Peter Gay, Public Intellectual And Nazi Refugee, Dies At 91


Peter Gay, a refugee from Nazi Germany who wrote groundbreaking social histories of such topics as the Enlightenment, the Jewish identity of Sigmund Freud, and the position of Jews in Weimar Germany, died May 12 at his home in Manhattan, according to The New York Times. He was 91.

Gay, who wrote about his own story in his 1998 autobiography, “My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin” (Yale University Press), was part of the history faculty at Yale from 1969 until his retirement in 1993.

He grappled publicly with such provocative questions as whether German Jews should have anticipated the nature of the Nazis' final solution.

He and his family left Germany in 1939, the year after Kristallnacht, settling first in Cuba, then in the United States in 1941.

In the U.S. he changed his last name from Frohlich to Gay, its German equivalent.

Gay, who graduated from the University of Denver and Columbia University, taught political science at Columbia before moving to Yale.