

Brandon Block headshot


I am a historian of modern Europe, with an emphasis on Germany and its global entanglements. My research and teaching foreground questions of democracy, citizenship, and human rights. I am especially interested in how European national and religious identities have evolved against the backdrop of territorial conflict, divided sovereignties, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.

My current book manuscript, Reinventing Protestant Germany: Religious Nationalists and the Origins of Post-Nazi Democracy (under contract with Harvard University Press), takes a fresh look at the formation of West Germany’s post-1945 democracy on the ashes of Nazi dictatorship. It argues that political transformations in Germany’s Protestant churches—historically aligned with conservative ethno-nationalism—were central to the construction of post-Nazi democratic institutions and national identities. The book follows a cohort of pastors and lay intellectuals who served as collaborators, witnesses, and occasional resisters under National Socialism. After 1945, these Protestant activists recast longstanding religious concepts, as well as their own record under Nazism, to imagine Germany’s Protestant heritage as a source of democratic values. Protestant political movements played crucial roles in the expansion of West Germans’ constitutional rights during postwar debates about family law, conscientious objection, and emergency powers, even while forestalling a forthright reckoning with the Nazi past.

A second project at an early stage of development will analyze how German-speaking Europeans  imagined and intervened in conflicts over contested territories across the twentieth-century world. My research explores how Germans projected experiences of territorial conflict and ethnic cleansing in Central Europe to shape modern international law. I also work in modern European intellectual history, most recently publishing the first English-language review of Jürgen Habermas’s This Too a History of Philosophy.

My teaching fields include modern European and German history; Nazi Germany and the Holocaust; European intellectual and cultural history; and histories of genocide, war crimes, and human rights.


Ph.D., Harvard University
B.A., University of Pennsylvania

Selected Publications

  • “Democratic Illusions: The Protestant Campaign for Conscientious Objection in the Early Federal Republic of Germany,” Central European History 56, no. 1 (March 2023): 71-91.
  • “In the Presence of Absence: Transformations of the Confessional Divide in West Germany after the Holocaust,” in Germany and the Confessional Divide: Religious Tensions and Political Culture, 1871-1989, ed. Mark Edward Ruff and Thomas Großbölting (New York: Berghahn Books, 2022), 216-241
  • “‘The Limits of Human Jurisdiction’: Protestantism, War Crimes Trials, and Human Rights in Occupied Germany,” Journal of Modern History 93, no. 2 (June 2021): 363-400
  • “The Unfinished Project of Enlightenment,” Boston Review, June 18, 2020
  • “The Origins of Adorno’s Psycho-Social Dialectic: Psychoanalysis and Neo-Kantianism in the Young Adorno,” Modern Intellectual History 16, vol. 2 (Aug. 2019): 501-529
  • “Justifying Democracy: Johannes Heckel, Ernst Wolf, and the Recasting of Luther’s Theology of Resistance in Postwar Germany,” in Cultural Impact of the Reformation, ed. Klaus Fitschen et al., vol. 1 (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2019), 451-460

Selected Awards

  • Institute for Research in the Humanities Faculty Fellowship, 2024
  • Dorothy and Hsin-Nung Yao Teaching Award, 2023
  • DAAD and Center for German and European Studies Research Grant, 2022-23 (with Giuliana Chamedes, Kathryn Ciancia, and Francine Hirsch)
  • First Book Award, UW-Madison Center for the Humanities, 2022
  • German Historical Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2020-21 (declined)
  • Certificate of Teaching Excellence for Lecturers and Preceptors, Harvard University, 2019, 2020
  • Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics Graduate Fellowship, 2016-17
  • Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, 2015-16

History Courses

  • History 120 – Europe and the Modern World, 1815 to the Present – Syllabus 2023 (pdf)
  • History 201 –  The Weimar Republic and the Rise of Nazism – Syllabus 2022 (pdf)
  • History 410 –  Modern Germany, 1870 to the Present – Syllabus 2021 (pdf)
  • History 600 –  Genocide, War Crimes Trials, and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century – Syllabus 2023 (pdf)
  • History 845 – Empire and Nation in Modern Central Europe