NCGS Online Seminar with Peter B. Thompson (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign): January 29, 2021

Max Lazar's picture
January 29, 2021
Subject Fields: 
German History / Studies

Friday, January 29, from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm (Eastern Time)

Konrad H. Jarausch Essay Prize Winner for Advanced Graduate Students in 2020

PETER B. THOMPSON (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne, Department of History)

 “Masters or Victims of the Chemical World?: The Question of Complicity in a Chemically-Minded Third Reich”


ABSTRACT: The presentation will examine the ways in which the gas mask served as a technological site of discipline, conformity, and complicity in the envisioned air and gas protection community of the Third Reich. Throughout the 1930s, the Nazis used the gas mask as a material tool in the creation of a compliant and chemically-minded German subject. With masks donned, German civilians now appeared as technologically augmented soldiers in the Nazis’ envisioned struggle for national survival. Indeed, in the eyes of the Nazis, the mask created a physically homogenized society that could survive, if not thrive, in a modernity defined by its toxic environment. Exploring the role of gas mask technology in the creation of a national community predicated on violent exclusions and bodily discipline, this presentation will argue that the average German civilian under the gas mask maintained a complex subjectivity that regularly shifted between perpetrator, bystander, and victim of the Nazi regime.


BIO: PETER B. THOMPSON is a PhD graduate in the History Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His broad research interests lie at the intersection of German cultural history and the history of science and technology at the turn of the twentieth century.


The North Carolina German Studies Seminar and Workshop Series (NCGS), an interdisciplinary and inter-institutional group of scholars in the Research Triangle of North Carolina is holding seminars online this term via Zoom. We cordially invite to our next event:



To get access to the Zoom seminar please contact the NCGS organizers MAX H. LAZAR ( and MICHAEL SKALSKI (  



NCGS Website:



Karen Hagemann (Speaker, UNC-Chapel Hill, Department of History), email:



Duke University: Department of History; The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Department of History, Center for European Studies


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