Irmtrud Wojak studies the resilience of individuals who, against socially predominant bias and politically enforced discrimination, maintain a principled stand based on legal norms and their own humanity. She focuses on individuals in her native Germany who, although embedded within the nation’s collective refusal to examine German conduct in World War II, nevertheless did exactly that—unafraid where the facts would lead.
Wojak’s project is “The Denazification of Germany: The Persistence of a Sisyphean Struggle.” It analyzes the biographies of returning Holocaust survivors and émigrés and of Germans born after the events that, powered by unprecedented collective dedication, shaped the nation before 1945 and today lingers in justice, medicine, and politics.
In 2009, after a decade of research, Wojak published the authoritative biography Fritz Bauer 1903–1968: Eine Biographie (Beck C. H., 2011). As state prosecutor, Bauer enforced a turning point in Germany’s cultural conscience: in the early 1960s, he initiated the Frankfurt trials against well-respected citizens who, until January 1945, had made Auschwitz function smoothly. Distrusting his own, still Nazi-studded police force, he directly informed Israel’s Mossad about the identity and location of Adolf Eichmann, enabling Eichmann’s arrest in Buenos Aires and his trial in Jerusalem. In 2008 Wojak completed her professorial habilitation and obtained her venia legendi at Leibniz Universität Hannover, one of Germany’s largest and oldest science and technology universities. She also serves as a lecturer at the Universität der Bundeswehr München, Germany’s equivalent to the United States Military Academy at West Point.