In Memoriam: Prof. Eric Weitz

It is with great sadness that I report the death on July 1, 2021 of founding Center Advisory Board member, Eric Weitz. An outstanding scholar and committed educator, Eric brought wisdom and insight to matters large and small.  He was our colleague, and he was our friend. We miss him.

We thank Eric’s wife Brigitta van Rheinberg for the following obituary. We wish her and all of Eric’s family comfort and peace.  May his memory be as a blessing. 

Debórah Dwork

Eric D. Weitz

Eric David Weitz, PhD, passed away Thursday July 1 at his home in Princeton, NJ, surrounded by his family at the age of 68.

A distinguished professor of Modern European History at City College of New York, he was a frequent lecturer in public and academic settings on the history of human rights, the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the genocide of the Herero and Nama of Namibia. His book Weimar Germany was named an “Editor’s Choice” by The New York Times Book Review.

He was born in New York City on June 15, 1953 to Charles and Shirley Weitz, the children of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. The youngest of three brothers who remained close throughout his life, he grew up in a small home in Bayside, Queens. His father, a CPA, worked long hours while his mother took care of the family. The Bayside Jewish Center was central in their lives both socially and religiously.

The brothers attended Campy Hurley, near Woodstock, NY and it became an important part of Eric’s formative years. There he and his brothers learned about civil rights and peace, informed also by left-wing songwriters who performed there. Eric’s future academic work would continue to be rooted in the values he learned at camp and at the United Community Center in East New York, Brooklyn.

Eric married Carol Hunt Weitz in 1974 and the couple had two sons, Lev and Ben. He and Carol were married for 34 years with many happy years together.

His many written works, all published by Princeton University Press, include A World Divided: The Global Struggle for Human Rights in the Age of Nation-States (2019), Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy (2007); A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation (2003), and Creating German Communism, 1890-1990: From Popular Protests to Socialist State (1997). In 2006 he initiated a book series, also published by the Press, Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity.

In 2011, Eric married Brigitta van Rheinberg, his longtime publishing editor. He enjoyed getting to know her son Sebastian and her former husband Bob, who became good friends. Eric and Brigitta traveled more in the past 10 years than many people do in a lifetime. Highlights include Cuba, Machu Pichu, Kenya, South-Africa, China, Japan, and a wonderful trip to Switzerland with the entire extended family. There were also many trips to Germany and the couple spent much time in Aachen, where Eric came to know and cherish Brigitta’s family and friends, and in Berlin with their dear friend Hanna Schissler.

Eric is survived by his wife Brigitta van Rheinberg; his sons Benjamin and Lev Weitz (Doha Mekki); his granddaughter Dhalia; his step-son Sebastian Zahler; his brothers Mark Weitz (Carol Weitz) and Alan Weitz (Linda Cohen); and his niece Grace.

A private funeral service will be held at Princeton Cemetery.

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