The Beginnings of German-Canadian Historiography After the Second World War: The Case of Gottlieb Leibbrandt

In 1986, historian Gerhard Bassler described Gottlieb Leibbrandt’s study on the German Canadians of Waterloo County from 1800 to 1975 as the “most informative and richly documented regional history of any German-Canadian community.” Trained as a political scientist, Leibbrandt contributed to the field of German-Canadian studies as a newly arrived Russian German emigrant in 1952 until his death in 1989. Leibbrandt’s scholarly efforts for the German-Canadian community in the post-war years have made him an important contributor, but little is known about his pre-war past and wartime activities. An ethnic German from the Ukraine, Leibbrandt immigrated to Germany in the inter-war period where he graduated with his doctorate degree in 1935. Young and ambitious, he poured his academic talents into furthering Nazi racial and anti-Bolshevik research on the East, first with the Anti-Komintern, an organization under Joseph Goebbels’ Reich Ministry for Propaganda, and then as an organizational leader for the Verband der Rußlanddeutschen (Association of Russian Germans).

In order to investigate the beginnings of German-Canadian historiography through an examination of the life of Gottlieb Leibbrandt, I will be headed out on two separate research trips this summer. I will travel to the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia in Lincoln, Nebraska to uncover Leibbrandt’s writings in the Deutsche Post aus dem Osten, a periodical that was devoted to the plight of ethnic Germans in Russia that became a Nazi propaganda piece by the late 1930s. The other trip is planned in August when I will go to Ottawa to conduct an oral history interview with Leibbrandt’s son, Wolfram Leibbrandt to discuss his memories of his father’s life. The results of this research study, which is funded by a German-Canadian Studies research grant, will be published as a chapter in an upcoming essay collection tentatively planned for early 2017.

Karen Brglez, M.A., is a researcher in German-Canadian Studies and research assistant at the Chair in German-Canadian Studies at the University of Winnipeg. She is recipient of a 2016 German-Canadian Studies Research Grant. She can be reached at k.brglez@uwinnipeg.ca

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