Roger graduated from the University of Manitoba with an MA in Political Science and was awarded a DAAD scholarship to pursue a PhD in Göttingen. In 2016, Roger published a two-volume book, based on his research in Göttingen, titled “Germany and the Significance of the First World War,” which attempts to synthesize many of the ideas about the motivations of the German government in entering the war in 1914.
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We asked Roger a few questions about his work and experience in Germany:
- What sparked your interest in German Foreign Policy and History?
Growing up in the midst of the Cold War, I was troubled by humanity’s tendency to be continuously involved in wars, with brief periods of “peace.” Therefore, I set out to try to discover the causes of this.
- What are you currently working on?
Now that my book on World War I has been published, as well as the account of Klaus Schulze’s discoveries in Brazil, I am intrigued by how the Second World War actually ended, taking into account that the US and Britain seem to have agreed to secretly let Hitler be exiled to South America. Among the indications that this might be the case is the recent declassification of the FBI files detailing how FBI agents followed Hitler in South America. I am a member of the Intrepid Society, a group researching the life of Sir William Stephenson, the head of Allied Intelligence during World War II, and because of his key role, I intend to examine the circumstantial evidence that Stephenson was involved in the transfer of Hitler to South America, although the evidence will be hard to find, given that the British government destroyed all of the files related to what Stephenson accomplished.
- What was the most “German” experience you have had?
The most “German” experience that I have had has been the friendships formed during my time as student in Göttingen. Plus, I gained a great deal from visiting so many German cities while I was there (approximately 30) and learned a lot from visiting historical sites, including cathedrals and art galleries.
- What advice would you give to students who are thinking of choosing your field of study?
Studying Political Science, particularly International Relations, can prove to be a springboard to a very interesting life, with opportunities in academia, the foreign service and international business. Because I was studying German, for example, I spent a summer as the chauffeur for the German consulate in Winnipeg in 1974.
- What advice would you give to North American students who are thinking of studying abroad in Germany?
I have been an enthusiastic promoter of students choosing to study in Germany, not merely because of the cultural exchange, but also because of the possibility of creating lasting friendships and from the cross-fertilization of ideas that comes from foreign travel. Studying in Germany particularly has the advantage of developing good knowledge of the German language and culture, so that one’s career chances are improved, while one’s life is enriched. One friendship which emerged from an encounter at a DAAD Treffen in 1990 has been with Laurent Lesage, a lawyer, and his wife in Montreal.
- Which pictures, plants or unusual objects are there in your office/at your desk?
For many years I had a picture on my desk of myself with my two daughters, Jillian and Colleen standing in the “Fußgängerzone” in Göttingen in front of the “Jakobikirche”. Our family celebrated the arrival of the millenium in 1999 with a trip to Europe.
- Can you cook a German meal without a recipe? If so, which one?While travelling to Göttingen from Lüneburg with Jose Napolitano, an Argentinian translator who worked for the UN in Geneva, I was treated to a “Bauernfrühstück.” I made a point of introducing my daughters and wife to that in our 1999 visit to Goslar. I can make my own “Bauernfrühstück” if called upon. I also enjoy “Jägerschnitzel” and had plenty of that while skiing in the Harz and more recently during a 2010 trip to Germany.
- Do you have a favorite writer, politician, or mentor? Or someone who has inspired you on your journey? If so, who and why them?
I am well acquainted with Wagnerian opera since I was a teenager, and took some solace in that, as has Stephen Hawking. I also appreciate the poetry of Eduard Mörike, and liked the stories I studied in my German classes with Georg Epp. I found one professor, Marek Debicki from Poland, particularly interesting since he was such a “Renaissance Man,” participating in the Rome Olympics of 1960 on the Polish fencing team, and because of his interest in classical music, his ability to speak multiple languages, and the friendship we formed later in life.
Fußgängerzone: Car-free pedestrian area
Jakobikirche: St. Jacobi church in Göttingen
Bauernfrühstück: German breakfast dish including fried potatoes, eggs, vegetables and bacon or ham
Jägerschnitzel: Pork schnitzel served with a mushroom gravy
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