Guy Stern

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Guy Stern
Guy Stern receiving the French medal of honor.jpg
Guy Stern received the National Order of the Legion of Honour, the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits.
Günther Stern

(1922-01-14) 14 January 1922 (age 99)
Academic background

Guy Stern (born Günther Stern, January 14, 1922) is a German-American scholar of literature, primarily German and comparative.


Stern was born in 1922 to Julius Stern and Hedwig Stern (née Silberberg) in Hildesheim, Germany. He was the only member of his five-person family to escape to the United States in 1937, and was assisted by an aunt and uncle in St. Louis and an American-Jewish agency. He also encountered a well-meaning consular official in Hamburg. Despite his best efforts, he later was unable to secure passage overseas for the rest of his family. After the war he learned that his whole family was deported to the Warsaw Ghetto and had perished there.[2][3]

In 1940, Stern started studying romance languages; he also later studied German. In 1942, he volunteered for naval intelligence, but was initially rejected because he was not born in the United States; he was subsequently drafted in 1943. In 1944, he landed in Normandy three days after D-Day as a member of the Ritchie Boys, a special military intelligence unit composed mainly of German, Austrian, and Czech refugees and immigrants to the United States, mostly Jewish. Part of his duty was the interrogation of German prisoners of war and defectors. He was member of IPW (interrogators of prisoners of war) Team 37. For this he gained the Bronze Star Medal.[4]

After the war, he went back to his studies, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Romance Languages in 1948, a Master of Arts in Germanistics in 1950, and a PhD in 1953 from Columbia University in New York City. After teaching at Columbia, he received an assistant professorship at Denison University in Ohio, and was later professor and head of the department for German Language and Literature at the University of Cincinnati in 1963. He was later head of the German and Slavic Studies department at the University of Maryland, then until his retirement served as a distinguished professor of German Literature and Cultural History at Wayne State University and intermittently as senior vice president and provost. He was a visiting scholar at the German universities of Freiburg im Breisgau, Frankfurt am Main (1993), Leipzig (1997), Potsdam (1998) and Munich.

He is currently the director of The Harry and Wanda Zekelman International Institute of the Righteous at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills (near Detroit). He is one of the founders of the Lessing Society (University of Cincinnati 1966), acting as its president from 1975 until 1977. As author and editor he published several books and compilations on German literary history, focusing mainly on literature on emigration and immigration. In 1998 he gave a lecture at the 60th anniversary of the Kristallnacht at the German parliament Bundestag in Bonn.

Stern has received several awards throughout his life, among them the Grand Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1987) and the Goethe Medal (1989). He has also received an honorary doctorate from Hofstra University.

Stern is married to the German author Susanna Piontek.[5][6]

Selected works[edit]

  • War, Weimar and literature. The story of the Neue Merkur, 1914-1925. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press 1971.
  • Literatur im Exil. Gesammelte Aufsätze 1959–1989. Ismaning 1989.
  • (edited with Gustave Mathieu) Introduction to German Poetry. Dover. 1991. ISBN 9780486267135. OCLC 742447008.
  • Literarische Kultur im Exil. Gesammelte Beiträge zur Exilforschung (1989 - 1997) . Dresden u.a. 1998.
  • Fielding, Wieland, Goethe and the rise of the novel. Frankfurt am Main u.a. 2003.


  1. ^ Franklin, Joshua. "German-Jewish Refugees in the American Armed Forces during World War II" (PDF). p. 34. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-30.
  2. ^ Finkelman, Louis (August 4, 2020). "Review: Guy Stern's 'Invisible Ink: A Memoir'". The Detroit Jewish News.
  3. ^ Guy Stern: Rede vom 9. November 1998 anlässlich der Veranstaltung Als die Synagogen brannten" (Weblink)
  4. ^ Artikel Guy Stern auf
  5. ^ Enslin, Rob (February 25, 2013). "German Author and Scholar Present Joint Reading on Holocaust Memories in Literature March 6". Syracuse University News. Syracuse University.
  6. ^ Wingblad, Aileen (April 4, 2016). "Nazi Germany, freedom, service: Guy Stern reflects". Farmington Observer.

Further reading[edit]

  • Feilchenfeldt, Konrad; Mahlmann-Bauer, Barbara, eds. (2005). Autobiographische Zeugnisse der Verfolgung. Hommage für Guy Stern [Autobiographical Testimony of Persecution. Homage for Guy Stern.] (in German). Heidelberg: Synchron. ISBN 3-935025-50-5. OCLC 230677581.

External links[edit]