Kurt Baschwitz: A Pioneer of Communication Studies and Social Psychology

In cooperation with Amsterdam University Press

09jan2018 17:00 - 18:30


The fascinating life and works of the founder of the influential cluster of journalism education and communication research in Amsterdam and a key figure in the first emerging European and global networks in these fields. Jaap van Ginneken wrote his biography.

It was a century ago, that a young Jewish-German journalist rushed overnight from Hamburg to Rotterdam, to replace a predecessor correspondent who had been arrested and accused of espionage – halfway he First World War. Baschwitz was appalled by the mass propaganda he witnessed, and began to develop a book about ‘mass delusions’ - that became an immediate bestseller upon his return. Thereafter, he became a respected journalist under the Weimar republic, rose to become the editor-in-chief of the influential weekly of newspaper publishers, later published a book about the key role of the mass press in history.

In 1933, he fled to Amsterdam, where Baschwitz was made ‘private lecturer’ at the university, worked for a confidential agency gathering information about the rise of Anti-semitism in Germany: resulting in the ‘Wiener collection’, and the current Holocaust Museum in London. As well as for the newly founded International Institute of Social History, that smuggled the archives of socialist pioneers out. He also published books on mass politics and mass persecutions.

Halfway the war and occupation, Baschwitz was arrested in a raid, sent to the notorious Westerbork transit camp, for deportation to the East and certain death. But his daughter brought him papers that got him out for the time being. He went into hiding, she joined the resistance.

After Liberation, Baschwitz was made professor, and helped found the new faculty for political and social science in Amsterdam. Within it, he built a series of key institutions: a rejuvenated press museum, a national press library and a press studies department, as well as journalist courses.

About the speakers

This biography was researched and developed by Jaap van Ginneken, who started out as a student and assistant of what was then called ‘The Baschwitz Institute’. The book will be published in Dutch (by publishing house A.M.B.) as 'Kurt Baschwitz - Peetvader van journalistiek en communicatie' as well as in English. 

Joan Hemels is emeritus professor of communication science, in particular communication history. 

Claes de Vreese is Professor and Chair of Political Communication at the Department of Communication Science, University of Amsterdam. He was the  Scientific Director of The Amsterdam School of Communication Research between 2005 and 2013. He is the founding Director of the Center for Politics and Communication.

Abram de Swaan is a sociologist and emeritus professor from the University of Amsterdam. He received the P.C. Hooft Award in 2008. De Swaan will receive the first copy of this book. 

Jelle Boumans (moderator) is Assistant Professor Corporate Communication at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR). 


You can sign up for this program for free. If you subscribe for the program we count on your presence. If you are unable to attend, please let us know via spui25@uva.nl | T: +31 (0)20 525 8142.

Location: SPUI25