Herz, John H., 1908-2005

Alternative names
Birth 1908
Death 2005

Biographical notes:

Political scientist. Herz taught political science at several eastern universities.

From the description of John H. Herz papers, 1940-1976. (University at Albany). WorldCat record id: 81185143

The Herz and Aschaffenburg families became interrelated through the marriages of two sets of siblings from Cologne. The merchant Hugo Herz was born in Cologne on March 26, 1864 and married Clara Aschaffenburg, born April 1, 1875. Hugo Herz's brother, the judge Karl (sometimes spelled Carl) Herz, was born July 4, 1868 and married Elise Elfriede Aschaffenburg, the sister of Clara Aschaffenburg; Elise was born August 29, 1882.

John (born Hans) Hermann Herz was born in 1908 in Düsseldorf, the eldest son of Karl Herz and Elise Elfriede Aschaffenburg. In 1931 he recieved his doctorate in law from the University in Cologne. From 1939-1941 he taught at Princeton University at the Institute for Advanced Study and at Trinity College in Hartford before eventually moving on to Howard University in 1941. During World War II he worked for the Office of Strategic Services. From 1945-1948 he worked for the State Department, including assisting at the Nuremberg Trials. From 1952-1979 he taught at City University of New York as well as holding positions of visiting professor at several other universities. He died in 2005.

Gustav Aschaffenburg was born in 1866 in Zweibrücken. He became a well-known doctor of psychiatry who taught at the University of Cologne and helped to found the field of modern forensic psychiatry in Germany. He married Maja Nebel and they had four children: Hans, Gertrud, Helga and Eva Aschaffenburg. Much of his work in psychiatry focused on criminal psychology, including the concept of the born criminal. In 1904 he received his position at the University of Cologne, and also became director of the Lindenberg Clinic and co-director of the Institute for Criminology, in addition to producing numerous writings in the field. During World War I he served as a psychiatric expert and was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class for his work. In 1934 he was dismissed from his position due to his Jewish heritage. In 1939 he immigrated to the United States via Switzerland, where his wife was recovering from sickness after having traveled to Italy to assist her daughter in the dissolution of her boardinghouse in Italy due to the recent anti-Semitic laws there. Once in the United States, Gustav Aschaffenburg taught criminal psychology at such institutions as the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and John Hopkins University. He died in 1944.

From the guide to the Herz-Aschaffenburg Family Collection, 1811-1987, bulk 1935-1950, (Leo Baeck Institute)

Otto Grüters was born 1880 and died in 1971. Prior to World War II, Otto and his brother, Fritz, were teachers at the Gymnasium where Herz was one of their pupils. Grüters' family was partially Jewish, but though he and his brother were removed from their teaching positions, they were not deported. Frieda, sister of the Grüters brothers, married the violinist Adolf Busch, and their daughter, Irene, married the pianist Rudolf Serkin. Following the war Grüters became a high official in the local school district administration. He died in 1971. One of his neices Veronika (who became a nun), upon discovery of her Jewish roots, began to work with the Theresienstadt children's opera Brundibar, and performed with with her students around Germany and Israel.

John Herz was born in 1908 in Düsseldorf. He received his doctorate in 1931 from the University of Cologne and a diploma in 1938 from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. Also in 1938 he published a book warning of Nazi objectives, The national socialist doctrine of international law, under a pseudonym and shortly afterwards emigrated to the United States. After a brief stint teaching at Princeton (1939-1941), he began teaching at Howard University, where he eventually became chair of the political science department. From 1952 until his retirement in 1979 he was on the faculty of the City College of New York. During his career he also worked for the State Department as a political analyst, participated in the U.S. legal delegation at the Nuremberg trials, and contributed to plans for the democratization of West Germany. Over the course of his life, he authored many books including Political Realism and Political Idealism, which won the Woodrow Wilson Prize in 1951.

From the guide to the Otto Grüters Collection, 1946-1971, (Leo Baeck Institute Archives)


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  • Genealogy
  • Criminologists
  • Psychiatrists
  • World War, 1939-1945--Refugees
  • Nuremberg Trial of Major German War Criminals, Nuremberg, Germany, 1945-1946
  • World War, 1914-1918
  • National socialism
  • Denazification--Germany


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  • Germany (as recorded)
  • Düsseldorf (Germany) (as recorded)
  • Cologne (Germany) (as recorded)