Dr Stephan Petzold

Dr Stephan Petzold


I joined the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies in 2013 after having taught in the School of History at Leeds (2011-2013) and at Aberystwyth University (2011-2012).

I studied Modern History, Politics, English and European Studies at Dresden, Newcastle, Strasbourg, Malmö and in the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth. My PhD at Aberystwyth was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and Aberystwyth University, the thesis on the 'Fischer controversy' over the origins of the First World War was awarded the British International History Group Thesis Prize in 2012.


  • Director of German
  • LCS Final Year Project Coordinator

Research interests

My ongoing research project on the ‘Fischer controversy’ explores how West Germans remembered and dealt with the two world wars during the 1950s and the 1960s. It examines the West German debate over the origins of the First World War, provoked by Fritz Fischer's study Germany's Aims in the First World War (1961). The book I am working on shows that the controversy was not only relevant for West German historians. Instead, it reflected significant changes in West German society and mentalities between the 1950s and the 1970s while at the same time being a key catalyst in reinforcing these changes.

The research on the 'Fischer controversy' has led me to explore more widely the profound changes in West German society in the first two post-war decades. In particular, I am interested in the emergence and proliferation of critical attitudes and how these have been represented and promoted in a range of different sites such as feature films and youth magazines.

My second main interest is in the changing memory of the Nazi past since 1945, in particular the local memory culture in Dresden but also recent developments such as the representation and reception of the TV series Generation War and representations of Hitler in popular culture.

Through teaching on the history and legacy of GDR, I have more recently also developed an interest in studying the final years of the GDR. More specifically, I am interested in the role that popular culture played in the revolution of 1989 and how it channelled post-reunification dissatisfaction and an emotional distancing of East German from the unified Germany.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD in International History, University of Wales Aberystwyth
  • MSc in International History (Research Training), University of Wales Aberystwyth
  • MA in Politics and Modern History, University of Dresden

Professional memberships

  • German History Society
  • German Studies Association
  • Association of German Studies in the UK and Ireland
  • Central European History Society

Student education

I mainly teach 20th-century German history with a particular focus on the post-1945 memory of the Nazi past.

I also usually contribute to other module in German as well as School-wide modules in politics and history. I am also leading Final Year Project training.

Research groups and institutes

  • German
  • History
  • PRIA
  • Memory, Trauma and Violence
  • Popular culture
  • Politics
<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>