Professor Mary Fulbrook wins Wolfson History Prize 2019
12 June 2019
UCL’s Professor Mary Fulbrook has been awarded the 2019 Wolfson History Prize for her ground-breaking book Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice, which explores the aftermath of the Holocaust.
Professor of German History in UCL’s School of European Languages, Culture and Society, Mary Fulbrook is a leading authority on German history. She was selected from a shortlist of six authors to win the £40,000 prize.
‘Reckonings’ is a study of the legacy of the Holocaust, exploring the extent to which Nazi persecutors were brought to account, and how myths of justice being done developed in the years following the Second World War. Illuminating the stories of those who have until now remained outside the media spotlight, the book draws on personal accounts of both victims and perpetrators, exploring issues of suffering and memory, and asking difficult questions of the reader.
Historian and award judge Diarmaid MacCulloch announced the winner at a ceremony at Claridge’s in London, commenting: “Fulbrook journeys into some very dark places with the human sympathy that marks the best historical writing.”
Awarded annually to a work of historical writing that combines excellence in historical research with readability for a general audience, the Wolfson History Prize is the UK’s most prestigious history writing and most valuable non-fiction prize. The prize is run by the Wolfson Foundation, an independent charity awarding grants in the fields of science, health, education, arts and humanities.
Commenting on the prize, Professor Mary Fulbrook said: “It was a horrible book to write, it was about a ghastly subject and I was filled with moral outrage a lot of the time I was writing. I was either agonised and upset or moved by the people’s fates that I was writing about and felt almost as if it was impossible to do justice in the writing to the people who had so signally failed to obtain justice in their lives.”
She added: “Thank you to the Wolfson Foundation for understanding that it’s really important that we not merely understand the past but write to make it accessible.”
The Wolfson History Prize judges commented: “Quoting many moving accounts from victims of the extreme cruelty perpetrated by the Nazis, Fulbrook moves through the generations to trace the legacy of Nazi persecution in post-war Germany. A masterly work which explores the shifting boundaries and structures of memory.”
Paul Ramsbottom, chief executive at the Wolfson Foundation, said: “The prize celebrates wonderful books which break new ground in understanding the past. Mary Fulbrook’s book highlights the importance of history – and debates about history – to a healthy and flourishing society. It also demonstrates the engaging, accessible writing style which is a hallmark of the Wolfson History Prize: taking high quality, research driven history outside of academia to a diverse audience.”
- Source: Wolfson Foundation
- About Professor Mary Fulbrook
- UCL’s School of European Languages, Culture and Society
- Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice (Oxford University Press)
- Credit: Wolfson Prize
tel: +44 20 3108 3844
E: n.downes [at] ucl.ac.uk