In Memoriam Roland Richter

January 14th, 2021
Image of Roland Richter

Roland Richter, a revered teacher and mentor in the Department of German Studies at the University of Arizona, passed away in his home in Tucson on November 24, 2020 at the age of 92.

Roland was born in 1928 in Aussig (now Ústí nad Labem) in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic), and in 1944, after the 1939 German invasion of Czechoslovakia, he was drafted with all his classmates into the German army. At the end of World War II he returned to his family in Aussig, and together with his brother helped them all flee during the expulsion in 1945, eventually settling in Bad Hersfeld, Germany.

He was soon hired by the US forces as a driver and translator, and at the University of Germersheim he earned a degree as an English interpreter. He then worked with the US forces for the refugee resettlement group, and was sponsored by his commanding officer to immigrate to the United States in 1956.

After graduating from UCLA in 1969 with a Ph.D. degree in German Studies, Roland began teaching in our UA German Studies Department in 1971, where he taught German language, literature, and history until his retirement in 2002. Among his many other accomplishments, in 1975 he published the book Georg Rollenhagens Froschmeuseler, ein rhetorisches Meisterstück with Peter Lang Verlag in Bern und Frankfurt am Main. Roland served faculty advisor for Katja May’s 1989 M.A. thesis A German Reaction to Native Americans: Karl May’s Concept of Cultural Development. (In 1996 Katja May published a book related to this topic: African Americans and Native Americans in the Creek and Cherokee Nations, 1830s to 1920s). Roland also supervised M.A. theses by Howard De Leeuw (The Function of Simile in Remarque's "Im Westen nichts Neues" [1989]), and Barbara Hales (War and Death: A Comparison of Freud's Ideas with Four Works of German World War I Literature [1990]). 

In 1990, together with fellow faculty member Richard Helt, Roland published Germany on Film: Theme and Content in the Cinema of the Federal Republic of Germany, an English translation of Hans Günther Pflaum’s book Film in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland.

In 1993-1994 Roland served as Acting Head of the German Studies department.

Dr. Fred Buckhold, who currently serves as program director for the Internal Medical Residency Program at the St. Louis School of Medicine, recently wrote the following about one of Roland’s German classes at the University of Arizona: “Even though I was a science major, one of the most memorable classes I had in my years at Arizona was a German Romanticism class...” (taught by Roland in 1999-2000).

Roland was an inspiring colleague and teacher, friendly and cheerful, and always available to help his students.  He is survived by his wife Katharina Richter, his son Alex Richter, daughter-in-law Laura and grandson Elliot, as well as his extended family throughout Germany and the World.