Eric Rust To Receive The Centennial Professor Award For 2005

April 25, 2005
News Photo 2835Eric Rust

by Haley L. Wright

Dr. Eric Rust, associate professor of history, has been selected to receive the 2005 Centennial Professor Award, which will allow him to research efforts by the Nazi authorities to reconfigure the meaning of Christmas. Rust plans to travel to the German cities of Freiburg, Hamburg and Kiel to investigate a 1939 memo by Senior Naval Chaplain Friedrich Ronneberger.

"In essence, Nazi ideologues pressured the German Navy into abandoning time-honored Christmas traditions in favor of a ritual devoid of Christian substance that instead centered on murky, vitalistic Nazi notions linked to a pre-Christian tribal cult," Rust said.

His project will seek to discover where the initiative originated, when and how it was forced upon the armed forces and how closely the directives were observed by sailors and officers throughout the fleet, especially in the submarine branch.

Rust first became interested in the German armed forces due to his father's position as an officer in the German Naval Air Force. As one of a handful of academics worldwide who focus on the personnel and mentality of the 19th and 20th century German navies, Rust expects to add much more to his current knowledge and also gain new insight to pass to his students.

"The Nazi assault on one of Christianity's most basic notions would be an especially meaningful and appropriate subject for Baylor students to study because they, as Christians in their majority, would likely feel and voice the same outrage and indignation Chaplain Ronneberger vented in his memo," Rust said.

The Class of 1945 -- the Baylor Centennial Class -- established an endowment fund to support faculty development. Each year a tenured faculty member is designated as the Baylor Centennial Professor and is provided with funds for a project that will facilitate the development of his or her ability to function as a university professor and contribute to academic life. Since the award's inception, 18 faculty members from a variety of academic disciplines have been designated Centennial Professors.

For more information on the Centennial Professor Award, contact Thomas Proctor, chair of the Centennial Facutly Development Review Committee, at 710-6166.

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