Homepage for William L. Patch,

Kenan Professor of History at Washington & Lee University

Home C.V. My Courses History Links


William L. Patch

The William R. Kenan Professor of History

Washington and Lee University

204 West Washington Street

Lexington, VA 24450

e-mail: patchw@wlu.edu

Office telephone: 540-458-8774

Fax: 540-458-8498



Yale University

New Haven, CT


Ph.D. in German Social and Political History, 1848-1945

  •  Related minor field: European cultural history, 1860-1930

  •  Unrelated minor field: Reformation Europe, 1500-1648



University of California

Berkeley, CA


B.A. with Great Distinction

  •  Graduated with High Honors in the History Major

  •  Studied one year at the University of Göttingen in 1973-74

Academic Honors & Fellowships 




Appointed the William R. Kenan Professor of History at Washington and Lee University



National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for Independent Study and Research



Helena Percas de Ponseti Research Scholar



Charles A. Whiting Fellow



German Academic Exchange Fellow



Yale University Fellow



Elected to Phi Beta Kappa

Teaching Experience    

Since 2006

Washington and Lee University

Lexington, VA


The William R. Kenan Professor of History, teaching:

  •  Introductory surveys of early modern and modern Europe

  •  Intermediate courses on German history and international relations since 1800

  •  Advanced undergraduate seminars on Nazism and the Third Reich and “The Great War in History and Literature”



Grinnell College

Grinnell, IA


Professor of History, 1998-2005

Associate Professor of History, 1989-1998

Assistant Professor of History, 1985-1989

Visiting Professor of History at Nanjing University in China, June 2001 (lectured for four weeks on the rise and fall of the European colonial empires in Africa and Asia)



Trinity College

Hartford, CT


Visiting Assistant Professor of History



Yale University

New Haven, CT


Assistant Professor of History

  •  Taught in the Directed Studies Program on classic works of political theory since Thucydides
  •  Taught surveys of German history and undergraduate seminars on the Third Reich and the socialist labor movement

Scholarly Publications



[Book manuscript near completion:] “The Bridge Builders: Catholic Workers and the Forging of German Democracy, 1930-1976.”

Heinrich Brüning and the Dissolution of the Weimar Republic, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

The Christian Trade Unions in the Weimar Republic, 1918-1933: The Failure of “Corporate Pluralism”, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.


“The Catholic Church, the Third Reich, and the Origins of the Cold War: On the Usefulness and Limitations of Historical Evidence,” Journal of Modern History, 82 (2010): 396-433. 

“The Legend of Compulsory Unification: The Catholic Clergy and the Revival of Trade Unionism in West Germany after the Second World War,” Journal of Modern HIstory, 79 (2007): 848-80.

Entries on “Heinrich Brüning,” “Ludwig Kaas,” the “League of Christian Trade Unions of Germany,” “Friedrich Naumann,” and “Adam Stegerwald,” in Roy Domenico and Mark Hanley (eds), Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Politics, 2 vols, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2006. 

“Fascism, Catholic Corporatism, and the Christian Trade Unions of Germany, Austria, and France,” in Jan de Mayer, Lex Heerma van Voss, and Patrick Pasture (eds), Between Cross and Class: Transnational Approaches to the History of the Christian Labour Movement in Europe, 1840-2000 (Bern: Peter Lang, 2005), pp. 173-201. 

“Heinrich Brüning’s Recollections of Monarchism:  The Birth of a Red Herring,” Journal of Modern History, 70 (1998): 340–370.

"Class Prejudice and the Failure of the Weimar Republic," German Studies Review, 12 (1989): 35–54. 

"Dokumentation:  Adolf Hitler und der Christlich-Soziale Volksdienst.  Ein Gespräch aus dem Frühjahr 1932," Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 37 (1989): 145–55. 

"German Social History and Labor History:  A Troubled Partnership," Journal of Modern History, 56 (1984): 483–498.

Book Reviews:

Review of Barry Jackisch, The Pan-German League and Radical Nationalist Politics in Interwar Germany, 1918-1939 (Farnham, 2012), in German History, 32 (2014): 489-91.

Review of Shulamit Volkov, Walther Rathenau: Weimar’s Fallen Statesman (New Haven, 2012), in Central European History, 46 (2013): 188-90.

Review of Franziska Brüning, Frankreich und Heinrich Brüning.  Ein deutscher Kanzler in der französischen Wahrnehmung (Stuttgart, 2012), published online in April 2013 on the H-German Listservice.

Review of John W. O’Malley, What Happened at Vatican II (Cambridge, Mass., 2008), in The Historian, 73 (2011): 393-94.

Review of Steven Brady, Eisenhower and Adenauer: Alliance Maintenance under Pressure, 1953-1960 (Lanham, Md., 2010), in the Journal of Military History, 74 (2010): 1135-36.

Review of Stefan Vogt, Nationaler Sozialismus und Soziale Demokratie.  Die sozialdemokratische junge Rechte 1918-1945 (Bonn, 2006), in Central European History, 43 (2010): 713-16.

“In Memory of Henry A. Turner,” obituary published online, February 5, 2009, on the H-German Listservice.

Review of Eric Kurlander, The Price of Exclusion: Ethnicity, National Identity, and the Decline of German Liberalism 1898-1933 (New York, 2006), published online, November 2009, on the H-German Listservice.

Review of Richard Frankel, Bismarck’s Shadow: The Cult of Leadership and the Transformation of the German Right, 1898-1945 (Oxford, 2005), in Central European History, 41 (2008): 148-50.

Conference Report, “The Adenauer Era in Perspective,” summarizing the proceedings of a conference at Georgetown University on March 24/25, 2006, published on the H-German Listservice, April 3, 2006.

Review of Jonathan Wright, Gustav Stresemann: Weimar’s Greatest Statesman (Oxford, 2002), in Central European History, 38 (2005): 496-98.

Review of Bernhard Forster, Adam Stegerwald (1874-1945): Christlich-nationaler Gewerkschafter, Zentrumspolitiker, Mitbegründer der Unionisparteien (Düsseldorf, 2003), in the Journal of Modern History, 77 (2005): 843-45.

Review of Stefan Berger, Social Democracy and the Working Class in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Germany (Harlow, 2000), published online in July 2003 on www.h-net.org.

Review of Michael Wala, Weimar und Amerika.  Botschafter Friedrich von Prittwitz und Gaffron und die deutsch-amerikanischen Beziehungen von 1927 bis 1933 (Stuttgart, 2001), in the International History Review, 24 (2002): 681-82.

Review of Ulrike Hörster-Philipps, Joseph Wirth, 1879–1956.  Eine politische Biographie (Paderborn, 1998), in the Journal of Modern History, 72 (2000): 1054-56.

Review of Gotthard Klein, Der Volksverein für das katholische Deutschland 1890–1933.  Geschichte, Bedeutung, Untergang (Paderborn, 1996), in the Journal of Modern History, 71 (1999): 754-56.

Review of Dirk Müller, Arbeiter, Katholizismus, Staat.  Der Volksverein für das katholische Deutschland und die katholischen Arbeiterorganisationen in der Weimarer Republik (Bonn, 1996), in the Journal of Modern History, 70 (1998): 499-501.

Review of John Kulczycki, The Foreign Worker and the German Labor Movement: Xenophobia and Solidarity in the Coal Fields of the Ruhr, 1871–1914 (Oxford, 1994), in the American Historical Review, 101 (1996): 1567.

Review of Wolfgang Schroeder, Katholizismus und Einheitsgewerkschaft.  Der Streit um den DGB und der Niedergang des Sozialkatholizismus in der Bundesrepublik bis 1960 (Bonn, 1992), in the American Historical Review, 99 (1994): 1718-19.

Review of Gerhard Schulz, Von Brüning zu Hitler.  Der Wandel des politischen Systems in Deutschland 1930–1933 (Berlin, 1992), in Central European History, 26 (1993): 131-35.

Review of Eric Dorn Brose, Christian Labor and the Politics of Frustration in Imperial Germany (Washington, D.C., 1985), in the Journal of Modern History, 58 (1986): 985-87.

Review of John A. Moses, Trade Unionism in Germany from Bismarck to Hitler, 2 vols (Totowa, NJ, 1982), in International Labor and Working-Class History, 26 (1984): 111-13. 

Research Papers Delivered



Invited commentator, Franklin Humanities Institute colloquium on the book manuscript by James Chappel, "The Pope's Divisions: Catholicism and the Salvation of European Democracy, 1920-1960," Duke University, January 2015.

“The Nationalism of Catholic Laborites at the End of the Second World War,” German Studies Association Annual Conference, September 2014.

“From Accommodation to Resistance: Reflections on the Third Reich by Catholic Labor Leaders,” German Studies Association Annual Conference, October 2013.

“The Debate over West German Rearmament in the 1950s,” Washington and Lee Law School symposium on “Parliament’s Army: Lessons on Germany from Law and War,” November 6, 2012.

Commentator for the panel, “The Radical Right in the Weimar Republic,” German Studies Association Annual Conference, October 2012.

“The Influence of Left-Wing Catholicism on the Drafting of the Basic Law of the Federal Republic,” Washington and Lee Law School symposium on postwar Germany, November 10, 2010.

“Tyranny of the Majority?  Christian Social Workers as Mediators between the CDU and the German Labor Federation,” Yale History Symposium in Honor of Henry A. Turner, October 2009.

“‘Not a Large but a Strong Right!’  The Rise of Alfred Hugenberg in the DNVP, 1928/29,” German Studies Association Annual Convention, October 2007.

“Was the Brüning Cabinet ‘Presidential’?” German Studies Association Annual Convention, September 2003.

“Fascism, Catholic Corporatism, and the Christian Trade Unions of Germany, Austria, and France,” Symposium on Christian Labor Organizations in International Comparison, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam, January 2001.

“Is Economics Fate?  The German Government in the Great Depression,” Grinnell College History Colloquium, October 1997.

“Nazi Stormtroopers and Neo-Nazi Youth in the Federal Republic of Germany,” Ford Foundation Bridging Seminar on Nationalism in Eastern and Western Europe, University of Iowa, June 1993.

“Heinrich Brüning and the Prussian Tradition: On the Problems of Utilizing Memoirs in Historical Research,” Grinnell College History Colloquium, February 1990.

“Heinrich Brüning und die preußische Tradition,” University of Bochum, July 1989.

“The Christian Trade Unions and the Paralysis of Parliamentary Government, 1927–1930,” American Historical Association Annual Convention, December 1986.

Public History


“The Rise and Fall of Adolf Hitler,” five lectures on recent historical research to the Washington and Lee University Alumni College, July 2012:

  •  "Common Misperceptions of Hitler: Caricatures from Around the World in 1932/33"

  •  "The Education of a Dictator: Hitler's Youth and Start in Politics"

  •  "The Rise of a Dictator: The Nazi Seizure of Power"

  •  "Realpolitik or Obsession?  Hitler's Decision To Invade the USSR"

  •  "The Cross and the Swastika: The Catholic and Protestant Churches under the Third Reich."

“Deutschland und der Kalte Krieg,” guest lecture in German for German 312 at Washington and Lee, March 2012.

“Shock Waves from Normandy,” lecture on the historical significance of D-Day for Washington and Lee alumni at the D-Day Memorial near Lynchburg, October 8, 2011.

“Vatican Secret Archives hold tales fascinating... and not,” USA Today, June 29, 2010 (quoted interview subject for article by Dan Vergano).

“The Jewish Ghettos in Occupied Poland,” guest lecture for Literature 295 at Washington and Lee, May 2010 (invited to repeat in May 2012).

“The Founding of the State of Israel and Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict,” public lecture sponsored by the Lexington Woman’s Club, March 2009.

“The Collapse of the German Democratic Republic,” lecture to the Foreign Affairs Luncheon Group of the George C. Marshall Foundation, May 29, 2008.

“The Historical Origins of the Current Mideast Conflict,” lecture to the Grinnell Kiwanis Club, October 30, 2001.

“The History of Terrorism,” lecture for the Grinnell Senior Citizens Center and Elks Lodge, October 1, 2001.

“The Third Reich Reconsidered,” lecture to the Grinnell Kiwanis Club on August 29, 2000.

“Retuschen am Bild Heinrich Brünings,” letter to the editor published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, #58 (March 9, 2000), p. 14.

“The Holocaust and the German People,” (review of Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners), published in the Grinnell History Newsletter, December 1996, pp. 5–7.

“Schindler’s List: The Movie and the Book,” published in the Grinnell History Newsletter, February 1994, pp. 3–6.

"`War Crimes' and `Crimes Against Humanity,'" in Vigil: Human Rights Journal, vol. 1, #1 (Fall 1993), pp. 39-41 (a magazine founded by the Grinnell chapter of Amnesty International).

“Political Change in East Germany,” lecture to a Grinnell College “teach-in” on the fall of the Berlin Wall, November 12, 1989.


Administrative Experience



Chair, Washington and Lee British history job search



Member, Washington and Lee German Department job search committee



Chair, Promotion Review Committee for Associate Professor Richard Bidlack, Washington and Lee University



Chair, Promotion Review Committee for Associate Professor David Peterson, Washington and Lee University



Chair, Washington and Lee French history job search



Chair, Grinnell College British history job search



Member, Grinnell College Admissions Board (evaluated 400 borderline student application files)



Chair, Grinnell College Department of History



Chair, Tenure Review Committee for Assistant Professor Marci Sortor, Grinnell College



Chair, Tenure Review Committee for Assistant Professor Victoria Brown, Grinnell College



Chair, Grinnell College Department of History



Chair, Grinnell College Western European Studies Concentration


Summer 1993

Convener, Ford Foundation Bridging Seminar on “Nationalism in Western and Eastern Europe,” Grinnell College and the University of Iowa



Chair, Grinnell College Teacher Education Committee


Autumn 1989

Organized Grinnell College symposium on the bicentennial of the French Revolution, whose speakers included Keith Baker, François Furet, and Peter Gay

Foreign Languages


Fluent in German

Good reading knowledge of French