Christopher R. Browning was born on May 22, 1944 in Durham, North Carolina. He spent most of his childhood growing up in Chicago, where his mother worked as a school nurse and his father was a professor of philosophy at Northwestern University. In 1967, he graduated summa cum laude from Oberlin College in Ohio with Highest Honors in History to earn his B.A. degree. While at Oberlin, Browning became a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 1966 and won the Comfort Starr Prize in History in 1967. Dr. Browning then attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, earning his M.A. in 1968 and his Ph.D. in 1975. In 1967 he received a National Collegiate Athletic Association Post-Graduate Fellowship and a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. After earning his Master’s degree, Dr. Browning taught junior high and high school students for one year at St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin. He then served as an Instructor in History at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania for two years. In 1972 Browning also received a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) Dankstipendium towards his Ph.D.
In 1974, he was hired as an Assistant Professor of History at Pacific Lutheran University. During his twenty-four years at Pacific Lutheran, Dr. Browning taught courses on the Holocaust, German history, French history, Western Civilization, and World Civilization. He also taught courses in the Freshman Experience, Integrated Studies, and Global Studies programs. He received numerous honors and recognitions, served on and chaired several University committees, presented papers at many conferences and lectures, delivered speeches at University functions and many venues outside the University, published multiple books and papers, received several research grants, and served as a visiting professor at various institutions. He was promoted to the position of Associate Professor at Pacific Lutheran University in 1979.
In 1980, he was awarded a prestigious research grant from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to study in Germany. He was promoted to the level of Professor at Pacific Lutheran University in 1984. Also in 1984, he served as a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In the fall of 1988, he was a Visiting Professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. That year he also received the Burlington-Northern Foundation Faculty Achievement Award at Pacific Lutheran University and won the “Best article” award from the German Studies Association. He studied in Israel in 1989 with a Fulbright Senior Research Grant. In the spring of 1992, he served as Visiting Professor at Northwestern University. He received the Faculty Excellence Award from Pacific Lutheran University in 1992 and the National Jewish Book Award in Holocaust Studies in 1993 for his book Ordinary Men. He was a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton in 1995. In 1996, he served as the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Visiting Professor of Judaic Studies at the College of William and Mary and as the J.B. and Maurice Shapiro Senior Visiting Scholar at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He was promoted to the level of Distinguished Professor at Pacific Lutheran University in 1997.
In 1990, Dr. Browning delivered the prestigious George Macaulay Trevelyan Lectures at Cambridge University, and in 2000 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew Union College. Beginning in the fall of 1999, Dr. Browning began working in his new position as the Frank Porter Graham Professor of History at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. In 2002 he was the George L. Mosse Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and in the same year served as an Ina Levine Invitational Scholar at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Dr. Browning received another research award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 2004 as well as a UNC Faculty Fellowship. That year he also won the National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category for The Origins of the Final Solution.
Starting in 2006 Browning was a fellow at the National Humanities Center and was also elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Throughout the spring and summer of 2007, he served as the Bertelsmann Europaeum Visiting Professor of 20th Century Jewish History and Politics at Mansfield College in Oxford University. In 2008 Dr. Browning received both an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Northwestern University and the Distinguished Achievement Award for Holocaust Studies and Research from the Holocaust Educational Foundation. In 2011 he won the National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category for his book, Remembering Survival, which in 2012 also won the Yad Vashem Book Prize. That same year, he received the Annetje Fels-Kuperferschmidt Award from the Netherlands Auschwitz Committee. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from his Alma mater, Oberlin College, in 2013. Throughout his fifteen years as the Frank Porter Graham Professor of History at UNC-Chapel Hill, Dr. Browning taught undergraduate and graduate courses on the Holocaust, Western Civilization, contemporary European history, and German history. After a long career as a historian, speaker, researcher, and professor, he retired from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 2014.
Dr. Browning has published nine books: The Final Solution and the German Foreign Office (1978), Fateful Months: Essays on the Emergence of the Final Solution (1985), The Path to Genocide (1992), Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (1992), Der Weg zur “Endlösung”: Entscheidungen und Täter (1998), Nazi Policy, Jewish Labor, German Killers (2000), Collected Memories: Holocaust History and Postwar Testimony (2003), The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942 (2004), and Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave Labor Camp (2011). He has published fifty-eight papers in various languages, delivered seventy-nine lectures and papers at conferences, contributed encyclopedia entries for The Encyclopedia of Religion and The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, published ten review articles, and written book reviews for various internationally-circulated newspapers and journals, such as The New York Times Book Review, Times Literary Supplement, The International History Review, Die Zeit, and Neue Politische Literatur.
Dr. Browning has served as a consultant to the Department of Justice in Canada, the Commonwealth Office of Public Prosecution in Australia, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the War Crimes Branch of the Crown Prosecution Service in Great Britain. Because of his extensive knowledge of the Holocaust, Dr. Browning has also given Expert Witness testimony in Canada and Australia during the trials of Nazi war criminals. Other important cases include the libel action of David Irving v. Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt in the United Kingdom and The Crown v. Ernst Zündel in Canada.
Dr. Browning is married and has two daughters, Kathryn and Anne. His wife, Jennifer, is a lawyer.