Robert P. Ericksen

Kurt Mayer Chair, Emeritus

Robert P. Ericksen - Kurt Mayer Chair of Holocaust Studies
  • Professional
  • Biography

Additional Titles/Roles

  • Professor of History


  • Ph.D., University of London, 1980
  • M.A., State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1969
  • B.A., Pacific Lutheran University, 1967

Areas of Emphasis or Expertise

  • Holocaust
  • Modern Germany
  • Modern Europe
  • Western Civilization


  • Complicity in the Holocaust: Churches and Universities in Nazi Germany, (Cambridge University Press, 2012) : View Book
  • Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust co-edited with Susannah Heschel, (Augsburg Fortress Publishers, 1999) : View Book
  • Theologians Under Hitler (Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch), (Yale University Press, 1985) : View Book


Robert Ericksen, Kurt Mayer Chair in Holocaust Studies Emeritus and Professor of History at PLU, earned his Ph.D. in history at the London School of Economics.  He is the author or editor of five books and more than forty articles or book chapters. All of his work has dealt with two major institutions in Germany during the Nazi period: churches and universities. He retired in 2016.

His first book, Theologians under Hitler: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus and Emanuel Hirsch (Yale University Press, 1985), was translated  into German, Dutch, and Japanese. In 2005 it was made into a documentary film of the same name, produced by and shown on PBS to a market of 43 million households.  Ericksen co-edited with Susannah Heschel of Dartmouth College Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust (Fortress Press, 1999). His most recent book, Complicity in the Holocaust: Churches and Universities in Nazi Germany (Cambridge University Press) appeared in 2012. He is now under contract with Cambridge University Press to complete Christians in Nazi Germany, which will appear in their Short History Series.

Ericksen has been a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Lutheran Academy of Scholars at Harvard University; he has received research awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, among others; he is a founding member on the board of editors of a German journal, Kirchliche Zeitgeschichte, and of an online journal, Contemporary Church History Quarterly; and he serves as Chair of the Committee on Ethics, Religion and the Holocaust at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

In 2004 Ericksen delivered the biennial Kaplan Holocaust Lectures at the University of Cape Town, which led to his recent book, Complicity in the Holocaust. In April 2013 he delivered the Raul Hilberg Memorial Lecture at the University of Vermont. In August 2012 he spoke on “Pastors and Professors: Assessing Complicity and Unfolding Complexity” at the University of Cape Town conference on “Holocaust Scholarship: Personal Trajectories and Professional Interpretations.” The nine talks at the conference are soon to appear as a volume on Holocaust historiography. He has spoken on several occasions on the Holocaust, including the November 2007 Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Annual Lecture, published by the Museum as “Christian Complicity? Changing Views on German Churches and the Holocaust.”