Eric Johnson joined the CMU faculty in 1976 immediately after receiving his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the years he has taught a wide array of courses, primarily focused on modern Europe, Germany, the Holocaust, and social science methods and approaches to historical study. He has held several visiting professorships of various lengths. As part of the CMU exchange with Strathclyde University he spent the 1988–1989 academic year teaching in Glasgow, Scotland. Between 1989 and 1995 he was a visiting professor at the Center for Historical Social Research at the University of Cologne, mostly leading a small research team working on terror in Nazi Germany. From 1995–1996 he was in residence writing and researching primarily at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, and he held a similar appointment at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in 1998–1999.

Office: Powers 203
Phone: (989) 774–1090
Office Hours: (pdf)

Research and Teaching Interests

Professor Johnson’s research interests dovetail considerably with his teaching. In the first years of his career he focused primarily on the history of crime and urbanization and justice. In the last couple of decades he has written primarily on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Presently he is beginning two new projects—a smaller one on letter-writing between Germans and Americans in the twentieth ce​ntury and a larger one (with Pieter Spierenburg of Erasmus University in Rotterdam) on genocide, homicide and history in world perspective.

Selected Publications

Murder and Violence in Modern Latin America (Wiley Blackwell, 2013). Co-edited with Ricardo Salvatore and Pieter Spierenburg.

What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany (New York: Basic Books, 2005; London: John Murray Publishers, 2005; Italian translation, Mondadori, 2007; Chinese translation, People’s Publishing House, 2010). With Karl-Heinz Reuband. Listed as one of the ten most significant books to read on modern German politics by Foreign Affairs in September 2009.

Social Control in Europe: 1800 to 2000 (The Ohio State University Press, 2004). Co-edited with Clive Emsley and Pieter Spierenburg.

Nazi Terror: The Gestapo, Jews, and Ordinary Germans (New York: Basic Books, 2000; London: John Murray Publishers, 2000; Dutch translation, De Bezige Bij and Icarus, 2000; French translation, Albin Michel, 2001; Spanish translation, Paidos, 2002). Item of the Month, August 2000, The United States Holocaust Museum; le grande livre du mois in France in 2001; alternative Book of the Month Club selection in United States in 2000; boxed and starred review in Publisher’s Weekly, January 2000. Blackstone Audio Cassette Edition (March 2011).​

Current Courses

Fall 2015

  • HST 280 - Nazi Germany Holocaust
  • HST 496 - Research Seminar
  • HST 758A - Seminar in Twentieth-Century European History

Spring 2016

  • HST 106 - 20th Century: Western World
  • HST 496 - Research Seminar​