Diethelm Prowe

9 March 2015
Diethelm Prowe
Diethelm Prowe

Diethelm (Diet) Prowe died peacefully on Saturday, March 7th at the age of 74. Diet taught modern European history at Carleton for 42 years, beginning as an instructor in 1966 and retiring as the Laird Bell Professor of History in 2008. Diet was passionate about the intellectual development of young people, and in addition to teaching, he was also the pre-law advisor and Mellon minority student program director. He contributed to scholarly work in the study of Germany, focused on post-WWII Germany, the process of democratization, and later the appearance of the new Radical Right. He was thoughtful and well organized—characteristics which aided his editing of the German Studies Review journal from 2001-2011. Diet was kind and generous to his students and colleagues, a strong and gentle mentor to many.  

Diethelm was also a dedicated husband to Peggy, father to Derek and Freya, and grandfather to five beloved grandchildren. A more complete obituary will be forthcoming.

A memorial service for Diethelm will be held during Carleton’s Alumni Reunion on Friday, June 19th, at 9:30am in Skinner Memorial Chapel.

Donations in memory of Diethelm will be gratefully accepted towards the Professor Diethelm Prowe Endowed Scholarship Fund at Carleton College (c/o Gift Accounting, One North College Street, Northfield, MN 55057), or to an alternate charitable cause of your choice.

Please keep all of Diet’s family, friends, colleagues, and former students in your thoughts and prayers.

In sorrow and gratitude,

Posted In


  • 2015-03-09 13:11:26
    Matt Wasco

    Farewell to a great teacher - only took one class with him but it was memorable. I learned a lot about history and life, and appreciated he would invite students into his home. He will be missed!

  • 2015-03-09 14:11:30
    Bill Terriquez

    It's with great sadness I write this farewell. I will always remember Diet as a caring educator and friend. As a freshman I had the opportunity to take one of his courses, in part is was one of the reasons I majored in History. Years later, as a new faculty member he was one of the first to seek me out and welcome me. Yes, he will be missed!

  • 2015-03-09 14:25:28
    Michael Zwirn

    Thanks for sharing - I took his senior seminar on Fascism. It was an incredibly thoughtful discussion forum and he was so insightful in prompting the students to delve into the complex subject matter. He allowed the seminar students to pursue their own research interests in this broad and daunting field, and always grounded the discussions in a humane, sympathetic worldview.

  • 2015-03-09 14:40:28
    Ben Johnson

    So sorry that he is gone, but I feel so lucky to have encountered him as my professor several times at Carleton. A gracious, curious, gentle, and inspiring man.

  • 2015-03-09 15:03:12
    Kit Naylor '75

    Diet was one of my favorite profs. I also took his senior seminar on Fascism — intellectually quite rigorous — I've never forgotten it. He had us read Hannah Arendt's "The Origins of Totalitarianism," and I still have my underlined copy. He was a kind and gentle man, always encouraging and supportive. Such a lovely man. This is indeed a sad loss for his family and for Carleton.

  • 2015-03-09 15:08:45
    Sean Hall

    Absolutely one of my favorite instructors at Carleton (and anywhere, really). I'm so thankful I was able to learn and explore with him, and I still think of him often and fondly.

  • 2015-03-09 15:11:12
    Sean Hall

    I should note that I still occasionally re-read the texts he assigned us (all of which I still have), much to the great puzzlement of my wife. Terrific, timeless material, intelligently selected.

  • 2015-03-09 15:33:43
    Jeanne Briggs

    Diet was one of my favorite professors at Carleton -- he was kind, thoughtful, caring, nurtured me as a young scholar even though I wasn't a history major. We stayed in touch long after I graduated. He will be greatly missed. It would be beautiful if his scholarship fund would continue to support the students he loved to mentor and teach.

  • 2015-03-09 16:00:25
    Jon Fraser

    Years later I still remember his Western European History class as one of the best surveys I had at Carleton, his penchant for accepting papers in any of the half-dozen languages he spoke, and having a very European afternoon tea at his home! So sorry to hear of him passing.

  • 2015-03-09 18:03:06
    Jane Yaeger Keightley

    Herr Prowe was my advisor on my senior thesis in German Studies. Because of him I chose an independent major and thoroughly enjoyed it. He and Mr. Cantwell were so kind and generous. Both are very much missed.

  • 2015-03-09 18:06:07
    Deirdre Weaver '89

    I was fortunate to take several classes with Diet, to work closely with him for my comps, and to think of him as both a mentor and friend. I thought of him very recently when, during a visit to the Museum of Modern Art, I encountered a contemporary art installation inspired by the Dadaist movement. I was immediately reminded of one of Diet's most memorable lectures in the 20th Century Europe class that I took spring term of my freshman year, and I wondered what he'd think about the exhibit. Just a few days later I was saddened to learn that he'd moved to hospice care. He was such a vital part of my Carleton experience, and he will be greatly missed.

  • 2015-03-09 18:11:11
    Carina Segalini '98

    I'm so terribly sorry to hear this and my thoughts and prayers are with the family. Not all professors have a life long effect on you and the many classes I took with Prof. Powe are still with me today. He took such great care to know each of his students, teach them with thought provoking discussion, and would make sure to wave hello to you from his bike while riding through town. He was a great asset to Carleton and will live on through his legacy. May he rest in peace.

  • 2015-03-09 18:39:55
    Andrew Labadie '76

    Dr. Prowe introduced me to the study of history with his freshmen seminar, Revolutions of 1848 and because of his critical (and occasionally lengthy) efforts – my skills being more those of spirit than being academically concrete – I majored in history and took Imperialism and the Fascism seminar, eventually developing acceptable writing and analytical skills.  In the year before he retired, I was very fortunate to introduce him to my daughter Clara prior to her decision to attend Carleton.  She took a number of history courses indirectly supporting her major in studio arts.  His spirit for the discipline, his efforts to instill upon us the purpose and craft of historical narrative contributed greatly to the College’s achievements and reputation.

  • 2015-03-09 19:00:18
    Anne Parson Wallin '83

    He was one of my favorite profs! You had to love the "gut papers." I would have been a history major instead of chemistry if I'd had his class earlier.

  • 2015-03-09 19:21:11
    Emily Duncan '05

    I took his freshman seminar Revolutions of 1848 and he was my freshman/sophomore adviser. I can pinpoint numerous moments from the seminar that taught me how to think. I was so lucky to have the opportunity to learn from him.

  • 2015-03-09 19:49:24
    Wendy Urban-Mead, '84

    Mr. Prowe was a very important professor in my time at Carleton. I took his Fascism seminar. For that class I wrote a paper about the Sudetenland, and the research for that paper was largely using German materials. I remember feeling very challenged by all the readings and the paper. It was amazing to me how much he cared about and was interested in my work. He suggested that I apply for a Fulbright to Germany for my post-BA year. It was entirely his idea; I would never have thought of it had he not prodded me. How can I ever thank him for this? I got to live in Hamburg for a year and study Neugeschichte - it was a keystone year that influenced the rest of my life. He stayed in touch with me all through my graduate training and early years post-PhD. When I came to Northfield in 2009 to visit Carleton with my daughter, we had Kaffee and Kuchen at his house with him and Peggy. He was so gracious to my daughter. The quintessence of a scholar and a teacher. I am so thankful for him and his role in my life. I truly did not know I was, or could become, a scholar, except for him.

  • 2015-03-09 19:54:36
    Fred Ohles '75

    I took his 20th Century Europe, became Diet's advisee, then a friend of his and Peggy's over 40 years. And during the past quarter-century they have been like another set of grandparents to our children. He approached the end of life as I had observed him approach other points of change: calmly, thoughtfully, gratefully, generously, graciously. A life lived well.

  • 2015-03-09 20:04:52
    Andrew E. Johnson '97

    As a history major, I took 3 classes from Diet: the junior and senior colloquia and Central European Revolutions. Europe was not my area of interest, and so each of these classes could have seemed perfunctory. But they were great. I just found some of my old papers from those classes, and seeing his comments (in his distinctive and squiggly handwriting) brought back memories of his gentle, clear, and honest approach to teaching and mentoring. Add to those memories the fond recollection of tea and cake at his house, and I can't think of a better way to sum up the deeply humane experience of a liberal arts education.

  • 2015-03-09 20:48:48
    Emily Newhall '03

    Farewell to Professor Prowe. I enrolled in his freshman seminar, Revolutions of 1848, a complex and at times even intimidating course! I also met my husband, Peter, in his class, and we look back on that time warmly.

  • 2015-03-09 23:56:47
    Emmett Soper '98

    I was very sad to hear the news.  Like many others who've written, I took Prof Prowe's Fascism seminar.  It was the best class I took at Carleton.  Over the years, Prof Prowe's approaches to analyzing history, societies, and people have stayed with me and influenced me greatly.  The thinking and writing skills I picked up have served me extremely well.  Plus, as many have mentioned, he was very kind person.  He was truly a great educator.

  • 2015-03-10 08:06:59
    Maggie Spring Ainslie

    I am so sad to read this news.  I became a history major after taking the Revolutions of 1848 Freshman seminar.  Prof. Prowe's unfailing kindness, combined with intellectual rigor, set the stage for my entire time at Carleton.  I also loved his typewriters.....

  • 2015-03-10 08:09:20
    Tom Tilden '80

    I am so sad to hear of his repose. The notice is right on the mark. He was in fact passionate about teaching and demanding in terms of the quality of the intellectual product, whether it was the written or the spoken product. His standards came from care and concern for the person and for his or her intellectual development. Carleton was blessed to have him as a member of the faculty for so many years.

  • 2015-03-10 08:11:07
    Meg Roggensack ' 76

    I write this through tears. Diet's Mexican history class inspired me to major in history and to pursue a career focused on Latin America. Diet and Peggy's soirees at term's end, especially the wonderful cherry kirsch cake, were the delightful culmination of yet another one of Diet's memorable courses and adventures in learning. He was an extraordinarily gifted teacher, and his bright eyes conveyed a sense of constant curiosity and youthful zeal about learning and teaching. In my visits to campus over the years, a sit down with Diet was de rigeur. He remembered us all, our passions and pursuits, and his continued interest in our careers was remarkable and wonderful. The college has lost an extraordinary member of its community, a titan of the history department and a valued friend and mentor to generations of students.

  • 2015-03-10 08:15:03
    Janet M. Davis (Osborne) '86

    Farewell to Professor Prowe, whose rigorous and compassionate mentoring have shaped generations of Carleton students. He was one of my formative influences at Carleton and a pivotal force in helping me become a professional historian.

  • 2015-03-10 08:21:51
    Miah Arnold 1995

    I remember him riding his bike to campus with his kravat. He encouraged me to pursue a career as a writer after noticing alkyl the writing classes on my transcript. He said his daughter was a dancer and he encouraged her to follow that dream. He said there is always time to pursue something more practical, but it's very hard to give up practical And return to a forgotten dream. I wouldn't have considered being a writer "for real" has we not talked. I will remember him always.

  • 2015-03-10 08:54:02
    Maia Nilsson '85

    I am sorry to hear this, since it means I won't get to say hello at reunion and thank him for being part of a network of special mentors who influenced me and helped guide me through a challenging phase of my life. Prof Prowe was perceptive and humane in his approach to history, and perceptive and humane in his approach to students. It is in part because of him that these are qualities I will always associate with Carleton.  

  • 2015-03-10 09:12:00
    Becky Yeager '03

    Professor Prowe was my thesis and academic adviser. He was a wonderful professor and I look back at my time spent with him with fond memories. I still remember "winning" a candy bar in his 20th Century History class for writing a short paper that utilized The Onion as one of my sources. He will be missed by many.

  • 2015-03-10 09:25:56
    James Mayor '95

    European history was not one of my main areas, but I remember taking Diet Prowe's 20th Century Europe class (with many others) and thinking what an excellent class it was -- a entry level class which, at another school with another professor, would not have been the same.  He also served as my pre-law advisor.  Diet Prowe was truly a "gentleman and a scholar."  Perhaps most of all, I remember his very polite encouragement to students to be civil to one another in the spring of '93, during one of the uproars on campus.  I am sure he repeated that many times, in other contexts.  A true loss.

  • 2015-03-10 09:43:35
    Chris Toensing '91

    Who can forget "pudding papers" in History 17? And being invited to the Prowe home for coffee and torte? And the ever present ascot? Professor Prowe will live on in many a story fondly recalled all these years later and for years to come. RIP.

  • 2015-03-10 09:44:15
    Nick Mark '98

    Like a number of folks here, I was a history major in large part because of Diet Prowe. People talk about how Carleton taught them to think - for me it was really Dr. Prowe who taught me to think. His courses pushed me academically and intellectually; he fostered challenging and thoughtful discussion among students. His high standards pushed my writing and taught me skills I still use. And he did it all with a friendly, nurturing attitude and a delighted sense of humor. As Meg said above, "an extraordinary member of its community, a titan of the history department and a valued friend and mentor to generations of students."

  • 2015-03-10 10:57:33
    Shane Auerbach

    Diet embodied so much of what I love about Carleton. I'll miss him.

  • 2015-03-10 11:26:35
    Tom Countryman

    I remember when Dr. Prowe arrived on campus in 1966. In addition to being a fine and caring teacher, Dr. Prowe was a good man, a real European gentleman. I'm glad I had the opportunity to learn from him. I'll miss being never able to see him again.  

  • 2015-03-10 11:45:48
    John Lampe

    What a wonderful teacher, mentor, and human being.  Diet was my advisor and Carleton and after.  I was an enthusiastic history major but no budding scholar.  Nonetheless, Diet was always there to offer advice and support and not just in words - if you asked Diet for a reference, it was there - a week before the application deadline.  I know that Diet spent many sunny spring days much like today writing a recommendation or fielding a call from a former student - the kind of thing that most of would say "I just don't have time for this."  Diet took it all in stride without complaint.  One of his many skills that I appreciated was the way he delivered criticism.  He didn't bundle it up in warm fuzzies.  That was so helpful to me as I tried to find my path in the world.  I really don't know how Diet did it - teach at the highest level, edit scholarly journals, do his own scholarship, raise a family, and do so much for us. 

  • 2015-03-10 11:54:21
    Elizabeth Stumbo

    Diethelm Prowe was the entire reason that I received a Fulbright scholarship to study women's history at the Universitat Bielefeld. He suggested it (I had never heard of it), coached me through the application process, took time out of his summer to work with me on my proposal, even meeting (and taking me out to dinner) in Washington D.C., where I was interning. It was a wonderful year, and I owe it all to Herr Prowe. He was a wonderful professor and a caring human being who had a lasting influence on my life. Vielen Dank, Herr Prowe, vielen Dank.

  • 2015-03-10 12:32:23
    David Burrow '90

    I had never had Dr. Prowe in class until he became one of my comps advisors, alongside Bill Woehrlin, my main thesis advisor. I found him terrifying, particularly when he upbraided me for misspelling German words (a language I hadn't ever studied). Was my thesis the better for such detailed criticism? Absolutely. On the heels of that experience, I took his modern European survey "senior option," survived the coffee and cake question time, and happily sat through the rest of the fascinating course. I will always remember how pleased he seemed that I had done well, even given his very limited experience with me. I echo the many tributes to him as a fine teacher and a true gentleman.

  • 2015-03-10 14:24:24
    Tom Albertson '84

    I am sorry to hear of Professor Prowe's passing and my thoughts and prayers go to his family.  He was one of the most gracious and easy going professors that I ever had at Carleton, I had him for everything from a Modern Europe seminar to other more particular courses, and he even took over with Prof Woehrlin as my comps advisor near the end there.  I think of him often as I pass thru Berlin and Munich - there was once a talkative namesake D. Prowe security guard at the Berlin Ostbanhof rail station!  Professor Prowe was a wonderful teacher and a most pleasant advisor - raise our cups to Herr Doktor Prowe!

  • 2015-03-10 14:37:13
    Beth Palmer Rudiger '86

    I am so sorry to hear of Diet's passing. He was a most generous and caring man and an inspirational professor. I remember the warmth of class meetings at his and Peggy's house. Diet was a very classy guy; I never saw him without his signature cravat! I will miss him.

  • 2015-03-10 15:09:23
    Emily O'Neill '93

    Professor Prowe was one of my first Carleton profs and also one of my very favorites. A very kind and warm spirit, always encouraging his students. We will miss him.

  • 2015-03-10 15:45:57
    Lynn Hunt '67

    I was among the first to take one of Diet's classes and they had so much influence on me that I went to Stanford in an effort to follow in his footsteps and work with his mentor, Gordon Craig. Although I switched to French history while at Stanford, I was always grateful to him for sending me on the right path by his example. He was an immensely talented historian and teacher and a wonderful person.

  • 2015-03-10 16:05:40
    David E. Barclay, German Studies Association and Kalamazoo College

    As Executive Director of the German Studies Association, of which he was a member for many years, I had the privilege of working with Diet in a variety of capacities. Among so many other things, he served as a wonderfully effective outside reviewer of the History Department at my own institution, Kalamazoo College; and I also had the great privilege of being able to speak at his retirement from Carleton. I can only echo what so many others here have said. He was a man who combined gentleness with intellectual rigor, kindness with high expectations of himself and others, and dedication to his work with a wry sense of humor. His contributions to the German Studies Association, especially as editor of our journal, were legion. As Fred Ohles so rightly notes, Diet's was a life well lived. We are deeply in his debt.

  • 2015-03-10 16:09:39
    Matthew Bane '93

    Professor Prowe was my first professor at Carleton—I took the Revolutions of 1848 seminar—and I will never forget his taking off 2 classes in the Fall of '89, and then returning with a piece of the Berlin Wall, displayed prominently on the table in front of us. History, in the present, as it should be taught. He was a fantastic professor, mentor, and support in that first term. He will be sorely missed.

  • 2015-03-10 17:04:40
    Curt Gunsbury '89

    A kind, wonderful man. A great teacher. We are all diminished with your passing Diet!

  • 2015-03-10 17:53:41
    Sarah Johnson Entenmann '73

    Diet was absolutely one of the best teachers I ever had. May his incredible "teaching spirit" hover around the bald spot and Leighton for ever and ever.

  • 2015-03-10 18:36:31
    Rob Letchinger '78

    Diet Prowe had a huge influence on me during my years at Carleton, and was the reason I majored in history.  I think I took every class and seminar he taught, and each one was beautifully crafted and thought provoking--so much so that, even now, almost forty years later, I remember them like they were yesterday.  He was, on the one hand, challenging and rigorous, while, at the same time, always kind, warm, and very supportive.  Of all the teachers and mentors that I've been privileged to encounter throughout my life, I put Diet in the top three. 

  • 2015-03-10 18:41:40
    Y. Gabremariam '93

    I will always remember Diet as an engaging professor, an inspiring mentor and a truly kind soul.  He will be missed.

  • 2015-03-10 20:00:11
    Chris Langston '02

    I remember the courses I took with prof. Prowe very well, especially my midterm paper on Cardinal Richelieu for History of European Diplomacy. He was engaging and cared a lot about his students' learning. He was one of the few professors to require oral exams, something that I found difficult at the time but something that I think made me study -- and hence retain -- a lot of more information than I would have otherwise. I look back on the time I spent with him with tremendous fondness.

  • 2015-03-10 20:23:28
    Nancy Gates Madsen, '92

    Wonderful man, wonderful smile. I will always be grateful for his support and encouragement during my comps research. He was a fabulous professor and mentor, and he will be greatly missed.

  • 2015-03-10 21:09:31
    Chuck Steinwedel '85

    I never planned to study history when I entered Carleton. I confess I only took Diet’s Freshman Seminar on German Revolutions of 1848 because someone had told me to take a Freshman Seminar, and those on more familiar topics were full. The fact that 33 years later I am teaching college history owes so much to Diet. His passion and ability to convey history’s complexities sparked my interest. In his Fascism seminar, I first realized I could do history. I would not have gotten to graduate school without his support and encouragement. His intellectual range and rigor drew me to study history. His great commitment to his students and the obvious delight he took in teaching history made me want to be a historian. Now that I teach my own students, I find it even more amazing that he taught 100 students in a course on twentieth century European history, personally led discussion sections, and had everyone in the class to his house for homemade pastries. I feel so fortunate to have encountered Diet early in my career. He was a model teacher, mentor, and scholar.

  • 2015-03-10 22:40:21
    Bonnie Alexander Keeling '72

    Diet was my advisor, my friend, and a great teacher. I remember sweating through my oral comps with Diet and Dick Cantwell, when Diet said: "wasn't that fun!?" And he truly meant it. All of the above remembrances: the cravat ( and white dress shirt), the bike, the smile, the tea and goodies at Diet and Peggy's house, the sweet personality, the rigorous professor (the Fascism seminar comes to mind), and my regular visits to their home in the ensuing 40 years are flooding over me. I used to babysit for them. It was so great to be off campus, in a real house, and get to speak German with the kids. Faris (my then boyfriend and now spouse for 42 years) would speak English and I would speak German. Diet wanted to make sure the kids did not think that only men spoke German! Farewell to a truly noble gentleman.

  • 2015-03-11 02:45:59
    Michael Griffin '75

    Like others who have posted here, I was also unexpectedly drawn into the study of history beginning with Diet's freshman seminar on the 1848 Revolutions. And Kit (March 9 2015 at 3:03 pm), we were together in that senior seminar on Fascism (in 1974 I believe), and I also still have my underlined copy of Arendt's "The Origins of Totalitarianism." Diet forever changed my life when he, as the official "law school adviser" on campus at the time, gently but firmly suggested that I should forego attending law school and reapply for graduate school instead. Not that there is anything wrong with practicing law, of course, but the path I ended up taking (an academic life launched from the Annenberg School for Communication at Penn) has suited me much better I think, and I largely had Diet to thank for that. He subsequently ended up at the top of the acknowledgements page of my dissertation, a thesis in communication and cultural history. As others have remarked here, I would never have made my way to graduate school without his support and encouragement. Nor would I have had success once I got there if not for his determination to arouse, shape and inspire my intellectual development.

    In his teaching Diet was incisively analytical and displayed exceptional clarity and coherence as a communicator, his lectures were marvelous and his feedback on written work was keen and constructive in a way that clearly helped me to become a better writer and thinker. But his cool, tempered, and direct style sometimes masked the passion with which he deeply cared about us, his students. I became even more aware of this when I returned to teach at Carleton for two years in 2006-2008. Although he had not set eyes on me for more than 25 years (and I had lost all of my hair in that time) he immediately remembered the boy he had patiently advised decades earlier. He was so genuinely pleased to see me back on campus and to have a chance to talk and share ideas again. His smile was radiant, he made me feel like family. I am so thankful for that chance to reconnect with my teacher and mentor, a truly wonderful man who gave so much to so many of us. Farewell and thank you, Prof. Prowe!


  • 2015-03-11 06:39:06
    Derek Prowe (Diet's son)

    It is so moving to read all of the gratitude and appreciation for my father, thank you all very much! In drafting his obituary I included the lines "Diethelm’s professional life was dedicated to the teaching of history and the intellectual development of young people, a passion that never waned. He influenced generations of students at Carleton College (1966-2008) in his roles as history professor, pre-law advisor, Mellon minority student program director, and senior faculty member contributing to key policy decisions." When I wrote this I knew it to be true, but your tributes make it so very real. I would personally like to add that later in life, he brought an extraordinary patience to his role as a grandfather, contributing in another way to the development of young people. This is the tragic aspect of his relatively early passing, which is difficult for me to accept. Otherwise, it was indeed a life well lived, and it makes me proud.

  • 2015-03-11 12:11:38
    Ann Dixon '83

    A wonderful person and fine professor. Recently, I pondered whether I could identify certain education experiences as "transformative" in my life -- Prof. Prowe's fascism seminar came first to mind, an experience that contributed much to my development as a history major but also to my personal growth. My time at Carleton was so much richer for having known him.

  • 2015-03-12 06:36:32
    Amb. Elizabeth D. McKune '70

    Among Professor Prowe's many gifts, two stand out in my experience with him as a teacher. He was inspirational and fair. As one of the few African-Americans on campus at the time, this was very important. He made a difference in my life, and I was truly saddened to hear of his passing. (Former US Ambassador to the State of Qatar, maiden name Davenport)

  • 2015-03-12 08:47:06
    Bill Nootenboom '89

    Diet Prowe was, gratefully, always a few steps ahead of me, and ready to kindly point the way. He came to Carleton the year before I was born, and he passed away a day before my birthday this year. He was my first college professor in the Revolutions of 1848 class. He graded my first paper with a flood of red ink, which suddenly ended in halfway through with the soft command to "See me after class". That day we talked about a lot of things, all of them interesting. It was Diet's way of putting me at ease, and making me feel comfortable. Then he asked me about the English department at my high school. With a firm kindness, he told me not to worry about the first paper. And then for the next 10 weeks he taught me how to write, and how to read, and how to think and how to care. He taught me how to be a better human being. It was so effortless for him, and so incredibly valuable to me and generations of Carleton students. His impact on this world is very deep and incredibly long lasting.

  • 2015-03-13 07:34:25
    Christina Stucky '87

    He was one of the best teachers I had at Carleton. It's because of how he taught history that I decided to choose it as my major. He took his students seriously, give them his time and attention and let them share in his vast knowledge while being genuinely interested in their thoughts, opinions and arguments. My interest in 20th century history, particularly German WWII history, was deepened by his teaching. To this day I remember him with respect and fondness. My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.

  • 2015-03-13 09:09:31
    Rob Girouard '90

    Professor Prowe was one of the most memorable and influential professors I had at Carleton.  His lively, well-organized lectures in the introductory Modern European History course hooked me on the subject.  His use of projected images to accentuate his lectures was compelling: I remember, in particular, slides of immediate postwar Berlin.  His use of literature and memoir in the Junior Colloquium broadened my understanding of source materials; and his gentle advice that I was on my way to a "good, solid B" in European Diplomacy was a wake-up call to apply myself better and work harder in my final two years.  Even though my primary focus was East Asian history he provided valuable source advice when I was writing my Comps.  Like one prior commenter, I have kept some of the books he assigned: I recently reread, with great enjoyment, Harold Nicholson's Congress of Vienna.  Thank you, Professor Prowe, for your insight and encouragement, and blessings to your family.

  • 2015-03-14 00:39:54
    Harry McLachlin '69

    As a History major from the late 60's--early in Prof. Prowe's career in Carleton-- I took only his 20th Century Europe course and enjoyed it but did not know him well. The foregoing Farewells shout out many things missed -- Fascism Seminar; Seminar on German Revolutions; History of European Diplomacy -- but more importantly testify to an amazing legacy of Carleton's good fortune in Professor Prowe's profound impact on so many students over decades. It was a pleasure to see him at Reunions in recent years and to briefly correspond by email late in 2014 after reading Berlin Now (a collection of articles on the city's recent history), knowing that he had done a course on Berlin even in retirement. He recalled being on a Goethe Institute seminar panel with its author Peter Schneider in the 1990's not to mention having been a good friend of the author's younger brother when studying in Germany--small world! But a much richer one for the Carleton community to which Professor Prowe contributed so much--and with abundant grace, humility and good cheer. He will be long remembered, may he rest in peace.

  • 2015-03-14 06:19:49
    Paul Fraker, 1979

    As a bibliophile, I like to keep at close range books which had an influence. So it happens that right above my head there sits a copy of Hannah Arendt's "On Violence", assigned by Prof. Prowe to his 20th c. Europe class in 1979. Next to it is Arendt's much longer work, "The Origins of Totalitarianism", which I read a couple of years later, after Carleton but before graduate school. Apparently it was bought for leisurely reading (!) but became thoroughly marked up in the process. For this intellectual curiosity I thank Prof. Prowe's wonderful syllabus which extended to the films "Night and Fog" and "The Triumph of the Will" and to the great scholars Peter Gay and Gordon Craig. So many seeds were planted then; I gratefully acknowledge my debt and mourn the passing of a wonderful teacher.

  • 2015-03-14 22:01:27
    Anne E. Patrick

    I will always remember Diet's smiling face and his gracious neighborliness in Leighton Hall. How fortunate were his many students over the years!

  • 2015-03-14 23:09:52
    Clara Frances Labadie

    A father's weaker moment: With regards to your note - beautifully said. Looking back, I do believe that our lunch with him played a large role in my decision to attend Carleton. From both that lunch, and from what I have heard, I truly believe that he embodied the best of the what Carleton has to offer. I have no doubt that his successor (who taught me), will continue that legacy. about the musty smell of the Leighton offices and those squishy (saggy?) sofas.... Lots of Love, Clara '12

  • 2015-03-16 16:21:44
    Ted Rosenthal '76

    I was saddened to hear last week of the passing of Prof. Prowe. At a school filled with excellent teachers, he was one of the finest, one whose impact on who I am and what I have accomplished in my life continues to this day. I echo much of what many others have written about him already as a professor, as a mentor, as a human being and will try not to repeat too much. I too took virtually every class he taught while at Carleton, somehow missing the freshman seminar (if I had only known!). I did not become a history major because of him, but certainly my concentration in modern Europe was in large part due to the 20th century European survey course spring term freshman year. I returned to campus for the first time in many many years in 2008 with my son, who was considering attending Carleton (as an aside, he did so--class of 2013--and also majored in history, albeit with a concentration in African and African-American history). While there, my family and I had a chance to spend a wonderful half hour or so chatting with Prof. Prowe. He was as charming, engaging, warm--absolutely delightful--as ever. Those of us who had the opportunity to study with and learn from him all know what a great experience that was. Future students will not really know what they are missing.

  • 2015-03-16 22:51:46
    Chris Randazzo '83

    First, I offer my sincerest condolences to the family of Mr. Prowe. That is what I called him when I attended Carleton, and I certainly did so out of respect. When the teachers converged with the alumni on the Bald Spot at my 30th reunion, I was extremely happy the see Mr. Prowe. Of course, he looked as I remembered, although I don't recall if he wore his trademark ascot and schwarze Socken und Sandalen. I was there with two good friends from our class of 1983. They were both Phi Beta Kappa, graduating with high honors (unlike me); however, they did not have the distinction of being a History major having been taught by Mr. Prowe. I took his Fascism seminar before I learned the German language. Mr. Prowe was amused that I confused the full name of the SA "Sturmabteilung" with "Sturmableitung; he informed me the latter was another word for a sewer, and even though I got the word wrong I was right about that organization. When I was a freshman, I took his 20th Century Europe class. Again, I amused Mr. Prowe in a "gut paper" by comparing the diplomatic situation in Europe in the 1930's with the Marx Brothers. I still have the paper with his comments, "A bit far fetched, but a fun (underlined) gut paper! Have a nice duck soup!" I kept this paper, and Mr. Prowe's remarks on other more serious papers all these years, because his words meant so much to me. I did not become a scholar as did others who took his classes; nonetheless, Mr. Prowe inspired me to really learn. I am grateful for all Mr. Prowe taught me; that knowledge and his memory remains with me.

  • 2015-03-17 10:34:28
    Brad Clary '72

    Professor Prowe, thanks for all your great teaching and your mentorship. I think I may have been your first history senior independent thesis advisee. I remember the hours patiently spent going over paragraph-after-paragraph of that paper. Congratulations on a marvelous career and a life well-lived!

  • 2015-03-19 15:34:20
    Alison Macdonald von Klemperer 82

    Prof Prowe was one of the finest teachers at Carleton. The class he taught in Diplomacy changed me and the direction I chose for graduate school. I studied foreign policy at Johns Hopkins SAIS and felt such gratitude to Prof Prowe over the years for his inspiring lectures and insights. He took an active interest in the members of his classes. I felt that I had his full attention when I was his student. I believe others had the same experience with him. Thank you Carleton for giving us such a wonderful mentor.

  • 2015-03-24 20:53:18
    Meryl Schumacker '10

    I've been putting off writing because it makes me too sad to think that Diet isn't still sitting in his office, or in the little house with the wild garden. That glint in his eye, like he was quietly amused by something you couldn't see. Diet was my advisor when I transferred to Carleton, the year before he retired. It was a rough transition for me, and I was behind in credits. Diet was incredibly patient even in the face of my incredible impatience. He helped me petition the registrar, talked me down when they said "no". The last conversation I had with Diet was right before I graduated, and it felt so important to share that happiness with him because he knew what a schlep it took to get there. I don't know if there was ever a teacher who was so kind as he was. My favorite memory of Diet is visiting house for a meet-and-greet with the other transfer students, seeing the wild garden outside, the blue bins. I had ginger lemon tea, served in a glass mug. Not porcelain? "Germans know: tea stains porcelain." Last year, I bought a glass mug, and the first thing I drank from it was tea. I'd like to think he'd have been pleased.

  • 2015-03-29 16:46:17
    James R. Maxeiner '70

    For me Carleton College was very much Diethelm Prowe and, as another commentor mentioned, Richard Cantwell. It is hard to think of Carleton, and my life, without them.

  • 2015-03-31 15:33:15
    Kathryn Craig'69

    Prof Prowe was not my adviser and perhaps I only had one course from him. But he made a big impression on me for all the reasons my classmates have stated above. He came to Carleton when I was a sophomore, and I see now that as a new PhD, he was only a few years older than I and my classmates. Our paths crossed again when I worked in the Dean of Students office for a few years after my graduate school. And when I return to campus for alumni events, he always remembered me and my interests in his kind and polite way. Peggy taught me as a physical education Instructor. I was terrible then at all physical pursuits, and she was warm and encouraging and funny. I was fortunate to run into both of them during Alumni Weekend last summer when I walked downtown for ice cream one lovely June evening. We talked about their pleasant retirement life and the pleasure biking through Northfield. I'm glad I was able to see him. My thoughts and best wishes to Peggy and his family.

  • 2015-04-08 18:00:52
    David Wiczer'06

    I had Prof Prowe my first trimester for a fantastic course on the Revolutions of 1848. It woke me up to all the ways Carleton would be so wonderfully different from anything I had expected. It was challenging, enlightening and exceptionally fun. He then encouraged me to go the Czech Republic for a study abroad, which changed my life in pretty significant ways. After coming back, he had me over for some cauliflower and always really great discussion. He was really a fantastic professor in all of the ways in the classroom and beyond it.

  • 2015-04-08 19:51:28
    Zhuan Pei '06

    I took 20th-Century European History with Prof. Prowe during the spring trimester of my freshman year, and it was one of my favorite terms at Carleton. Despite the class being one of the few large lectures on campus (~80 students), Prof. Prowe had managed to make it engaging. The way he taught seemed so effortless at the time, but I didn't fully appreciate how hard it must have been and how much thought must have gone into the teaching prep until I myself started teaching. I was not a top student in the class and was still struggling with English, but Prof. Prowe really cared about my well-being. He had invited me over to his house for dinner several times, even long after I was a student in his class. I will miss him.

  • 2015-04-09 01:24:38
    Jordan Srour (Ludders) '00

    Prof. Prowe was literally the first professor I had a Carleton. I took his Revolutions of 1848 Freshman seminar in Fall of '96. It was an extremely difficult course as my mind seems to be hard-wired for mathematics and computer science rather than history. Nevertheless, Prof. Prowe's patience allowed me to get through the course and even have an "ah hah!" moment right in the midst of the oral final exam -- I will never forget the look on his face: it was something along the lines of "well, finally, she caught on to what I've been saying all semester". Prof. Prowe was a great first host for my time at Carleton.

  • 2015-04-09 08:23:58
    Abby Nesbitt '86

    I remember Diet so fondly as professor for several courses, (informal) comps advisor and general provider of challenge and encouragement during my school years at Carleton. I also remember him, even more fondly, as an important bridge to my current career years after I graduated. After several years working in the arts, I felt the need for more practical employment, and contacted Diet for assistance in planning my way to law school. He wrote a recommendation for me and graciously spent time with me on consideration of various schools and programs despite the fact that I had graduated Carleton years earlier. He was so encouraging to me in the process and warmly lauded the time I had spent pursuing my passion -- yes, there is always time to be practical later! I am very sorry that my daughter who is currently a student at Carleton will not get to meet him (much less have him as a professor) . . . . such a loss for Diet's family and for the Carleton community. He will be long remembered and much missed.

  • 2015-04-09 10:24:08
    Stephen Paul Johnson '78

    The man with the ascots! I loved his Modern European History and Fascism courses, and let us not forget the Schwarzwaldkuchen and cherry cider/punch he and his wife treated the students to, I believe at the end of the Fascism course.

  • 2015-04-10 09:19:15
    Jessica Brooks '09

    I took European diplomacy with Diet and I will never forget tea and treats in his home with his wife. Diet was an amazing professor, and we connected when we discovered that I was from Canton Ohio, and when his family left Germany they settled in Canton Ohio. I will always remember him, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  • 2015-04-18 12:19:25
    Rina Stopsky Cooper '86

    I am saddened to hear of Professor Prowe's passing. I so enjoyed having him as my teacher and advisor. He opened my eyes to studying history in a new and exciting way. I loved my small group forums with him. I also enjoyed sitting individually with him and discussing my papers and future career. Whenever his name is mentioned, my mind brings up a picture of a kind man with a huge smile on his face. Those who lived with him day-to-day were truly lucky.

  • 2015-06-14 19:30:26
    Catherine Christian

    From the day I arrived in Northfield as a faculty wife in 1971, until our last visit together in California on January 27, I have known Diet as a friend and as a secondary father-figure for my children.   Our families first bonded over a playgroup created for our 18-month-old sons, and when our daughters were born, they too became the  best of friends.  Diet took  great delight in watching our 2 sons, and our 2 daughters, grow up together.  He even took to using the same term of endearment ("Maya Maus" & "Freya Maus") for our 2 girls.  Coincidentally, in their adulthood they both  located in the same area of California, and for the last 11 years, Diet has also played with and cared for our grandchildren.

    Diet was a gentleman.  Despite his great intellect, he treated whatever I said with interest and respect.  He never failed to greet with a broad  smile.  He was generous to a fault.  I will miss his presence in my life.

  • 2015-07-18 19:56:59
    David Harrisville '09

    I consider myself lucky that I was able to spend a good deal of time with Professor Prowe during my years at Carleton, between taking his European history courses and working in the history office. I was also his advisee. With his guidance and encouragement, I ended up applying to grad school, and I'm now completing my PhD in European history at UW-Madison. Following in the footsteps of Diet and many other wonderful people at Carleton, I plan to embark on a teaching career. I will always remember Diet not only for his abilities as an educator but also his charming smile, his ascot ties, his limitless patience, and the kindness with which he treated everyone, from his fellow professors to incoming freshmen. There are a few moments that especially stand out to me. Like many other students, I had the pleasure of being invited to Diet’s house, where we discussed Emile Zola's Germinal and were treated to some delicious cake. I also remember when he took the time to explain to me the entire history of the Jessie James raid after I made an off-hand remark about how I had never learned the details. I’m thankful for everything he shared with me and generations of students.

  • 2015-12-12 23:26:36
    Jon Acheson -84

    Dr. Prowe;s seminar leadership remains a model for me as I teach history now. I was happy to discuss W.G. Sebald's Rings of Saturn with him. He was a polymath and extremely kind.

  • 2016-07-04 18:02:32
    Richard Lee '78

    Professor Prowe was an extraordinary man, in all the ways noted in the foregoing comments. From Latin American History to Fascism, I learned so much from him. He was my comps advisor, and that made all the difference — I enjoyed my comps!

    One of the last times I saw Diet was in 2012. It was complete serendipity; he was visiting Berkeley and was picking up his grandchild, who happened to be at the same school as my younger son. So I saw him helping young children, with the same dedication, joy and forbearance that he showed me and hundreds of other Carleton students. He is gone too soon, but a fuller life is hard to imagine.