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Ted Hill

$17,320.00 (raised so far)

About Ted Hill

Leonidas (“Ted”) Hill taught in the Department of History for 34 years, and was a passionate advocate of public education, as well as the author of numerous scholarly articles, the editor of four books, and a regular speaker at the UBC Symposia on the Holocaust.

Ted, who grew up in Washington state, received his B.A. and M.A in history from the University of Washington, and his PhD from Harvard. He taught at Dartmouth and the University of Oklahoma before taking up his position at UBC.

Dr. Hill’s scholarly work focused on the political life of Ernst von Weizsäcker, a German diplomat during World War II. Areas of special interest were the Habsburg Monarchy, modern German history, and war and society. He continued his passion for research after retirement. His biography of Weizsäcker will be published in Germany posthumously.

He was an avid alpinist, skier, marathoner, and tennis player, and travelled widely with his wife, Nancy, after his retirement in 1996.

Ted passed away peacefully from complications of non-Hodgkins’ lymphoma on 9 April 2012, at the age of 77.

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The impact of your support

A memorial fund has been established to honour Ted’s memory.

Your gift to the Ted Hill Memorial Fund will support UBC Library Collections. The UBC Library is the second-largest research library in Canada, and Ted has spent many hours in its collection. Honouring him in this way is a fitting tribute to his passion and commitment to the study of history, and will help to ensure that future generations of students and researchers have access to the materials and archives they need to pursue their work.

Messages of Remembrance

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  • Adrian’s words from Ted’s service: April 25 Hello. My name is Adrian Hill, and I am Ted Hill’s son. Whatever he told you about me, it’s probably true. First of all, on behalf of Dad and Nancy, I would like to thank you all for coming here. The fact that you are here means that in some way, he touched you. And the fact that he touched you means that although he is no longer physically with us, he is still present in your hearts and minds, as he is in my own. That means a lot. It is a reminder that we are all still connected to him, and through him we are connected to one another. Last year, Dad’s brother Thomas, known to us as Uncle Dick, passed away. Dad spoke at his funeral, and his talk lasted a full 29 minutes! When I was preparing to speak here today, I thought to myself, now there is a challenge I cannot refuse! So sit back and relax, this may take awhile. When I was six, I played soccer. Dad was the assistant coach, and I was proud of that. But as the story goes, I used to say that I was on the team because Dad was the assistant coach, and he used to say that he was the assistant coach because I was on the team! Over the years, there were other activities that we enjoyed together as well: lots of chess games, playing one on one basketball, billiards, and later on, having a beer in the backyard. We spent many weekends as a family skiing up at Whistler. Skiers would marvel at the way that Dad carved into his turns with his Zebra skis with his leather lace-up boots—the style was closer to telemarking than it was to modern downhill, so he stood out among the others. I used to love watching him ski. When I was thirteen, just the two of us used to go up quite a bit together. Being among the first people to load onto the ski lift in the morning is probably my most cherished memory with him—just being up in that mountain air, seeing fresh powder and rabbit tracks in the snow, the sun rising and glistening off ice crystals, the two of us sitting next to one another on the lift in silence. At the end of the day, we would race one another from the top of the mountain to the bottom. There were days that year where he would stay at the cabin and work, and would let me hitch to the mountain—a short distance from where we were—and ski alone for the day. There was trust. That was one of my first tastes of freedom, and it is warmly remembered. The next year, when Mom and Dad split up, Dad bought a new car—new to him. It was a 1969 Pontiac, and he got it for $200 bucks!. The price speaks volumes in and of itself. Dad and I went on a ski trip adventure through Washington State together in that car—father and son bonding time—I think—going to White Pass, Stephen’s Pass and Roger’s Pass. It’s hard to know who regretted that trip more. We encountered blizzards all along the way, the wipers didn’t work properly, we could hardly see in front of our windshield, and more than once we watched as cars careened into snow banks directly in front of us. We didn’t have the proper sized chains for the car’s tires. Every time the wheels turned a rotation, it was as though someone was taking a hammer and slamming it into the sound of a metal garbage can. WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! My head was pounding so much I cried. We pulled off to the side of the road and tried to tie the chains tighter together using rope, which we cut with his hunting knife that he’d owned since he was a kid, and I left it in the snow afterwards, never to be found again. When we finally got to skiing, my hands froze on the mountain to the point where I wept bitterly as they thawed and Dad looked on helplessly, After that, I lost my appetite for skiing. And I know we both felt terrible about it. But that’s what people do, right? They live through stuff together. And all is forgiven. When I was sixteen and I wanted to learn French, Dad said, “Yes! Learn French!” and helped set up an exchange with a family in France. When I wanted to travel in Europe the year afterwards, Dad said, “Yes! Travel!” and helped pay for my trip. I even met up with Dad and Nancy just outside of Paris, while I was travelling. When I decided to study philosophy at UBC, Dad encouraged me: “Yes, philosophy! Read widely and deeply!” In my second year at UBC, Dad and Nancy went to Bellagio for the year, and I was entrusted to “manage” the house, with three other students renting out rooms while they were away. Again, this is an example of the extent to which Dad entrusted me with freedom and responsibility, that powerful combination for personal growth that is like water and sunlight for plants. Fast forward to the age of twenty-one, where I found myself in Montreal continuing to study Philosophy at McGill. Johanne and I had met treeplanting the summer before and we were now living together. There we were, on the other side of the country. He and Nancy were in the clear! The kids were finally all moved out! They could live their lives together without distraction! Then one day, I phoned dad with some news: “Dad, Johanne is pregnant.” I don’t remember exactly what he said in response, but I think it was something like “Grk!” Not long afterwards, I received a letter from Dad. In a nutshell, he said, “Son, I just want to give you a heads up: babies cry a lot. They don’t sleep that much, and their diapers smell terribly.” Well I took that advice to heart and I reassured him: “Dad, it’s going to be okay. I’ve got it all figured out: I’m not going to finish my degree right away, Johanne’s going to stay with her Mom for the first part of her pregnancy, and I’m going to go tree-planting again. And you’ll see—I’m going to win the Governor General’s award for poetry! I’ll be rich and famous!” Can you imagine? When I got back from tree-planting, Dad told me some news of his own. He had prostrate cancer. He was being given one to two years to live. Well, through rigorous independent research, Dad and Nancy came to their own conclusions. Without getting into the details, happily, Dad lived for another twenty-one years, and Dad and Nancy have been inseparable during that time. Nancy’s reliably good cheer has consistently been the antidote to Dad’s less predictable humours—he would have been the first to admit to that. He led a full life. He was an inspiration to me so many in so many ways. He instilled in me a passion for books (yes, I have a book problem too), world events, commuting to work on a bicycle every day, and the values of intellectual rigour, a strong work ethic, self-discipline and aspiring to excellence, the importance of supporting democratic ideals and public education, remaining physically active, an appreciation for the natural world, and many. many other things. Many of his milestone achievements and accomplishments are listed in his longer obituary, so I will not repeat them here. But suffice to say that when you, your wife and your children are playing tennis with your father some months after he’s successfully undergone chemotherapy treatments, and he is 77 years old, it is a memorable occasion. There is a line from a song the former singer for the rock band the Police, written by Sting, that goes, “If you love someone, set them free.” Although the line was written with romance in mind, it can apply to any situation where love is involved. Dad knew how to set me free. And now it is our turn to do the same with him.

    Adrian Leonidas Hill, Son
  • We were in Turkey with Ted, Nancy, Rae, Trev, Anne, Andy, Bill, Sandra, Dick and Marie in 1995, wandering in"downtown" Antalya, and a Turkish rug merchant began to seriously harass us. Ted said "leave my women alone". Well, for the rest of the evening, no matter how stroppy we women got, and we did, the men said, "Control your women Ted" xxxxx Sue and John

    Sue Eldridge, Friend
  • Martin Kitchen’s Tribute to Ted on 25th April 2012 I am most grateful for this opportunity to give you a short and personal appreciation of Ted Hill’s work as a historian. I first met Ted shortly after I came to Simon Fraser University in 1966. It was typical of him to seek out a young scholar with whom he could share his passion for history, even though in my case I came from a dubious new institution that was regarded by many at UBC with a certain reserve. From that very first meeting he proved to be a true colleague, eager to share his ideas, discuss, argue, offer help and seek an opinion. He was also a generous and entertaining host, who invited me to meet visiting scholars to UBC who worked in fields of common interest. At that time he was busy preparing some articles on Ernst von Weizsäcker – the subject of his doctoral dissertation at Harvard. Ted wrestled with Weizsäcker throughout his professional life. Nazi Germany’s senior diplomat, scion of a distinguished bourgeois family from Württemberg, whose father had been ennobled in 1916, provided a subject to which he brought his very special qualities as a historian. Here was a highly controversial figure – a fervent German nationalist, who joined the Nazi Party at the advice of his superior in 1938 and was given an honorary rank in the SS. Appointed secretary of state at the Foreign Office in 1938 he was implicated in the transportation to Auschwitz of 6,000 Jews from France, for which he was charged at Nuremberg with crimes against humanity. Having resigned at his own request in 1943, he was posted as ambassador to the Holy See. While in Rome he represented Germany as a bulwark against Communism, refused to accept a Papal note protesting against the inhuman German occupation policies in Poland and his attitude towards the Jews in Rome was ambiguous. He suffered from the delusions that the Allied demand for unconditional surrender could be avoided and that Germany could return to its 1938 borders. On the other hand, knowing that war would be a disaster for Germany, he cooperated with Canaris, Beck, Oster, Gisevius and the Kordt brothers in efforts to dissuade Hitler from going to war and to the steel the British government against the dictator’s aggressive intentions. During the latter stages of the war many of the resisters felt that he was on their side. While in Rome he helped to save the Vatican from German occupation, while vainly hoping that that The Pope might be able to help bring about a peace that would save Germany from dismemberment. Ted’s approach to this complex and intractable figure demonstrates his two outstanding qualities as a historian. He was exceptionally meticulous in his research, looking for every shred of available evidence before settling down to write. He was also absolutely fair and even-handed in his approach. He did not rush to judgment, appreciated the constraints that burden historical figures, whether from their own background or the circumstances in which they operated. He was fully aware of the complex moral quandaries that men in power are bound to face, especially in time of war, that were further exacerbated in this case by the harsh constraints of a dictatorship. This did not sit at all well with many German historians who, burdened with the guilt of their country’s history, see themselves as moral crusaders out to punish the evil doers and extirpate all remnants of a Nazi past. In this high-minded and often self-righteous Manichean world-view there was no room for Ted’s struggles for nuance, understanding and fairness and his critics conveniently overlooked the fact that Ted was one of the very first to blow the whistle on the efforts of former members of the Foreign Office to present themselves as ‘un-political’ and powerless under the Nazis. Weizsäcker was for them a man deeply implicated in the crimes of the Third Reich. His supporters were for them part of a clique determined to rescue the reputation of the aristocracy, claiming that their values were totally incompatible with National Socialism. They thereby overlooked the fact that Weizsäcker was already 34 years old when his father was awarded a baronetcy. In 2010 Norbert Frei, when introducing the official history of the German Foreign Office that had been commissioned by Joschka Fischer then foreign minister, announced that the book of which he is a co-author, ‘Das Amt und die Vergangenheit’, marks the ‘end of the Weizsäcker legend’ and shows up the Foreign Office as a ‘criminal organisation.’ In a work marred by sweeping generalisations, over simplification and undifferentiated polemic, focussing largely on the Foreign Office’s complicity in the Shoah, it is perhaps hardly surprising that mention is made in the extensive bibliography of all the many articles attacking Ted’s work, while none of his own contributions are cited. The one exception is his major work – a two-volume edition of Ernst von Weizsäcker’s papers. No diplomatic historian of Nazi Germany can possibly afford to ignore what has become a standard work, but the fine distinctions drawn in the footnotes are either ignored or dismissed out of hand. Ted tried to show how a fundamentally decent, if misguided man could become involved in a criminal regime and showed the severe limitations placed upon him in his efforts to at least ameliorate to evil done. This was no whitewashing, but an attempt to do justice to a man, in spite of his many glaring flaws and grievous errors. It is indeed sad that Ted was not able to complete his biography of Weizsäcker, thereby rounding out the portrait. It would not have silenced his German critics, but it would have excited great interest outside this narrow circle of hanging judges. Ted’s work was not confined to Weizsäcker. He was always in passionate pursuit of a new topic that excited his interest. These included such diverse topics as an attempt to find new approaches to the study of the German resistance to Hitler, the fundamental motives behind the burning of ‘unGerman’ books on 10 May 1933 and Walter Gyssling the anti-fascist activist, the edition of whose works never got the attention it deserved, in part perhaps because it had the same title as Karl Löwith’s wonderful memoirs: ‘My Life in Germany Before and After 1933.’ I particularly enjoyed a lively talk he gave in Göttingen some years ago in which he gave splendid revisionist account of the work of Swiss banks during the Third Reich, for which he earned lavish praise from Fritz Stern – a man not known for his largesse in this regard. Ted was much in demand as a reviewer, and re-reading some of them it is easy to see why. It was a delight to reread his review of the second volume of Gerald Weinberg’s ‘The Foreign Policy of Hitler’s Germany’. He praised where praise was due, while skillfully dissecting its flaws with obvious relish. In a short talk on such an occasion it is impossible to do full justice to Ted’s work, but I hope that I have given you enough for you to understand why I miss him as a colleague, as a dear friend and an unforgettable personality.

    Martha Kitchen, Friend and Colleague
  • I’m Diana Wienbroer. My husband Carl forged a friendship with Nancy during their junior–high and high school days in Borger, Texas. Carl reconnected with Nancy about twelve years ago and we got to know Ted then. The four of us enjoyed several pleasant visits in New York City, where we live, and where Ted and Nancy frequently landed en route to or from Europe. We shared many interests, so conversation was always lively and delightful. Those of us who knew Ted will never forget him—his keen intelligence, quiet humor, and sweet generosity. As Nancy used to say, they both felt they "got it right" with what was a second marriage for each of them. Their partnership was a pleasure to observe, and judging from his son’s remarks, Ted was a wise father as well. So the legacy Ted leaves is one we all wish for: he touched many lives for the better and his work for the truth has made a difference. He will be much missed.

    Diana Roberts Wienbroer, Friend
  • I first met Ted when he and Nancy attended a conference in San Francisco. He and Nancy had met at a party and struck up a friendship that would blossom into a long and loving marriage. Nancy and I were so close that I wanted to meet and give my stamp of approval to this guy who was wooing my sister. Well he passed muster and I was so glad that Nancy seemed so very happy for the first time in a long time. When I went to Salzburg to study at the Mozarteum in the late 80’s, I took my mother who had had to cancel a trip to the islands of the Pacific earlier that year because of health problems. She didn’t want to, but I said I would make it up to her with a trip to Europe if she would get well. Of course, Ted and Nancy knew about this and we agreed to usher mother around Paris and Germany together before I went on to Salzburg. Mom and I arrived after a long plane ride and joined Ted and Nancy at the apartment they had rented outside of Paris. We were tired, of course, but we fell into good company from the start. As I recall Ted and Nancy had dinner planned and we drank good French wine and had a wonderful evening. Ted’s son, Adrian, was also very helpful as he spoke fluent French, which was so much better than my 3 semesters of college French. Ted and Nancy accompanied us throughout Paris and then through Germany with stops in Stuttgart and Munich. One of our memorable moments was when we were at the Musee D’Orsay and we watched mother enter the room that was filled with the painting of Van Gogh (her favorite painter). Another was when we were surrounded by the Monet’s water lilies and Ted tendered a low ‘ribet’ and I replied with a soprano one. Nancy pretended she didn’t know us, but it was all in good fun. Ted made all the arrangements in Stuttgart and Munich. He had traveled all over Germany doing his research for his books on European history. Picking restaurants and lodgings, Ted made my first trip to Europe a piece of cake. He even made a reservation for mom and me so I could escort mom back to Munich when it was time for her to return to the states. Ted was a great guy and I thank him for making my sister so happy for as many years and he could. He still makes her happy although I think she is a little mad at him for leaving all those boxes of papers for her to go through, but there are some pleasures to be found in the task. I am glad she and I have been able to share a few of them.

    Martha Hartman Whitmore, Sister in Law
  • I met Ted playing tennis at UBC with Phillip, Lawrence, Leonard, Casey, Jim, Tom and many others over the years. Ted and I enjoyed a friendly rivalry in singles and each relished coming out on top. We talked about the issues in our lives before and after matches and I benefited a lot from his perspective which was informed by his study of history. I will miss him and will be sustained by the good times we had together. David Askew, Salmon Arm. BC

    David Askew, Tennis Partner and Friend
  • It was long ago and far away but I have very fond memories of Professor Ted Hill. It was the fall of 1964 and I had just entered the Honours History program at UBC. One of the features of that program was an Honours Reading Course and I drew Ted Hill. What an experience! Ted was one of a number of newly appointed young faculty, usually out of top-rated eastern graduate schools. (Sinel, Stocker and Klang were part of that cohort.) And these guys, but especially Ted, made a huge impression on a kid more or less fresh out of Trail, BC. To be sure, I was put through my paces (among his favorite lines were “ are you sure, Mr. Irvine, that is what you want to say?” Or “are you sure you want to say it that way?” But I was always struck by his energy, his clear love for his subject matter and the enthusiasm he brought to discussing things with the kid across the table. I do know that within a few weeks I knew that someday I wanted to be just like him. I am not sure I succeeded but I did teach history for forty years and I think that I enjoyed doing so as much as did Ted. William D. Irvine Professor Emeritus York University

    William D. Irvine, Former Student
  • Among my most vivid memories of Ted Hill are those from as far back as the mid-1950s, when we were both graduate students at the University of Washington and discussed history and all kinds of other subjects, often over copious quantities of beer. I also have a clear recollection of a visit to Ted’s home in Mukilteo and another to his fraternity, the Dekes. I shall never forget his kindness after I had broken a leg skiing and he drove me to work for several weeks until I could make my own way again. Much more recently, I enjoyed a splendid day in London with Ted and Nancy. In the evening, we went to see Michael Frayn’s play ‘Copenhagen’ complete with expert commentary from Ted between acts. During the course of an academic career, one meets a large number of remarkable colleagues, but few have made such a lasting impression as Ted Hill.

    Paul Dukes, Friend and Colleague
  • "Ted, when you go to Berlin, get in contact with Frank Forstmann. He is also interested in birds." That was Gren Patey's suggestion in 1995 which led to the start of a warmhearted friendship with Ted and Nancy. On our first trip to the Oder lowlands we saw a Northern Shrike, rare and remarkable. Later we watched near Berlin as the White Storks returned, and also the annual stop-over of large flocks of cranes, geese and ducks, the courtship display of Great Bustards and several White Tailed Eagles. Like the migrating birds since then Ted and Nancy came to Berlin every winter till spring. In letters and later emails we addressed the political issues of the day and then were eager to meet again and discuss with broadmindedness and bold conceptions, finally agreed on everything and affirmed each other that we knew what went wrong and how a good government should act. When we departed for summer we were convinced that we had straightened out the world's problems. I learned a lot from his profound knowledge, also from his daily newspaper studies, and from his expertise in German history. Even during his Berlin visits he worked impressively hard, through archives, books and heaps of private letters in order to consolidate his judgment on several controversies about the Nazi era and the time of the Second World War. With our discussions already being adventurous, I remember with pleasure one of our real adventures: A hike below the white chalk-cliffs of the island Rügen at the Baltic Sea. The path was buried under ice and snow, and the virgin snow cover showed that nobody had ventured out that way for quite some time. Should we risk it? We soon knew that we both felt: Yes. So we waved our ladies farewell for their safe bus return and set out in the fresh snow between cliff and sea. We had a great time, enjoyed the shared thrill. The picture is how I remember Ted and our time together.

    Frank Forstmann, Friend, professor emeritus, Freie Universität, Berlin
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  • Dodie Katzenstein and Marty Puterman

  • Richard V. Mattessich

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