Leff Families Professor of Modern History Rudolph Binion (1927-2011) received his B.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1958. He also studied at the University of Paris. Prior to coming to Brandeis in 1967, Professor Binion taught at Rutgers University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Columbia University. He also served in the U.S. Army. His teaching areas included European thought and culture, psychohistory, Hitler, and Germany.
Professor Binion’s work has contributed to the field of psychohistory, which recognizes the role of unconscious and sometimes irrational fears and conflicts in human behavior and action. Over the length of his career, Professor Binion published 10 books and more than 50 articles. His books include "Defeated Leaders: The Political Fate of Caillaux, Jouvenel, and Tardieu" (1960), "Frau Lou: Nietzsche’s Wayward Disciple" (1968), and "Hitler Among the Germans" (1976), a psychobiography of the German leader. More recently, Binon published "Past Impersonal: Group Process in Human History" in 2005 and "Sounding the Classics: From Sophocles to Thomas Mann" in 1997.
In the early 1970s, Professor Binion embarked on a research trip to Greifswald, Germany, then under Communist control. Fluent in German, Binion encountered a rare and important document relating to the 1933 interrogation of Hitler’s psychiatrist, Edmund Forster, who treated the future Nazi Party leader during his imprisonment at Pasewalk during WWI.
Professor Binion continued to teach part-time at Brandeis until his death in May 2011. He lived in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife, Elena Lagrange.