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Honoring Gerhart Niemeyer

March 7, 2020

A superb essay by Gregory Wolfe on the work of the late Gerhart Niemeyer, Emeritus Professor of Government at the University of Notre Dame, has been published at Theimaginativeconservative.

A Memorial Seminar honoring Niemeyer has been assembled with many of his former students giving papers in his honor.

A Memorial Seminar

At a time of crisis in American higher education, former students are planning a seminar to memorialize Professor Gerhart Niemeyer’s person, his work and to give some attendees a space to address issues that represent Niemeyer’s influence.

In the mid-50s, Notre Dame was “home” to émigré scholars from East and Western Europe who were expelled from their countries during WW II. What was Europe’s loss was America’s gain and American scholarship was enriched by their presence.

Waldemar Gurian, Fr. Stanley Parry, CSC, then chairman of the Department of Government and a philosopher of “Tradition,” Eric Voegelin, Gerhart Niemeyer, and István Kertész and others on the Faculty from 1950-1970, “made” Notre Dame’s Government Department.

That time, also, was the beginning of the American conservative movement and Gerhart Niemeyer joined Bill Buckley, Russell Kirk and others in writing fortnightly columns in National Review. Even back then, that close an association with “conservatism” was frowned upon in Academe. Their students from that era, however, enriched scholarship, American politics and Catholic education.

During his tenure at Notre Dame, the Soviet Union threatened the United States with a “Cold War” and the American nation sought understanding of Communist Ideology.  Dr. Niemeyer met that need with a rigorous two semester course on Communist Ideology and important essays and publications about Soviet Communism.

A Civil Rights movement began to challenge inequalities imposed on African-Americans by slavery and post-Civil War Reconstruction and required steady and reasonable responses by activists, advocates of “States Rights” and the U.S. government. Stanley Parry and Gerhart Niemeyer developed a strategy for the Eisenhower Administration to address the demands for full civil rights of African Americans.

The recovery of ancient Greek philosophy had begun in the work of Bruno Snell, Werner Jaeger, Eric Voegelin, and Leo Strauss, and Gerhart Niemeyer was a participant in the recovery of that philosophy from modern ideology.

Gerhart Niemeyer was a participant in all these developments in mid-Twentieth Century America and attracted generations of students who wanted to understand the crisis of their times and participate in recovery of political and personal order.

Draft Schedule

9:00    Prayer

9:15    Fr. Niemeyer as Catholic Priest: Personal Reactions of his Students (TBA)

10:15  — Niemeyer and Voegelin: Recovery of Classical Philosophy (TBA)

11:15 — coffee break

11:30  Recovery of Order (TBA)

12:30  Luncheon

12:45 —  “My Colleague, Gerhart Niemeyer: Professor Walter Nicgorski

1:30    (Break)

1:45    Niemeyer, Notre Dame and the Catholic Church (Dr. Christopher Manion)

2:35    (Break)

2:45    Niemeyer and the Crises of his Times:

Niemeyer and Parry: the Civil Rights Movement (Howard Segermark)

Niemeyer: Contra Marx and Lenin (TBA)

4:45    National Review and Modern Age (Dr. Richard Bishirjian)

5:15    Niemeyer at Hillsdale College (Dr. Gregory Wolfe)

6:45    Benediction

Niemeyer’s influence:

Dr. Michael Henry, “The Wisdom of Humility: Gerhart Niemeyer’s Recovery of Political Theory” Political Science Reviewer, Fall, 2002, Vol. 31, No. 1.

Dr. Angelo Codevilla, “Thank You, Gerhart Niemeyer,” University Bookman, 5.5.2013

Dr. Robert Smith, “‘Love Divine’: Remembering Gerhart Niemeyer,” University Bookman, 2.23.2014

Dr. John Willson, “Gerhart Niemeyer, Refugee,” The Imaginative Conservative,   1.30.2014

Dr. Michael Henry, “The Presence of a Teacher,” University Bookman, Spring 2008

Dr. John Gueguen, “A Student’s Teacher: Gerhart Niemeyer,” Political Science Reviewer, Fall,   1998 – Vol. 27, No. 1

Dr. Richard Bishirjian, “Conservatism and Spiritual and Social Recovery,” Theimaginativeconservative, 2.25.2018

Some Issues:

The Catholic Bishops, “Is Education A Social Issue?” Dr. Christopher Manion

The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It, Dr.       Angelo Codevilla, (New York: Beaufort Books, 2010).

Please access this link and make a tax exempt donation in support of this event. Our goal is $20,000.


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