Readers may remember when Dagobert Broh graduated from Concordia in
1997, because it made newspapers across Canada. He was 91 when he received
his doctorate in history, the oldest Canadian ever to receive a PhD.
Dagobert was born in Berlin on 20 July 1904, the eldest of two
sons in a lower-middle-class family, Hubbard writes. Owing
to the death of his father, he and his younger brother were raised and
educated in the Mosse-Stiftung, a Jewish orphanage . . . Dagobert never
complained about his years there. He also never disguised his Jewish heritage,
though he described himself as a non-believer.
He was forced to leave Germany, like so many others, in 1936, and claimed
that he became passionately interested in World War I because it was responsible
for the emergence of Nazism.
Some time in the 1960s, Dagobert discovered the possibility of
taking night classes at Sir George Williams University, and began to work
towards a BA, first in French, then in history. Upon retirement, he intensified
these studies [and completed] an MA in history in 1985. It was then that
I became his tutor and supervisor.
Dagobert dearly wanted to research some aspect of World War I,
but soon conceded that his age spoke against long sojourns in European
arch-ives and libraries. So we agreed that a history of New Yorks
German-language newspaper Der Aufbau would be suitable.
It was a lengthy process, Hubbard writes, partly because of Brohs
thoroughness. Completion was perhaps also slowed by the re-living
of a difficult, even horrible, time of his own life. He also had to acquire
skills in using modern technology: a tape recorder for conducting interviews
and a word processor for composing the manuscript.
We talked openly of what would happen to the work if he died before completion, Hubbard writes. Fortunately, this did not happen. Dagobert defended his dissertation in March 1995 with a performance that was inspiring for all who attended. He had finally fulfilled his dream.