Skip to Content


How Not to Remember the Past

This lecture will examine the challenges for nations of dealing with their own difficult or controversial histories.

Susan Neiman headshot

These issues are explored in Neiman's 2019 book, Learning from the Germans: Confronting Race and the Memory of Evil, which draws on the histories of slavery in the US and the Holocaust in Germany to explore how a country can come to terms with its own historical wrongdoings.

Using her own unique perspective as a white girl in the American South during the civil rights movement and a Jewish woman who has spent much of her adult life in Berlin, Neiman combines philosophical reflection, personal history and conversations with Americans and Germans grappling with the evils of their own national histories to provides examples for other nations that may be facing resurgent nationalism, ongoing debates over reparations or controversies surrounding historical monuments and the contested memories they evoke.

About the Speaker

Susan Neiman is Director of the Einstein Forum. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Neiman studied philosophy at Harvard and the Freie Universität Berlin, and was professor of philosophy at Yale and Tel Aviv University.

Her books, translated into many languages, include Slow Fire: Jewish Notes from Berlin, The Unity of Reason: Rereading Kant, Evil in Modern Thought, Fremde sehen anders, Moral Clarity: A Guide for Grown-up Idealists, Why Grow Up?, Widerstand der Vernunft. Ein Manifest in postfaktischen ZeitenLearning from the Germans: Race and the Memory of Evil, and Left is not Woke.  She has also published over one hundred essays.  She is the mother of three grown children and lives in Berlin, Germany.