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Josh Sander

Joshua Sander



I am a historian of modern Germany and the modern Netherlands, with a special emphasis on the history of education. Prior to earning my PhD at the University of Tennessee in 2018, I was a visiting fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. I also conducted a year-long research trip to Berlin, Germany under the auspices of the William J. Fulbright Foundation. Additional grants and awards from the German Historical Institute, the Central European History Society, and the American Association of Netherlandic Studies allowed for three successive summer research trips to Amsterdam and The Hague. I earned an MA in Modern European History in 2011 and a BA in History in 2005, both from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Research Interests

My current book project focuses on the Nazis’ and their Dutch collaborators’ attempts to reform Dutch public and private primary and secondary education with an ultimate goal of reorienting the Dutch away from their liberal, tolerant, and independent-minded national identity toward a more ethnic, völkisch, and Germanic identity more closely aligned to Hitler’s Germany. They attempted to do this using a variety of methods, including a whole-sale reorganization of the educational sector in the Netherlands, the introduction of Nazified subjects, the introduction of new Nazified learning materials such as films and textbooks, and the implementation of an inspectorate to police the new initiatives at the local level. As in other territories occupied by the Nazis, however, the German overlords in the Netherlands were not entirely unified in their goals, to say nothing of the various groups of Dutch collaborators, which meant that the entire process was often confused, with different groups competing for power and influence among themselves.Ultimately, while these efforts to reshape Dutch education, culture, and national identity were a failure, the Nazis’ efforts in the education sphere during the German occupation of the Netherlands speak to their larger goal of creating a single, Germanic empire stretching from the North Sea to the Ural Mountains and from Northern Scandinavia to the Alps thereby encompassing all of the Germanic language speakers of continental Europe, and so it fits directly into the growing body of scholarship on Nazi Empire.


As follow-up projects, I am considering several options, including a close look at the life and work of Dr. Heinrich Schwarz, one of the leading figures in the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, as well as a more focused study of the Nazis’ efforts at creating an all-encompassing “Germanic” history book for school instruction in the future German-dominated Europe.

Josh Sander

Contact Information

  • 915 Volunteer Boulevard
    6th Floor, Dunford Hall
    Knoxville, TN 37996-4065

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