Carnegie Mellon University

Donna Harsch

Donna Harsch

Professor of History, History


Donna Harsch is a political and social historian of twentieth-century Germany. Her first book, German Social Democracy and the Rise of Nazism (University of North Carolina Press, 1993) analyzes the ways in which the organizational structures and political culture of the Social Democrats shaped their struggle against Nazism during the final crisis of the Weimar Republic. Revenge of the Domestic: Women, the Family, and Communism in the German Democratic Republic, her second book, appeared in 2007 with Princeton University Press. Revenge of the Domestic offers a history of the relationship between ordinary women and the Communist state in East Germany from 1945 to the early 1970s. Professor Harsch’s current research is on health and disease in post-1945 Germany. She is working on a comparative history of infant mortality in East and West Germany, 1945 to 1990.


Ph.D.: Yale University, 1987


  • “Translating Smoke Signals: West German Medicine and Tobacco Research, 1950-1970,” Social History of Medicine. 2015. 28 (2): 369-391.
  • “Women in Communist Societies,” in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Communism. S.A. Smith, editor. Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • “Medicalized Social Hygiene? Tuberculosis Policy in the German Democratic Republic,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine. 2012. 86(3): 394-423.
  • “Deindustrialization, Mass Consumption and the End of Class Society,” in The Oxford Handbook of Modern German History. Helmut Walser Smith, editor. Oxford University Press, 2011.
  • “Sex, Divorce, and Women’s Waged Work: Private Lives and State Policy in the Early German Democratic Republic,” in Gender and Everyday Life under State Socialism in East and Central Europe. Jill Massino and Shana Penn, editors. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
  • “The Fight against Infant Mortality in Cold War Germany,” Journal of Modern History 93 (June 2021): 401- 432.
  • Gendering Post-1945 German History: Entanglements. Co-Edited with Karen Hagemann and Friederike Brühöfener (Berghahn Books, 2019).

Courses Taught

  • 20th Century Europe
  • 20th Century Germany
  • Germany and the Second World War
  • The German Occupation of Europe, 1939-1944

Department Member Since: 1990