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Kenan Professor of History at Washington & Lee University

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 William L. Patch

William R. Kenan Professor of History

Washington and Lee University

Lexington, VA 24450-0303

e-mail: patchw@wlu.edu

Office telephone: 540-458-8774

Home telephone: 540-463-3852

Fax: 540-458-8498  


Ph.D., Yale University


Major field:

German social and political history, 1848-1945


Minor fields:

Modern European cultural history, 1860-1930;

Reformation Europe, 1500-1648


B.A. with Great Distinction, University of California at Berkeley





Attended University of Göttingen in Germany




National Endowment for the Humanities Research Fellowship


Helena Percas de Ponseti Research Scholar (Grinnell College)

Summer 1989

Charles A. Whiting Fellow


German Academic Exchange Fellow, University of Bochum


Yale University Fellow


Graduated with High Honors in History from University of California


Elected to Phi Beta Kappa




Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia

Since 2006


William R. Kenan Professor of History


Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa



Professor of History



Associate Professor of History



Assistant Professor of History


Taught introductory surveys of modern Europe and of “cultural encounters” between Europeans, Africans, and Asians; intermediate courses on France from royal absolutism to democracy, Germany from national unification to reunification, and international relations in the twentieth century; and advanced seminars on the Third Reich, the socialist labor movement, and the First World War.


Nanjing University, Nanjing, China: Visiting Professor

June 2001



Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut



Visiting Assistant Professor of History


Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut



Assistant Professor of History


Taught the classics of political theory since Thucydides in Directed Studies, a two-semester survey of German history, and seminars on the socialist labor movement and the First World War





  • [Book manuscript in progress:] “Between the Fronts: Christian Workers as Mediators between the CDU and the German Labor Federation, 1945-1970.”
  • 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.
  • "In Memory of Henry A. Turner," obituary published on February 5, 2009, on the H-GERMAN List: see http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=H-German&month=0902&week=a&msg=/%2b0WsP03udgOn7MHyo05aw&user=&pw=
  • “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.
  • Articles 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, Connecticut: 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: Comparative Histories of Christian Labour in Europe, 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 Shulamit Volkov, Walther Rathenau: Weimar's Fallen Statesman, published in Central European History, 46 (2013): 188-90.
  • Review of Franziska Brüning, Frankreich und Heinrich Brüning.  Ein deutscher Kanzler in der französischen Wahrnehmung, published online in April 2013 on H-German at http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=36573.
  • Review of John W. O'Malley, What Happened at Vatican II, published in The Historian, 73 (2011): 393-94.
  • Review of Steven J. Brady, Eisenhower and Adenauer: Alliance Meintenance under Pressure, 1953-1960, published in Journal of Military History, 74 (2010): 1335-36.
  • Review of Stefan Vogt, Nationaler Sozialismus und Soziale Demokratie.  Die sozialdemokratische junge Rechte 1918-1945, published in Central European History, 43 (2010): 713-16. 
  • Review of Eric Kurlander, The Price of Exclusion: Race, Nationalism and the Decline of German Liberalism 1898-1933, published on H-German Listservice, November 2009: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=25822.
  • Review of Richard Frankel, Bismarck’s Shadow: The Cult of Leadership and the Transformation of the German Right, 1898-1945, published in Central European History, 41 (2008): 148-50.
  • Review of Jonathan Wright, Gustav Stresemann: Weimar’s Greatest Statesman, published in Central European History, 38 (2005): 496-98.
  • Conference Report: “The Adenauer Era in Perspective,” summarizing the proceedings of a conference at Georgetown University on March 24/25, 2006, published on H-German Listservice, April 3, 2006
  • Review of Bernhard Forster, Adam Stegerwald (1874-1945): Christlich-nationale Gewerkschafter, Zentrumspolitiker, Mitbegründer der Unionsparteien, published 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, published on H-German Listservice, July 2003: www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.cgi?path=235551058984804
  • Review of Michael Wala, Weimar und Amerika.  Botschafter Friedrich von Prittwitz und Gaffron und die deutsch-amerikanischen Beziehungen von 1927 bis 1933, published in the International History Review, 24 (2002): 681-82.
  • Review of Ulrike Hörster-Philipps, Joseph Wirth, 1879–1956.  Eine politische Biographie, published 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, published 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, published in the Journal of Modern History, 70 (1998): 499–501.
  • Review of John Kulczycki, The Foreign Worker and the German Labor Movement, pp.  Xenophobia and Solidarity in the Coal Fields of the Ruhr, 1871–1914, published 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, published 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, published in Central European History, 26 (1993): 131–35.
  • Review of Eric Dorn Brose, Christian Labor and the Politics of Frustration in Imperial Germany, published in the Journal of Modern History, 58 (1986): 985–87.
  • Review of John A. Moses, Trade Unionism in Germany from Bismarck to Hitler, published in International Labor and Working-Class History, 26 (1984): 111–13.
  • “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.



  • "Against the Theory of Collective Guilt: The Nationalism of Catholic Laborites at the End of the Second World War," Annual Conference of the German Studies Association, Kansas City, September 2014.
  • "From Accommodation to Resistance: Reflections on the Third Reich by Catholic Labor Leaders," Annual Conference of the German Studies Association, Denver, 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," October 2012.
  • Commentator for the panel, "The Radical Right in the Weimar Republic: New Research and Insights," Annual Conference of the German Studies Association, Milwaukee, October 2012.
  • "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 17, 2009.
  • “’Not a Large but a Strong Right!’  The Rise of Alfred Hugenberg in the DNVP, 1928/29,” Annual Conference of the German Studies Association, San Diego, October 2007.
  • “Was the Brüning Cabinet 'Presidential’?” Annual Conference of the German Studies Association, 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 Western and Eastern 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,” Annual Convention of the American Historical Association, December 1986.



Chair, Washington and Lee French history tenure track job search


Chair, Grinnell College German history leave replacement job search


Chair, Grinnell College British history tenure track job search


Chair, Grinnell College Department of History

2000-2002; 1992-1994

Member, Grinnell College Off-Campus Study Board


Member, Grinnell College Admissions Board


Chair, Grinnell College Western European Studies Concentration


Member, Grinnell College Social Studies Division Personnel Review Board

2001-2003; 1998-1999; 1992-1994

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

Summer 1993

Chair, Grinnell College Teacher Education Committee

1993-1994; 1988-1989




Fluent in German, written and spoken



Good reading knowledge of French