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Klemens Wilhelm von Klemperer, Nazi regime historian who taught at Smith College, dies at 96

Von Klemperer was an emeritus professor of history at Smith College in Northampton. His Dec. 23 death of natural causes at his home in Easthampton was confirmed Monday by his son, James von Klemperer.

Klemens von Klemperer wrote numerous books and articles related to German and central European history, including “German Resistance Against Hitler: The Search for Allies Abroad, 1938-1945.”

“He felt his greatest accomplishment was to give a balanced view of this period of German history, that while it was dominated by evil and by terrible misuse of power, that there were some good Germans who tried to make a difference and change this,” said James von Klemperer.

Von Klemperer was born in Berlin and became one of the leaders of the anti-Nazi student movement in Vienna, Austria, until he fled to the United States in 1938.

He enrolled at Harvard University, but his studies were interrupted in the 1940s by service in the U.S. Army. He received a doctorate from Harvard in 1949 and soon began teaching at Smith College.

Von Klemperer retired from Smith in 1987, but continued to teach classes at Smith and Amherst colleges, and the University of Massachusetts. At the time of his death, he still had an office at Smith.

His son said he continued writing well into his 90s and was an avid outdoorsman. He was a lifetime member of the Appalachian Mountain Club and made annual trips to the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

 

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