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Edith Sheffer

Edith Sheffer

Senior Fellow, Institute of European Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Modern Europe
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
B.A., Harvard University, summa cum laude

Edith Sheffer is a Senior Fellow at the Institute of European Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her current book, Asperger's Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna (W. W. Norton, 2018) investigates Hans Asperger’s creation of the autism diagnosis in the Third Reich, examining Nazi psychiatry's emphasis on social spirit and Asperger's involvement in the euthanasia program that killed children considered to be disabled. A related project through Stanford's Spatial History Lab maps the transnational development of child psychiatry as a discipline: "Forming Selves: The Creation of Child Psychiatry from Red Vienna to the Third Reich and Abroad." Sheffer's prize-winning first book, Burned Bridge: How East and West Germans Made the Iron Curtain (Oxford University Press, 2011), challenges the moral myth of the Berlin Wall, the Cold War’s central symbol -- revealing how the Iron Curtain was not simply imposed by Communism, but emerged from the everyday actions of ordinary people. Her next book, Hidden Front: Switzerland and World War Twotells an in-depth history of a nation whose pivotal role remains unexposed yet was decisive in the course of the Second World War.  

Selected Publications & Projects

Edith Sheffer
Book prizes:
Paul Birdsall Prize, American Historical Association
Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History, Wiener Library, London
Keller-Sierra ...
Edith Sheffer
Neutral Switzerland played a pivotal role in the Second World War, as daily decisions in one small nation shaped Armageddon across a continent.


Selected Journals & Book Chapters

Edith Sheffer
How did the inter-German border, created in 1945, become one of the most formidable boundaries in the world by 1952? The early boundary was not...
Edith Sheffer
At the beginning of my course on German history at Stanford University last fall, each student drew an identity at random that he or she would keep...
Edith Sheffer
Fifty years ago, on August 13, 1961, the Berlin Wall went up overnight. It immediately became a chilling icon of political repression. Yet on its...
Edith Sheffer
Coherence with Conceptual Maps,” Edith Replogle Sheffer, Teaching &...

More Information

Selected Fellowships and Awards

  • Senior Fellow, Institute of European Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 2017-
  • Annenberg Faculty Fellow, 2014-2016
  • Stanford Humanities Faculty Fellow, 2013-2014
  • William H. and Frances Green Faculty Fellow, Stanford University, 2012-2013
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities, Stanford University, 2008-2010
  • Department of History Dissertation Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley, 2006-2007
  • Department of History Rosenberg and Ehrman Fellowships, University of California, Berkeley, 2003-2006
  • John L. Simpson Memorial Fellowship in International and Comparative Studies, 2004-2005
  • Institute of European Studies Dissertation Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley, 2004-2005
  • Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation Dissertation Fellowship, 2003-2004
  • German Chancellor Scholarship, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, 2002-2003
  • Institute of European Studies Research Grant, University of California, Berkeley, 2001
  • Mellon Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, 2001
  • Humanities Research Grant, University of California, Berkeley, 2001
  • Institute of European Studies Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley, 2000-2002
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies, 1999-2000
  • Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, 1999-2004 (declined)
  • Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Fellowship, Harvard University, 1996-1997

Teaching Awards

  • Stanford Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Award, 2015
  • Stanford University H&S Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award, 2013
  • Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award, second place, 2009
  • Teaching Effectiveness Award, UC Berkeley, 2002
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award, UC Berkeley, 2002

Selected Reviews for Asperger's Children: The Origins of Autism in Nazi Vienna

Selected Media & Interviews


Selected Reviews of Burned Bridge: How East & West Germans Made the Iron Curtain