Thomas Brodie


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I would be delighted to hear from students intending to work on any aspect of Modern German history, as well as those with thematic interests in the histories of religion, war and memory in any European context since 1800.


Research activity per year

Personal profile


I grew up in Cardiff and am a native Welsh speaker. I read history as an undergraduate at Hertford College, Oxford, from 2006-2009, and was inspired to go into graduate work by my wonderful tutors during that period. I took an MSt at Oxford in the academic year 2009-10, and completed my doctorate at the university over the following four years. This examines the histories of the Catholic community on the German Home Front during the Second World War. My doctoral research was funded courtesy of an AHRC award in addition to the senior scholarship I held at Hertford College in 2010-12.

In 2013-14, a Hanseatic Scholarship permitted me to undertake further archival research in Berlin and other German cities, and I took up a teaching position at the University of Leeds in 2014-15. In the academic years 2015-18 I held a three-year post as a Departmental Lecturer at Jesus College, Oxford. I joined the University of Birmingham in September 2018. I am a devoted follower of the Welsh rugby and football teams and have become increasingly addicted to coffee over the course of my historical training.

Research interests

My research primarily addresses the social and cultural histories of Nazi Germany, with a particular focus on the period of the Second World War and its aftermaths. My first book, German Catholicism at War, 1939-1945, analyses how a significant section of the Third Reich’s population understood and responded to the conflict, including both the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazi regime, and the devastation increasingly wrought upon German society itself. Focusing on the Rhineland and Westphalia as a case study, I combine an exploration of the Catholic Episcopate and clergy’s theological understandings of the war with a social and cultural history of religious belief, practice and mentality on the ground. Using a host of previously unused sources gathered in a range of church, state and private archives, my book makes a new contribution to our understandings of German society’s moral economy during the Second World War, and highlights how the politics of Catholic belief and community helped maintain the resilience of the Reich’s home front until 1945. The doctorate from which this book developed won the runner-up award for the Wiener Library’s Fraenkel Prize in 2014.

My new research project flows from the above, and concerns German society’s responses to bereavement during the Second World War and its aftermaths. It addresses the histories of grief and mourning in German (and Austrian) society during the Second World War itself and how they evolved afterwards, into the late 1950s, in order to pursue this question in all three of the Third Reich’s successor states. By exploring personal diaries and letters alongside artistic representations of wartime loss, the design of public spaces, war memorials and acts of commemoration, the project analyses how Nazi Germany and its successor states attempted to cope with the challenge of mass bereavement, and to address the sentiments of their populations. This project aims to go beyond top-down understandings of grief and memory as fashioned into ‘useable pasts’ by individual political regimes and seeks to uncover the wider social and cultural frameworks which shaped private and familial repertoires of mourning during the 1940s and 50s.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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