Faculty Bulletin Board

Professor who taught history — and lived it — retires

Liberated from Dachau in 1945, Ivan Berend went on to become a key figure in Hungary’s transition from communism

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David Myers, Ivan Berend
Dan Sauer Photography

History department chair David Myers (left) and Ivan Berend, Distinguished Professor of History, at Berend's retirement celebration.

Ivan Berend, Distinguished Professor of History, retired last week at the age of 85 after teaching at UCLA for 25 years. He was honored by his department and the Center for European and Eurasian Studies during a ceremony on May 5, just days after the 70th anniversary of his liberation from a German concentration camp on April 29, 1945.

Born in Hungary in 1930, Berend was sent to the Dachau concentration camp when he was 14. Following his liberation from the camp by the American army, he returned to Hungary. In the 1950s, he earned his bachelor and doctoral degrees in economics and history from the Budapest University of Economics, where he went on to become a full professor and eventually the chancellor of the university. 

Berend was a key figure in Hungary’s transition from communism, which he described in his memoir, “History in My Life: A Memoir in Three Eras” (Central European University Press, 2009). He has earned membership in seven national academies of science, including those of Hungary, Great Britain and the United States. He served as president of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences from 1985 until 1990.

A member of the UCLA faculty since 1990, Berend focuses on the social and economic history of 19th and 20th century Europe and has authored many books on economics, particularly the economics of central and eastern Europe. At UCLA, he also served for several years as director of the Center for European and Eurasian Studies.

Berend’s retirement celebration included remarks by history department chair David Myers and Gail Kligman, the current director of the Center for European and Eurasian Studies. Toasts in Berend’s honor were given by UCLA history professors Peter Reill, Robert Brenner and Ron Mellor, University of Washington professor Daniel Chirot, graduate student Grace Ballor and several others.

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