Obit: Luchterhand, Elmer G. (1911 - 1996)
Contact: Stan

Surnames: Luchterhand, Mahler, Gormley, Kent, Sydiaha

----Sources: BROOKLYN COLLEGE LIBRARY ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS Accession No. 2001-005

Luchterhand, Elmer G. (20 May 1911 - 18 June 1996)

Elmer G. Luchterhand was born May 20, 1911 in Colby, Wisconsin, a small farming community. He attended the local elementary and high school, and then went to the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Between 1935-1941, Elmer was a farm editor and journalist, occasionally using the pen name of 'Gustav Mahler'.

Elmer Luchterhand married Helen Patricia Gormley in 1942. Their son Dennis was born in 1943, and daughter Erika in 1948. Dennis died in a mountain-climbing accident on Mt McKinley, Alaska, in 1967.

Between 1943-1946, Elmer Luchterhand served in the United States Army and was stationed in Germany. Upon returning to the United States, he completed his B.A. in 1948, received his M.A. in 1949, and his Ph.D. in Sociology in 1953. Elmer Luchterhand was an instructor at the University of Connecticut, in charge of social research projects at Aluminum Company of Canada in Montreal (Quebec, Canada), Assistant Professor of Sociology at McGill University in Montreal, part of the Social Science Faculty at Sarah Lawrence College, and a Research Associate in the Sociology Department at Yale University.

In 1967, Professor Luchterhand became Assistant Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College. By 1971, he was Professor of Sociology at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, where he remained until his retirement in 1981. He was designated Professor Emeritus in late September 1981.

Throughout his long career, Professor Luchterhand studied the effects of stress on man from a sociological perspective --stress in inner-city life, stress in the industry and in the community, stress in the classroom, and, finally and definitively, "massive stress, in natural and in man-made disasters", which turned into a long-term project on survivors of World War II in concentration camps.

Professor Luchterhand wrote numerous articles and books, sometimes in collaboration with others. He wrote about stress in the classroom, with D. Kent, in Relieving Dysphoric Reactions of Students to Minorities Courses (in the Journal of Negro Education, 1953); he described Inner-City Youth, the Police, the Courts, and Justice (in Social Problems, 1970); in a book about stress in industry and in the community, written with Daniel Sydiaha, he wrote of Choice in Human Affairs: An Application to Aging-Accident-Illness Problems. Professor Luchterhand also wrote about massive stress: nature-made and man-made in The Resocialization of Survivors of Nazi Camps (in Social Psychiatry, 1972). By the early 1970s, Professor Elmer Luchterhand was delving ever deeper into the effects of what imprisonment in concentration camps during World War II did to individuals.

In the last twenty-five to thirty years of his life, Professor Luchterhand concentrated almost exclusively on studying, researching, and interviewing survivors of World War II. His focus was primarily on life in Hersbruck, a relatively little-known concentration camp outside the more infamous camp of Flossenburg in Germany. Elmer Luchterhand interviewed survivors at great length, and, through his extensive, exhaustive, and detailed research, he gleaned material on the inmates, the camp administration, and studied observations (upon his visits to Germany years later) of the people involved in running Hersbruck during the war, and the lasting effects on its participants. Professor Luctherhand's intention was to amass enough material in order to be able to write a book describing these events from a socio-psychological perspective.

Professor Elmer Luchterhand was affilitated with the International Sociological Association, the International Association of Social Psychiatry, the American Sociological Association, the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and the American Association for Social Psychiatry. In 1970, by Special Appointment, he became the organizer of sessions on research of "Man-Made Massive Stress" at the Third International Congress of Social Psychiatry in Zagreb, Yugoslavia.

Although Professor Luchterhand's goal was to write a monograph of his extensively detailed study and interpretation of interviews with survivors of World War II concentration camps, he hoped that other researchers would learn from this material as well and that " ... they would gain a better perspective of the genocidal episode and site, its main participants .. a case history that would provide a better conceptualization of genocidal processes, and of the exceptional destructiveness of German fascism".

On June 18, 1996, while on a trip to Germany related to his research, Professor Elmer Luchterhand died in the city of Haar, a suburb of Munich.

 

 


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