Manuela Achilles

Associate Professor of German and History
Director, European Studies Program
Director, Center for German Studies

NCH 233
Office Hours: M, 10:30AM-12:30PM

Field & Specialties

Transnational German History and Culture
European Studies
History and Theories of Fascism
Democracy Studies
Critical Theory
Cultural Studies
Historical Political Culture of Green Ideas and Practices
Holocaust and Genocide, Perpetrator Studies


M.A. Free University of Berlin, 1996

M.A. University of Michigan, 1996

Ph.D. University of Michigan, 2005


Manuela Achilles is an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville (Virginia). She holds a joint appointment in the Departments of German and the Corcoran Department of History and is the director of the European Studies Program and the Center for German Studies. Achilles has published broadly on the political culture of Weimar democracy and is currently completing a book length studyof constitutional patriotism in Weimar Germany (forthcoming with Cambridge UP). Her next book project is on the history and legacies of Hitler and the Holocaust (under contract with Bloomsbury Academic).


Books and Journals

Environmental Sustainability in Transatlantic Perspective: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Co-edited with Dana Eley (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013 (Climate and Energy series).

Nationalism, Nativism, and the Revolt Against Globalization, Special Issue of EuropeNow (Journal of the Council for European Studies). Co-edited with Kyrill Kunakhovich and Nicole Shea; February 2018.

Invisible Fatherland: Constitutional Patriotism in Weimar Germany (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press).

Articles and Book Chapters

"Nazis into Victims. Holocaust Fiction Without Perpetrators: John Boyne’s "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.", Number 2 (February 2024). Themenschwerpunkt: "Faschistische Fantasien? Populärliteratur und Film im 20. Und 21. Jahrhundert."

"The Israel-Hamas War: Where is Europe?" Coauthored with Peter Debaere; in EuropeNow Daily, December 19, 2023.

"Memory, Responsiblity, and Transformation: Antiracist Pedagogy, Holocaust Education, and Community Outreach in Transatlantic Perspective." Coauthored with Hannah Winnick (Heinrich Boell Foundation/Obama Foundation), Journal of Holocaust Research, 35/2 (April 2021). Special issue on “Confronting Hatred: Neo-Nazism, Antisemitism, and Holocaust Studies Today."

"Anchoring the Nation in the Democratic Form: Weimar Symbolic Politics beyond the Failure Paradigm”, in: German Modernities from Wilhelm to Weimar: A Contest of Futures, ed. Geoff Eley, Jennifer Jenkins, Tracie Matysik (London, New York, Bloomsbury, 2016), 259-281.

"Nuclear Power? No, Thank You!" Germany's Energy Revolution Post-Fukushima," in: Achilles and Elzey (eds.), Environmental Sustainability in Transatlantic Perspective, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 104-127.

"The Economy Under the Nazis: Keynesianism Avant La Lettre?", 2013. Coauthored with Peter Debaere, Darden Business Publishing, UVA-GEM 112.

"With a Passion for Reason: Celebrating the Constitution in Weimar Germany," Central European History, Volume 43, Number 4 (December 2010), Special issue on the Culture of Politics / Politics of Culture in the Weimar Republic.

"Reforming the Reich: Democratic Symbols and Rituals in the Weimar Republic," in Kathleen Canning, Kerstin Barndt, and Kristin McGuire (eds), Weimar Publics / Weimar Subjects: Rethinking the Political Culture of Germany in the 1920s (New York: Berghahn Books, 2010), 175-191.

"Nationalist Violence and Republican Identity in Weimar Germany," in David Midgley and Christian Emden (eds), German Literature, History and the Nation. Papers from the Conference: "The Fragile Tradition" (Cambridge 2002), Oxford 2004, 305-328.

"Blutdurst' und 'Symbolhunger': Zur Semantik von Blut und Erde", in Walter Delabar, Horst Denkler, Erhard Schütz (eds), Spielräume des Einzelnen: Deutsche Literatur in der Weimarer Republik und im Dritten Reich, Berlin 2000, 185-315.

Book Reviews and Blogs

Review of Laura Hilton and Avinoam Patt (eds), Understanding and Teaching the Holocaust (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2020), Holocaust and Genocide Studies 37:3, December 2023.

Conversation with Richard J. Evans on the relevance of a past Cholera epidemic in the time of Coronavirus. Coauthored with Peter Debaere; Darden Water Blog, October 27, 2020.

Review of Benjamin Ziemann, Contested Commemorations. Republican War Veterans and Weimar Political Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013), European History Quarterly, 46:1 (2016), 203-204.

Review of Shulamit Volkov: Walther Rathenau. Weimar's Fallen Statesman (New Haven: Yale UP, 2012); German History, March 3, 2015.

“The Economy Under the Nazis: Keynesianism Avant La Lettre?,” 2013, Darden Business Publishing, UVA-GEM 112 (with Peter Debaere).

Review of Mark Edmundson, The Death of Sigmund Freud: The Legacy of His Last Days (New York: Bloomsbury, 2007), published on H-German (August 2011).

Review of Christian Emden, Walter Benjamins Archäologie der Moderne: Kulturwissenschaft um 1930 (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2006), published on H-German (October 2007).

Review of Pamela E. Swett, Neighbors and Enemies: The Culture of Radicalism in Berlin,1929- 1933 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), Social History 31:4 (2006), 497-499.

Review of Laurence A. Rickel’s Nazi Psychoanalysis (Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, published on H-German (March 2004).

Current Research

My research combines the historical study of German culture with theoretical analysis. I have published broadly on the political culture of Weimar democracy and am currently completing my manuscript, Invisible Fatherland: Constitutional Patriotism in Weimar Germany (forthcoming with Cambridge UP). The book's argument revolves around the republic's challenge to rally the nation around legally coded principles and ideas—such as equality and justice—that are as such are imperceptible to the senses. The republic’s symbolic politics made these norms and ideals visible and concrete, thus drawing the contours of a democratic alternative to the extremist politics the interwar period also engendered.

My second book project on "Hitler and the Holocaust (under contract with Bloomsbury Academic) provides a concise and adaptable survey of the German dictator and his genocidal regime within an interdisciplinary and transnational framework. The focus is on deeply intertwined processes of biographical and societal radicalization that culminated in the targeted murder of six million European Jews. The book concludes with a discussion of Hitler’s changing representations and legacies today.

My third research interest revolves around the idiom and culture of sustainability or Nachhaltigkeit. My co-edited volume on German environmental sustainability explores this topic in an interdisciplinary and transnational perspective. The project emerged from a "Generation Green" lecture series that formed the core of a crossdisciplinary seminar in German Studies and Science, Technology, and Society. My own article in the edited volume explores Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power. I expect to develop this exploratory essay into a book-length historical study of the German culture of sustainability.

Courses Taught

Teaching is an enjoyable and rewarding component of my academic work. Neighbors and Enemies, one of my signature courses, explores the tension in Germany between a chauvinist belief in German racial or cultural superiority and moments of genuine openness to strangers. Drawing on a variety of different materials – from history and philosophy to film and literature – the seminar challenges students to consider the construction and deconstruction of images of the “enemy” from different angles. My seminars on German and Jews, Germany and the Environment, and Hitler in History and Fiction also practice the careful multi-disciplinarity that characterizes this course. My larger survey classes include German History, Nazi Germany, and Western Civilization. Together with Kyrill Kunakhovich, I have developed a new lecture course on Fascism in Global Perspective. In general, my teaching gravitates toward a co-creative style of instruction that pays particular attention to the representational regimes and affective logics that shape our understanding of the past.