Hajo Holborn
Hajo Holborn was a German-American historian and specialist in modern German history.


Holborn was born the son of Ludwig Holborn, the German physicist and "Direktor der Physikalisch-Technischen Reichsanstalt
Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt
The Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt is based in Braunschweig and Berlin. It is the national institute for natural and engineering sciences and the highest technical authority for metrology and physical safety engineering in Germany....

". In 19-- he became a student of Friedrich Meinecke
Friedrich Meinecke
Friedrich Meinecke was a liberal German historian, probably the most famous German historian of his generation. As a representative of an older tradition still writing after World War II, he was an important figure to the end of his life.-Life:Meinecke was born in Salzwedel in the Province of Saxony...

 at Berlin University, where he achieved a doctor of philosophy in 1924. After establishing at Heidelberg
-Early history:Between 600,000 and 200,000 years ago, "Heidelberg Man" died at nearby Mauer. His jaw bone was discovered in 1907; with scientific dating, his remains were determined to be the earliest evidence of human life in Europe. In the 5th century BC, a Celtic fortress of refuge and place of...

 in 1926, he became Privatdozent
Privatdozent or Private lecturer is a title conferred in some European university systems, especially in German-speaking countries, for someone who pursues an academic career and holds all formal qualifications to become a tenured university professor...

 there until he was called back to Berlin as Carnegie Professor of History and International Relationships at the private Deutsche Hochschule für Politik; there he worked until his dismissal in 1933.

To avoid the Nazi terror, that same year he fled to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, then emigrated to the United States in 1934. Shortly after coming to America, he was appointed guest professor of German history at Yale
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

. He taught Diplomatic History at Tufts University
Tufts University
Tufts University is a private research university located in Medford/Somerville, near Boston, Massachusetts. It is organized into ten schools, including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and on the eastern border of France...

, Mass.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

, (1936–1942) and was a guest professor at the University of Vienna
University of Vienna
The University of Vienna is a public university located in Vienna, Austria. It was founded by Duke Rudolph IV in 1365 and is the oldest university in the German-speaking world...

, Austria (1955). He became a U.S. citizen and during the Second World War he worked for the Office of Strategic Services
Office of Strategic Services
The Office of Strategic Services was a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II. It was the wartime intelligence agency, and it was a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency...

 as special assistant to the chief of its Research and Analysis Branch, William L. Langer
William L. Langer
William Leonard Langer was the chair of the history department at Harvard University and the World War II volunteer head of the Research and Analysis branch of the Office of Strategic Services...

. At the conclusion of the war he served as Randolph W. Townsend professor at Yale until 1959, when he was awarded the title of Sterling Professor of History at Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

; here he continued to teach and write until his death in 1969.

In 1967 Holborn became the first president of the American Historical Association
American Historical Association
The American Historical Association is the oldest and largest society of historians and professors of history in the United States. Founded in 1884, the association promotes historical studies, the teaching of history, and the preservation of and access to historical materials...

 not born in the United States. Several specialists of German and European History in America, including Peter Gay
Peter Gay
Peter Gay is Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale University and former director of the New York Public Library's Center for Scholars and Writers . Gay received the American Historical Association's Award for Scholarly Distinction in 2004...

, were students of Holborn.


Like their father, Hajo Holborn's children pursued successful careers in academic scholarship. His son Fred Holborn was a senior adjunct professor of American Foreign Policy at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

 before his death in 2005. Holborn's daughter, Hanna Holborn Gray
Hanna Holborn Gray
Hanna Holborn Gray , is a historian of political thought in the area of the Renaissance and Reformation, and an emerita professor and former President of the University of Chicago.-Biography:...

 (born 1930), is a historian of political thought in the Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 and Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

. She is the Harry Pratt Judson Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 and was the University's President for 15 years.


Prior to his emigration, Holborn was commissioned by the government to compose a history of the constitution of the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

, resulting in the work "The Weimar Republic and the Birth of the German Democratic Party: The Hajo Holborn Papers, 1849-1956." Other works by Holborn include the History of Modern Germany series, spanning three volumes and covering a four-century period culminating in the capitulation of Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

's regime in 1945.

Holborn's work has been praised by several of his distinguished peers (e.g. Fritz Stern
Fritz Stern
Fritz Richard Stern is a German-born American historian of German history, Jewish history, and historiography. He is a University Professor Emeritus and a former provost at New York's Columbia University...

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