sybil halpern milton memorial book prize

Sybil Halpern Milton Memorial Book Prize

This prize of $1,000 is funded by private contributions in honor of the noted historian, archivist, curator, and long-time member of the German Studies Association, Sybil Halpern Milton. The prize is awarded in odd-numbered years. The next prize will be awarded in 2023.

The prize honors the best book dealing with Nazi Germany and the Holocaust in its broadest context, covering every field represented in the association, including history, political science, and other social sciences, literature, art, and photography.

There are no restrictions on the language or type of book, but it must be an original publication. There is also no restriction on the authors' citizenship or residence.

2021 Winner of the Sybil Halpern Milton Memorial Book Prize:

Lukasz Krzyzanowski, Ghost Citizens: Jewish Return to a Postwar City (Harvard University Press, 2020, translated by Madeline G. Levine)

2021 Prize Committee: Doris L. Bergen (University of Toronto; Committee Chair), Neil Gregor (University of Southampton), and Todd Presner (University of California Los Angeles).

The 2021 Sybil Halpern Milton Memorial Book Prize has been awarded to Professor Lukasz Krzyzanowski (Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw) for Ghost Citizens: Jewish Return to a Postwar City, translated by Madeline G. Levine (Harvard University Press, 2020). Ghost Citizens: Jewish Return to a Postwar City is a bold, honest, and extremely important book. Drawing on an extraordinary collection of Jewish Committee documents from 1945-1950, plus archives in five countries, haunting photographs, and original interviews, Krzyzanowski analyzes the lived experience of Jewish Holocaust survivors in the Polish city of Radom. Every aspect of postwar existence was marked by Nazism and the Holocaust, he shows, and the distance between Christian Poles, and the small and increasingly closed community of Jews became a chasm. Krzyzanowski brilliantly develops the concept of “ghost citizens” and grounds it in specific archival moments that are all the more powerful because he lets the difficult material speak for itself. He focuses on familiar themes – violence, communal life, and restitution of property – yet his innovative approach, a blend of everyday, social, legal, and local histories with close attention to material culture and deep respect for his subjects as historical actors, reveals interconnections that cut across the many stories that could be told and keeps us reading and reflecting.

Krzyzanowski navigates very sensitive terrain, and he does not make any easy polemical moves. He situates himself in the narrative to powerful effect; Krzyzanowski grew up in Radom, and his intimate knowledge of the city and its people informs his study in significant ways. Originally published in Polish, this book brings into the light issues that remain controversial and timely for Poles, Germans, and anyone who cares about how people live on after destruction. Beautifully translated by Madeline Levine, Ghost Citizens is a tour de force of historical scholarship and a profound and deeply humane book.
The 2023 Prize Information will be posted here.

2021 Prize Competition Announced

The 2021 Sybil Halpern Milton Book Prize commemorates the life and legacy of the late Dr. Sybil Halpern Milton (1941-2000), one of the world's most distinguished experts on the Holocaust and an extremely active member of the German Studies Association. It also commemorates the life and legacy of her late husband, Professor Henry Friedlander (1931-2012), former GSA president and also one of the world's foremost experts on the Holocaust. The 2021 Milton Prize of $1,000 will be awarded to the best book on any aspect of the Holocaust published during the years 2019 or 2020.

Translations, editions, anthologies, memoirs, and books that have been previously published are not eligible. The submission deadline is 20 February 2021. The prize is awarded under German Studies Association rules by a GSA committee, and is presented during the banquet of the GSA Annual Conference, which in 2021 will take place in Indianapolis, IN from Sept. 30 - Oct. 3, 2021. 

Note: Because of the pandemic, we request that books be sent as a PDF to the committee chair or a URL (e-book, shared file, etc.). The committee may elect after the deadline to request hard copies of books; however, given the many problems with mail being received by the deadline and the many closures of campus mail offices, we appreciate your helping us address the difficulties of logistics this year.

  • Doris Bergen, History, University of Toronto (Chair)
  • Neil Gregor, History, University of Southampton  
  • Todd Presner, German, University of California Los Angeles  

2019 Milton Book Prize Recipient

The GSA is pleased to announce that the 2019 Sylbil Halpern Milton Book Prize, awarded to the best book in Holocaust Studies published in 2015 or 2016, has been awarded to Professor Bradley W. Hart (California State University, Fresno) for his book Hitler's American Friends: The Third Reich's Supporters in the United States (Thomas Dunne Books/St Martin's Press, 2018).

Here is the text of the committee's laudatio: 

Hitler's American Friends is an exceptionally timely and important book. It brilliantly restores a sense of contingency to the history of the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. Hart not only reminds us that Fascist and Nazi ideas once enjoyed considerable support in the U. S. but shows how, but for certain circumstances, they might have been even more dangerous than they ended up being. His study stands as a timely warning against reading history complacently in a teleological perspective. Hart's book is not only thoroughly researched, with important archival evidence drawn from some unexpected sources; it is also written in a clear, lucid style that makes it accessible to a broader public. This is especially important given the relevance of the topic for the current political situation. Hart makes a strong and compelling case for the significance and impact of the American pro-Nazi movement in the 1930s and 40s, uncovering material not previously studied. While Hart acknowledges the political climate in the US over the past several years, the book does not draw facile parallels, but rather paints a rich and nuanced picture of the underpinnings of Nazi ideology during the war and today. As Hart writes: “In an era in which Americans have once again seen swastikas carried alongside American flags in Charlottesville, Virginia, and other communities, the lessons learned from the first defeat of Hitler's American friends should once again be remembered” (17). Indeed, Bradley W. Hart's book is a major contribution to the fields of American, German, and Holocaust history, one that helps us navigate the complex past as well as the present moment. Prize Committee: Leslie Morris (University of Minnesota, chair), Darcy Buerkle (Smith College), Gavriel Rosenfeld (Fairfield University).

Previous Prize Winners here