Q&A: Write the history books
Prof's mantra: 'Do things for passion, not money'
Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 00:10
THE BATTALION: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Krammer: My parents were immigrants — they came from the old country. My parents were Hungarian and I was the first person in my family born in this country. They came in 1939, just ahead of the war. They came in April and the war broke out in September. I was born and raised in Chicago, and I went to the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
THE BATTALION: Why did you choose to become a history professor?
Krammer: I grew up with it. I got it from my mother’s milk. That’s all they talked about. That’s what my parents talked about and listened to. We sat around the dinner table and talked about European history.
THE BATTALION: What brought you to A&M?
Krammer: I was tired of the winters and I was hired at a history conference in 1974. Can you imagine? 1974?
THE BATTALION: How have some of your life experiences affected your career and teaching methods?
Krammer: I had some of the great history professors at Wisconsin. They were really legendary. I just fell into it. I’d like to tell you I chose the University of Wisconsin because there were so many great people, but really I just got there and found that I was surrounded by some big names in history. I learned at the feet of people who were really great teachers.
THE BATTALION: What is your favorite course to teach?
Krammer: My favorite thing to teach is History 106 and that’s the course that I’ve never not taught. I’ve taught that course every semester for 39 years. I think it’s [my favorite because] it’s introducing students to history, I think it’s bringing them speakers. The holocaust is what my parents were escaping so that’s what we talked about often. Our family friends were Holocaust survivors. So my favorite topic, favorite subject is 106. I love that class.
THE BATTALION: What have been some of the highlights of your career as a history professor?
Krammer: That’s difficult to work with. I have bumped into interesting people. Especially at a University — this is where people come. I’ve met everyone from Hitler’s right-hand man, a man named Albert Speer. I spent the day with Mohammed Ali. He came here to speak and I was the faculty advisor to the Wiley Lecture Series that year so I was somehow put in charge of taking Mohammed Ali around the campus. I took him to Cain Hall and he posed with all the athletes at the time. He gave me his book while he was there and he signed it saying, “Mr. Arnold Krammer, service to others is the rent we pay for our room in the ever after.” Gosh, I’ve met all kinds of interesting people. This is the place to do it. People come to a University to speak.
THE BATTALION: What is your favorite part of your job?
Krammer: Teaching students. I just love teaching, I’m good at it. I’ve won every teaching award; college teaching awards. It’s teaching I love to do. It’s one of those things — I’m doing exactly what I want to do, exactly where I want to do it, with people I love to do it with. It’s been a blessing my whole life. I’ve been 39 years and this has just been marvelous. Not that Harvard has called me. Harvard hasn’t called and Yale hasn’t called, but I’m doing exactly what I want to do. I have a brother who lives in California who is unhappy and rich and I just can’t imagine. You do things for passion, you do things for hatred, you do things for love, but not for money. I wouldn’t want a job where I have to hang my conscience at the door.